Old Testament Revelation of Mission


[Original post] [Part 3]

Isaiah 49:3,6 –And He said to me “You are my servant, O Israel, In whom I will be glorified” and “Indeed He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”

 In the text above a revelation is given to the prophet Isaiah that cannot be ignored or easily written off as interpretive to the listener. The scripture clearly states that God will be glorified “in” Israel. Not Israel as location, but Israel as “chosen” or the collective people of God. The prophet goes on to display the frame and subject of this glorification. He states that not only will the tribes be restored but that salvation would come to the world through the light that God makes out of Israel. This goes along with the Abrahamic promise stated and reinforced by God Himself 6 times throughout Genesis to all three patriarchs (Abram, Isaac, and Jacob) “…in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”(Gen 12:2-3) Reference to this blessing and purpose is echoed throughout the Torah and extrapolated in the minor prophets. It also forms an entire narrative in the major prophets, as seen in the introductory Isaiah text. Two outcomes come from the Abrahamic blessing:

1. God will
ensure the preservation and posterity of Israel and
2. God desires to affect His rule and provision to the world
through Israel. [1]

These driving forces of missional theology have driven many to question God’s purpose and interraction with Israel. There is no universal mandate to “go and tell and bring into covenant” others outside of Israel. Although there are many references to declare His works and proclaim His goodness, even to the nations, there is no impetus to bring outsiders into Israel, convert them into Jewish practice, or implore them to live before God rightly and be a part of His provision. It therefore remains that something is missing between the promise of God to Abraham’s descendants and the work of God through them. If indeed the intent of blessing toward Abraham and his people was to ultimately bless all peoples (that is, the nations) what would be the agent of that blessing, what would be the catalyst and bridge to bring the glorification of God and the Jewish narrative into the lives of people outside of Israel?