“And in His name the Gentiles will hope.” (Matthew 12:21)
The present verse is actually a quote from Isaiah 42 about the coming Messiah, and how the Gentiles (the non-Israelite nations of the world) would put their trust in Him. It is striking how many times the OLD Testament refers to the mission to the Gentiles. In fact, from the very inception of Abram’s call in Genesis 12, God declared how He would use him and his offspring to reach the nations: “And in you ALL the families of the earth will be blessed.” Following that initial prophecy, numerous other verses declare how God’s blessings would reach the nations through His chosen people:
— The LORD repeated this promise of how all the nations would be blessed through their offspring to both Isaac and then Jacob in Genesis 26:4 and Genesis 28:14.
— The Psalms are full of references to how the nations would rejoice in the Lord: Psalm 100 opens its paean of praise with “Shout for joy to the LORD all the earth.” Psalm 67 tells God’s people that He was blessing them “THAT Thy way may be known on the earth, Thy salvation among ALL NATIONS.”
— Then we find references throughout the prophets to the international scope of God’s work, like the one quoted above from Isaiah 42, and many others.
With such numerous pronouncements of the worldwide scope of their mission, it is amazing how narrow-minded and xenophobic the Jews became, calling foreigners “Gentile dogs”, etc. But perhaps we shouldn’t criticize them too harshly. How many of us, and our churches, are myopically fixated on ourselves, our own comfort, on what God can do for US — all the while neglecting the clear call He gave us to reach the world with the gospel?
This verse is a good reminder: the message of God’s salvation through His Messiah, Jesus, is for the NATIONS — ALL of them. And the life of any Christian, and the mission of any church, is incomplete which is not somehow involved in leading the nations to hope in Christ. What is YOUR church doing? And more to the point: what are YOU doing, to personally further that mission?