Israel has had a love/hate relationship with “the nations.”
The positive feelings originate from:
- Wanting to be received as an ordinary, peaceful country, free from turmoil and international scrutiny.
- Partnership and assistance in rebuilding the land, particularly from the many Christians who stand with Israel.
The negative feelings issue from:
- Millenia of conflict, exile, war, anti-Semitism and persecution to this very day.
- Biblical admonishments against following the idolatrous ways of the nations.
- Perhaps a dose of common ethnic pride.
Judgement of the Nations
The Hebrew Scriptures, including Isaiah’s book of prophecy, say some pretty harsh things about the nations. Numerous references to the nations illuminate the depravity of humanity in sin, opposing God’s plans and rebelling against His sovereignty. These include scathing rebukes and terrifying previews of judgement such as:
“Behold, the name of the LORD comes from far, burning with His anger, and in thick rising smoke: His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue is as a devouring fire; and His breath is as an overflowing stream, that reaches even unto the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of destruction…” (Isaiah 30:27-28)
“I have trodden down the peoples in My anger,
made them drunk in My fury…” (Isaiah 63:6)
Hope and Longing for the Nations
Yet together with this exposé of evil and judgement of the nations, Isaiah recorded the revelation of God’s heart love for all peoples. Isaiah received astonishing revelation from both sides of this “coin.” In addition to seeing God’s redemption of the Jewish people, this Israeli – Zionist prophet was given to see a time in which the nations would come to Israel not to make war against her, but to learn to obey her God:
“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that … Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways…'” (Isaiah 2:2-3)
“For the Nations shall seek Him…” (Isaiah 11:10)
Isaiah overcame the human tendency to think only of one’s own people group. The book of Isaiah expresses God’s desire to redeem all peoples, not only Israel.
“It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Nations…” (Isaiah 49:6)
“Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, … Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, …For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Isaiah 56:6-7)
“The peoples shall come to your light… and they shall proclaim the praises of the Lord.” (Isaiah 60:3-6)