When an individual Christian or the key leaders and members of a local church come to understand the bigger picture of God’s plan for humanity that He has recorded in His written Word, His Spirit will move them to engage at whatever level possible in helping to bring about His endgame of receiving worship from representatives of every people, tribe, tongue and nation that He Himself created.
One simple way to discover the bigger picture, which includes His endgame for humanity, is to freshly examine in chronological order, the central truths communicated at seven key moments from within the real life history He has given us of His interaction with certain individuals and specific groupings of people.
1. Abraham’s Descendants Are Blessed…to Be a Blessing to All People
He told Abraham that He would bless him and his descendants and that they would be the group of people that He chose to be the channel or vehicle of His love and desire to bless people from within all of the ethnic groups that He created (Genesis 12:1-3).
He then repeated His plan to bless Israel and to bless the ethnic groups through them, to Abraham’s son Isaac, and to his grandson, Jacob (Genesis 26:4; 28:14).
2. Israel’s Priestly Role for All Humanity
He told Moses to remind Israel that He had delivered them from bondage in Egypt and that they were a special group of people, a “kingdom of priests” who were in a unique relationship with Him, called to represent Him to all people and groups who were not in the same relationship that they were in and interceded on their behalf to Him (Exodus 19:3-6).
3. A Temple Where More Than Just Israel Worshiped and Prayed
King Solomon, obviously influenced by his father, King David, included a court for the Gentiles as part of the grounds of the first temple constructed in Jerusalem.
With thousands of Jews gathered at the dedication of the temple, Solomon stood on a platform and prayed for God to bless the temple and His people, Israel.
Guided by God’s Spirit, Solomon also declared that non-Jewish people from different countries would hear of God’s greatness and come to the temple to worship and pray to the God of Israel.
What Solomon said next was another window into God’s bigger picture for humanity.
He pleaded with God to not only hear the prayers of these non-Jewish worshipers, but to also answer their prayers so that as they returned home, all of the people of the earth would know Him and fear Him, following Israel’s example (2 Chronicles 6:32,33).
4. A Jewish Baby’s Birth is for the Good of All People
When God sent an angel to announce the birth of Jesus to Jewish shepherds, the angel told them what took place that night was good news that would produce great joy for ALL people, not just Israel (Luke 2:10).
When that angel was joined by a multitude of others, and they all praised God together, they declared that God was glorious and that peace was now embodied on earth as a demonstration of God’s goodwill toward all humanity, not just Israel (Luke 2:14).
5. A Lamb That Takes Away the Sin of Any Member of Humanity
At some point during the height of his ministry, John the Baptist saw and recognized that Jesus was walking toward him.
He immediately invited everyone listening to behold Jesus and declared that Jesus is the Lamb of God that came to take away the sin of the world, not just Israel’s sin (John 1:29).
6. Outward Focus from the Initial Invitation to Follow
In the very sentence in which Jesus called His first disciples to follow Him, He made clear that their relationship with Him was for a purpose larger than their own interests.
Although He was clearly inviting them into a personal, intimate and interactive relationship with Him that would benefit them in ways they never dreamed of, He wanted them to know from the very beginning that the blessing of being in relationship with Him also brings the responsibility and privilege of helping others to enter into the same blessed union with Him that they themselves enjoyed (Matthew 4:19).
7. The Message of His Death and Resurrection Must Go Global
After miraculously appearing to His gathered disciples and eating a few bites of food, Jesus told them the whole Old Testament pointed to Him and then helped them to see and understand the scriptures in a way they never had before.
He then told them that because everything in the Old Testament had to be fulfilled, two key things needed to take place.
First, that He had to suffer and then rise from the dead, which is what they had all just witnessed.
Second, that the message of repentance and remission of sins that are only found in His name must be preached to all ethnic groups wherever they live, even as that message is preached to the people living in their own villages, towns, cities and country.
If They Needed a Fresh Review, What About Us?
Even after almost three years of being with Him on a day to day basis, Jesus had to do a fresh review of God’s Word in order to get them to see the bigger picture of what God was really doing (Luke 24:42-47).
If they needed that kind of review to understand how much global missions matter to God and should matter to His people, a fresh review for believers and local churches in our day is necessary too.