Missions Lesson 2
CALVARY Baptist CHURCH Instructor: J. VandenHurk
SCHOOL of the BIBLE Missions Lesson Two
Missionary Quote of the Day:
“To know the will of God, we need an open Bible and an open map.” – Willam Carey
Lesson Two: “ISRAEL – A MISSIONARY NATION”
God wants to make Himself known far and wide. Long ago God called Abram (Abraham), and He blessed this man in a special way (Genesis 12:1-3). Out of this man came a nation which was later called ISRAEL.
God’s choosing of the nation Israel is described in Deuteronomy 7:6–“For thou art an holy (set apart) people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” God set His love on this particular nation and chose them to be His special people (Deuteronomy 7:7-8). Why did the Lord choose Israel and make Israel a special nation? Was it because God wanted to bless the nation of Israel and curse all the other nations of the earth or was it because God wanted to bless Israel so that all the other nations of the earth could be blessed through the nation Israel? The answer is found in Genesis chapter 12. Did God promise to bless the nation that would come out of Abraham (Genesis 12:2 Did God care about all the other families of the earth that did not come from Abraham? Did God want them to know about the true God? Look at the end of Genesis 12:3– “…and in thee shall ALL families of the earth be blessed.” God wanted to use one nation to bless ALL NATIONS! God wanted to use the family of Abraham to bless all the families of the earth. God’s heart of concern reached out to ALL.
The same should be true for us. Has God SAVED YOU (see 2 Timothy 1:9)? Has God BLESSED YOU (see Ephesians 1:3)? If these things are so, why are they so? Did God bless you and others who are saved so that He could curse and condemn everyone else that is not saved? Or, did God bless you so that He might be able to bless others through you?
God wants believers to have a certain kind of “SMELL” (SAVOUR). It is called “the SAVOUR OF HIS KNOWLEDGE” (2 Cor. 2:14). God wants believers to live in such a way that His special SAVOUR or perfume (aroma) might be noticed by those who are not saved, so that many of them might come to know Him, too (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). When God blessed the nation Israel and set this nation apart, He had the other nations in view. God wanted all the peoples of the world to look at the nation Israel so that they would come to know Israel’s God.
God wanted people everywhere to come to know Him; therefore God chose Israel to be His special nation, that all the other nations would know that this special nation has a very special God. Israel was to be a signpost that would point very clearly to the only true God.
God’s Witness on Earth Who is God speaking to in Isaiah 43:1?
This nation belonged to God in a very special way (Isaiah 43:1,21).
In Isaiah 43:10 God spoke to this nation and said this: “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.”
Is He the only LORD and the only SAVIOUR (Isaiah 43:11)?
The word “WITNESS” comes from a verb which means “to say something again and again.” In Isaiah 43:10 a WITNESS may be defined as “one who strengthens or confirms the saying of another.”
|GOD SAYS:||“I AM THE ONLY GOD, THE ONLY LORD AND THE ONLY SAVIOUR. THERE IS NONE ELSE!”|
|GOD’S WITNESS SAYS:||“YES! HE IS THE ONLY GOD, THE ONLY LORD AND THE ONLY SAVIOUR. THERE IS NONE ELSE! TURN FROM YOUR FALSE GODS AND TURN TO THE TRUE AND LIVING GOD!”|
Israel, as God’s witness, was to strengthen and confirm the saying of God Himself; God wanted the nation Israel to be His faithful witness and to point clearly to Him so that all the nations of the world would know that He is GOD–“ye are my witnesses saith the LORD, that I am God” (Isaiah 43:12). Israel was meant to be God’s “MISSIONARY NATION.”
They were to draw attention to the fact that the LORD was the only God: “…ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.” (Isaiah 44:8).
God had His witnesses on earth. God put His special people in the land of Palestine that through them He might make Himself known. Was God only concerned about those people living in Palestine who belonged to His special nation, or was God also concerned about people living throughout the earth (see Isaiah 45:22)?
The Missionary Chapter:
The fourth chapter in the book of Deuteronomy has been called the “missionary chapter” of the Old Testament. How did God want His people to live? Did He want His people to ignore or closely follow His Word (Deut. 4:1-2)?
Did God want His people to live as they pleased, or did He want them to PRACTICE His Word (Deuteronomy 4:5)?
Why did God want them to do these things? Who was LOOKING AT and WATCHING the nation of Israel (Deut. 4:6)?
What will they say about the children of Israel (Deut. 4:6)? “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” Why will these nations think of Israel as such a GREAT nation (Deut. 4:7)?
They will see that these people have a real and right relationship with the living God! Do people see that you have a real and right relationship with the living God?
What else did the nation Israel have that made it such a great nation and different from all of the other nations (Deut. 4:8)?
God had given His wonderful LAW (His Word) to the nation Israel.
The Need to be Different
The nation Israel had power as a WITNESS as long as they were different. They were different from the other nations because the LORD made them different. They had a relationship with God that the other nations did not have. They had the Word of God which the other nations did not have. They heard the voice of God (Deut. 4:33) which no other people had ever heard. God had worked for them POWERFULLY as He had not done for any other nation (Deut. 4:34)!
The great danger would be if Israel should forget the Lord and forget His Word (Deut. 4:23).
