In the culture of American sports one often hears of a team’s fan base described as a “nation.” Hence, there are websites and apparel designed for the “Yankees Nation” and the “Aggie Nation.” The use of the word nation in this respect communicates something larger than just those fans that attend games or live within certain proximity to their team’s home stadiums.
These nations consist of any people who share a common bond of fanatic interest in a team regardless of geographical boundaries. While perhaps greatest in number at the epicenter of a team’s origins, members of the “nation” can exist globally and can join other members in enthusiastic support.
When considering a biblical view of the nations, an American sports understanding of the term actually proves helpful. Within the Bible the word nation is, of course, used to describe political entities defined by geographic boundaries with kings or rulers.
These nations were first created by God in response to the construction of the Tower of Babel (Gen 11). Previously having one language, the people were dispersed throughout the earth with distinct languages.
Into the nation of Israel, God sent his son, Jesus Christ, as Messiah to “suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations” (Lk 24:47).
After his resurrection and before his ascension, the Messiah commanded his followers to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19) and this message of salvation first went forth from Jerusalem (Acts 1:8).
It is the commission of Christian churches (Mt 16:18) to continue the task of taking the message of God’s plan of salvation (Rom 10:14-15) to those nations who have not heard (Rom 15:21).
Jesus Christ is the hope of all nations (Rom 15:12) and from the nations he will gather his people (Jn 10:16).
This message will be proclaimed by his children to the nations until the end of the world (Mt 24:14). At that time, the Messiah will return to the earth and all nations will see God’s glory (Is 52:10), and will submit to his rule and reign (Phil 2:10-11).
People from every nation will worship him (Rev 7:9).
The believer should recognize that regardless of ethnicity there is no ultimate distinction of Jew or Gentile in Christ (Gal 3:28). As the body of Christ is comprised of believers from many nations (Rev 5:9), one’s citizenship is permanently in heaven (Phil 3:20).
This should not discourage temporal patriotism or appropriate stewardship of civic service as earthly citizens of nations (Acts 22:28), but rather should serve as a warning against an ethnocentrism that hinders the missionary task or the practice of prejudice of any kind.
When one remembers that to God “the nations are like a drop in the bucket” (Is 40:15) and that he has the power both to make them great and destroy them (Job 12:23), allegiance to an earthly nation should not supersede allegiance to the Ruler of nations (Ps 22:28), or perhaps more clearly as joyful members of the “Ruler’s Nation.”
The above is an excerpt of my entry on this topic from the forthcoming CSB Worldview Study Bible from B&H Academic on May 15, 2018.
CSB Worldview Study Bible
David S. Dockery and Trevin K. Wax, General Editors
Holman Bible Publishers, 2018
The CSB Worldview Study Bible features extensive worldview study notes and articles by notable Christian scholars. All resources are crafted to help Christians better understand the grand narrative of Scripture within the biblical framework from which we are called to view reality, offering insights to make sense of life and the world. Guided by general editors David S. Dockery and Trevin K. Wax, this Bible is an invaluable resource and study tool that will help you to discuss, defend, and clearly share with others the truth, hope, and practical compatibility of Christianity in everyday life.