The Gentiles’ Place in Missions
What is God’s plan for the Gentiles? Interestingly enough, it begins and ends with Israel. Two thousand years ago, the first Christians were Jewish. The first churches were made up of Jewish membership, and Jewish pastors led them. The Scriptures that we hold so dear today were written by prophets, priests, kings, shepherds, tax collectors, fishermen, tentmakers, and apostles—all of them Jewish! So how did the Gentiles get in on all this, and how do we fit into God’s purpose given to us by the sons of Abraham?
God’s plan to evangelize the world did not begin in the book of Acts. God’s plan to proclaim His name among the heathen began in the Old Testament. The earliest men of faith already knew the gospel of the coming Redeemer. From Adam to Abel, from Seth to Enoch to Noah, the gospel was already revealed to them. And they passed it down from one generation to the next. In Galatians 3:8, we read that God foresaw that we, the heathen, would be saved by faith and so God “preached before the gospel unto Abraham.”
When God called Abram to leave Ur and go to a new land that He would show him, the purpose was that a nation be established that would worship Him, serve Him, and bring the Messiah into the world. The children of Abraham gave us the Scriptures and delivered the gospel to the Gentiles.
In the Prophets, we read often of God’s purpose for the nation of Israel. The prophet Isaiah writes: “I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” God’s purpose for Israel is defined in one word: Missions.
When Solomon built the Temple, it was to be a place of worship not only for Israel, but also for all nations.
“Moreover concerning the stranger, which is not of thy people Israel, but is come from a far country for thy great name’s sake, and thy might hand, and thy stretched out arm; if they come and pray in this house; Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for; that all people of the earth may know thy name, and fear thee, as doth thy people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name.“ II Chronicles 6:32-33
Jesus said that the Temple was to be “a house of prayer for all nations.” It was to be a place to which even the Gentiles could come to pray to the God of Israel; but it was also a place where the children of Israel were to come and pray for the salvation of the nations!
Throughout the Bible, the Gentiles would stay close to the children of Israel, knowing that through them the Messiah would come. We were not the chosen ones, but we knew who was. Speaking of the coming Christ, Isaiah said, “to it shall the Gentiles seek,” (Isaiah 11:10). God has always made provision for the Gentiles to be saved! From Rahab to Ruth; from Naaman to Nebuchadnezzar; from Nineveh and the Prophet Jonah to Macedonia and the Apostle Paul, God has always provided for the Gentiles to come to the Light!
In Deuteronomy 32:21, Moses said that God would use these Gentiles to move the children of Israel to jealousy concerning the God of Israel. We see this reiterated by the Apostle Paul in Romans 10:19. A group who are not a people, the Gentiles, would one day provoke the Jews to be jealous about their God. I see it every time we are in Israel. When our groups begin to sing in public places, and we give testimony of the comfort that the Holy Spirit gives us, and the forgiveness and grace that we have in our lives, the Jewish people see this and are provoked to jealousy about their God.
While France and Spain were colonizing places like Vietnam, the Philippines, Mexico, and Central and South America and Catholicizing the natives, England was taking the gospel to India, China and the African nations with the likes of David Livingstone, William Carey and Hudson Taylor.
While the Soviet Union was conquering nations all the way from Eastern Europe through Afghanistan and onto the Far East and spreading communism to those countries, the United States was exporting the gospel to each nation where we had a presence.
Don’t ever doubt the patriotism of missionaries. It is because of our taking the gospel to the dark and heathen nations that God is still holding this nation together! The greatest export of this great nation is the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Israel lost her status with God as the “Light to the Nations” because they refused to spread the gospel. God is not bound by any people group, nation, race, or association through which He will evangelize the world.
In the New Testament, the gospel went from Jerusalem to Samaria in Acts 8, then to the Near East in Acts 11 when the persecuted believers were scattered abroad. But as they went, they preached the gospel to the Jews only. Then when Saul was saved, he was called to be the “apostle of the Gentiles.” He tried to preach the gospel to the Jews, but in Acts 13 they rejected it and Paul said, “Lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” Jesus came unto His own—the Jews—in John 1:11, but His own received Him not. God’s plan was for the children of Israel to receive the gospel, believe in Christ, and then carry the gospel to the heathen nations. However, because they did not fulfill their commission, God is now using the Gentiles to carry forth this gospel, which was delivered unto us by the Jews.
At one time America was the mission field. And now for the past 200-plus years, the United States has been taking the gospel to nearly all the nations of the world. For the first time in the history of the world, our generation has been given the privilege of taking the gospel back to Israel!
And it all begins with each of us being willing to give what we have for the furtherance of the gospel. Anything we have that we do not make available to God is subject to confiscation by God! Just as with Israel, as long as this nation continues to have as its greatest export, the gospel to the nations, God will continue to bless America. I believe that every sincere Christian desires to do the will of God. But you cannot DO the will of God if you do not KNOW the will of God. May we understand our responsibility in missions, and then fulfill our part of the Great Commission!