1 Chronicles 16:8
“….make known among the nations what He has done.” (1 Chronicles 16:8)
Folk wisdom has it that actions thunder so loudly about one’s character and true intent that feeble words of explanation cannot be heard. What do God’s activities demonstrate of His loving character and purpose of world redemption? It is not too much to affirm that every major act of God since creation has been a missionary act.
Even creation does not focus on the intricacies of the atom nor climax with the infinite galaxies. The crescendo builds to a climax in the creation of a being in the likeness of God Himself. This was the overflow of a love which bound the Three in a unity from all eternity. God’s desire was to create a being who would have the capacity to fully receive His love and, in turn, to love Him freely and fully. This very likeness to God, the freedom from coerced or programmed choices, set the stage for man’s rebellion and alienation.
Man changed but God did not. And thus His purpose shifted from loving companionship with humankind to recreating the broken pattern of God-likeness so that the loving identity of life could be restored. As a result, the sacrificial system, the calling of a special people, the redemption from Egypt, and the giving of the Law all centered in redeeming and restoring.
When God chose to communicate with men in written form, His purpose was the same. The Bible is not a revelation of all of God’s activities or purposes from eternity. It is not a record of all human antiquity. It is the story of redemption, climaxing in the greatest even in human history, the Incarnation. This invasion of human life by God Himself was deliberately designed from all eternity, we are told, to provide redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These events, more than anything else Scripture tells us, reveal the purpose and character of God: love reaching out to save hopelessly lost people. What has God done? “God so loved … that he gave his one and only Son … “ This act of love goes beyond all human comprehension. What could reveal with greater clarity God’s character and purpose? What could demonstrate more forcibly the center and circumference of His attention?
The next major event, Pentecost was the descent of the Holy Spirit to establish the church, to be sure. But the purpose was clear. The entire record of the early church revealed how the apostles viewed the primary purpose of the church toward the world. It was to be God’s instrument for world evangelization. Indeed, it is not too much to say that every major activity of God among men since the Fall has been a saving missionary act.
Surely David, like all the chosen people, clearly remembered God’s promises to Abraham and the patriarchs. Often they forgot God’s worldwide purpose through them. But not David:
“Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. Ascribe to the LORD, 0 families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength, Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, ‘‘The LORD reigns!” (I Chron. 16:8, 23-24, 28, 30-31).
The psalmist leads us in what must surely be our daily prayer: “May God be gracious to us and bless us” (Psalm 67:1). How hopeless we would be if we received what we justly deserve, so we plead for mercy. We pray, “God bless my work, God bless my health, God bless my family, God bless my church.’’
The psalmist adds, ‘‘and make his face shine upon us.” If God mercifully forgave us, received us, and graciously prospered us but did not smile on us, assuring us of His favor, what a bleak life we would have. So we rightly ask for God to forgive our sins, bless our affairs, and lovingly companion with us. But why? The psalmist continues: “that thy way be known upon the earth, thy saving power among all nations.” (Psalm 67:1-3, RSV). How could the ancient songwriter of Israel declare more clearly his own missionary purpose in total alignment with the purpose of his missionary God?
All this revelation of God’s purpose of world redemption was gathered up in the magnificent declarations of the prophet Isaiah:
“Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22).
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6).