The God Who Sends

Then they said, , "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top int he heavens and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth. Genesis 11:5

Then they said, , "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top int he heavens and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth. Genesis 11:5

The God Who Sends

This week we set out to discover how God continues to pursue new creation, framing our mission and vision in light of what we discover. The story of Abraham will provide the map for our journey. His story provides a window into the whole of the biblical narrative through which we can see that God makes all things new as he . . .

Gathers a people to himself;

Renews the people’s relationship with himself and with one another; and

Sends a renewed people out on mission

So far this week we have discussed the God Who Gathers and the God Who Renews. Today we dive into the God Who Sends.

When we read God’s first words to Abraham, we are immediately struck by the scope of God’s plans for him. God intends to bless all nations through Abraham. Coming on the heels of the scattering of the nations from the Tower of Babel in judgment, God must now send someone to go to the nations if he is to gather and renew them. Indeed, God’s very first words to Abraham are “Go.” God calls Abraham to answer the problem raised at Babel. Abraham’s story reaches its climax in the story of Jesus, as we saw in Matthew’s Gospel in our previous post. Yet, the story does not find its completion in the death and resurrection of Jesus in the Gospels. In the death and resurrection of Jesus, the story simply finds a renewed beginning.  

 

The Story Continued, Not Complete

If you have never taken the time to read Genesis 11:1–9 side-by-side with Acts 2:1–13, you should. In reading these texts together, you will find that God’s answer to scattering the nations in Genesis 11 is gathering the nations and renewing them by the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. In Babel, God comes down and scatters the nations by confusing their language so that they cannot understand one another. By contrast, at Pentecost the Spirit descends on the apostles such that they begin to speak in many different languages, which results in understanding the message of the gospel.

 

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. . . . [T]he multitude came together and were bewildered because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” Acts 2:5-11

 

In response, three thousand renew their relationship with God through repentance, faith, and baptism. They also renew relationship with one another as they continually gather for fellowship and worship.

 

And yet the story is incomplete.

 

Amazingly this astonishing work of God is only the beginning of the ingathering and renewing of all the families of the earth. Why? Because when God gathers and renews, he also sends. At the beginning of Acts, the risen Jesus tells the apostles, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Pentecost is the moment Jesus was referring to when he said this. The Spirit had descended, and now the apostles knew that they were sent. The story of Acts is structured around God’s people being faithful by going from city to city, town to town, house to house, proclaiming the good news of Jesus and witnessing to his resurrection.

 

And yet the story is still not complete because it continues through us.

 

The God Who Sends Us To The End of the Earth

God continues the story of blessing the nations through Abraham’s children by gathering us together, renewing our relationship with him and with one another, and sending us out to continue his story of making all things new—and he is sending all of us who live in the United States to the end of the earth. I do not mean that God is sending us to a different country outside of the United States. I mean that he is sending us daily to the end of the earth because we live in the United States. For too long we have read Jesus’ command to go to the end of the earth as a call to foreign missions because we re-read the story and relocate Jerusalem in New York (so to speak). We need to realize that because we are connected to a much longer story across several millennia, every time we take a step our feet land on ground that Jesus and the apostles would call the end of the earth. We are being sent to the end of the earth every time we wake up, leave the house, drive to work, go to school, get a cup of coffee, head to the local library, go see a movie, etc.

 

Wherever you are, God has already sent you there. He is the God who sends. And wherever you go, he longs to make all things new.

 

 

 

 

Mark Catlin