Summary: We look through the major sections of the Bible to trace the theme of missions, beginning with the Law and History, then the Writings of wisdom and poetry, next the Prophets, then the Gospels and History, the Epistles, and finally, Revelation.
Genesis 12:1-3 Missions: The Big Picture in the Bible
10/8/00 D. Marion Clark
Let me start off with a couple of cautions. You are used to me expounding a few verses. For this message, we are going through the whole Bible. We will look through the major sections of the Bible to trace the theme of missions through its pages, beginning with the section known as the Law and History, then the Writings of wisdom and poetry, next the Prophets, then into the New Testament with the Gospels and History, the Letters, and, finally, Revelation.
Another caution is that this will not be a practical sermon. I will not give you any practical counsel as to how to apply what we read. I have but one aim – to reveal to you the big picture of missions in the Bible. You might think, “Thank goodness it’s over,” when I’m done. My prayer is that you will marvel at the glorious design and work of God.
Law and History
Law and history covers the books from Genesis through Esther. We will start with Genesis 12 to see the first revelation of God’s plan for the world through the Jews.
The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
2 “I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
Up to this time Scripture presents God’s relationship with the world in general. This chapter marks the beginning of his covenant relationship with Israel. It seems that his focus moves from the world to a single people. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. But verse 3 reveals the purpose for giving such attention to Abraham: all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
God’s intention is not to restrict his love to one people, but through that one people group to bring blessing to all the people groups. He reiterates this point several times.
17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me (Genesis 22:17,18).
To Abraham’s son Isaac he said: 4 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed (Genesis 26:4).
To Isaac’s son Jacob whom God also named Israel he said: 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring…(Genesis 28:14).
How will all the peoples be blessed? We will get to that later. The concept of descendants will figure prominently. Right now, we are noting that in the very origin of Israel, God intended for her to spread his blessing to the peoples of the world.
Let’s move now to the Writings, which cover the book of Job through the Song of Solomon. This time we will take selections from the Psalms. Most of these I have drawn from John Piper’s book Let the Nations Be Glad. The Psalter is oftentimes referred to as the songbook or prayer book of Israel. But now notice the appeals to the nations and peoples of the earth to join in the worship of God.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).
1 Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy….
9 The nobles of the nations assemble
as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings of the earth belong to God;
he is greatly exalted (Psalm 47:1,9).
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine upon us,
2 that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.
3 May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.
4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples justly
and guide the nations of the earth.
5 May the peoples praise you, O God;