"God's Love in the Old Testament" - Chapter 9



Chapter 9: "God & the Rest of the World"




Chapter 9 – God & the Rest of the World


For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him

shall not perish but have eternal life. (Jn 3:16)



Chapter 9 Contents

9.1 Isn't the Old Testament just about the Jews?

9.2 God's concern for the world from the Patriarchs on

9.3 God's concern passed on by the early leaders Moses & Joshua

9.4 God's concern for the world through David & Solomon

9.5 God's heart for the world conveyed through the Prophets

9.6 God's dealings with Gentile Kings using Daniel

9.7 Other Instances of Gentile Contact

9.8 The New Testament: The climax of God's concern for the world

9.9 And So



9.1 Isn't the Old Testament just about the Jews?


We concluded the previous chapter facing some of the natural questions that arise in thinking people when we consider God's activities through Israel, e.g. What about the rest of the world? Doesn't God care for the rest of the world as well? The answer, we hope you will come to see in this chapter, is a resounding, “Yes!”


Yet questions do arise in the minds of thinking people, “Isn't the Old Testament at least, all about the Jews? What about the rest of us? Why didn't God work with the whole world?


I believe the short answer to that, which we will verify by this chapter, is that God chose a particular nation, right from its outset, to reveal Himself through to the rest of the world.


I believe we will see that throughout the Old Testament the signs are clearly there that Israel was to be a light to the rest of the world, who would see what was happening to them, and have their thoughts drawn to the God who was interacting with this nation.
God's intent was that Israel reveal Him to the rest of the world


Everything about this nation – their founding grandfather, even their actual father, the way they came into being in Egypt, the way they were delivered from Egypt, the way they were led and given a new land to live in, the struggles they had there, the eventual exile and restoration – all this pointed to the reality and existence of the One God.


So let's see what signs there are on the Old Testament that God cares for the whole world and not just Israel:


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9.2 God's concern for the world from the Patriarchs on


If you are not familiar with the story, Abram (Genesis 12 on) was called by God to go and live in the land of Canaan. Eventually he had a son called Isaac and Isaac eventually had two sons, Jacob and Esau. God chose Jacob and changed his name to Israel . He had twelve sons who developed into twelve tribes which formed the nation of Israel . So let's see some of the encounters these men had with God and how that reveals God's intention in respect of the rest of the world.

Starting with Abram


Gen 12:2,3   " 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. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

  • I am sure that throughout his life Abram, or Abraham as he became, really had little or no idea what this meant. Today we believe it had a fourfold application:
  • First, that he would become the father of a great nation, Israel , through whom God would reveal Himself, (actually the grandfather, though culturally considered one and the same thing) and
  • Second, out of his family line would eventually come the Messiah, who would be God's means of bringing salvation to the whole world, and
  • Third, Abraham became known as God's ‘friend' (Isa 41:8) showing it was possible for mankind to have a close relationship with Almighty God, and
  • Fourth, Abraham was known as a man of faith and faith was to become the vehicle by which salvation was received (see Rom 3-5).
  • However, in answer to the skeptics, perhaps the most important thing here is to note God's promise to this first man, who was to have an ongoing relationship with God, was that God would use him to somehow bless the whole world, to bless all peoples!
  • There is nothing parochial about this and it comes in the first prophetic declaration to Abram by God.


Gen 17:3-7  Abram fell face down, and God said to him, "As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

  • not only will Abram be a blessing in the ways we have considered above, his family will spread and create other nations – influence further afield.


Gen 18:17,18   Then the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.

  • Abraham's influence across the earth reiterated by the Lord


Gen 22:15-18   The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, "I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 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, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed , because you have obeyed me."

  • Abraham's obedience opened the way for God's blessing to flow and the divine purpose to be worked out to potentially bless the whole earth.


Continuing with Isaac


Gen 26:2-4   The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, "Do not go down to Egypt ; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. 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”

  • the same promise of blessing for the earth is given to Isaac
  • the ‘offspring', down the human family line at least, would be the Messiah, Jesus Christ.


And then to Jacob


Gen 28:13,14   I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 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.

  • This same promise of blessing to all the earth came to Jacob whose name the Lord changed to Israel , and who thus became the immediate father of the nation.
  • As we have seen in a previous chapter, God changed this twister into a respected, wise old man of faith. He is thus an example of a crooked human being who God loved, accepted and straightened out. If God could do that with Jacob, He can do it with any one of us.
  • Possibly the primary sense of this promise to Jacob to the second reason in the reasons given above about the fulfilment through Abram.


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9.3 God's concern passed on by the early leaders Moses & Joshua


The nation, because of a worldwide famine, end up in Egypt and settle there. Four hundred years later they have grown to a great people, and a threat to the Egyptians who made slaves of them. Using Moses, God delivered them from Egypt and sought to lead them into the Promised Land, Canaan, yet they rebelled and so ended up wandering in the desert for the next forty years until Moses died and God used Joshua to lead them into the land. Let's hear some of the things that the Lord said through Moses and Joshua which, again, reveal His heart for the world.


