Thursday, May 16, 2013

All the People of the Earth

“Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’?  Mark 11:17

I love being a part of this church family! We exist for the God’s fame among the nations, nothing more, nothing less. CS Lewis articulated it well when he wrote: “The church exists for no other purpose but to draw men (and women) into Christ, to make them little Christ’s. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose.”

The Greek word for nations is ethne, the same root as the English word ethnic.  We still capture the Bible’s essence of the word when we use terms like: Cherokee Nation, or even referring to Hitler’s Arian Nation.

Today, missiologists refer to these nations as people groups. Anthropologists and ethnographers calculate that there are approximately 16,700 distinguishable people groups dispersed among 220 political nations. God loves them all! Always has!

In Genesis 12:3 God blessed Abraham so that all peoples on earth will be blessed through you [Abraham].

In 1 Samuel 17:46, what drove David as he faced Goliath?  This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head…and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.

In 2 Chronicles 6:32-33, we see again God’s intent for the Temple in Solomon’s dedication prayer: As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel… when he comes and prays toward this temple, do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you…

And in Malachi 1:11, the last book of the Old Testament, God is bearing His heart for the nations: My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun.

Throughout the New Testament, God’s heart for the nations is displayed.  Culminating with a glimpse of heaven displaying the nations gathered around God’s throne: Revelation 7:9-10 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. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

In the Bible, you will find that over 500 times, God voices His love and concern for the nations -- these individual pockets of 16,700 peoples that make up the world that He loves so much that He gave His only son to die for. You get the sense that God is like a proud parent who just can’t stop talking about how much He loves His kids!  Whenever a Bible author sits under His inspiration to write a book of the Bible, God tells him, “Make sure you include my heart for all peoples!”

One verse should be enough to lead us to prayerfully link our lives to sharing His passion for the nations. The overwhelming emphasis in Scripture should cause us all to reconsider our own passion for all peoples. 

This week, we will look at the first thing Jesus did when He got off the colt on Palm Sunday, expressing God’s heart for the nations.  I encourage you to read up in Luke 19:45-48. 

Please plan on joining us after the second gathering for our annual business meeting as we prayerfully focus on how we can pragmatically be a church that expresses God’s heart for the nations.