Survivors Out of All the Nations
1. What promise made to Abraham shows that God’s approval is possible for “all the families” of mankind?
JEHOVAH is lovingly interested in people of all nations and tribes. He has made provision so that all the families of the earth can enjoy his approval and blessing. To Abram (Abraham), a descendant of Noah’s son Shem, Jehovah said: “Go your way out of your country and from your relatives and from the house of your father to the country that I shall show you; and I shall make a great nation out of you and I shall bless you and I will make your name great; and prove yourself a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you, and him that calls down evil upon you I shall curse, and all the families of the ground will certainly bless themselves by means of you.” (Genesis 12:1-3; Acts 7:2-4) “All the families of the ground”—that includes us today, no matter the nation into which we were born or the language we speak.—Psalm 65:2.
2. (a) Like Abraham, what quality do we need? (b) As shown at Hebrews 11:8-10, how did Abraham give evidence of this quality?
2 The one to whom Jehovah stated this promise was a man of faith, even as we must have faith if we would share in the blessing from God here promised. (James 2:23; Hebrews 11:6) Abraham’s faith was not merely a passive belief but was accompanied by action. It caused him to move out of Mesopotamia into a distant land that he had never seen before. “By faith he resided as an alien in the land of the promise as in a foreign land,” not attaching himself to any of the city-kingdoms there. “For he was awaiting the city [God’s Kingdom] having real foundations, the builder and maker of which city is God.”—Hebrews 11:8-10.
3. What searching test of faith did Abraham undergo regarding Isaac?
3 When Abraham reached 100 years of age and his wife Sarah was 90, Jehovah miraculously blessed them with a son, Isaac. In connection with this son, Abraham underwent a searching test of faith and obedience toward God. Jehovah directed Abraham to take Isaac, now a young man, to the land of Moriah and there offer him up as a burnt offering. With faith in God’s ability to restore his son to life by a resurrection, Abraham proceeded to obey. (Hebrews 11:17-19) Isaac, submissive to his father, was already bound on the altar and Abraham had in his hand the knife with which to kill him when Jehovah’s angel intervened. The test had gone far enough to prove that Abraham would not withhold anything from God. Therefore God confirmed his covenant with Abraham, as the Bible states:
4. On that occasion, what further important promise did God make regarding people of all nations?
4 “‘By myself I do swear,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘that by reason of the fact that you have done this thing and you have not withheld your son, your only one, I shall surely bless you and I shall surely multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens and like the grains of sand that are on the seashore; and your seed will take possession of the gate of his enemies. And by means of your seed all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves due to the fact that you have listened to my voice.’”—Genesis 22:15-18.
5. (a) What was foreshadowed by Abraham’s attempting to offer up Isaac? (b) In fulfillment of Genesis 12:3, how do people ‘call down evil’ on the Greater Abraham, and with what result? (c) How can we “bless” him?
5 When we discern that the Greater Abraham is Jehovah and that Isaac foreshadowed Jesus Christ, we can begin to appreciate how these events are of importance to us personally. In reality, it is how we act toward Jehovah God that determines our future. The prospect of eternal life is possible for us because God actually gave his only-begotten Son as a sacrifice for our sins, as illustrated by Abraham’s attempting to offer up Isaac. (John 3:16) Any who persist in ‘calling down evil’ on Jehovah, despising him or making light of his loving purposes, come under a curse that will mean their eternal destruction. (Compare 1 Samuel 3:12-14; 2:12.) But if we are appreciative persons, we will “bless” the Greater Abraham. How? By freely acknowledging that from Jehovah come all good things, including the undeserved gift of life through his Son. Also, we will tell others about Jehovah’s goodness and the splendid qualities of his kingship. (James 1:17; Psalm 145:7-13) In this way we put ourselves in line to receive blessings from him forever.
THE PROMISED “SEED” OF ABRAHAM
6. (a) Who is the primary “seed” of Abraham? (b) How can we obtain the blessing that comes by means of him?
6 As part of his arrangement for blessing mankind Jehovah purposed a righteous heavenly government. Jesus Christ was born as a descendant of Abraham, as his most important offspring, or “seed,” and it is upon him that Jehovah has conferred kingship. (Galatians 3:16; Matthew 1:1) So, as indicated by God’s sworn oath to Abraham, it is by means of Jesus Christ that people out of all nations of the earth will be blessed. Are you doing what is required in order to procure that blessing for yourself? For example, does your course of life demonstrate that you appreciate how important to you the sacrifice of Jesus’ life is? Are you truly submitting to his authority as King?—John 3:36; Acts 4:12.
7. (a) Who else is included in “Abraham’s seed”? (b) How do we know that not all who faithfully serve God will go to heaven?
7 The apostle John was given a prophetic foreview of heavenly events in which he saw others associated with Jesus Christ on heavenly Mount Zion. They, too, are part of “Abraham’s seed.” As stated at Revelation 14:1-5, they are “bought from among mankind” and number 144,000. (Galatians 3:26-29) Whom do they include? The Bible makes it very clear that it has never been God’s purpose to take all righteously disposed persons to heaven. (Matthew 11:11; Acts 2:34; Psalm 37:29) The grand privilege of sharing with Christ in the Kingdom of heaven is limited to a “little flock” who will be kings and priests with him for a thousand years.—Luke 12:32; Revelation 5:9, 10; 20:6.
