Blessing Kings and Nations

The foundation of redemption in the Bible is the covenant God made with Abraham. It included the promise that “all the Nations of the Earth would be blessed” in the Patriarch, and that he would have innumerable descendants. His offspring would include “Kings” and “Nations.”

In the Book of Revelation, for example, the fulfillment of the promise is found in the vision of the “Innumerable Multitude” of men redeemed from every nation as they stood before the Throne and the “Lamb,” and in the picture of the “nations” and the “Kings of the Earth” residing in the city of “New Jerusalem.”

Bless nations - Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash
[Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash]

How and when will the nations be blessed by the Patriarch and who are his descendants? Most importantly, who is the “
Seed of Abraham” that inherits and executes the promises?

The promised “seed” is Jesus Christ and his New Covenant community, the “Body of Christ.” The Abrahamic Covenant was part of the larger redemptive plan of God from the start, a beginning point rather than the end of the process. The initial focus on Abraham’s immediate biological descendants was the first stage of a much larger program.

From its inception, the covenant envisioned a glorious future beyond the confines of national Israel or the small territory of Canaan, a promise that will find its ultimate fulfillment in the New Creation and the redemption of the nations - (Genesis 12:1-3, 15:4-6, 17:1-8).

During his ministry, Jesus limited the activities of his disciples to the “lost sheep of Israel.” However, his mission envisioned the inclusion of the “Gentiles,” and this was demonstrated by the application of the messianic prophecy in the Book of Isaiah to the commencement of his ministry in Galilee:

  • The land of Zebulon and of Nephtali by the way of the sea beyond Jordan, GALILEE OF THE NATIONS; the people that sat in darkness saw a great light” - (Matthew 4:12-17).

The Messiah was anointed to reign “upon the Throne of David.”  He was the Servant of Yahweh who “declared judgment to the nations… and in his name nations trust” - (Matthew 12:18-22, Isaiah 42:1-4).

Matthew’s Gospel applies the passage to the time Jesus healed a man’s withered hand on the Sabbath Day. Indignant, the Pharisees conspired “how they might destroy him,” but he withdrew, and a “great multitude followed him, and he healed them all.” The application of the prophecy at this point suggests that at least some Gentiles were included in the “mixed multitude” that followed Jesus.

This is confirmed by the version of the story in Mark (“A great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, from beyond Jordan; and a great multitude from Tyre and Sidon”). Both Tyre and Sidon were Phoenician cities with largely Gentile populations - (Mark 3:6-7).

GLOBAL MISSION


After his resurrection, Jesus commanded his disciples to herald the Kingdom to “all nations,” a mission that must be completed before his return. Thus, the salvation of the “nations” is pivotal to the plan of redemption - (Matthew 24:14, 28:18-20).

Likewise, he commissioned the disciples to be “witnesses for me both in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and UNTO THE END OF THE EARTH.” This last clause alludes to the prophecy of the Servant of Yahweh in Isaiah - “I will also give you for a light to the nations that you may be my salvation UNTO THE END OF THE EARTH”- (Isaiah 49:6, Acts 1:7-9).

This global scope is stressed in the climax of Peter’s first sermon on the Day of Pentecost when he combined verbal allusions from the books of Isaiah and Joel - For to you is the promise, to your children and TO ALL THAT ARE AFAR OFF, AS MANY AS THE LORD OUR GOD WILL CALL to him.” The term “promise” is singular in number and refers to the promise of the Holy Spirit. – (Acts 2:33-39).

To all that are far off” is another allusion to the prophecy in Isaiah - “Hear, O isles, unto me; and hearken, YOU PEOPLES FROM FAR; Yahweh has called me from the womb… I will also give you for a light to the nations that you may be my salvation UNTO THE END OF THE EARTH” - (Isaiah 49:1-6).

In the third chapter of Acts, Peter prayed for the lame man at the entrance to the Temple, declaring that “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” had healed him in the name of “His Servant,” Jesus, the “seed” in whom “all the clans of the earth WOULD be blessed” - (Acts 3:25).

Thus, Peter linked the ministry of Jesus to the promise to bless all the nations in Abraham’s Seed. His words anticipated the broadening of the covenant community to include the Gentiles by declaring that God had blessed the Jewish nation “first.”

PREACHING TO GENTILES


Peter was instrumental in opening the Gospel to the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius. He understood that it was unlawful “for a man that is a Jew to join himself or come into one of another nation,” yet God had revealed to him that he must “not call any man common or unclean.”

The Creator of all things accepts men “in every nation that fear him and work righteousness.” Thus, Peter preached the same Gospel to Cornelius that he had proclaimed previously to the Jews of Jerusalem - (Acts 10:19-48).

As he was preaching, the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles, and they began to speak in tongues. This amazed the Jews with Peter since uncircumcised Gentiles had received the same Gift as the Jewish believers did on the Day of Pentecost. After hearing about these events, the Church of Jerusalem “glorified God, because TO THE GENTILES ALSO God had granted repentance unto life” - (Acts 15:14-17, Amos 9:11-12).

The Book of Acts ends with the Apostle Paul in Rome “proclaiming the Kingdom of God” to anyone who would hear, to Jews and Gentiles alike - (Isaiah 52:10, Acts 28:26-31).

Farm sunrise - Photo by Federico Respini on Unsplash
[Photo by Federico Respini on Unsplash]

In 
Galatians, Paul is explicit. Men of faith are the true “children of Abraham.” God’s plan was always to justify the Gentiles through faith, especially since He promised Abraham: “In you will all nations be blessed.” Men who stand on faith are “blessed with faithful Abraham.” Moreover, Jesus is the true “Seed of Abraham” in whom the nations are being blessed wherever the Gospel is preached – (Genesis 12:3, Galatians 3:7-9, 3:14, Ephesians 2:11-19).

Finally, the Book of Revelation foresaw the city of New Jerusalem inhabited fully by the innumerable company of men redeemed from all the nations, including the “Kings of the Earth.” Jesus symbolized by the slain “Lamb” was declared worthy to reign over the Cosmos because he “purchased for God by his blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation” - (Revelation 5:5-14, 7:9-17, 21:24).

The Abrahamic Covenant, including its promises of land and descendants, always included the Gentiles, and it finds its divinely intended fulfillment in the New Creation inaugurated by the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. It is “in him,” the “seed of Abraham,” that the nations are “blessed.”



RELATED POSTS:
  • Redeeming the Nations - (The nations and the Kings of the Earth are found in the City of New Jerusalem because of the redeeming work of the Lamb)
  • The Mission - (The mission of the church between now and Christ’s return is to announce the Good News of his Kingdom to all nations – Matthew 24:14)
  • Salvation for All - (The Gospel of the Kingdom announced by Jesus of Nazareth offers salvation and life to men and women of every nation and people)

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