This is by no means a comprehensive account of the Bible story, nor is it meant to portray the full extent of God’s message to us through His word. It is, however, an accumulation of some of the many Bible passages that have had a large impact on the direction of our lives. They illustrate what we believe to be a major theme of the Bible, which is God’s heart and His plan to reach all peoples for His glory. The Bible story is what He is doing for His great name as he gathers people from every tribe, tongue, and nation to himself.
Important Note: “All peoples” does not mean “all people”- as in every person. The Bible makes it clear that not all people become believers. But throughout the Bible, as you will see, God makes it clear that at least some people from every people group (stated in different places as “all peoples,” or “all nations,” or “every tribe, tongue and nation”) will receive salvation through Christ.
Even from the very beginning of the Old Testament, God tells Abram that He is going to make the nation of Israel and why (Genesis 12:1-3):
“The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
‘I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
‘I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.’”
God did not form the nation of Israel because He wanted a single people for Himself, nor because Israel was to be His favorite nation. He formed the nation of Israel and blessed them so that they would be the vessel He would use to bless the rest of the nations (people groups) on earth.
“All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him” (Psalm 22:27).
“May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you” (Psalm 67:3).
“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples” (Psalm 96:3).
“Praise the Lord all you nations; extol him, all you peoples” (Psalm 117:1).
Solomon demonstrated his understanding of this when he dedicated the newly built temple. As he prayed for a blessing over the temple, he said:
“And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other”( 1 Kings 8:59-60).
Solomon asked God to bless the temple not only for the sake of the Jews, so that they would have a place to worship; but also so that ALL the peoples of the earth may glorify God.
Now, we know that Israel, being God’s vessel to reach the nations, was not always a faithful people to the Lord. They rebelled against His statutes and God had to discipline them, but even in discipline – whether he acted swiftly toward them or was patient with them – His purpose remained.
“For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off. See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.” (Isaiah 48:9-11)
Israel continued to rebel, and God eventually sent them into exile. But He preserved a remnant, and later brought a time of restoration. Jeremiah spoke of the restoration that was to come:
“At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts” (Jeremiah 3:17).
We see that God was restoring Israel back to Himself, not just for Israel’s sake, but in part so that all the nations could and would honor the Lord.
And we can’t forget the coming Messiah. Isaiah 42:1-6 speaks of Him who was to come who would bring justice for all the nations, and would be a light for all the Gentiles. And that Messiah did come in the person of Jesus Christ, affirming the prophecies about Him and extending the mandate to the church to make disciples of all the nations:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
And all this is commanded so that God’s name will be glorified; it is for His name’s sake that He is calling believers from among every people group:
“Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith” (Romans 1:5).
“It was for the sake of the Name that they went out” (3 John 1:7).
We live in the final chapter of this story. Daniel 7:14 spoke of a time that is still yet to come:
“He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”
In this glimpse into the future we see that indeed, all peoples WILL be reached with the gospel! The mandate that God pronounced to Abraham will be completed. It is not yet complete. So far, not all peoples have been reached with the gospel. There are still thousands of people groups that are completely unreached. These unreached people groups have no believers in their language or culture, and they have none of the gospel translated in their language. Paul asked the Roman believers the question that we must still ask today:
“How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:14-15)
God has commissioned His church to take the gospel to all nations – all people groups. As of yet, we still have much of the task left to be completed. So while we do need to be very serious about completing this task that God has told us to do, we can rejoice in the fact that God IS going to see this task to completion! We can go preach the gospel to an unreached people group in confidence knowing that God has appointed believers among that people group and among every other currently-unreached people group. We know that our efforts will not be in vain.
“And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.’” (Revelation 5:9)
And, finally, Revelation 7:9 is one of our favorite passages.
“After this I looked up and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”