If this were to happen, then they soon would begin to live and talk and behave like all the other nations. The peoples of the world would look at Israel, and they would see no difference
The nation Israel needed to be DIFFERENT, and only God could make such a DIFFERENCE. In Leviticus 20:24b the LORD said, “I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people.” God made a difference between the people of Israel and all other peoples, and God wanted this difference to be clearly seen and noticed. According to Leviticus 20:26, what kind of people did God want the children of Israel to be?
The same is true for believers today. Should believers be different than non-believers? How? Why? In what ways? What happens when saved people live just like unsaved people? If there is no difference between the saved and the unsaved, what would the unsaved people think about the God of the Christians (believers in Christ)? Would they think that He is a God who is so weak and powerless that He cannot even change the way a person lives?
*(See 2 Corinthians 5:17; Titus 2:13-14; 1 Peter 2:9; Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:15-16)
God Makes Himself Known through His Acts
In Old Testament times God often made Himself known through the mighty acts which He did. How did the LORD prove that He was the only true God to Pharaoh and the Egyptians (Exodus 14:17-18, 26-27)?
Many years later the people of Jericho were still terrified because they had heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea (Joshua 2:10).
Later God performed another mighty act. He dried up the waters of the Jordan River (during flood season) and allowed the children of Israel to cross. Why did God do this act (Joshua 4:24)?
When the other nations saw such a mighty act of God, then they were forced to conclude that there must be a MIGHTY GOD who performed the mighty act! As you think through the Old Testament, can you think of some other MIGHTY ACTS OF GOD which proved that the LORD was the true God?
*David (I Samuel 17:46); Solomon (I Kings 8:43-60); Elijah (I Kings 18:39); Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:19); Jeremiah (Jeremiah 10:10-12); Daniel (Daniel 6:25-27)
The Glory of Solomon’s Kingdom
God’s blessing on the nation Israel was clearly seen in the early days of King Solomon’s reign. What did God give to Solomon (1 Kings 4:29)?
Were there any who were wiser than he (1 Kings 4:30-31)?
What else did God give to this king (1 Kings 3:13)?
Read 1 Kings 10:1-9. This queen came to visit Solomon from a far away country (from Africa). Solomon and the nation Israel had become famous the world around (verse 1)! Was this woman impressed by what she saw (verses 4-7)? She could hardly believe it! Did she give all the credit to Solomon or did she give credit to Solomon’s GREAT GOD (verse 9)?
The Queen of Sheba was so impressed by what she saw that she even BLESSED THE LORD! Is this true today? When people today go and visit the nation Israel do they go away saying, “BLESSED BE THE LORD THY GOD!”? No, this is not the case today, but it once was.
The King of Israel (Solomon) and the nation of Israel were pointing this queen to the GOD OF ISRAEL! Jesus mentioned this important visit in Matthew 12:42–”she came from the uttermost parts of the earth.” In the days of Solomon God was very much concerned about the uttermost parts of the earth! Matthew 12:42
Do you think that this queen went back and reported what she saw to many others?
God Has Compassion Even for the Heathen!
The book of Jonah shows us very clearly the heart of compassion that God has for ALL PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. Jonah was told to go to a heathen city and preach to heathen people (the Assyrians). Why did Jonah disobey the LORD (Jonah 4:2)?
Jonah knew that God was a MERCIFUL and COMPASSIONATE God! Jonah knew that God’s concern reached far past the borders of Israel, and Jonah felt that the wicked people of Nineveh deserved God’s wrath, not God’s mercy. He wanted them to have God’s judgment, not God’s kindness.
Read all ten verses in Jonah chapter 3. Did Jonah finally preach to these people as God had told him to do? Did the people respond to his message? Did they turn from their evil ways? Most preachers would be very pleased by such a response. Was Jonah very happy about it (Jonah 4:1)?
Jonah did not share the heart of God for these people (compare Jonah 4:7-11). Jonah was more concerned for a plant than he was for 120,000 people.
Israel failed to be the kind of witness God wanted them to be. As the years passed, the nation turned away from the LORD and from His Word. They became less and less different from the heathen peoples that lived around them. They pointed less and less to the God that they were supposed to represent.
Israel failed to be the kind of witness God wanted them to be. This nation did not turn out to be the kind of nation God intended. God wanted this nation to shine very brightly in this dark world (as a candle), but the light became dimmer and dimmer and was finally put out. God wanted this nation to point very clearly to Himself (as an arrow), but as the years went by the arrow pointed more and more away from the Lord.
God chose the nation Israel for a very special reason. God placed this nation in the middle of the world and God wanted this nation to be a SIGNPOST that would point very clearly to the only true God. God wanted all the peoples of the world to look at the nation Israel so that they would come to know Israel’s God:
Since the time of Solomon the nation has gradually gone downhill and has gradually lost the powerful testimony that it once had. When the Lord Jesus came into this world the situation was much different. The nation was only a mere shadow of its former self. The nation was very small and puny. Most of the Jewish people lived in other countries and in other parts of the world. Many Jews were carried away from the land by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. Other Jews were carried away from the land by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. and even earlier. God used these nations to judge His people because of their sins. Finally in 538 B.C. a small group of Jews returned to their homeland under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua (see the book of Ezra) and the rebuilding of the nation began. However, this nation never regained the greatness which it once had.
Finally, however, God sent the PERFECT JEW and the PERFECT WITNESS to this earth. Next week, we will study the Lord Jesus Christ as a missionary ─ His Mission and His Message!