I am not in the business of blogging a survey of the Old Testament. There's no way we can possibly hash out all the implications of God's plan for the Israelites on my blog. I also need to restate that my posts on world missions are about just that -- world missions. I am merely looking at one aspect of God's work and how He used His people to make His glory known to the nations. So let me clarify and address yesterday's post and Troy's comments regarding the topic.
The Abrahamic covenant states: "Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." Gen 12:1-3 (my emphasis added)
The blessing referred to in this passage connotes more than the receiving of good things. This blessing refers to the conferral of a family name, responsibility, obligation and privilege. So we see that God intends the Abrahamic Covenant to result in His blessing being poured out on all peoples. We know this is ultimately fulfilled through Christ. So does this mean that the covenant lies dormant for 2000 years until the arrival of Christ? Or does it mean that Abraham and the Israelite nation are to confer the blessing to the nations around them?
Two more times, God repeats the promised blessing to Abraham (Gen 18:18, 22:18). He also repeats it to Isaac (26:4) and to Jacob (28:14-15). The blessing falls on the Israelites, but it's not intended to stop there. There are five epochs before the appearance of Christ: Patriarchs, Captivity, Judges, Kings, Second Captivity/Diaspora. Surely God meant for the blessing to be shared throughout these periods.
The Israelites were sinful, so God established the Law. The Law was a specific revelation for the Israelite nation. It was intended to set Israel apart. "They were to live out the righteousness of the one true God, whose glory they were to declare in the whole earth (Isaiah 19, Numbers 14, Deuteronomy 28:10)." ~ Paul Borthwick, A Mind for Missions
The nation turns from God and the Law, so He sends the prophets.
"By the time we come to the prophets it is clear that the calling of Israel as a nation is for the sake of the whole world...Israel then is to be preserved so that she can mediate God's promises for His creation as a whole. They are to exhibit a people, institutions, and a land which will reflect God's glory so that this can one day be communicated to the whole earth and to all peoples." ~ William Dyrness, Let the Earth Rejoice
Isaiah, Habakkuk and Micah all reminded Israel of God's plan to include the whole earth in the blessing. The Psalmists also frequently refer to the mandate to glorify God through all the earth. The Old Testament proves over and over that God is a missionary God. Elisha demonstrated God's redemption to Gentiles (2 Kings 4:8, 2 Kings 5), Esther served as God's messenger to her Gentile captors, Joseph was God's agent of redemption in Egypt, Daniel and Jonah witnessed to pagan nations.
The Exile and the Great Commission are not the same thing. In my previous post, I wasn't trying to imply that God commissioned the Israelites out to other nations. But He did expect them to demonstrate His righteousness for the purpose of making His glory known. "He prepared His people Israel, as children of Abraham, to be a blessing to all nations. In the Old Testament, God's people made choices that kept them from fulfilling His perfect plan, but they could not stop His purposes from being plainly stated. God was in the business of redemption, and He would accomplish His purposes through His Messiah." ~ Borthwick
Whew. Time to take a break. Thankfully, tomorrow is Friday and you know what that means...