8. When did the selection of the “little flock” begin, and how long does it continue?
8 How did the selection of that “little flock” proceed? The gracious invitation to share in the heavenly Kingdom was first extended to the natural Israelites. But because of their lack of faith, they did not provide the full 144,000. So Samaritans and, later, people of all nations were invited. (Acts 1:8) The first of Christ’s joint heirs were anointed with holy spirit at Pentecost of 33 C.E. The selecting of this group continues until 144,000 have been sealed by God as approved. Then attention is directed to gathering persons who will live on earth as appreciative subjects of the heavenly government.
9. (a) What expressions in the Bible apply to this heavenly class? (b) Who were foreshadowed by the natural Israelites?
9 Those who are heirs of the heavenly Kingdom with Christ are referred to in the Scriptures as “chosen ones,” “holy ones,” persons “anointed . . . [by] God.” (2 Timothy 2:10; 1 Corinthians 6:1, 2; 2 Corinthians 1:21) They are also described collectively as the “bride” of Christ. (Revelation 21:2, 9; Ephesians 5:22-32) Viewed from other standpoints, they are called “brothers” of Christ, “joint heirs with Christ” and “sons” of God. (Hebrews 2:10, 11; Romans 8:15-17; Ephesians 1:5) Regardless of their nationality, they are, spiritually speaking, “the Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:16; Romans 2:28, 29; 9:6-8) When Jehovah terminated his Law covenant with fleshly Israel, he brought spiritual Israel into a new covenant with himself. But his dealings with fleshly Israel while they were under the Law set a pattern of things to come. (Hebrews 10:1) Who, then, was foreshadowed by the nation of fleshly Israel, which was chosen by God as his “special property”? The facts point to spiritual Israel, those whom God has chosen to rule with Christ in heaven. (Compare Exodus 19:5, 6 with 1 Peter 1:3, 4 and 1Pe 2:9.) With Christ they make up the agency by means of which blessings will be extended to all other obedient ones among mankind. Appreciation of this is a key to understanding the Bible.
THOSE BLESSED BY MEANS OF THE “SEED”
10. Who are pictured by non-Israelite worshipers of Jehovah?
10 During the time that God was dealing in a special way with the nation of Israel, he also made loving provisions for persons not of that nation but whose hearts moved them to share in true worship in association with the Israelites. Noteworthy mention is made of them in the Bible record. Do they, too, have modern-day counterparts? Yes, indeed. They picture in many ways those who are not spiritual Israelites but who cherish the marvelous prospect of eternal life as earthly subjects of God’s Kingdom. These are the ones of whom God spoke to Abraham, saying that people out of “all nations of the earth” would bless themselves by means of his “seed.”—Genesis 22:18; Deuteronomy 32:43.
11. (a) What mention was made of this group at the dedication of Solomon’s temple? (b) How are “foreigners” ‘joining themselves to Jehovah’ in our day, as foretold at Isaiah 56:6, 7?
11 It has always been God’s purpose for all mankind to be united in true worship. Appropriately, at the dedication of the temple built by Solomon in Jerusalem, the king prayed that Jehovah would hear the prayer of foreigners who sought to offer acceptable worship along with Israel. (2 Chronicles 6:32, 33) And, at Isaiah 56:6, 7, God promised: “The foreigners that have joined themselves to Jehovah to minister to him and to love the name of Jehovah, in order to become servants to him, . . . I will also bring them to my holy mountain and make them rejoice inside my house of prayer. . . . For my own house will be called even a house of prayer for all the peoples.” Reflecting the spirit here conveyed, the modern-day “foreigners” are now gathering from all nations, not simply as casual observers, but as persons who ‘join themselves to Jehovah.’ They do this by dedicating their lives to him, symbolizing this by water immersion and then serving in a manner that demonstrates their love for “the name of Jehovah” and all that it represents.—Matthew 28:19, 20.
12. How does the Mosaic Law indicate whether those who hope to be earthly subjects of God’s Kingdom must conform to the high standards that apply to spiritual Israel?
12 No less faithfulness is required of them than of those who are spirit-anointed Christians. Under the Mosaic Law, Jehovah required the “alien resident” who took up true worship to conform to the same law that was binding on Israel. (Numbers 15:15, 16) The relationship between them was not to be one of mere toleration but of genuine love. (Leviticus 19:34) Likewise, those foreshadowed by the alien residents seek to bring their lives into full harmony with Jehovah’s requirements and to serve in loving unity with the remaining ones of spiritual Israel.—Isaiah 61:5.
13. What details at Isaiah 2:1-4 should we take to heart if we want to survive into the “new earth”?
13 By means of his prophet Isaiah, Jehovah described the eager throng of persons out of “all the nations” who today are flocking to Jehovah’s universal house of worship. He foretold: “Many peoples will certainly go and say: ‘Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’” As a result, they have ‘beaten their swords into plowshares’ and, even amid this strife-torn world, they ‘learn war no more.’ (Isaiah 2:1-4) Do you see yourself in that happy throng? Do you share their desire to learn Jehovah’s requirements, to apply these in your life and to cease relying on weapons of war? God has promised that a great crowd who pursue this course will “come out of the great tribulation” as survivors into his peaceful “new earth.”—Revelation 7:9, 10, 14; Psalm 46:8, 9.