Even before the nation of Israel existed, God had already given his promise that salvation would come to all nations. God called Abram to leave his country and relatives and gave him the promise that: “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing… In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed”(Genesis 12:2, 3). In these verses we see two promises rolled into one: God’s promise to Abram that he would become the forefather of a great nation, and that in him all the families of the earth would be blessed – which means that the Savior would be Abram’s offspring who would bring salvation to all nations.
Throughout the Old Testament
Throughout the Old Testament we see God’s special care for the nation of Israel, the offspring of Abraham. They are in a covenant relationship with God. He has told them how to worship and serve him by giving them regulations and commandments (Exodus 20). He has sent his prophets to warn them when they wander off the path and also to point them to the Saviour who was going to come. However, although the focus is primarily on Israel, it is not exclusively on Israel. ‘Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples!’ sings Psalm 117. And when the temple of Solomon is finished, king Solomon prays to God to hear the prayers of foreigners visiting the temple to worship God – ‘in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you’ (1 Kings 8:43).
God’s choice of Israel
God’s choice of Israel was not to exclude other nations but to bless the whole world through Israel. We see this clearly when we read the New Testament. Jesus was born in Israel and was a descendant of Abraham (Luke 3:34). He was the promised Saviour. And by his death on the cross he took away the ‘dividing wall of hostility’ between the Israelites and the Gentiles (Ephesians 2:11-22). All distinctions based on race, sex or status have been erased in Christ: all have become one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3: 27,28). All those who believe in Christ are now included into the offspring of Abraham (Galatians 3:29).
Salvation to the whole world
Jesus himself taught a Jewish man that God ‘so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16). He did not come just to save Israel but to bring salvation to the whole world. And just before he left to go back to his father, he gave his disciples a commandment, a mission: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…’ (Matthew 28:19). God created the world and all its peoples, and he sent his Son into the world to bring salvation to all its peoples. Praise the Lord, all nations!