Is Manifest In The Bible

Manifest destiny is a phrase commonly used to refer to American expansionism in the 19th century; the idea that the United States of America had been given a divine mission by God to spread Christian values and the principles of the Constitution from coast to coast. But is the concept of manifest destiny to be found in the Bible? Can it be said that God has given a special mission to any people to extend their political or religious boundaries?

The answer is far from straightforward. There are passages in the Old Testament, such as when God delivered the Israelites from Egypt as recorded in Exodus, that certainly appear to support the idea of manifest destiny and divinely-ordained mission. The idea of a people being chosen by God to fulfill some task echoes throughout the Old Testament, and could be interpreted as laying the foundation for a concept of manifest destiny.

The New Testament, however, is markedly less supportive of the idea of mysterious, divinely-inspired missions for certain peoples. Instead, Jesus taught that all people of all nations have free will and access to salvation, and should be respected and treated with love no matter what their religion and origin. This suggests that any notion of manifest destiny would be contrary to the teachings of Christianity. It appears, then, that the concept of manifest destiny – at least in the specific form associated with 19th-century America – has no biblical precedent.

This does not, however, detract from the idea of certain nations having a special role in the biblical narrative. Numerous passages, particularly in the Old Testament, speak of God choosing certain people, nations and lands to fulfill a divine purpose. It seems that there can be no denying that the Bible makes clear that some people, nations and lands hold a special place in God’s plans, and that this special place is granted by God alone. The distinction between this notion and manifest destiny is that manifest destiny teaches that a nation should expand its control and borders at its own behest, while the Bible strictly forbids such action without the explicit approval of God.

This opinion is reinforced by the fact that many of the examples of divinely-ordained missions or tasks in the Bible – such as the Exodus – involve not the spreading of political power, but rather the bringing of religious salvation to others. The Bible does not speak of any divinely inspired mission as being designed to bring about political or military dominance, but rather focuses on peace, justice, and ultimately, redemption.

God’s Promises

So what does the Bible have to say about missions or tasks given to certain peoples? The answer lies in the many promises made by God to chosen people throughout both the Old and the New Testaments. God promises to keep his covenant with chosen people and to provide them with protection and blessings if they remain faithful. These promises, while they may be taken as evidence of a divinely ordained mission, also serve to remind people of the expectations and obligations that come with God’s promise. For example, the Israelites are promised that they will be blessed and can expect deliverance, provided they remain faithful to the covenant and the laws of God. This implies that those who go against God’s laws, such as by using military might to spread political or religious power, will not be rewarded by God.

In short, while it is true that the Bible does include numerous examples of divinely-ordained missions, these examples must not be taken as an endorsement for modern concepts of manifest destiny. Instead, the Bible speaks of a mission centred on salvation, redemption, and mercy – one that should not be twisted and misunderstood to justify any kind of political or military expansion.

God’s Covenant with the Chosen People

The idea of God’s covenant with the chosen people is prominent throughout the Bible, albeit in different forms in each Testament. In the Old Testament, for example, the covenant between God and Abraham is often referred to, in which God promises to make Abraham’s people great and to provide them with divine protection in exchange for faithfulness. This covenant is later renewed with Moses in the second book of the Bible – Exodus – and it appears again, in various forms, throughout the subsequent books. This suggests that God’s covenant is a binding correspondence between him and the chosen people, and that obedience to the terms of the covenant is crucial for the fulfilment of God’s promises.

This is reflective of the overall biblical message in regards to divinely-ordained tasks. God gives a mission to a chosen people, and in return those people must be faithful and obedient if they are to receive the benefits of that mission. For example, God promises to make the Israelites a great nation if they remain faithful to him, but if they defy him they will suffer the consequences. This clearly implies that any notion of manifest destiny, which encourages human-directed expansion without divine intervention, is contradicted by the Bible and its teachings.

God’s Faithfulness

Another implication to be taken from the Bible is that, while God gives a special mission to a chosen people, he never abandons them. This idea is particularly important in the New Testament, in which Jesus talks about the love of God and his faithfulness to those whom he loves. This suggests that, even if the chosen people stray from their mission or become unfaithful, God will remain devoted to them and will continue to deliver blessings upon them as long as they are willing to accept his grace.

This is seen in the parable of the Prodigal Son, in which a father loves and forgives his son despite his transgressions. This parable provides a clear message – God never abandons his chosen people, even if they deviate from the path of righteousness and turn away from divinely-ordained tasks. Regardless of their actions, God remains faithful and will continue to love and protect those whom he has chosen.

The True Meaning of Mission

Taken together, the passages in the Old and New Testaments regarding divinely-ordained tasks point towards a single conclusion – missions given to a chosen people are focused not towards material gain or political dominance, but rather towards redemption and peace. Nations and people tasked by God to carry out a mission should take that mission seriously, and seek to fulfill it according to the laws of God rather than of man. In this sense, manifest destiny is contradicted by the Bible, as the concept does not factor in the love and faithfulness of God, and instead places the emphasis on achieving political ambitions through human-directed action.

The Bible does highlight the concept of divinely-ordained missions for certain peoples, and also speaks of God granting special privileges and protection to his chosen people. However, it is also clear from both the Old and New Testament that the mission of a chosen people is steeped in love and faithfulness, not in material gain and the spread of power and influence. Thus, the concept of manifest destiny cannot be found in the bible, and the idea should be considered incompatible with the teachings of Christianity.

God’s Covenant with Other Nations

Another important aspect of the relationship between chosen peoples and divinely-ordained missions is the idea of a covenant between God and other nations as well. As noted earlier, God’s covenant with Abraham extended not only to his descendants, but also to all of mankind. This suggests that the concept of special missions is not limited to a single nation or people, and instead applies to the whole of humanity. It appears, then, that all nations have the potential to have a special role in God’s plans and to receive the blessings of his covenant, provided they remain faithful to God’s laws and his teachings.

This is also reflected in the New Testament, in which Jesus challenges the notion that God’s covenant only applies to the Jews and tells his followers to share the gospel of salvation with all nations. This, again, conveys a clear message – God’s promises and covenant are available to all those willing to accept them, and God’s missionary work is not limited to any single nation.

The Bible and Social Justice

A further implication of the concept of divinely-ordained missions is that those tasked with them must always focus on bringing justice and peace to the world. The Bible is clear in its message that social justice is paramount and should be fought for. Numerous passages talk of God’s love and mercy for the oppressed, and his hatred of those who cause injustice. In fact, Jesus himself spoke of the need to fight for justice and to work towards a more equitable world.

This reinforces the idea that those whose destiny is inspired by God should use that mission to bring about justice in the world. The purpose of the mission should not be to spread political or religious dominance, but rather to spread love and peace. Thus, it would seem that manifest destiny – at least in the traditional sense – is incompatible with the teachings of the Bible.

God’s Plan for Humanity

It is clear, then, that there is no concept of manifest destiny to be found in the Bible. Instead, the concept of certain nations having a special role in God’s plans for humanity is presented as one of love and redemption, rather than of power and influence. The Bible clearly states that God’s faith and protection will only be extended to those who remain faithful and obedient to his laws, and that any attempt to expand boundaries or influence at one’s own behest will result in consequences. This implies that any notion of manifest destiny should be seen as incompatible with the scriptural teachings of both the Old and the New Testaments.

That said, there is a certain truth to the idea that certain nations may have a special role to play in God’s plans. But God intentions towards those nations are ones of mercy, grace, and redemption – not of military or political gain. Manifest destiny, therefore, is without foundations in the Bible and should not be taken as a sign of divine approval.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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