Communicating with Moses


Ex 15:14-16   The nations will hear and tremble; anguish will grip the people of Philistia. The chiefs of Edom will be terrified, the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling, the people of Canaan will melt away; terror and dread will fall upon them.

  • as we will see in a later chapter, God's presence with Israel as they approach the Promised Land will bring fear to the surrounding nations – they WILL know what is happening.
  • these things will testify to the surrounding nations about the presence of Almighty God with this people.
  • this declaration is made even before they are constituted a nation at Mount Sinai .


Num 14:13-17  Moses said to the LORD, "Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, O LORD, are with these people and that you, O LORD, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. If you put these people to death all at one time, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, `The LORD was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath; so he slaughtered them in the desert.'

  • this incident points to the same thing and occurs at Mount Sinai .
  • when Moses argued with the Lord to withhold His hand of judgment from Israel , one of his arguments is to do with what the surrounding nations would think.
  • it indicates very clearly that what was happening to Israel quickly became common knowledge in the surrounding nations.


Deut 2:24,25  "See, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his country. Begin to take possession of it and engage him in battle. This very day I will begin to put the terror and fear of you on all the nations under heaven. They will hear reports of you and will tremble and be in anguish because of you."

  • this was Moses reminding Israel of what the Lord had said, as above, shortly before he dies and before they enter the land under Joshua.
  • the word will spread beyond the immediate nations to all nations.


Deut 4:5,6   See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people."

  • Moses tells Israel that they will be an example to all other nations to reveal the Lord.


Deut 28:8-10   The LORD your God will bless you in the land he is giving you. The LORD will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will fear you.

  • a further reference to all the world seeing and knowing what was going on!
  • God will be revealed to the world.
  • so far these are all references to do with Moses being God's mouthpiece.


The Power of Testimony


Before we leave Moses, perhaps we should just note a simple incident involving his father-in-law, Jethro, the elderly Midianite priest, who goes to meet Moses and his people at Sinai. Why?


Ex 18:1  Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt .”


This is fascinating because it tells us something of how news travelled around the desert lands. The word gets to him that Israel are making their way down the Sinai Peninsular and so he goes to meet them. When he reaches them at Mount Sinai we read the confirmation of what he had already heard:


Ex 18:8  “Moses told his father-in-law about everything the LORD had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel 's sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the LORD had saved them.”

Now see the response of this elderly old priest from Midian:

Ex 18:10,11  “He said, "Praise be to the LORD, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.”


Moses had previously told him about his experience at the burning bush but now this testimony convinced the old man that the 'I AM' was truly the one and only God who should be worshipped.


And also Joshua


Josh 4:23,24  For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.”

  • already the understanding was that the world would see and know when they heard what God had done for Israel
  • this is now conveyed by Joshua as they enter the land.


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9.4 God's concern for the world through David & Solomon


After Israel settled in the Land, they were ruled by judges. Eventually they asked God for a king and were given Saul who didn't make a good job of it. God replaced him by king David whose son, Solomon, eventually followed him. David was described as “a man after God's own heart” and the Lord used him to build up and strengthen the nation and make it powerful. When Solomon took over, the Lord gave him great wisdom which resulted in great prosperity for the nation. Both these two men understood God's calling on the nation to be a light to the rest of the world:


Communicating with David


1 Chron 16:8,24   Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done… … Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples .

  • on the day David brought the ark to the Temple he wrote this psalm.
  • in it he clearly understands that their calling is to tell the rest of the world of the wonders of the Lord


Psa 57:9   I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.

  • this became a familiar refrain by David in the Psalms


Psa 67:1-4   May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations . May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth.

  • in this unnamed psalm (?possibly by David) the same theme is expanded upon
  • it extends to include God's sovereign activity across all the earth.


Psa 96:3   Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples.

  • another unnamed psalm (?possibly by David) has the same theme


Psa 96:10,13  Say among the nations, "The LORD reigns." The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity….. he comes to judge the earth . He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth.

  • yet another unnamed psalm (?possibly by David) declares the same thing – tell it to the world!
  • let the world know that God is the Supreme Judge of all peoples.


Psa 108:3-5  I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.

  • in this psalm by David, again David is quite specific in his understanding
  • God's praise and glory is for the whole earth to see and know.


And then with Solomon


1 Kings 4:29-34  God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon's wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, …. And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. He described plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also taught about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon's wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom

  • this amazing account shows us how the Lord gave Solomon such wisdom that news of it spread across the world.


1 Kings 8:41-43  "As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name -- for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm--when he comes and prays toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name”.

