Fallen humankind will be rescued from every tribe on earth.
7 MINUTE READ
Have you ever wondered, like me, what reasons there could be for the many diverse ethnicities in the world? And do you wonder, if you have seen rivalry between ethnic tribes and the rise and fall of various tribes in history, to what end is all this striving? How can we discern what is truth among the cacophony of voices speaking about diversity and inclusivity?
The world may offer guesses, but Scripture reveals the knowledge that we creatures did not originate ourselves. Scripture also reveals that at the later end of history, all tribes, tongues (languages), and nations will be represented in worship around the throne of God and the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world (Revelation 7).
People from all tribes on earth will have been redeemed by God – a holy representative remnant “…out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9 NKJV). God has not promised that every person in every generation of one nation would be redeemed. He has promised that a representative holy remnant of humankind would be redeemed out of every nation and tribe and language.
“The vision that Scripture reveals is inclusive of the diversity throughout the world, but is not based on humanism which elevates humankind above its Creator.”
The vision that Scripture reveals is inclusive of the diversity throughout the world, but is not based on humanism which elevates humankind above its Creator. It is instead based on the surrender of all tribes of humankind to the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
Why should there be a redeemed humankind representing all the ethnic peoples of the earth? Adam was commissioned to fill the earth, as humankind created in the image of God. He was to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth with the image and thus glory of God (Genesis 1:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:7). Then Adam’s race was enslaved by the stronghold of Satan, resulting in fallen humankind, even as it scattered and divided into ethnic peoples across the earth. This is seen in Genesis 10’s Table of Nations and in the events propelled from the tower of Babel.
Yet God’s explicit plan to fill the earth with the divine image and glory is still echoed through the Scriptures (Numbers 14:21; Psalm 72:19; Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 40:5) – “For the earth will be filled / With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD / As the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14 NKJV). So, how will this be achieved in the sovereign plan of God?
In the biblical covenants and redemptive history, we see the unfolding plan of God to fill the earth He created with the glorious image of God in humankind.
- God’s covenant with Adam involved this express plan.
- God’s covenant with Noah involved the command to multiply and fill the earth, with God promising not to destroy humankind off the face of the earth by flooding.
- God’s covenant with Abraham spoke of all the nations and families of the earth being blessed through Abraham and his descendants.
- God’s covenant with Moses revealed the chosen ethnic people and nation of Israel as carrying responsibility for the filling of the earth with God’s glory, such that those who were unfaithful to God’s cause would forfeit entry into the Promised Land (Numbers 14:21).
- God’s covenant with David revealed an everlasting throne with tributaries consisting of all surrounding nations and ethnolinguistic people groups.
- And all that the prophets said about the nations and ends of the earth being drawn into the kingdom of God, and the filling of the earth with God’s glorious image, is fulfilled in the New Covenant of Christ. What does God say of this Messiah? “’Indeed,’ He says, ‘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 Gentiles, / That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Isaiah 49:6 NKJV).
Christ is the image and glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:4; Hebrews 1:3), and redeemed humankind is transformed into this image and glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). Scripture pictures fallen humankind rescued from throughout the earth, with a renewed image of God.
The mandate given to Adam is thus truly fulfilled, as all of Adam’s kind – humankind – is represented across all the diversity of humankind. All the earth, all the ends of the earth, all kings and kingdoms, all nations, all peoples, all families of the peoples, all humankind will worship the LORD, the Creator who is above all the gods of the nations, which are idols (Psalm 22:27; 65:2; 66:4; 72:11; 86:8-10; 96:1-9; 102:22; Isaiah 66:23; Revelation 15:4). And there are many more Scripture texts also demonstrating this truth.
Do you believe it? Do you sincerely believe that what Scripture says is true – that fallen humankind will be reached and rescued from out of every tribe on earth?
Do you believe it? Do you sincerely believe that what Scripture says is true – that fallen humankind will be reached and rescued from out of every tribe on earth? If so, how do you reckon it will come to pass? Take into view the current state of the world, in which 42.3% of the world’s ethnolinguistic people groups are ‘unreached’ (less than 2% evangelical/5% Christian adherent),1 about 28.5% of the world’s people groups are ‘frontier’ (less than 0.1% Christian), and very few mission agencies send even 1% of their missionaries to frontier people groups.2 Will it be fulfilled without foreigners crossing boundaries to reach more people groups? Even though indigenous missionary movements are important where there are local Christian believers, what about when an ethnolinguistic group lacks any believers to be a witness, or where surrounding local believers are not mobilised to reach frontier and unreached people groups?
Scripture highlights in Psalm 87 that the tribes of humankind’s family tree most remote from God are to be redeemed into the kingdom of God, including infamous enemies of God’s people through history: Egypt, Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, Cush. Even as Israel might have been staggered by this scope of God’s redemptive plan, we could similarly baulk at this thought, if we were to forget something vital: We could easily forget that we ourselves are undeserving recipients of God’s mission and thus enjoined into it as people who belong to Christ’s cause.
Of the unreached and frontier people groups, the most remote ones have been captive to idolatry and the darkness of Satanic deception without relief for thousands of years. I had my vision opened to this in a visit years ago, realising how cut off the people were, and went to meet them again with my wife in subsequent years. We heard stories of children abandoned by their parents, whom themselves had been trapped in generational cycles of sin and death. They remain without hope after millennia, under Satan’s deception, seeking to appease demonic objects of worship.
These people may seem different to us, but they are merely other parts of our family tree of humankind. And rather than us being more deserving to be in the kingdom than they are, we too are rescued from the grip of idolatries. It is not that they are so deserving of Christ, any more than we deserve Christ, but Christ deserves them. He paid for their redemption. He is worthy of their worship.
This gathering of every tribe and tongue into one unified people set apart for God is no mere human creation. We do not belong to our own cause, striving to achieve something that we set up ourselves, but we belong to Christ’s story and mission, “You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19 NKJV). “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10 NKJV).
We are called to follow our Lord Jesus, the primary missionary, who astonishingly left glory and comforts to reach into humankind, speaking people’s heart languages and dwelling among them, confronting the reign of idolatrous sin and death over the nations and peoples on earth. In our Lord’s confrontation of sin and death in the world, He demonstrated that the dominion of Satan would give way to the kingdom of the Messiah. “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them’” (Luke 7:22 NKJV).
“For God to save the world He made, what did it take? For God to save the world He made, what will it take?”
Is there another way for Christ’s mission to be completed than to cross ethnic barriers and to go to the destitute captives of sin and death? For God to save the world He made, what did it take? For God to save the world He made, what will it take? Can it really be that the diverse kaleidoscope of ethnic people groups on earth separated by language and cultural barriers, needs to be traversed for God’s Word to be fulfilled? Can it really be that our sovereign God entrusts this task to His people, who He saves for this purpose of being part of His redemption plans? Can it be that the momentum of history, for all the many ethnolinguistic people groups across the earth, is towards a known outcome, to bring people of all tribes into the worship of God above all gods?
This is what we were made and saved by and for: Christ’s mission, for all the diverse tribes across the earth to come to the knowledge of the glory of God. This is the end for which the nations and tribes were made, and the trajectory of history that will see Christ’s kingdom ultimately established through all nations and ethnic people groups.
We praise God that He has revealed the scope of His creation and redemption purposes in Scripture, which is not the invention of creatures but the awe-inspiring purpose of history! Can you believe that this is true and will come to fruition throughout the earth, even to the most inaccessible regions of earth? We are not all so disconnected – Scripture promises that at the end of history we will see every tribe and tongue gathered into one people.