Psalm 127:3-5

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!"

The Call...

Today I sat almost spell bound as I listened to Dr. Carlton teach in my missions class. I feel like a new world is being opened up to me... and along with that new world come new convictions and desires. I thought I'd summarize some of what he was talking about on here. A lot of it is basic stuff, but for me, it's a whole new way to look at overseas ministry!

Over and over again he told us, "Missions is rooted in the very nature of God." God is the source of missions. If it's not rooted in God, then it's humanistic.

Missions is theo-centric yet it is also ethno-centric. It is about God but it is for all people.

I was captivated by his point that missions is not a result of the fall. Missions is about God seeking after us. ( I LOVE that!!!)

To explain this point, he showed us a quick historical overview of how God seeks after us, not us after Him, in our sinful state. In Genesis 3:8, God came walking in the garden, after the fall, to find Adam and Eve. As humankind grows and disperses over the years, we see that they become increasingly corrupt. In Gen. 4 it talks about Cain and Abel. In Gen. 6 about the mass corruption of man... then the flood. However, in Gen. 9:16-17 we see God make a covenant between Himself and all mankind. We, the sinners, do not seek after God. He comes to us and provides an eternal covenant of hope for us. However, Israel still acted upon their sinful natures. In Gen. 11 we read the story of the Tower of Babel. But again, in chapter 12:1-3, God makes another covenant, this time with Abram and his decentants. "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."

Once again, God is coming to His people, they are not searching for Him.

One main point Dr. Carlton was asking of us, is: did Israel have a missionary calling? Were they called to just be set apart and to follow God? Or were they also to evangelize all nations? (I don't know that I'd ever thought about this before. I just assumed they were to worship God and leave the other nations alone, except the ones they were to kill. haha...) Well, he presented a very convincing case that Israel was indeed to call other nations to the worship of their God. Now, they did not have a formal missionary calling, as we know it today (obviously, Christ had yet to come), however, they did have the role of calling all nations to worship and glorify God.

Exodus 19:4-6 "You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel."

So Israel was a nation of priests, but who were they to be priests to? Obviously, to serve the Lord, but to what people? Dr. Carlton believes that Israel was to be a mediator between God and the peoples (other nations)... they were to proclaim the excellencies of God to the nations. They were called to be separate and holy among the nations. Just like we are called to be in the world but not of the world.

Isn't it interesting that we are prone to the same error as Israel was? How so? God chose Israel to be a holy nation... why should they proclaim God to unreached peoples? Likewise, we as christians are a called people, whom God has set apart. Why should we evangelize? Yet wait... God explicitly calls us to make His glory known to the nations.

Look at some of these Psalms that he pointed out. The wording richly portrays that Israel understood this calling to the nations:

Ps. 96:2-3 - "Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!"
Ps. 117:1 - "Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples!"
Ps. 9:11 - "Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds!"
Ps. 18:49 - "For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations, and sing to your name."
Ps. 57:9 - "I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations."
Ps. 96:10 - "Say among the nations, 'The Lord reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity."

Think about this for a second. These are the words that Israel most likely sung as they gathered together for worship. They were most certainly aware of the need to share God's covenant faithfulness to the nations.

Even in the New Testament Paul quotes several Old Testament verses in Romans 15 that deal with telling the nations (Gentiles) of God:

"For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:

'Therefore I wil praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.' and again it is said,

'Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.' And again,

'Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.' And again Isaiah says,

'The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.'" (vs. 8-13)

God's desire is to call all nations back to Himself. It is evident from scripture that before we were even created, we were called to extol our Lord and shout forth glory that is due His name!

Israel was called to glorify God through proclaming His goodness to the nations... New Testament believers were called to glorify God through proclaiming His goodness to the nations... I am called to glorify God through proclaiming His goodness to the nations... YOU are called to glorify God through proclaiming His goodness to the nations.

Will we answer that call?


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