Each morning, I read the Daily Moravian Bible Texts – first in German (Losungen), then in English. Both today’s Old Testament and New Testament readings refer (in German) to the Nations (Völker). This made me stop and think.
Tut kund seine Herrlichkeit unter den Nationen, unter allen Völkern seine Wunder. Psalm 96,3
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. Psalm 96:3 (NIV)
Paulus und Barnabas berichteten, was Gott alles durch sie getan und dass er allen Völkern die Tür zum Glauben aufgetan habe. Apostelgeschichte 14,27
On arriving there, Paul and Barnabas gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. Acts 14:27 (NIV)
Is God at work among the nations today?
In the OT, the nations were supposed to be impressed by what God was seen to be doing on a national level for His chosen people – deliverance from oppression, sustenance, prosperity, military victories. In NT times we saw Him working through missionaries who preached the gospel and invited people of all nations to put their faith in Him on the basis of Jesus’s death and resurrection.
But what is happening among the nations in this 21st century?
Moslem Asians and Africans are migrating in huge numbers to ’Christian’ Western Europe; many also see visions of Jesus. At the same time South Americans are flocking to ’Christian’ North America, while in their own countries many are putting their faith in Jesus. But IS wreaks havoc and terror in the Middle East, Africa and even Europe and USA. Also, massive global economic, social and environmental crises are looming.
Where is God to be seen in these situations?
Perhaps not on a national level at all! Perhaps it is through men and women of faith – as they show loving care toward individuals in need; as they explain how they can know forgiveness and gain courage to persevere; as they strive for justice, peace and social improvement.
Is God no longer interested in the fortune of nations? Has He abandoned large-scale pioneering evangelism? Has He now changed His tactics and decided to act through transformed individuals working in His name, in His strength, for His interests?
Does it make sense in God’s economy to speak of nations at all any more? Jesus tells us to pray: “May your Kingdom come!”