Shining a light in the darkness
God’s call to Abraham in Genesis 12:3 ends with the promise that “All peoples of the earth will be blessed through you.” God repeated this promise on numerous occasions to Abraham, as well as to Isaac and Jacob. It’s interesting to note that the second time God reaffirmed his promise to Abraham he stated it this way,
“…and through your offspring all the nations on earth will be blessed.” We know that Jacob becomes Israel, and Israel becomes a nation with the purpose of being “a light to all nations.” The focal point of Jesus giving the Great Commission was that of “making disciples of all nations!” John’s vision in the book of Revelation records that one day, the redeemed will worship the Lamb “from every nation, tribe, people and language.”
The Biblical definition of a nation has nothing to do with our secular understanding. In
Greek the word nation is “ethne” from which we get the word “ethnic.” Ethne can mean any non-Jew or it can mean a group of individuals (people groups) with a common identity. Today mission statisticians estimate that there are in existence approximately 16,000 people groups with their own language and culture of which 7,000 are unreached!
Understanding God’s plan from the beginning helps us become strategic in our prayers, resources, and outreach. Bethany International, together with our network of over 280 missionary training schools, is currently involved in engaging 500 unreached people groups in the next five years. Currently we are involved with 269 people groups, and are beginning to target the additional 231. It’s thrilling to hear how graduates from our school in Nepal are training the Bhutanese to reach their people. We have been surprised to learn that our partners in India are much more involved in reaching the unreached, unengaged peoples within their own country, as well as hearing about our African partner’s impact in very difficult Muslim contexts.
In a sense, Jesus did not give the Great Commission; rather, he reaffirmed it! The commission in the New Testament is a continuation of God´s plan and purpose from the start. God’s promise to Abraham to bless ALL peoples (nations) through him are dependent on our obedience to actively participate in the “gospel of the kingdom being preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”