The Old Testament Template: Chapter 15

We Need God’s View Of Nations

“Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.”
Psalm 2:8

“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
Revelation 7:9-10

To regain the influence God desires for the body of Christ on earth we need God’s view of nations. We must look again at scripture to see the destiny of the Church in relation to God’s whole plan and purpose. What is our destiny here on planet earth? We often pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” What would the will of the Father look like on earth? Let’s begin by looking at what it is not.

Our destiny is not salvation
God died to save us and desires salvation for all. The only way into the Kingdom of God is through Jesus Christ, but salvation is not God’s ultimate goal. The new birth is a means to an end. When we do not preach the whole word of God we produce hopelessness. We leave people with a dream of heaven, and no sense of their destiny here on earth. When we go to the whole world and preach salvation alone, we neglect the rest of God’s plan.

Our destiny in God is not to be filled with the Holy Spirit
God’s power in the Holy Spirit is a wonderful and essential thing – God the comforter come to live within us. We cannot thrive without Him. But His filling is not our goal. Again, the tools of the Holy Spirit are a means to an end, not the end in themselves. People who come into the Kingdom and go from meeting to meeting to get renewed and filled with the Spirit are cheating themselves. God has more, much more! The coming of the Holy Spirit is part of God’s great river that is to move us out. He is the empowerment to take off…but to where?

Our destiny is not miracles
God did create the cosmos. He did part the Red Sea. Jesus did feed four and five thousand with a few fish and a little bread. But each of these miracles teach us something specifically. They are a means to God’s end. If we do not understand a miracle’s lesson, then we are like the disciples in the boat with Jesus.1 They saw the boy and the fish and the bread. They saw the five thousand. They held the bread. They broke the bread and passed it out. They picked up the leftovers and put them in twelve huge baskets. They see, taste, touch, and eat the miracle food. Then hours later they are in the boat with Jesus and one of them notes that he forgot the bread. Jesus rebukes them and says “O ye of little faith.” They saw, they tasted, they experienced the miracle, but they did not understand what God was teaching them through it. The result was that when they got in the boat they had nothing – no bread, no understanding. A miracle always points us to something about the nature and character of God and how He wants us to think. They are God’s way of preparing us, but for what?

Our destiny is not churches
Churches are essential to God’s plan, but they are not His goal. God’s strategy is not to have all His people in church 24/7. God’s desire is to use church to prepare His people to carry out their work. But what is the work?

The Four Thousand Year Mandate
For 4,000 years, since Abraham, God has been trying to reveal our destiny to us. Before the fall, after the fall, right through Jesus and Revelation, God is clarifying His “will on earth.” What purpose has God created us for? In His likeness, as His people, what is our destiny in this life? As we enter this 5th millennium in His plan we are still unclear.


To Adam, God said, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”2 Some translations read, “take dominion” others “cultivate the earth.” The root word for “cultivate” is “cultus” the same root word as for “culture.” In essence God is saying, “Fill the earth and create tribes, nations, peoples…cultures.” To Abraham, he says “I am going to make you as the sand of the sea, I am going to make you as the stars of the sky.3 I am going to multiply you and through you I will bless all nations.4 Multiply! Cultivate! Then through His Son, Jesus, the Father repeats His mandate. “Reach every creature.”5 Multiply! “Teach all nations.”6 Cultivate! For 4,000 years God has repeated our destiny again and again. Our destiny as the people of God is: Christ revealed in the nations. In order to understand this, in order to enter into our full inheritance on earth we must understand nations from God’s perspective.

We understand the need to “reach” the nations. We understand that there is a huge unreached population in the 10/40 window and that we must target these nations. We understand that we must send workers to tribes and languages which have no witness. When we see 20 percent or 50 percent of the population converted and the church planted we have a tendency to see our work as coming to completion. But this is only the beginning.

