“The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” - Habakkuk 2:14
One of the unifying themes of all Scripture is God’s timeless concern for all nations. At the beginning of the Jewish nation, God called Abraham to be a blessing, and promised that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” There can be little question that this prophecy refers to Jesus Christ, who was physically descended from Abraham. Jesus came to be a blessing “to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile.” All of us who call on the name of the Lord as Gentiles do so because of God timeless plan to include Gentiles in the household of faith.
The consummation of God’s eternal plan is intimately tied to the advance of the gospel from nation to nation. On the Mount of Olives, Jesus spoke clearly about the end of the world: “This gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Not until “all nations” have heard the gospel will the end of the world come about. The Book of Revelation also makes this clear as well: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Rev. 7:9-10). Thus, is clearly pictured the consummation of the prediction made to Abraham that all nations would be blessed through him, for Jesus had saved some from every nation who stood before Him in John’s prophetic vision.
Habakkuk states the same prophecy in the verse written above, but with a slightly different emphasis. Jesus said the gospel would advance to every nation. Habakkuk says that this advance is really the advance of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord. As we go from people to people preaching the gospel, we are proclaiming the glories of the Almighty God. As people listen, faith comes from their hearing, and they come to a saving knowledge of that glorious God who is being proclaimed. When the apostles first preached on Pentecost, the hearers from many nations on earth said “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own language” (Acts 2:11)! In this same way, the gospel is advancing the “knowledge of the glory of the Lord” specifically in the person and works of Jesus Christ. Though that knowledge does not yet cover the earth the way the waters cover the sea, someday it will.
"One of the unifying themes of all Scripture is God’s timeless concern for all nations."
The Church has a unique opportunity and privilege to minister even now to people from all over the world. God has brought some of the best and brightest people from distant nations right to our own communities, and we have the open door to preach the gospel to those who don’t yet know Christ, and to help disciple those who do. They also can and do make significant contributions to our own growth in Christ. Let us thank God for the work He’s allowed us to take part in, as we see Him spread His own glory over all the earth!