God’s Heart for the Nations
I write these words from India, here now for the 28th time since 1993. In fact, this would have been my 30th visit to this amazing country if not for COVID.
Being here among the Indian people, I am reminded once again of God’s heart for the nations of the world. He cares deeply for the people He has created. He has put something unique into each of them.
There is a fascinating passage towards the end of the book of Revelation, which is the last book of the Bible.
The Glory of the Nations
Speaking of the New Jerusalem, where heaven will literally come down to earth and God will dwell in the midst of His people forever, the apostle John writes:
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:22–27)
So, in the midst of this absolutely glorious, transcendent vision, one in which God the Father and Jesus the Son will radiate their presence, we are also told that “the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it … They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.”
There is a glory of the nations, a beauty, a diversity, a creativity, an identity that is special and unique. This will contribute to the overall glory of the New Jerusalem.
A Multitude Who Belong to God, Made up of People From Every Ethnic Group
Elsewhere Revelation describes this magnificent scene:
“After this I looked, and behold, 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, 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)
Does this mean that, even in heaven, people will still be identified by their national or ethnic or tribal or linguistic background? Will this remain part of our distinctive backgrounds, even as we all speak a common heavenly language? Or is this simply John’s way of saying that, in the heavenly kingdom, there will be individuals who came from every people group on the planet?
Either way, the message is clear: There will be a massive harvest from the nations. People from every tribe and tongue will put their faith in Jesus. The diversity of planet earth will be represented in God’s eternal kingdom. This is important to Him!
Ministering With People of Various Nations Through Zoom or Through Travel
With the advent of Zoom meetings, especially during COVID, I have had the joy of speaking to believers from all around the world from the privacy of my home office. I can connect to South Africa in the morning and Indonesia at night. I can minister to a leadership conference in Nigeria one day and then teach a class in Italy the next.
It saves a lot of money and a lot of time, and I’m sure I’ll continue to do meetings like this in the future. (In contrast, from the moment I leave my house to the moment I arrive at my final destination in India, it’s normally about 40 hours and up to 5 flights.)
But Zoom meetings are not a substitute for being in these nations firsthand — face to face, eating together, praying together, experiencing life together.
There is something about being in another culture, hearing the different languages, observing the different customs, realizing that your own cultural way is not the only way (or, necessarily, the best way).
Experiencing International Unity Through Jesus
And there is something indescribable that happens when you watch God move in another culture, as people weep in repentance or worship in awe or celebrate with joy. Suddenly, you are fully at home, living out a shared experience that transcends cultural and linguistic differences. Suddenly, you are all one.
Even to watch people of a totally foreign culture laugh at one of your stories brings a unique sense of oneness. (For the record, funny personal stories tend to be funny in others cultures, but jokes normally do not work well cross-culturally. Bear that in mind when you speak in a different culture or country!)
Although I have only been to 33 countries to date (I say “only” because some of my colleagues have been to far more), I have traveled overseas about 160 times, including 28 trips to India, 27 to Italy, 17 to England, 16 to Israel, 14 to Germany … . You get the picture! Plus there have been the many trips to Canada and the 7 trips to Mexico. (All told, I have spent several years of my life overseas when the trips are added up.)
On this current trip to India, I had the joy of delivering a lecture on “Morality in Modernity” to several hundred second-year engineering students, warning them that not everything that comes from America is beneficial. (This is a secular college, not a Christian school.)
Let’s Share in God’s Heart for People From All Nations to be His
And being among the people, sometimes as one of the only foreigners on my flight or sitting at a meal where every word has to be translated, I am often moved by how deeply God’s heart beats for these different peoples. And I am reminded that Jesus died for each and every one of them.
Coming home, I often appreciate the great qualities of America and I understand why people come here from around the world. But I also recognize that there’s a massive world outside our shores, a world teeming with 8 billion people, a world filled with cultures and values and mindsets that often challenge our own.
May we share God’s heart for the nations. May we remember that the world does not revolve around America. And may we have the privilege of bringing the good news of the Savior to people from other nations, some of whom now live in our backyard. It is an honor of the highest order.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is The Political Seduction of the Church: How Millions of American Christians Have Confused Politics with the Gospel. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.