  • this is part of Solomon's prayer of dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem
  • this is a remarkable openness to the rest of the world – Solomon recognises that people from other lands can come and pray in this temple and when they do God will answer!
  • by this all peoples will know of the Lord!


1 Kings 8:59-61 “may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day's need, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other. But your hearts must be fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time."

  • after he prays, Solomon addresses the people
  • he sees that as God blesses them, the rest of the world will see and know.
  • all they have to do is be faithful to the Lord.


1 Kings 9:6,7   if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples.”

  • the Lord in a dream warns Solomon
  • not only can the world see their blessing, but if they turn away from God, the world will see and know that too.


1 Kings 10:1-10  When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the LORD, she came to test him with hard questions… When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed. …… happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD's eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness."

  • this is a classic case of fame spreading to other countries and God being glorified.


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9.5 God's heart for the world conveyed through the Prophets


Throughout the life of Israel , ‘prophets' who spoke out the heart and mind of God to the people, conveyed the same message: this nation is all about letting God's light shine to the rest of the world:


Isaiah speaks God's heart


Isa 2:3,4  Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion , the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples .

  • Isaiah prophesies about a time in the future where the world will focus on Jerusalem because they want to know God's ways.


Isa 11:10   In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.

  • Isaiah speaks of the Messiah who will draw people from all nations


Isa 25:6-8 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples , a banquet of aged wine-- the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples , the sheet that covers all nations ; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces ; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth .

  • Isaiah is absolutely clear that God's ultimate purposes include blessing for all the earth.


Isa 34:1,2 Come near, you nations, and listen; pay attention, you peoples! Let the earth hear, and all that is in it, the world , and all that comes out of it! The LORD is angry with all nations;

  • but he is equally clear that all the earth will be answerable to the Lord.


Isa 42:6   I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles

  • this is Isaiah's classic statement of God's purpose – to be a light to the Gentiles, to the rest of the world


Isa 49:6  I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.

  • Isaiah reiterates the ‘light' picture as he speaks of the coming Messiah

Isa 49:22  This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "See, I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up my banner to the peoples ; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders.

  • when there is a returning of Israel to their land, the whole world will know about it
  • (Fulfilled after the Exile and in the middle of the 20th century)
  • Zeph 3:19,20 says the same sort of thing.


Isa 55:4,5   See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples. Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor."

  • God's blessing of Israel (through the Messiah?) will draw all nations of the world.


Isa 60:1-3 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples , but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

  • yet again the same thing: God's blessing of Israel will be seen by the whole world who will be drawn


Isa 61:9   “Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed."

  • this part of this prophecy draws together much of the rest of it – that God's people will be seen and recognised by the earth – seen to be a blessed people, blessed by God.


Joel Likewise


Joel 2:17  Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the temple porch and the altar. Let them say, "Spare your people, O LORD. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations . Why should they say among the peoples, `Where is their God?' "

  • even the minor prophets were aware that their nation was on view to the rest of the world.


And Micah


Mic 1:2 Hear, O peoples, all of you, listen, O earth and all who are in it, that the Sovereign LORD may witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.

  • even Micah has a worldwide perspective – God is the God of the whole world and the whole world is accountable to Him.


And Zechariah


Zech 8:20-22   This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, `Let us go at once to entreat the LORD and seek the LORD Almighty. I myself am going.' And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the LORD Almighty and to entreat him."

  • Zechariah also has a sense of a time when Jerusalem will be a focus of people from all over the world
  • again definitely a world view.

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9.6 God's dealings with Gentile Kings using Daniel


The book of Daniel is a remarkable book. It recounts the story of a young man who turns out to be a prophet who gets taken to another country where he lives in the court of a Gentile king, an all-powerful king, Nebuchadnezzar. He is a witness to this and following kings and we have remarkable accounts of God's dealing with them. This is most definitely the God for whom national boundaries mean nothing.


Nebuchadnezzar impacted by God


Dan 4:1,2   “King Nebuchadnezzar, To the peoples, nations and men of every language, who live in all the world: May you prosper greatly! It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.”

  • this is possibly the most amazing testimony of Scripture – this all-powerful king who has been humbled by God now testifies to it to the whole world – incredible!
  • it is a testimony that says God deals with non-Jews – and blesses them!


Dan 4:34,35   At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: "What have you done?"

  • this is the end of this great king's testimony
  • it is not so much about Israel being a testimony to the rest of the world, but this gentile king making these amazing declarations.


Darius likewise


Dan 6:25-27   Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: "May you prosper greatly! "I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. "For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions."

  • again another incredible testimony from a Gentile king about the greatness of God
  • it was not to the whole earth but to all of his kingdom which was very extensive, peoples who were not Jews.


