Later Naomi went to Moab and witnessed there of her God to her two daughters-in-law, with the result that God caused Ruth to forsake all her former life and accompany her mother-in-law to Judah, while Orpah turned back to her idols and her people. Both Ruth and Orpah had been instructed by the same witness of Jehovah; both considered returning with Naomi to her land and people, weighing the consequences of the step they would be taking. Orpah weakens and drops back to her idolatry and heathen practices. Ruth, in spite of all the warnings she receives about the problems involved in returning with her mother-in-law, experiences the grace of God in her heart to confess: “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest I will go; and where thou lodgest I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” Ruth 1:16.
And still later, in the days of the apostasy of the ten tribes, when God was about to cast them out of the land to disperse them among the nations, Jonah was sent to Nineveh to call them to repentance. Reluctantly the prophet went, realizing that God would soon make an end of Israel as a nation to turn to the Gentiles, even as the prophets of the past had said. What was Jonah’s message according to the command of God? Was he told to proclaim a universal love for all men, an offer of salvation to all who will accept, ignoring the righteousness of the living God? In the first chapter of Jonah’s prophecy, verses 1 and 2, we read: “Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah, the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” And again after the bitter experience of being swallowed up by the fish and the wonderful experience of being spewed out upon dry land as one raised from the dead, the word of the Lord came to Jonah, saying, “Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.” It must be that the preaching which God wanted Jonah to preach to Nineveh was simply this: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” The present day evangelist might throw up his hands in horror at such a mandate, and yet it was this very preaching of the Gospel to the Ninevites that brought repentance unto salvation. Jesus tells us that “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas, and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.”
Always there was the promise that in the new dispensation the descendants of Japheth would dwell in the tents of Shem, the covenant would break away from the narrow confines of Israel as a nation to extend to many nations, peoples, and tribes of the earth. God would gather His church also from the Gentiles. Third, we may not fail to notice that the preaching of the Gospel still was not universal in the old dispensation. God brought His Word wherever He would, but certainly not to all nations and peoples promiscuously. In fact, the witness of the Gospel was so limited that by far most of the nations never came in contact with it. When Paul speaks of the living God to the people of Lystra, he says, “Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.” Acts 14:16. And to the men of Athens he repeats, that “the times, of this ignorance God winked at; but, now (in the new dispensation) commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” While in his epistle to the Romans Paul is even more emphatic, declaring that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against those who possessed “natural light” and yet suppressed the truth in unrighteousness: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifested to them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” Rom. 1:18-20.
Finally, we must conclude that this entire evangelical approach in the old dispensation can be understood only in the light of the antithesis, God gathers His church in the midst of an evil world. The nations of the world exalt themselves in wicked defiance and vain boasting against God and His Christ. Lot is delivered out of Sodom, while fire and brimstone rain down from heaven upon those wicked cities. Israel is brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand, while Pharaoh and his host perish in the Red Sea. The Canaanites are destroyed to give to Israel the promised land. Syria, Assyria and Babylon are used by God to purge Israel from their sin. But boldly they exalt themselves against God and His people. Daniel is sent to the courts of Babylon to witness to the world power of that day that God, the God of Daniel and the God of Israel, is the only true God. In terror the kings of Babylon are forced to admit it, even though they refuse to give up their gods. The heathen may boast and the peoples may imagine a vain thing, but God leaves His testimony among them of the image with its head of gold and feet of iron and clay crushed by the Stone that is cut without hands from the side of the mountain. The Word of God cannot fail, “And in the days of these kings (of iron and clay) shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter; and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.” Dan. 2:44, 45.