Mission of GOD – 8

I will confess I have been somewhat distracted. Mainly by Steinbeck and Robinson and so it’s taken me  while to get back to Chris Wright.

But sitting here off work on the sick for a day to give me close proximity to a toilet, has given me the chance to catch up a bit.

In this penultimate chapter Wright covers GOD’s vision for the nations in the OT. From sunday school memories I remember a lot of violence, a lot of blood shed. In fact if you asked me to recall what happened in the historical narratives of the OT then that is what would immediately jump to mind.

The violence and the judgement happened, but it would be negligent to say that that was all that was going on. Although hardly unexpected the Bible gives a somewhat fuller and more nuanced account than what I seem to have immediately retained.

Here Wright articulates how the Mission of GOD involved and included the pagan nations of the OT accounts.

GOD’s mission is what fills the gap between the scattering of the nations in Gen 11 and the healing of the nations in Rev 22

He uses the example of the story of Jonah – which we see as the reluctant missionary who is eventualy persuaded. Perhaps because this is the closest thing we can find in the OT that looks like mission to us.

Wright argues that

the real missional challenge of the book is undoubtedly and intentionally lies in its portrayal of GOD. If Jonah is intended to represent Israel, as seems likely, then the book issues a strong challenge to Israel regarding their attitude to the nations and regarding their understanding of GOD’s attitude to the nations

It is here that we see GOD correcting Israel’s opinion of themselves. Yes – you are my chosen people, but chosen to fulfil my mission.

So why then all this focus on Israel- revelation. The fact that YHWH has revealed himself in word and deed and person to Israel. If they are special of favoured then this is why.

Israel stood visible to the nations, at the crossing point of the great civilisations, as conquerors, conquered and exiles they were visible as the people to whom the living GOD had revealed himself. Their ethical responsibilities were to reflect the revelation they had received.

GOD’s mission involves GOD’s people living in GOD’s way in the sight of the nations

Wright goes on to cover in some detail an array of texts that again and again state how GOD plans to reveal himself to the nations and how he will call them his people. A good example is Zech 9:7 when talking of the Phillistines

I will take the blood from their mouths, the forbidden food from between their teeth. And the remnant, even it will belong to our GOD. And it will be like a clan in Judah, and Ekron will be like the Jebusites.

The Philistines – the nasty Philistines that we’re forever hearing about in the OT – even they GOD wants a remnant of. Note that this same hope of a remnant is exactly the same hope offered to Israel.

And it is in verses like these that we now see where Paul was coming from in his mission to the gentiles. It was of course not his mission – it was the mission GOD had been pursuing since the beginning.

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March 2010

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