The Nations are Coming! The Nations are Coming!

by Terence Groth

Some readers will remember the 1966 film The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! In this comedy of the Cold War, a Russian submarine accidentally runs aground near a small New England town. Crewmembers come ashore to get help. The reaction of the townsfolk is surprise and fear. They are afraid the Russians have begun an invasion and are going to destroy them and take over—until they discover the Russians are just people like them.

0108searchingstory1.jpgEpiphany season sounds the alarm: The nations are coming! The nations are coming! The non-Hebrew people, the non-Israelites, all the people groups of the world are coming into God’s family, the Church! Will we welcome them? Will we help bring them in? Will we recognize they are people just like us—sinners for whom Jesus gave His life?

No accident or miscalculation is bringing people from all over the globe into God’s family. God let the patriarch Abraham in on the scope of His love and plan for sinners. How broad is God’s vision?

Gen. 12:3b

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To work out His plan, God picked the ragtag, no-account slave people who were descendants of Jacob (otherwise known as Israel). They were His specially chosen servant to bring the Good News to all the world. They tended to be blind to that and act as if God loved only them. But God’s prophets kept telling them: God’s love and forgiveness are for all people. He will bring all peoples into His family!

Not everyone was blind to God’s universal plan. Who caught the vision and how did they express it in these passages?

Ps. 72:17

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Is. 60:3

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In his Gospel, St. Matthew shows that Isaiah’s foresight was literally fulfilled when Jesus was just a baby. Whom did God bring to the baby Savior, from where?

Matt. 2:1–12

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The Wise Men were the beginning of the nations coming to the Word made flesh, Jesus. What a surprise they must have been to Mary and Joseph! Did they say to each other: “The nations are coming”?

How does Matthew bring out this same accent at the end of his Gospel?

Matt. 28:18–20

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In his letter to the Ephesians (in modern-day Turkey), the apostle Paul, the missionary to the non-Hebrews, unfolds and makes plain God’s eternal plan of salvation. What was the surprise that God revealed to Paul and the early Hebrew Christians?

Eph. 3:6

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What was amazing was that God was bringing the Gentiles into His family on equal footing with the Hebrews. God did not and does not look upon the Gentiles (that’s most of us!) as second-class members of His family of saved people. All who repent of their sin and turn to Jesus for forgiveness are equal members of the same body, the Church.

The nations are coming—because God is bringing them! We—Hebrews and non-Hebrews—are proof of that. God gave His Son Jesus to die for all of us. Jesus carried the sins of all of us to the cross. Jesus shed His blood for all of us. Jesus rose again for all of us. God brought all of us into His Church through the gift of Holy Baptism. God feeds all of us with the body and blood, the treasures of Jesus, kingly food. God gives His Holy Spirit to live in all of us.

The nations are coming! The nations are coming! They’re just like us—sinners loved by God, forgiven by Jesus. Let’s welcome them—as God has welcomed us!

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contemporary world from a Lutheran Christian perspective.

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