This week the tough question is this: Why, if God wanted to make his Name known throughout the world, did God choose to make that Name known only through one people? From a different angle, that tough question looks something like this: Why does the Gentile mission, to use this expression for what happens in the Acts of the Apostles, not become fully operative for at least 2500 years from the time of Abraham? These are the questions that Chris Wright asks in The Mission of God, chps 6-7.
No matter how you cut the pie, one big piece is that — no matter how many Old Testament texts you can find about a universal mission or vision — OT Israelites so rarely did “mission” work that one can at least be fair in wondering if they read those texts that way. We know Acts does and Paul does etc, but it the missional impulse simply isn’t the way of ancient Israel. What are your thoughts? What about those who did not hear?
Wright addresses the theme of “blessing,” as in Gen 12:3, with insight and scope. Here’s the text:
Now the LORD said to Abram, ?Go from your country and your kindred and your father?s house to the land that I will show you. 2 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. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.?
1. Good stuff that sets up chp 12 by studying the positives of Gen 10 and the negatives of Gen 11 so that Gen 12 is seen as a counter to what is going on at Babel. Plus, he connects the themes of Gen 1–11 as they come to play in Gen 12. He emphasizes the self-involving nature of blessing in Gen 12:1-3: God blesses but summons Abraham into that blessing and nations into participating in that blessing by participating in the story of Abraham and Abraham’s God.
2. Wright shows that the unconditional vs. conditional debates over Gen 12 are misguided: both God’s grace and Abraham’s response are part of the narrative. And Gen 22:16-18 proves it:
and said, ?By myself I have sworn, says the LORD: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, 18 and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.?
a. Is creational and relational.
b. Is missional and historical.
c. Is covenantal and ethical.
d. Is multinational and christological.