Through the Bible Reading Plan: Psalm 65-67, 69-70
67 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah 2 that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. 3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! 4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah 5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! 6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us. 7 God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!
In 1975, a mathematician named Benoit Mandelbrot begin paying attention to fractal patterns in nature. Fractals are objects in which the same pattern occurs again and again at every scale and size of the larger whole. We see repeated patterns in snowflakes, quartz crystals, forks of lightning, the branches of trees, and even the tributaries of rivers. Each smaller component reflects the geometry of the whole.
God’s heart for the nations of the world is a fractal pattern in God’s Word. From the covenant God made with Abraham in Genesis 11:3 to the leaves of the tree for the healing of the nations in Revelation 22:2, God demonstrates over and over and over again that His desire is for all the peoples of the earth to fear His name.
The pattern is simple: start with a focus on one people, the Jews, and then expand the focus to all peoples:
- Abraham would be blessed, and then all nations would be blessed through Him (Genesis 22:18)
- The gospel is the power of God for salvation, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16).
- The disciples were to be Jesus’ witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea (Jews first); then to Samaria and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
In the seven verses of Psalm 67 we see the nations referred to over and over again. But notice how it starts and ends with the Psalmist focused on what God has done for Israel:
- May God be gracious to us and bless us (v1)
- God shall bless us (v. 7)
In between are no less than TEN reminders of God’s heart for the nations:
- God’s way is to be known on earth (v. 2)
- God’s saving power is to be known among all nations (v. 2)
- Let the peoples praise God (v. 3)
- Let all the peoples praise God (v. 3)
- Let the nations be glad and sing for joy (v. 4)
- God judges the peoples with equity (v. 4)
- God guides the nations (v. 4)
- Let the peoples praise God (v. 5)
- Let all the peoples praise God (v. 5)
- Let all the ends of the earth fear God (v. 7)
I can only think of one time where the pattern was reversed. When Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple, Simeon took Jesus in his arms and said that He would be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for God’s people Israel” (Luke 2:32). If you find others, please let me know in the comments.
Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, provided revelation for the Gentiles. Because of Jesus, one day there will be “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10).
But guess what? John had this vision after the vision of the 144,000 sealed from the twelve tribes of Israel (Revelation 7:1-8). Why? Because God’s Word is perfect. It is consistent. It is reliable. And in God’s Word, it is the Jew first, and then the Greek.
So how does this pattern challenge you this morning? Let it remind you that God first desires to bless you. He seeks a relationship with you as He sought out Abram.
Then, God desires to use you to bless those around you. Your spouse. Your family. Your church family. You are blessed to be a blessing. Just as God’s blessing to Abram also blessed Lot (Genesis 13:6), Hagar and Ishmael, and Sarah and Isaac, we are blessed to be a blessing around us.
But finally, remember that God seeks to bless the nations through you! The gospel came to you on its way to the nations! You can break apart any passage and teaching of Scripture and see this beautiful pattern reflected and repeated. The nations matter to God.
Here are some more passages from Psalms to reflect on today.
“Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” Psalm 2:8
“All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.” Psalm 22:27
“Clap your hands all peoples!” Psalm 47:1
“God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.” Psalm 47:8
“O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God; sing praises to the Lord, Selah” Psalm 68:32