I am a frequent reader of “Jesus Creed,” a blog by North Park University professor Scot McKnight. He is discussing Christopher Wright’s book, The Mission of God, at the moment. Today he brought up a good point. I include below an excerpt from Scot’s article and my addition to the pot of comments.
Scot McKnight, “Missional God 9.” See the full article here.
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?
I have a some chapters in my latest book about “Israel as the Vessel” and “The Nations as the Goal.” You are right to say that Israel did not do well in its priestly mission. God worked through Israel in spite of Israel, bringing the BIble and Messiah and transforming the world.
I love the mutual blessing theme of Genesis 12, which R. Kendall Soulen develops at length in The God of Israel and Christian Theology. It sounds like Chris Wright gets that too. God’s way of redeeming the world is mutual blessing.
In my book, The World to Come, I say that Israel had three ways of incorporating non-Jews: Conversion (like Caleb or Ruth, joining the family), Participation (the sojourner who was invited to make offerings and keep Sabbath and so on with Israel), and Invitation (like Solomon praying in Kings that people from the nations would worship at God’s temple). Yet, though we see these examples and more, clearly Israel did not heed God’s call to priestly mission. But we could ask ourselves: was there any better plan God could have chosen? I think not.
How about you? What do you think?