The Ways of Our God: An Approach to Biblical Theology

By Charles H.H. Scobie | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
The Nations

Old Testament: Proclamation
12–1. AMONG THE NATIONS

The choice of Israel as the people of God inevitably raises the question of her relationship to the other peoples of humankind. Israel is chosen from among the nations, but she must also live among the nations. If God has chosen Israel as his people, then what is their relationship to the other peoples of the earth?


12–1.1. THE GOD OF THE NATIONS

From the very outset the Bible declares that God is not only the God of Israel but also the God of all the nations. Indeed, it is the latter truth that is proclaimed first in the canonical form of the OT. God’s concern with the whole created order precedes his concern with Israel in the historical order. Gen l-11 portrays God as the creator and sustainer of all life. All humankind are the descendants of Adam, and of Noah (cf. Brueggemann 1997: 494). In schematic fashion all nations are depicted as descended from the three sons of Noah (Gen 10).

The call of Abraham, which marks the beginning of God’s election of a special people (see 11–1.1), is immediately linked with the blessing of the nations. “I will make of you a great nation,” God promises Abraham, “and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you … and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen 12:2–3; cf. Isa 19:24; Sir 44:21). This text can be read to mean “by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves” (RSV), but it certainly came to be understood as meaning that through Abraham and his descendants God’s blessing would be channeled to all humankind (see LXX of Gen 12:3; Sir 44:21; Acts 3:25; Gal 3:8; cf. Rétif and Lamarche 1966: 21–22; Muilenburg 1965). “Here it becomes clear that the whole history of Israel is nothing but the continuation

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