John T. Willis

Monday, July 16, 2012

I know the plans I have for you--8

God's VISION is to partner with all nations. From our perspective, this is beyond our comprehension. This is why our vision is far out of sync with God's Vision. If we get serious about God's VISION, we must focus on God's partnerships. We have already discussed God's partnership with his chosen people and with individuals. Now one naturally turns to God's partnership with all nations. The Bible portrays this partnership in four ways. 1. God repeatedly summons ALL NATIONS, ALL PEOPLES to come and worship and serve Yahweh. Just one example is Psalm 47: Clap your hands ALL YOU PEOPLES; shout to God with loud songs of joy. For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome, a great king OVER ALL THE EARTH. He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet. He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the king of ALL THE EARTH, sing praises with a psalm. God is king OVER THE NATIONS; God sits on his holy throne. The princes OF THE PEOPLES gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields OF THE EARTH belong to God; he is highly exalted. It is crystal clear that Old Testament speakers and writers knew very well that Yahweh was not limited to having relationship with his own chosen people, although this is significant, but has relationship with all nations and all peoples. This truth offends many people. But this is the Biblical truth. II. The same God who brought Israel out of Egypt brought all nations out of where they lived formerly to where they are now. A clear example of this is Amos 9:7: Are you not like the Ethiopians to me, O people of Israel, says the Lord? Did I not bring Israel up from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir? God's primary concern is ALL PEOPLE ON PLANET EARTH, not merely God's chosen people. Rather, God chose a certain people to bless all peoples on earth, as emphasized in a previous blog. See Genesis 22:15-18; 26:3-6; 28:13-14. III. When the Israelites or Judeans were in Babylonian Exile, God declared that he will reunify all nations. A great text on this truth is Isaiah 19:23-25: On that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. On that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, "Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage." IV. The Bible is full of examples of God working directly through all nations. One clear example is the story of Pharaoh-Neco, king of Egypt, related in 2 Chronicles 35:20-24. After all this, when Josiah [king of Judah] had set the temple in order, King Neco of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went out against him. But Neco sent envoys to him, sayhing, 'What have I to do with you, king of Judah? I am not coming against you today, but against the house with which I am at war; and GOD HAS COMMANDED ME TO HURRY. CEASE OPPOSING GOD, WHO IS WITH ME, so that he will not destroy you.'But Josiah would not turn away from himl, but disguised himself in order to fight with him. HE DID NOT LISTEN TO THE WORDS OF NECO FROM THE MOUTH OF GOD, but joined battle in the plain of Megiddo. The archers shot King Josiah and the king said to his servants, 'Take me away, for I am badly wounded.' So his servants took him out of the chartiot and carried him in his second chariot and brought him to Jerusalem. There he died, and was buried in the tombs of his ancestors. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah." This text shows clearly that NOT ONLY Pharaoh Neco CLAIMED that Yahweh commanded him to hurry to Carchemish and avoid Josiah and Judah, but the inspired Biblical composer or writer STATED that this message came from the mouth of God. Thus, God worked in tandem with a non-Israelite king to carry out God's purposes. We all need to realize two major truths: 1. God works in all nations, not just in our nation. God works among all people, not just among the church of God in Jesus Christ. God is not limited to his chosen people. When we think differently, we become haughty, arrogant, self-centered, protective--like JONAH!!! 2. God's VISION begins with ALL NATIONS, NOT with a local church. God moves from the nations to local churches, not from a local church to all nations. If we can only focus on God's VISION to reach out to all nations, this will change all of our churches. Genesis 1-11 starts the entire Bible with this truth. God first created all human beings, and only later chose Abraham and his descendants so God would use these people to bless all nations on earth. Share YOUR insights and failures and problems and questions with others. Let me hear from YOU. John Willis


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