Saturday, January 31, 2009

Great Commission in the Old Testament

The Old Testament [OT] job description for the people of God was to bless the nations (Gen 12:1-3). But the OT show little success at this. Indeed, just about the only times Israel provided much by way of blessing the nations was when they were exiled among the nations because of divine judgment.

We see Joseph in Egypt, blessing the nations--and the threatened seed of Israel--by exercising divine wisdom in the face of international famine. We see the Israelite slave girl telling her Assyrian over lord where he could find divine healing from leprosy. We see Daniel and his wise colleagues exercising wisdom on behalf of Babylonian and then Persian over lord. And the only time we see a non-exiled Israelite blessing the nations, it's the unwilling and embittered Jonah, who hated doing it and even resented it when his ministry did bless the Ninevites by provoking repentance, which forestalled divine judgment. And Jonah probably stood in as a type of OT Israel's failure to bless the nations, for failing to fulfill their reason for being.


  1. I agree that Israel somehow fell into thinking the nations would come to them instead of realizing they were to go to the nations. But I think it is fair to say that in their case centripital (drawing in) mission was a much necessary as the call to centrifugal (going out) mission. Second Temple Judaism seemed more centripital in its focus than centrifugal - that came after the cross with the re-constituted Israel also known as the 12 Apostles.

    The whole question of if Second Temple Judaism was to be a missionary religion is an interesting question. But I do agree with you over all assertion that in the end, Israel failed to fulfill YHWH's calling for them as a nation.

    -Brian Fulthorp
    Grand Canyon Assembly of God

  2. Perhaps there should have been MANY Jonahs, but none so reluctant.

  3. Dr B, here is my disagreement with you. You have to distringuish between Israel as a nation and Israel as a people. Yes, Israel as a nation did not live up to their "great commission" as a nation, but as an individual Jews, by which they represented Israel, did hearily obey the G-D of Avraham, Yitzak and Ya'akov (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). Just as we as believers in Yeshua have "enemies" that threaten our faith by the "god of this world", so Israel had enemies too that were threatening the existenve of who they were. In fact, Isreal did fulfill its "great commission" under Joshua, Joash, Hezekiah, David, Solomon (remember Queen of Sheba)and Jehosaphat (the good kings). They didn't always succeed but they didn't always fail,either.
    In fact, the evangelical church has failed to live up to its "great commission" because it has not made the Jewish people "jealous" for the gospel. As a grafted in Gentile believer, you are eligible and qualified to partake in celebrating the Jewish biblical feasts that will be celebrated in the millenium according to Zephaniah 14 that you can celebrate now. The church doesn't think it important to celebrate OT feasts because they are OT, and the false belief that you have to be Jewish to celebrate these feasts. These are eternal bibvlical feasts that Yeshua Himself celebrated. What's wrong with being like Yeshua in His Jewishness, so that we can be effective witnesses to the unbelievingJewish world? This is from Les Szabo from Bethel/Littlestown Christian Academy.