The Story of the Bible Includes All Nations

Even the genealogies of Scripture showcase God’s plan to bring salvation to all nations.

“These are the clans of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations, and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood.” (Genesis 10:32) 

Have you ever started strong in a one-year Bible reading plan only to find yourself skipping sections when you get to a genealogy list like the one found in Genesis chapter 10? Why is it so difficult to keep our attention focused while reading genealogy lists? Perhaps the names sound unfamiliar, they are hard to pronounce, or we don’t see why the list of names is relevant to us today. Perhaps the main reason is that we are naturally more interested in the story of the Bible than in the other facts surrounding it. We can get so caught up in the narrative that we overlook important details—details which the author knows are extremely important. 

The story of the Bible is captivating. We see glorious kingdoms, deceit, rebellion, intrigue, suffering, victory, redemption, and restoration. We also know that the Bible is about the Messiah, so we rightly want to focus on him. The Old Testament reveals the story of God’s people leading up to the coming of the Messiah. As we are reading the Old Testament, however, we can develop blinders that cause us to focus solely on the nation of Israel and consider any deviation from their story to be a sidetrack from the biblical narrative. 

But the Bible frequently—and intentionally—steps away from the story of Israel to focus on other nations. These are not digressions from the main narrative; these are main points within the main story. If we look closely, we can see that the theme of the Old Testament is not merely the history of the nation of Israel, but it is about God and how he is preparing the whole world for the coming of his Son, the Messiah, through the nation of Israel. 

Have you ever noticed that there are major portions of the Old Testament that speak about—and to—all the nations of the earth? Isaiah chapters 10-34 are written to other nations of the ancient world, not to the nation of Israel. That is a sizable section of one of the largest books in the Old Testament. Likewise, Ezekiel 25-32, eight chapters of that book, are written to other nations. When you read the major and minor prophets, you will notice that significant portions (including some of the most well-known memory verses) are addressed to all the nations of the earth, not to Israel alone. All nations are included in God’s redemptive story.  

Here are some examples: 

Daniel 4:1a, 34b-35 (King Nebuchadnezzer address all the nations of the earth): 

King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth. . . . I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” (ESV, emphasis added) 

Joel 3:12-13 

Let the nations stir themselves up and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the winepress is full. The vats overflow, for their evil is great.  

Amos 9:11-12 (Quoted by Peter in Acts 15) 

“In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name,” declares the Lord who does this.  

Zechariah 2:10-11 

Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the Lord. And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. 

Zechariah 8:22-23 

Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” 

Isaiah 2:1-3 

The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 

Isaiah 49:5-6 

And now the Lord says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him—for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord, and my God has become my strength—he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” 

Luke 2:29-32 (When Simeon sees Jesus in the Temple) 

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” 

Psalm 86:9 

All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. 

The origins of the nations of earth and God’s plan for them are clearly described from the beginning of Genesis. The first mention of “the nations” occurs in the genealogical list in Genesis 10, starting with Noah and his sons: “from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood.” Throughout the rest of Scripture, God’s work among the nations of the earth is wondrously displayed to demonstrate his glory through their rebellion, judgment, and ultimately their redemption and restoration—all accomplished through Jesus the Messiah.  

Although genealogies can be difficult for us to read, as we are often more interested in the narrative portions of scripture, they are vital for understanding what God has communicated to us in his Word. The list of Noah’s descendants in Genesis 10 gives us the background to the glorious story of redemption that transforms the whole earth. 


Lord, you are the creator and sustainer of all things. Thank you for sending your Son to redeem people from every nation. We pray that the message of your salvation would go out to the ends of the earth. 
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer Requests: 

  • Pray for people in the modern nation of Israel to recognize their Messiah and find salvation and hope in him. 
  • Pray that people of all nations would have opportunities to hear the gospel and that they would place their faith in Christ.  
  • Pray for more missionaries to carry the good news of the gospel throughout the nations. 

Andrew Paul Ward

Andrew Paul Ward is an ABWE missionary to Togo, West Africa, sent from Grace Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Andrew is the husband of Mary, father to Emmanuel, Cyrus, and Alethia. He holds a B.S. from Bob Jones University, an M.Div. from Temple Baptist Seminary, and an Ed.D. from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Support Andrew’s ministry.