Daniel himself


Dan 7:13,14   "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”

  • Daniel's vision has worldwide implications.
  • This part speaks about the coming Messiah who will have worldwide impact, but other parts of the vision are all about other ‘kingdoms' that God will have dealings with.


Cyrus also impacted

Ezra 1:1-3   In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing: "This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: "The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you--may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem.”

  • Cyrus was a later successor to Nebuchadnezzar
  • Here we find him being inspired to by God to release the Jews back to their land to rebuild the Temple and later the city.
  • Again a great move of sovereign God to bring about His purposes, using a Gentile king.

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9.7 Other Instances of Gentile Contact




Josh 2:1,2   Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. "Go, look over the land," he said, "especially Jericho ." So they went and entered the house of a prostitute (or possibly an innkeeper) named Rahab and stayed there.”

  • She harbours these spies and sees them out safely and eventually, when Jericho is taken, she becomes part of Israel and eventually marries Salmon, an Israelite, and becomes part of the Messianic family line (see Mt 1:4,5).
  • She tells why she did it:


Josh 2:8-11  she went up on the roof and said to them, "I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

  • she, with the whole city, had heard what had been happening.
  • it was because of what had happened that she joined them. 


The Gibeonites


Josh 9:3,4,6  However, when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to a ruse: …. Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the men of Israel, "We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us."

  • they join themselves to Israel, albeit as servants.
  • the reason is given:


Josh 9:9,10  the fame of the LORD your God. For we have heard reports of him: all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan--Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth”

  • the word had clearly been heard of Israel 's exploits.
  • it was because of what had happened that they joined Israel.




2 Kings 5:2,3   Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman's wife. She said to her mistress, "If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria ! He would cure him of his leprosy."

  • Naaman was a Syrian army commander who had contracted leprosy.
  • He hears of Elisha through his Israelite servant girl who testifies about the prophet
  • He goes, is healed and clearly trusts in the Lord as a result.

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9.8 The New Testament: The climax of God's concern for the world


In the Gospels 


Mt 10:5,6   These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel .

  • Jesus clearly saw himself initially called to the people of Israel
  • He had to create a band of followers from this nation first of all – but they would eventually be sent to the world (see below)
  • However, it did not stop him reaching out and healing Gentiles, e.g.


Mt 8:5-7  When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering." Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him."

  • the man was clearly a Roman soldier, a Gentile.
  • Jesus had no problem ministering healing to his servant.


Jn 4:5-7   So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well…. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?"

  • the Jews disliked the Samaritans who they considered a mixed race, but Jesus had no qualms about entering into conversation with a Samaritan woman.
  • God is not concerned about boundaries.


Mt 15:21-22,28   Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon . A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession." …Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

  • here Jesus went to the far north of Israel where he encountered a Gentile woman and healed her daughter.


In the Acts of the Apostles


Acts 1:8   “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria , and to the ends of the earth."

  • in these closing words of Jesus to his disciples, he gives them directions – take the good news to the whole world!
  • thus God's heart for the whole world is fully revealed.
  • the rest of Acts and the letters of Paul have so many references to places outside Israel that they are too many to itemise here.
  • the rest of Acts is all about the taking of the Gospel to the surrounding world; history records how it has been taken to the vast majority of countries of the world


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9.9 And So


This would be a reasonable place to draw this chapter to a close. We have seen how throughout the life of Israel recorded in the Old Testament, there have been constant references to Israel being observed by the surrounding countries and news of what happened between them and God being taken to the rest of the world.


We have seen

  •  how it started with the Patriarchs,
  •  is seen through the instructions of Moses and Joshua to the people,
  •  was continued in the two most important kings in the early life of Israel , David and Solomon,
  •  declared through the prophets of Israel and Judah ,
  •  witnessed in the courts of Babylon
  •  seen through incidents involving other Gentiles
  •  and is continued in the New Testament at Jesus' bidding and Paul's activity.


To say that the Old Testament is only the story of Israel is only partially true. It certainly focuses on Israel and their dealings with God, but it recognises and declares their calling to be a light to the rest of the world which God cared for very much.

Historian Edward Gibbon (1737 - 1794) makes an interesting comment about the general attitude of the Jews and the rest of the world in his 'History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

"The obligation of preaching to the Gentiles the faith of Moses had never been inculcated as a precept of the law, nor were the Jews inclined to impose it on themselves as a voluntary duty....  The descendants of Abraham were flattered by the opinion that they alone were the heirs of the covenant, and they were apprehensive of diminishing the value of their inheritance by sharing it too easily with the strangers of the earth."

This may simply be a further example of the sinfulness of mankind failing to catch up with the heart of God, yet I hope we have shown in this chapter that the intent was clearly there in the heart of God, even if His people didn't do very well in working it out.


We can do no better than to conclude with that famous verse from John's Gospel that is at the head of this chapter:


For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him

shall not perish but have eternal life. (Jn 3:16)


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