Rev. Kuiper is pastor of Southeast Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The concept nations is very important throughout the Scriptures. The first times the word appears is in Genesis 10, where we have the generation of Noah and the mention of Nimrod, and in Genesis 11 where we have the incident of the tower of Babel. The beginning of Nimrod’s kingdom was Babel or Babylon in the land of Shinar (Gen. 10:10, Dan. 1:2). It is clear, therefore, that Nimrod was the first man to aspire to world dominion, the first type of the Antichrist, and the chief enemy of the church in his day. There was one language when he inspired men to build a great tower to make a name for men and to prevent the scattering of the human race over the face of the earth (Gen. 11:1-4). But what would this rebellion against God’s express command mean for the church? Just before this, the universal Flood had delivered the church from persecution and extinction. Would not the establishment of a godless world power once again put the church in peril?
When God saw the city and the tower with the people working together using one language, He confounded their speech so they could not understand each other. God wounded the Antichristian beat and prevented its rapid development. Thus nations developed: some rich, some poor; fighting more and more wars as time goes on (Matt. 24:7); their attention diverted to a large extent from persecuting the church to making a name, extending borders, and getting wealth. The result of Babel is that the church down through the ages can do about her work of preaching the Gospel to all the nations as Christ commanded (Matt. 28:19).
Just before the end of time, the wound inflicted on the nations of Babel will be healed (Rev. 13:3). All nations will be united and wonder after the beast (a great political and religious leader). He will speak blasphemies, will have power to make war with the saints and overcome them, and will have dominion over all tongues and nations (Rev. 13:5-7). One great leader, on world kingdom, one speech or language. Those who have their names written in the book of life, and who refuse to receive the mark of the beast, will have no place in this kingdom. This is the beginning of the great tribulation! Thus, from the time of Nimrod to the time of Antichrist, the church is surrounded by many nations, each with its own gods (II Kings 17:29), its own language, and its own humanistic agenda.
Soon after Babel, according to Genesis 12, God came to Abram and said, “I will make of thee a great nation.” Abraham is called the father of many nations (Gen. 17:4), and receives the promise that in him all the nations of the earth shall be blessed (Gen. 18:18). The nations are blessed and saved by the great Seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ, with whose birth a nation was born at once (Isaiah 66:8), who is the desire of the nations (Hag. 2:7), who has power over the nations (Rev. 2:26), is sent for the healing of the nations (Rev. 22:2), and will judge the nations.
Israel was a kingdom of priests and an holy nation (Ex. 19:6). She was the light of the nations; an exalted nation because of righteousness (Prov. 14:34); unto her nations ran, and would run, because of the Lord her God (Is. 55:5). Yet Israel had nothing of which to boast, for she was in herself a stiffnecked people (Ex. 32:9). Nor did the Lord set His love upon her and choose her because she was more in number than other nations, for He drove out seven nations greater than she (Deut. 7:1-7). God’s love for them was sovereign and unconditional. Indeed, God gave nations for her ransom and people for her life. (Is. 43:3, 4). Also, at the end of the world, the nations will be dispossessed and left with nothing (Dan. 2), and the holy nation of the redeemed will be given the new heavens and new earth.
In times past God suffered all nations to walk in their own ways, although He always left His witness among them (Acts 14:16). On the day of Pentecost, with the miraculous sign of tongue-speaking (Acts 2:5), God reveals His will to grant repentance unto life unto the Gentiles (Acts 11:18). It was expedient that one Man should die for the people, that the whole nation perish not; but Christ did not die for Israel alone, but that He should gather in one the children of God scattered abroad (Acts 11:58). By His Word and Spirit, Christ gathers His church from all the nations, forming them into a holy nation that will show forth the praises of Him that called them (I Peter 2:9).
“Blessed is that nation whose God is the Lord” (Ps. 2:16).