Notes on Diversity and Multi-Ethnicity in Scripture

Last week, some of our staff at Eastbrook Church spent time reflecting on diversity, multi-ethnicity, and the international perspective within God’s plans for His people within the Scripture. We read some portions of the Bible aloud, then reflected together on what we were seeing there. What follows are the unedited notes from that time together.

Isaiah 66:18-2118 “And I, because of what they have planned and done, am about to come[a] and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory. 19 “I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans[b] and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations. 20 And they will bring all your people, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the Lord. “They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the Lord in ceremonially clean vessels. 21 And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites,” says the Lord.

  • all nations
  • all tongues
  • linked to God’s glory & fame
  • non-Jews (v.21) will become priests & Levites
  • diversity as an offering got God

Matthew 28:18-20 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

  • make disciples of all nations
  • go to all nations
  • common teaching/baptism to all nations
  • authority comes from Jesus, and we have to be humble as we approach all nations.
  • God’s word/truth is “supracultural”

Ephesians 2:11-22 11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

  • One new humanity, centered in Christ
  • Jesus is the unifier of those cultures. He is the peace that breaks down hostility.
  • Two different cultures, they were strangers but now they are family.
  • We are all being built together as a dwelling. This creates momentum in the church…rising up.
  • Differences don’t hinder or limit.

Acts 1:8 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

  • Geographical movement of mission
  • presence/power “empowerment” of God
  • God wants to be known by all peoples
  • Looking out but also where you are.

Acts 13:1-3  1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers:Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

  • Diverse leadership team in Antioch church (African, Lebanese, Cyprus, Diaspora Jew)
  • They had different experiences, they set aside a lot to worship and fast. 
  • All leaders – not held back by background.
  • None of these guys are listed as being from Antioch. 
  • Luke mentions their diversity.
  • Only two set apart. How did everyone else feel?

Revelation 7:9-12 9 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 before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”

  • Every nation, tribe, people, language.
  • They all cried out with understanding in one voice.
  • Not countable. Great multitude cries out in one large voice. Huge mass of people. 
  • This future picture is unstoppable. “We can’t screw it up too much.”
  • We want to be part of what God is doing. We don’t want to be left behind. 

Revelation 22:1-5 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

  • “Healing of the nations” – healing is needed, healing is available/happening.
  • We’ll live together forever.
  • The only descriptors are that we are his servants, and his name is on our foreheads.
  • No more curse. It’s part of the curse that we are divided and can’t see eye to eye. 
  • No more curse, no divisions. 
  • No more lacking. Perfection. People have what they need. God is purely nourishing everybody. 

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