December 15 – Importance of the Old Testament – God’s Passion for People and the Nations

Read Genesis 12:1-3

Every four years, I really enjoy the Olympics. I love seeing the talent in every sport from the track and field events to gymnastics to archery. And, I have to admit, I enjoy cheering for Team USA. My upbringing has instilled a sense of national pride and patriotism in me.

That national pride and patriotism can sure be positive. But those two realities also can have a dark underbelly that can lead me to personal convictions of exceptionalism, superiority, and even xenophobia. I must remind myself that citizens of the United States are not somehow God’s unique, chosen people.

As we continue in our series on why the Old Testament is important, we discover today a nation that God did select. From Abraham, Sarah, and their offspring, God purposed to make a great nation. To Abraham and his descendants, He would give land and offer blessing. In fact, this nation would be a conduit of blessing to the other peoples of the earth.

That is quite a chunk to swallow, so let’s break it down into some bite-size morsels.

  1. The nation of Israel plays a prominent role in the Old Testament. They were to be a people of God’s own possession, set apart for His purposes.
  2. God’s offering of blessing to the nations is clear throughout the Bible. Israel was to be a conduit of blessing to the nations of the Old Testament. Some of the surrounding people were attracted to Yahweh as Israel kept the law. Meanwhile, the church is to be a bold witness for Christ as people intentionally go to share the life-changing gospel with the peoples of the world.
  3. Jesus is the ultimate offspring of Abraham, who offers blessing to all (Gal 3:15-17).
  4. Believers today are to follow the example of Abraham who was declared righteous on the basis of faith (Rom 4:18-25; Gal 3:7-9). Still today, we are justified only by faith.
  5. The church does not replace the nation of Israel, but God’s plan for Israel does serve as bookends to the church age.

Bottom line for today, you and I need to replace any kind of unhealthy national superiority. All nations of the world have incredible value in the sight of God. In both the Old and New Testaments, He exposes His plan to bless them in the person of Jesus. While you and I can cheer for Team USA, we must also be fans of and players in God’s plan to redeem people from every nation.

Steve Kern

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