September 17, 2021

The Bible’s Wide-angle Lens

Psalm 87:1-7

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 before the Lamb.

—  Revelation 7:9

From one angle, the Bible tells an exclusive story about one God (the Lord), one man (Abraham), one nation (Israel), one Savior (Jesus), one people (the church). And who doesn’t want to be part of something exclusive?

But exclusive can be uncomfortable. While we’re on the inside looking out, we may get queasy seeing people on the outside looking in. Unless we’re looking down on them.

There is another angle in the Bible, though. From this ­angle, it’s not just a “one nation (Israel)” story. Psalm 87, for example, celebrates God’s exclusive love for Zion, the heart of Israel. But then it also pictures God welcoming other nations and saying of them, “This one was born in Zion.”

This angle widens in the New Testament. In Matthew 2, Magi come from faraway nations to worship the child Jesus. In Matthew 28, Jesus sends out his followers with good news for all nations. And in Revelation 7 we see a vision of a vast multitude from “every nation, tribe, people and language” worshiping God in heaven.

The wide-angle view paints a wonderfully inclusive picture of God’s love. From this angle, the only thing exclusive is Jesus. He alone is the Lamb of God. And he takes away the sin of not just one nation but the whole world!

Lord Jesus, no person, family, or nation is beyond the reach of your love. Your love is as wide and long and high and deep as all the world. We praise you! Amen.

About the author — Bob Arbogast

Bob Arbogast is the pastor of Celebration Fellowship church in Ionia, Michigan. In his spare time, he plays guitar in a West Michigan blues band. He and his wife Jan have been married forty years and have three adult daughters. Bob has been praying the psalms since 2002.

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