In an earlier article, I began to examine the concept of a "mission mandate" for Israel in the Old Testament. In this and the next post I look at the background for this idea, namely God's concern for the nations in the OT. This article reflects the perspective of the Pentateuch, and in the next post I will look at the perspective of the Psalter and the Prophet Isaiah.
Israel and the nations in the Pentateuch
God's concern for the nations begins and ends in the act of Scripture. (1) The first eleven chapters of Genesis focus on the created order, including the origins and early history of humanity. God's call of Abram in Genesis 12 is a direct response to God's dealings with the nations in Genesis 11, including their dispersal after the Tower of Babel. Likewise, the Bible ends with God's purpose and concern for the salvation of people from all nations, tribes, languages, and ethnic groups (Rev 5:9, 14,6). God's care for the nations thus forms an inclusion or envelope structure that frames the entire history of Scripture. We see this concern in seminal texts of the OT, which provide a foundation for God's movement to the nations in the OT and later in the NT. (2)
Genesis 1: 26-28; 3:15
God's plan for the created order is clasped by two creations. The scriptures begin with the creation of the universe in Genesis 1-2 and end with the description of the more glorious new creation in Revelation 21-22. In its beginning and its completion, God's creation serves to manifest God's glory. God shows his glory with the intention of extending his dominion over the entire creation through his pictorial supports. Stylistic and linguistic features suggest that the narrative of Genesis 1-2 focuses on two main dimensions of the image of God: (1) the vertical dimensionEmphasizing the relationship characteristics, in particular here of mankind to God (community, personality, worship, morality) and thus of man priestly role; and (2) the horizontal dimensionHighlighting the functional properties (self-esteem, self-determination, creativity, intelligence) and thus his royal role, Humanity is the relational and representative Priest-King, who both refers to God as a priest and represents God as Vice-Regent. Man accomplishes this by serving as God's representative to establish God's authority over the universe. In autumn, however, humanity fails in this role. Sin damages the good creation of God and interrupts the divine intention to subdue the earth. Adam's sin disturbs the harmony of all human relationships, including the relationship with God, other people, and creation itself.
Yahweh punishes sin by banishing Adam and Eve from the garden. But God also initiates reconciliation through his work of salvation, which enables man to regain his role as a representative of God. Yahweh sets up mediators to realize his goals for humanity after each judgment, which was first prefigured in the promised seed of Gen 3:15. In this latter verse, several important concepts concerning God's purpose of salvation for all peoples are emphasized. Salvation is through God's initiative, since God gives a merciful response to the sin of man. Salvation gives hope to all humanity and not just to a part of humanity. Salvation happens through a mediator who is materially and organically bound to humanity and yet suffers his final triumph. These early verses are the foundation of the mission, revealing that God's purpose is universal, focusing in particular on his relationship to humanity. In the face of the Fall, God will accomplish this purpose by providing reconciliation through a mediator figure.
Genesis 12: 1-3
Abram's historical context is one of rebellion, chaos, and division. In response, Yahweh selects a person who acts as a mediator to begin the process of restoring order, harmony, and blessing to the world. In context, gene 12: 1-3 plays a central role. It introduces the following patriarchal narratives and relates them to God's dealings with humanity in Genesis 1-11. Structurally and thematically, the blessing of Abraham is tied to God's purpose for the world. The Confederation thus shows both particularism and universalism.
In terms of structure, Yahweh's command to leave Ur precedes a series of four cohorts that outline Yahweh's intentions with regard to Abram: "I will make you a great nation"; "I will bless you"; "I will make your name great"; and "I will bless those who bless you." The last sentence of v. 3 interrupts this chain: "In you all the families of the earth will be blessedThe interpretation of this last verb is the core of the passage. Although various interpretations have been offered for meaning, it is best to regard the verb as passive because of the verbal tribe and context. (3) The passive means that the nations are blessed by Abraham, emphasizing his agency as chosen by God, means to bless the world. The context focuses on God's prerogative and blessing intention, not the ability of nations to bless.
As for the subject, Abram is blessed. The word bless occurs five times in this unit, once for each word curse has so far occurred in the Genesis narrative. This is the first or first expression of the Abrahamic covenant, which was redrafted and developed in Genesis 15 and 17. Yahweh promises Abram land, seed and blessing. The last component is directly related to its original design for humanity and to its salutary and doxological purposes for the nations. The term bless Recalls God's blessing for humanity in Genesis 1:28, where the Lord accuses humanity as the image bearer of being fruitful and multiplying, of filling the earth and subjugating it. Such a prominent role for the Abrahamic Covenant leads Christopher Wright to conclude that "the Abrahamic Covenant is the source and source of the biblical mission in its redemptive sense" (4).