What Is A “Nation?”
What is God’s view of nations? What is God trying to convey to us in His word about his purpose for tribes and peoples? To understand God’s heart for the nations we have to start at the beginning…Genesis. If you mark your Bible every time the word nation is mentioned, you will begin to think you are reading a book that is all about nations. God speaks about community and nations more than any other single subject. Nations are emphasized at the beginning and at the end as they all gather before the throne of God. Before the fall, God intended man to fill every corner of the earth and to develop cultures and nations. After the fall, the plan continues. In Genesis chapter 10, we begin to see the celebration of nations. You can almost feel God’s excitement as He recounts the multiplication of tribes, each with their own language, culture, and land. God loves diversity. He loves multiplication. He loves this massive process of migration and reestablishment of new people groups. God is so pleased with the concept of creating nations that every time someone gets wounded or hurt he blesses them by promising that He will make them a new people, tribe and nation.

A New Nation Is A Blessing
As God calls Abraham out of his homeland He promises that He is going to make him the father of a great “family of nations.” When Ishmael is thrown from his father’s tribe, God says, “Don’t worry Ishmael, I have a blessing for you too.” And what is the blessing? “Ishmael, I am going to make you a family of nations.” “ I am going to create twelve great nations through you.” Lot is abused in his new homeland and as he leaves in defeat God encourages him. “Lot, I am going to make you into two nations.” Can you feel the heart of God? God is excited. He is doing what He loves. He is multiplying people in His image and creating new nations. When Rebecca is very pregnant, God speaks encouragement to her. “You carry two nations in your womb, Rebecca.” God’s expectation was that being allowed to parent a new nation was an honor. He is using them to accomplish something very dear to His heart. What does He love? He loves people and nations, lots of nations each with their own language, culture, and land.

Empires Are Not A Blessing
In chapter 11 of Genesis we come to the story of the Tower of Babel. I have heard many messages on Babel, but never one on what appears to me to be the real sin. We often focus on the tower they wanted to build to heaven and the pride of that aspiration. We see it as using science and technology to exalt themselves over God. But the tower of Babel is only the symbol of their sin, not the sin itself. What is it in this account that moves God to action? In verse 4 the Babylonians say, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” Babylon wanted to be a “mega nation.” They wanted to stop the great migration of peoples, gather on a plain in Shinar, and build one great nation with one language, one culture, and one government. They wanted to be the most powerful nation on the face of the earth. God’s plan was for multiplication and diversity and the Babylonians wanted an empire. God defeats their ambitions. They are defeated in their purpose as every empirical dream of domination is defeated in history. God is determined to continue to multiply and create nations.

Nations Are Not Targets
For God, nations are not targets for evangelism, they are strategies for revealing God Himself. Nations are not convenient ways to divide up the work, or subheadings to the mission task. Nations were in the heart of God when He created the universe and nations are there before His throne for all eternity. God’s plan of redemption is for individuals, but it is also a reconciliation plan for nations.

As God moves on in Genesis from the origins of the cosmos, man, family, and nations, He tells us the details of the origin of one nation. Using Israel as His model, He reveals His plans for human culture. God says to Abraham, “I will teach you and you will teach the nations.”7 To Isaac God repeats, “I will bless you and you will bless the nations.”To Moses in the wilderness, “I will give you these understandings of how to be a nation and through these I will bless all nations.”9 God says that He is choosing Israel because they are a small and undeveloped people. His principles applied will make them the greatest nation on the face of the earth. He can use them to reveal Himself in and through all nations. He makes Israel the template of what He wants for all peoples, in all nations, in all of time.

All The Prophets Prophesied To Nations
If we focus on the prophets, all 17 of them prophesied to nations. Every one of them has God’s word for at least one nation, many of them for more. Today, prophecy is often focused on the individual or the church. This is not wrong, but it was not the focus of the prophets in scripture. What does it mean that a simple shepherd like Amos in Israel has a bigger understanding of God’s strategy in nations than we seem to have today?

When we read of the parting of the Red Sea and God’s miraculous defeat of the Egyptian army on behalf of Israel, we are not only reading of God’s heart for the Jewish nation, we are reading of God’s heart for all nations. We are seeing the lengths to which God will go for a people. We are seeing God move heaven and earth in order to preserve His revelation of Himself in a people. That is not God’s message for one nation. He is saying to all nations “I will bless you, so that all nations of the world will be blessed.” It is God’s desire that they be free, that they have their land, that they have the right to learn the blessings of God and become examples of the greatness of God.

