The Old Testament paints a picture of the progression of revelation. Before Babel, God’s revelation was indiscriminate to all peoples. With the call of Abraham, revelation was channeled through the Jewish line, but after Pentecost the revelation of the gospel is decisively intended for a global audience. And yet throughout the Old Testament, there is a holy anticipation that many Gentiles will answer God’s call to salvation, for that salvation, according to His eternal plan, ultimately has a global aim. It tells us that on the day that God’s promises are fulfilled, salvation will be proclaimed to every people group in every place—the serpent will be crushed, sinners will be restored, and all nations will be blessed in the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many ways we could apply this teaching, but we will emphasize just four concluding applications.
First, the Old Testament witness gives us renewed confidence that Jesus Christ is the perfect fulfillment of God’s promises. There’s a reason why the ancient nation of Israel wasn’t commissioned to bless the nations. The fullness of the gospel had not yet come. The empowering Spirit had not been poured out. The Lord of the harvest had not yet sent His workers out into the harvest field. But when Christ came, He commissioned the early church to make disciples of the nations—to incorporate them into the people of God and to teach them all His ways. And Christianity became what is arguably the only global proselytizing movement ever born out of the Jewish nation. The fact that salvation has risen out of Jerusalem and is being extended to the coastlands at the ends of the earth—this is intended to be confirmation that the Messiah, the Son of Adam, Abraham, and David, has come. The promises of God are uniquely fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and we can be sure that He truly is the Savior of the world.
Second, the constancy of God’s plan throughout the Old Testament gives us confidence that God does not change. Throughout Scripture, we see that God’s character and His purposes have remained constant from the very beginning until now. He doesn’t make mistakes. He doesn’t invent a plan as He goes along. Instead, all of human history is worked out according to the unyielding counsel of God’s will. The fashions of the world may change. Your political environment may change. Your neighborhood may change. Your mind and body may change as you age. And it’s not just that these things might change—they will change. But the principles of God’s character and the purposes of God’s heart will not change. From cover to cover of the Holy Scriptures—from beginning to end of the universe’s existence—we have a God who is more steady than bedrock itself. We can cast ourselves on His graciousness toward sinners today with just as much confidence as yesterday. And regardless of what tomorrow brings, we’ll find that His mercies are just as sure then as they are now.
Third, the testimony of the Old Testament gives us confidence in our mission. Voices in the world, even some voices in the church, will claim that Christians should be tolerant of other cultures and religions. They’ll say we should show affirmation and acceptance toward the beliefs of all people, regardless of what they believe. They claim this is how we must show love to others. But how is this loving? How can we affirm disbelief and disobedience against God and His Word? How can we accept materialism, Buddhism, humanism, Islam, sexual relativism, Hinduism, atheism, and every other false teaching? The people you know who hold to these things right now are still under the curse of their sin. How can we remain silent when we know the way to blessing? There is one name given under heaven by which we must be saved. We must offer them Christ.
Fourth and finally, the Old Testament gives us confidence in our evangelism and ministry. God has called us to this work because He Himself is earnest for its success. We can have confidence in establishing new churches, sending out missionaries, training pastors, multiplying disciples, and praying for the nations because these things were God’s idea far before it was ours. God has already gone before us, into both our local communities and the most remote countries, and He is the one who guarantees that our work will not be in vain. He has claimed sheep for Himself who are not yet in His sheepfold. And as we speak the words of the Shepherd, His sheep will hear His voice and come.
This may be the first time you’ve ever heard of God’s plan to show mercy and favor to the nations. Perhaps right how you’re realizing for the first time that God’s invitation to come and be blessed is for you. Come with repentance and yet with confidence. Trust in Christ as the Savior of sinners. Know that God’s willingness to save sinners from among the nations will not change. Know that God has called you out of sin so that you might be a blessing to others. And trust that He will work in you and through you as you proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you from darkness into light.
PURITAN REFORMED JOURNAL
Volume 15, Number 1 • January 2023
By Joel R. Beeke and Devon Rossman