10 Old Testament Verses on World Mission

Have you been looking for verses that support missions in the old testament? Do Christian missions have a basis in the old testament? This article will answer that question by providing a list of verses that would convince you of this truth.  There are those who believe that the foundation for world mission is solely in the new testament and that the old testament has little if anything to do with it. The great commission given by our Lord Jesus Christ to reach the whole world is used as the main argument supporting missions. Whereas this is a correct view, when we read the Old Testament, on the other hand, we are often confronted by many other verses that clearly support the call for missions. 

From the very beginning, in the book of Genesis, we can demonstrate that missions was always on God's mind. In the third chapter of  Genesis, while addressing the serpent, he decrees that "the seed of the woman shall crush your head and you shall strike his heal". This was an indication of God's intention to save the entire world from the grasp of the enemy by using what he termed as the "seed" of the woman. It turned out afterward that he was indeed referring to the Messiah who came in order to save us from eternal damnation.

Here below are ten verses selected from the old testament that clearly show God's design for missions. 

1. Gen. 22:18

Because you have obeyed me, all the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using the name of your descendants.

These are the words of the Lord after he provides a ram for Abraham to sacrifice while he was on the brink of sacrificing his own son Isaac. The Lord was impressed by Abraham's obedience to his command even though Isaac was Abraham's only son and he was the son of promise. What the Lord was telling Abraham is that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him. The Lord could have told Abraham that some nations would be blessed, but when he uses the term "All", it shows that he is indeed very serious about his principle creation and does not wish for any person to perish without having been given a chance to receive Abraham's blessing.

2. Genesis 12:1-3

1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you.
2 Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great so that you will exemplify divine blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, so that all the families of the earth may receive blessing] through you.”

In this verse, the Lord is building a relationship with Abraham. He is blessing Abraham so that "all the families of the earth may receive blessing" through him. The Lord gives direction to Abraham here, commanding him to leave his relatives and his father's household to a different land that he will "show" him. Abraham departs by faith, not knowing where he was going, leaving everything behind including his relatives and his inheritance. The Lord promises to bless all the families of the earth through Abraham. In this way, Abraham becomes the father of faith but also the first missionary-someone on a mission. His first mission is to form a great nation, but his ultimate mission is to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth.  

3. 1 Chronicles 16:24

Tell the nations about his splendor,
tell all the nations about his miraculous deeds.

The author of the book of Chronicles states that the nations should be told about the splendor of the Lord. They should not continue to live in ignorance of the great and mighty God who does miraculous deeds. They should know about him, sing praises to his name, and worship him.


4. Psalm 18:49

So I will give you thanks before the nations, O Lord. I will sing praises to you.

 David attributed his victories in battle to the Lord. Here, he declares that he will give thanks to the Lord before the nations. The reason behind this is so that the nations would learn about the Lord and turn from worshiping false gods

5. Psalm 22:27

Let all the people of the earth acknowledge the Lord and turn to him.
Let all the nations worship you.

Indeed all the people of the earth should acknowledge Him as Lord. They should repent and turn from their wicked ways. For the Lord will judge everyone according to their works. How can they be forewarned about this impending judgment unless someone reaches them? Jeremiah 16:19 says that nations will come to the Lord and declare that their "fathers inherited nothing but lies, worthless idols of no benefit at all."

6. Psalm 46:10

 He says, “Stop your striving and recognize that I am God.
I will be exalted over the nations! I will be exalted over the earth!”

The NIV renders this as "be still and know that I am God". The nations of the earth should cease to strive and work out their own salvation without calling upon the Lord. Jeremiah 33:3 says that when we call upon the name of the Lord he will answer us and show us great things that we have not known. When we exalt him he will make wars to cease in our lives. He will break bows and shatter the spears. He will burn shields in the fire. He is the God that brings peace in all the earth. It is not a new political dispensation or a new philosophy or technology that will save the world. It is the knowledge of the Lord that will bring about the peace that the world is looking for.  Psalm 57:5 says that the Lord should be exalted above the heavens and that his glory may be over all the earth.

praise God

7. Psalms 96:3-5

3 Tell the nations about his splendor. Tell all the nations about his amazing deeds.
4 For the Lord is great and certainly worthy of praise; he is more awesome than all gods.
5 For all the gods of the nations are worthless, but the Lord made the sky.

The Lord wants the nations to know that there is but one God. All the other gods are not real. They are worthless. Only the one true God is worthy of praise. He wants the nations to know that it is He who made the marvelous constellations in the sky. The moon, the sun, the stars, and all the other bodies we observe in the sky are the work of his hands. All of them are operating like clockwork. None of them is missing. He has maintained them in perfect order by His great power. Why should the nations worship fake gods when there is a genuine God who created all things?

8. Isaiah 6:8

I heard the voice of the Lord say, “Whom will I send? Who will go on our behalf?” I answered, “Here I am, send me!”

Here, Isaiah hears the voice of the Lord asking whom He will send to go on His behalf. Isaiah promptly assesses the situation and says "send me!". The voice of the Lord has not stopped asking the question on behalf of the billions of souls who will face eternity without Christ if we continue insisting on not going. Today he is still asking "Whom will I send to the lost nations?", "Who will go on my behalf to the people who have not heard?". Just like in the days of Isaiah only a few are listening and only a few are willing to make the big leap, but the Lord promises to use those who will avail themselves. Those who will say like Isaiah, "Here I am, send me!"

9. Isaiah 49:6

He says, “Is it too insignificant a task for you to be my servant,
to re-establish the tribes of Jacob, and restore the remnant of Israel?
I will make you a light to the nations,
so you can bring my deliverance to the remote regions of the earth.”

 We see here the voice of the Lord echoing from the past with his mission of bringing His light to all the nations of the earth. Through Jesus, he brings all the people of the earth to himself. Paul assertively declares in the book of Galatians 3:28 that there is no Male, Female, Jew, Greek or Gentile, Slave or Free as we are now one in Christ. Christ died for all. Salvation is for everyone. No one is left out.

10. Isaiah 52:7

How delightful it is to see approaching over the mountains the feet of a messenger who announces peace,
a messenger who brings good news, who announces deliverance, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Isaiah here sees a messenger coming over the mountains with good news to Jerusalem. The messenger is someone who has been sent. The good news is that of peace, what the world needed then and still needs most. It is a delightful thing to watch and this is what the prophet is talking about. The good news is that the Messiah has come and that we can receive salvation by faith.  Every nation on the earth would delight greatly to receive the news of salvation, the news of deliverance. 

Missions is imperative for all Christians. There are three types of Christians: those that go for missions, those that send the goers by supporting them with resources and prayer, and those that refuse to listen to the Lord's call. Failure to go should be an exception and not the trend as is the case in most churches.  The Lord calls us all to missions, starting from where we are located in our neighborhoods and finally to the furthest parts of the world. 

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