Nations Are Miracles
Nations are miracles. They are birthed by the will of God; they have their origins in the creator. They cannot exist but by His will. God has made a covenant with every people and that covenant stands until that people so breaks the covenant that it can no longer stand. God said to Israel, “You may destroy these nations, but you may not destroy this nation, because I have a covenant with them.” God will remove the rights of a nation that has become cancerous. This is not His desire and purpose; He wants to reach and disciple those nations.

Jesus Picks Up Where The Prophets Left Off

As we move on to the New Testament Jesus picks up the 2000 year old theme and says, “Multiply, disciple all nations.” The vision that begins with Adam does not change. God’s purpose for all peoples continues through the Good News of righteousness in Jesus Christ. In Matthew, Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to destroy or eliminate the laws of Moses. I have not come to destroy them; I have come to fulfill them. And anyone who does not preach these laws and principles will be the least in the Kingdom of God. But anyone who preaches and lives the principles will be great in the Kingdom of God.”10 Jesus is saying that the coming of salvation does not eliminate the need to teach and preach the principles of how to live in my community and how to disciple my nation. We must preach salvation and we must teach nation building. When we preach only the New Testament we are discipling people in being “least in the Kingdom.” It is good that they are in the Kingdom, but God wants more; God desires to release influence and “greatness in the Kingdom.” For this we must return to discipling with the whole Bible.

Recently, I received an e-mail from Argentina. The leaders of the revival there sent out a letter asking forgiveness of the body of Christ worldwide, saying that in their zeal for evangelism and church planting they had failed to address the issues of justice and economics. They felt partly responsible for the national crisis in both these areas. This is a humble response to a devastating fact: we have lost much of God’s thinking. We reach the nations, but we leave them in injustice, disease, illiteracy, and poverty. We no longer have the keys of greatness in the Kingdom that bring blessing to the community. That is the bad news. The good news is that God wants us to re-inherit those keys in our generation.

Paul Grasps God’s Heart For The Nations
I believe that Paul is the primary architect and author of the New Testament because He understood nations from God’s perspective. Some of the apostles wanted Christianity to be a subset of Jewish culture. Paul contests them and says that the Good News of Christ is not to be a subset of any culture. It is God’s message for all nations and is to be expressed in and through their languages and cultures in their own way. If Paul had not won this argument you and I would be singing Jewish songs and dancing Jewish dances. But Paul did win, and so won the right for the diversity of God to be revealed through all peoples in all times.

Nations, Tribes, And Peoples Are Eternal

In Revelation we are given a picture of God’s throne and the throng standing before Him. How are they gathered? By denominations? No. By families? No. By nations! Nationhood is eternal. It is part of the New Jerusalem. Multiculturalism is celebrated for all time. Nations express the very diversity of God and His nature. In the new earth we come in all our national glory, laying our treasures of justice, health, wisdom, love, beauty and wealth before His feet, declaring Him the source of all that we have that is good. The Kings bring the glory of their nations before the throne.11

To this day, the Jews have failed to understand that their blessing and destiny as a nation lay in the blessing and destiny of all nations. And it seems, as Christians, we do not understand this either. God is not after a big church only; He is looking for a diverse church and a deep church. He desires to save individuals and reach nations, but also to teach them and bring a demonstration of the Glory of His truth on earth. How do we do this? It is all in the Book. Moses’ job was to teach the smallest, poorest, most destitute people in history about God and science, God and justice, God and economics, God and family, God and worship, God and wisdom, God and beauty, God and health…in other words, God and all of life. This revelation was learning to think as God thinks and live as God would live in our place. Moses wrote it all down in the five books of the Law so that the Jewish people, and all peoples of all nations, would have the keys to the blessings of the Kingdom.

How do we make great nations for the Kingdom of God? We give them the whole counsel of God. What a message! What a God! A God for all nations.

1. Matthew 16
2.Genesis 1:28
3. Genesis 22:17
4. Genesis 22:18
5. Mark 16:15
6. Luke 24:47
7. Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:8
8. Genesis 26:3-5
9. Deuteronomy 4:5-8
10. Matthew 5
11. Revelations 7:4-10