Called to Go!

Called to Go! September 9, 2013

ThisFriday, Brian Young and I will head out on a 17-day trip to Kazakhstan. We’ll be visiting ourfriends the Bannikovs for a few days, and then we’ll travel to another part ofthe country to teach university classes. Please pray often and thoughtfully forus and our families while we’re gone.

It boggles the mind to realizethat this little venture of ours is part of God’s original promise to Abrahamfrom 4,000 years ago: “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed”(Gen 12:2-3). From the very beginning God’s people have existed for the benefitof the rest of humanity. 

Israel’s missional focus was different from ours today, ofcourse, based on the limited revelation they had from God. Yes, they expectedthat all nations would worship God someday, and they even saw occasionalexamples of Gentile conversion. But their understanding of how the nationswould come to worship Yahweh was different from ours in several ways. Theyassumed the ingathering of Gentiles would happen through a direct work of Godrather than through the work of His witnesses (cf. Is 56:7, Ez 29:13). Theyalso assumed it would involve an inward-oriented gathering of the nations to Jerusalem rather than anoutward-oriented sending of messengers to the ends of the earth (Is 45:14,60:1-16). Hence, Israelfelt little sense of calling to reach out to Gentile nations because God’sapparent plan was to gather them all in by Himself in the Age to Come.

What a surprise then, when Jesuscommissioned His disciples to go to the nations. This command exceeded theexpectations of the Old Testament promises, and it altered their direction. TheOT’s invitation of “Come!” offered to the nations has been replaced with theNT’s command of “Go!” enjoined upon the church. In the OT, the nations wouldgather to Mount Zion,but in the NT the church spreads from Jerusalem,to Judea, to Samaria,and to the ends of the earth.

In short, the Jewishexpectations for the distant and future Age to Come have broken into time. InHis death, Jesus has conquered sin; in His resurrection, He has inaugurated thenew and final era of rescue and recovery. The banquet table is set, but it’snot quite time to dig in. More people have to be gathered to the table so they,too, may taste the renewing power of the Coming Age. And Friday, we’re off toinvite them in!