January 25, 2021
“When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when He divided mankind, He fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. But the Lord's portion is His people, Jacob His allotted heritage” (Dt 32:8-9 ESV). God chose one man out of all of Noah’s descendants, to create a genealogy through which to bless “all the families of the earth” (Ge 11 & 12, 12:3). He formed a nation out of Abraham’s descendants saying, “I will take you to be My people, and I will be Your God…” (Ex 6:7a).
Jesus, the focal point of that genealogy (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob…David…Jesus), ministered almost exclusively in Israel. He sent His twelve apostles on an apprenticing assignment to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt 10:6) and told a Canaanite woman that He was sent “only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt 15:24). He hinted that He had “other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also…so there will be one flock, one shepherd” (Jn 10:16). Gentiles who received Jesus’ personal ministry were exceptions, but they foreshadowed the blessing of Abraham extended to the nations (e.g., the Samaritan woman, the Canaanite woman, the Roman centurion, the Gerasene demoniac). When Greeks eventually requested to see Jesus, He announced His hour had come to die (Jn 12:20-23).
Given Jesus’ specificity for Israel, it’s interesting that He told Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council, that God gave His Son not to condemn the world (Gk kosmon, a very general term) but to save it, because He so loved the world, confirming John the Baptist’s revelation that He would take away the sin of the world (Jn 3:16-17, 1:29). The new song sung in heaven doesn’t use the general word “world” for those who will worship the Lamb, but is more specific: “by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and You have made them a kingdom and priests to serve our God” (Rev 5:9-10). These four categories cover the sources of familial identity so dear to each of us and also to God: “my tribe”, “my mother tongue”, “my people”, “my nation”. God once divided the nations; then He sent His Son to bring them together as “My people”, not as an indistinct mass, but with unique, precious identities. How many of us could emulate Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, loving his own people, the Jews? “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel” (Ro 9:2-4a).
In recent decades, Canada has welcomed immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, and more than a few have either been discipled here after escaping persecution because of their faith, or they’ve come to know and follow Jesus here. It’s relatively easy to live in Canada enjoying the freedoms and living one’s life. But God has a bigger purpose for some of them.
Thank God for His love for the tribes, language groups, people groups and nations. Ask Him to stir up desire in the hearts of believers from Muslim background to cry out to You for their own people groups, “Let Your people go, that they might serve You” (Ex 8:1 etc.).
Send them back to their homelands with the Gospel of the Kingdom. Arouse the Church in Canada to support them in encouragement, finances and prayer. Jesus, You will have Your inheritance in the nations (Ps 2:8; Mt 12:21, 24:14)!