Exodus 19: 4-6
In this passage, Yahweh presents Israel with a special and solemn challenge. Her obedience to the Law of Moses places her in a privileged position. Their job is not just to serve as a nation that is morally different from the surrounding peoples. Their obedience to the covenant has global implications and makes them God's unique servant nation. They would serve as God's special representative to reflect his character and convey his presence and glory to the surrounding nations.
Exodus 19 acts as a hinge between the Exodus event and the passing of the law on the Sinai. The passage introduces the representation of the Mosaic Covenant by Moses. In a larger context, Yahweh promises to be the only god for his people, while pledging to live as his covenant people. Within the structure of the unit, the last sentence of v. 3 ("So shall you say to the house of Jacob") works together with the last sentence of v. 6 ("These are the words that ye shall speak unto the Lord People of Israel" ) to form an Inclusio. This framework draws attention to Yahweh's declared purpose and ideal for Israel. As Wright summarizes, "this passage defines the identity and agenda that God has for Israel, and represents both the context of one's own action and the purpose of God." (5) Verses 5-6 are a conditional sentence with one Protasis, followed by a double apodosis. The condition ("if you obey my voice and keep my covenant") is very different from the one-sided and irrevocable Abrahamic covenant which the Lord sovereignly makes with Abraham. Here, the condition does not refer to Israel's status as a chosen nation, since it is based on the Abrahamic covenant. Rather, the condition, as McClain summarizes, refers to the royal and mediating activity of Israel in its own country in relation to Yahweh and the nations. As a certainty, Israel enjoys the status of a privileged nation because it serves the Lord faithfully and thus fulfills its role as a servant nation. As ideals, these blessings are realized as part of their eternal status as the chosen people of God on the basis of the Abrahamic covenant.
Three promises or expressions within unity embody the role of Israel as Yahweh's preferred servant nation. Israel will serve as (1) special possession among all nations; (2) a kingdom of priests; and (3) a holy nation. Yahweh first promises that Israel, if it obeys, will be its "esteemed possession among all peoples" (verse 5b). The term "treasure possession" is commonly referred to as "esteemed possession," "personal possession," or "treasure" (BDB, 688; Halot742). The term is twice attested in Ugaritic, where it appears in parallel with "servant" and expresses the relationship within the Supremacy Vassal Confederations, in which the vassal is identified as the exclusive property or esteemed possession of God. The term thus emphasizes that Yahweh has property rights to the devotional and undivided ministry of his vassal. Israel thus occupies a privileged position as the special nation that commissions God as his special and faithful representative to the nations of the earth. Second, the Lord promises that Israel will be a kingdom of priests. This latter sentence has led to heated discussions. (7) While at least four options have been proposed for the meaning of the proposition, the most probable sense is an attributive genitive theorem: "kingdom of priests" or "priestly kingdom" the most common use and meaning of the construct genitive. It is also most consistent with the meaning of the first Hebrew term, which means "kingdom" rather than "king" everywhere and more in line with the parallel phrase "holy nation". The emphasis would be on the status of Israel as the kingdom of God, theocratic rule and its function as a mediator or priestess towards other nations. Third, Yahweh promises that Israel will act as a "holy nation." The emphasis here is on Israel's role as an ethical model for the nations that reflects God's own character. Israel is to be the paradigm of the theocratic rule that radiates the glory of God and encourages the nations to worship properly.
After examining the theme of God's concern for the Pentateuch nations, I will next go on and examine this motif in the Psalter and in the Book of Isaiah.
(1) Charles H. H. Scobie, "Israel and the Nations: An Essay in Biblical Theology" TynBull 43 (1992): 285.
(2) I am committed to the following studies: Michael A. Grisanti, "The Missing Mandate: Missions in the Old Testament", in Missions in a New Millennium: Change and Challenges in World MissionsEd. W. Edward Glenny and William H. Smallman, 43-68 (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2000), 44-57; Craig Ott and Stephen J. Strauss, Meeting the theology of mission: biblical foundations, historical developments and current topics (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010), 6-21.
(3) This is the most common use of the Niphal and gives the best sense in context (Waltke and O & # 39; Connor, p. 395).
(4) Wright, "Old Testament and Christian Mission", 39.
(5) Ibid., 40.
(6) Alva J. McClain, The size of the kingdom62-63.
(7) See Walter C. Kaiser Jr., "Exodus," in The bible commentary of the exhibitor2, 417.
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