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‘Why Foreign Missions?’ 5. Jesus’ Ministry Includes the Gentiles in Matthew’s Gospel

The link between Israel’s mission and the Church’s mission to the nations was explored in regard to allusions to certain Old Testament texts in the previous section.[1]  It might also be observed in Matthew’s Gospel by focusing on Jesus’ identity and ministry to the Gentiles.  Much of this evidence is reported in David Bosch’s excellent study of Matthew’s understanding of mission, listed here:[2]
1. Four ‘non-Israelite’ women in Jesus’ genealogy: Tamar (Mt. 1.3); Rahab (v. 5); Ruth (v. 5); the wife of Uriah (v. 6))           2. The visit of the magi (Mt. 2.1-12)           3. The centurion in Capernaum (Mt. 8.5-13)           4. The Canaanite woman (15.21-28)           5. The Gospel will be preached to all nations (Mt. 24.14; 26.13)           6. Roman centurion and those with him see Jesus as ‘Son of God’ (Mt. 27.54)           7. Jesus will save God’s ‘people’ from their sin (Mt. 1.21) 8. God’s kingdom will be taken away from the Jewish leaders and given to a people who produce the fru…

‘Why Foreign Missions?’ 4, Jesus, His People, and the Nations in Matthew’s Gospel

‘Why Foreign Missions?’ 4, Jesus, His People, and the Nations in Matthew’s Gospel

The last two answers to the question, ‘Why foreign missions?’ explored Israel’s involvement with and their mission to the nations.  Just how does Israel’s mission to the nations involve the Church?  To begin to answer this question, the link between Israel and the Church in the New Testament needs to be made.  Matthew's Gospel makes the case for such a link, and one of the ways to discuss Matthew's mission theology is to look at how this Gospel uses several Old Testament texts.  Matthew shows how Jesus and the Church pick up the mission of Israel to the nations.
Matthew 1.21: ‘Jesus’
Mt. 1.21 appears to quote Ps. 130.8 loosely to explain the meaning of Jesus’ name as ‘salvation.’  Ps. 130.8 reads, ‘And he [‘Yahweh’; Greek: ‘Lord’] will redeem Israel from all his sins [Septuagint: ‘lawlessness’].’  Mt. 1.21 says, ‘…for he will save his people from their sins’ (my translations).  The psalm speaks of…

'Why Foreign Missions?' 3, God, Israel, and the Nations

‘Why Foreign Missions?’ 3. God, Israel, and the Nations

The previous section answered the question, ‘Why foreign missions?’ with the Old Testament and Jewish texts that speak of a future blessing of the nations.  This section offers several answers as to why God is concerned with the nations.  The Old Testament presents God’s concerns and Israel’s role as universal in scope.  God and his people are involved in a redemptive plan that is inclusive, not exclusive.  Here is the Old Testament basis for Jesus’ commission of his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations (Mt. 28.19).
Reasons for Including the Nations/Gentiles in Israel’s Eschatological Blessing
1. Abraham was called out from the nations and becomes the father of many nations: Gen. 17.4-6, 16
Genesis 17.5 No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations.
2. Israel will be a blessing to the nations:
Genesis 12.2-3 I will make of you [Abraham] a gre…

‘Why Foreign Missions?’ 2, The Old Testament and Jewish Texts Mentioning the Future Blessing of the Nations

‘Why Foreign Missions?’ 2, The Old Testament and Jewish Texts Mentioning the Future Blessing of the Nations
A second answer to the question, ‘Why Foreign Missions?’ is simply the fact that numerous texts in the Old Testament and Judaism mention a future blessing of the nations.  This fact keeps a concern for a mission beyond the borders of Israel in the background and foreground of God’s dealing with Israel.  At times, the mission to the Gentiles breaks through into Israel’s life.  The following texts focus on the future blessing of the nations.  In the next section, an assessment will be offered for why God is concerned with the nations.
Genesis 12.3 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."
Genesis 17.5 No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of amultitude of nations.  6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nati…

'Why Foreign Missions?' 1. The Needs at Our Gate

'Why Foreign Missions?'
From time to time, I’ve heard someone ask, ‘Why go overseas to minister to people when there are so many needs right here?’  This question is well worth considering, and I propose to do so in several parts.

1. The Needs at Our Gate
"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.  At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores…. (Lk. 16.19-21, NRSV).
When I lived in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, I asked myself a version of the same question: ‘Why go anywhere else to help people when the needs are so great right where I am?’  A sanitary engineer told me that over 70% of the population had no access to toilets and running water.  People lived and slept in the streets, huddling under shelters made from scraps of plastic, metal, or wood whenever it rained or the sun beat down relent…