Missio-Dei In The OT
Though there is no command to “Go” in the Old Testament Missio-Dei (the Mission of God) is clearly displayed.
The History of the World can be summarized by the 7 C’s of History. (This is from Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis)
For the sake of this post we will briefly consider the first four C’s. The final three will be looked at in greater detail in the next lesson.
Creation (Gen 1-2).
God created the world and crowned that with man who He created in His own image (Gen 1: 26-27).
Three implications of being created in the image of God:
- Linked to the command to have dominion over the rest of creation.
- Every human being is significant to God because God made them. The sad reality is that “over and over again people connect to the idols made in their hearts rather than to the One who made them.”
- We have a purpose for living: “we are to glorify God by delighting in Him as we exercise dominion over creation and are fruitful and multiply.”
Corruption (Gen. 3)
With the willful choice of Adam to disobey God, the human race was plunged into sin. The affects of this sin can be seen immediately. Adam and his wife hide from God in the Garden. Fellowship is broken. The colossal cover-up has begun! Humans have been running and hiding and pretending that they are righteous ever since.
The story of mission begins from this point in early history! The mission of God (Missio Dei) is God reaching out to mankind, asking them to choose sides in this cosmic war between Satan and Christ.
This warfare though being waged in the present, was fully won in the past. The first promise of the salvation that God would provide is known as the protoevangelium. Gen 3:15.
Catastrophe (Gen 6-9)
The drama unfolds with the first brother murdering his twin. The wickedness of man fermented and grew until God rained down judgement through a global flood. All but a remnant – Noah and his immediate family – were destroyed. But God again points to His mission with the promise that God would dwell in the tents of Shem (Gen 9:27). This is a preview that God’s mission would be carried out through a particular people.
Confusion (Gen 11)
It becomes evident that the sin and rebellion of Adam affected not only some individuals, but encompassed entire nations. Society itself was affected by the fall. A unified race of people came together to overthrow God and set up their own system of worship.
“After the fall, in their search to connect to the significance of being image bearers of their Creator, people build idolatrous systems designed to create a name for themselves.”
This is exemplified in the story of the Tower of Babel!
God divided the people by language and eventually by culture. This division was a barrier to protect “against the prospect of unchecked sin made possible by a common language.”
Linguistic and cultural barriers remain today and are great obstacles to missionary work.
Call of A People Through Abraham
God called to a man named Abram, “leave your country, and go to a land that I will show you” (Gen. 12:1-3). The focus shifts to one man, Abraham, who God would bless in order to bring blessing upon all the nations. God chose Abraham, called him and made a covenant with him.
God made a promise to Abraham that contained several specific things:
- Through Abraham God would make a great nation
- God would bless Abraham
- God would make the name of Abraham great
- Through Abraham God would bless all the families of the earth
Through a choice people, God would continue his Mission. God’s covenant with Abraham is ratified in Gen. 15:1-18) by God alone passing through the sacrificed animals. This covenant was not dependent upon Abraham’s participation or obedience, but rested completely upon the character of God Himself!
In keeping with Paul in Romans 4, the Abrahamic covenant provides the basis for God’s offer of salvation to Jews and Gentiles alike.
The Law of Moses
God raised up Moses to deliver the new nation of Israel from the “womb” of Egypt and lead them to the land God had promised to Abraham. A nation is born! Here was a people through whom God would reflect His glory among the nations.
Through Moses God gave His people the Law, the place of worship, the tabernacle and finally the temple.
The OT sacrificial system taught the people that there were terrible consequences to sin, consequences that they could do nothing about through any effort of their own. There was one horrible outcome of sin: Death! The Mission of God was to redeem and restore His people by one day sending a perfect “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” (Jn.1:29)
The prophets told of a day when God’s redemptive work would flow past the boundaries of the nation of Israel and would encompass the entire world! Messiah would come and though He would be rejected by Israel, He would accomplish God’s mission of redemption so that whoever believes in Him – Jew or Gentile – would be saved. (Is. 11:9-10; 45:22; 52:13-53:12).
God has chosen Israel is to be a light to the Gentiles. They are to call the peoples of the world back to God (Is. 42:6; 49:6).
Read Joel 2:28; Amos 9:11-12; Habakkuk 2:14; and Micah 4:1-4 (see 34-35). In the context of these passages I do not believe the writers are talking about the expansion of the church, but specific promises to the nation of Israel.
The prophet Jonah provides a snapshot of God’s global agenda. Clearly on display is His compassion for the nations and His sovereign purpose of bringing them salvation.
- Jonah was afraid God would show mercy on this nation he so hated (4:1-3).
- Jonah flees – God chases him and sent him to the Assyrian capital with a message of warning. (1:1-2:3:1)
- God sovereignly shows grace to a hostile Gentile nation and at the same time overcomes the prophets resentment over God’s deliverance of Nineveh. (4:11)
The Wisdom literature of the Old Testament also reveal the theme of Missio Dei. God is sends people to deliver people and bring them back to Himself. God reminds his people Israel that the worship of God must be global! (Ps. 46:10; 96:1,3-10)
God’s global purpose for His people is that through them the way of God would be known throughout the world! (Ps 67)
In Psalm 96 the mission of God is clearly articulated. God’s glory must be declared among the peoples of the world (3), and these peoples must be invited to give the LORD the glory that is due to Him (7). God our Creator is worthy of worship (5). He will one day return to rule as conquering King (10) and will judge the peoples of the earth (13).
God’s plan of redemption was developed through a particular people but ultimately that redemption would come through a particular Seed! (Gen 3:15, Gal 3:16)
God’s mission has been unchanging – to call to Himself a people who will worship and glorify Him forever. In the OT the mission of God was seen in His selection of a people and in focusing of His glory in a place – the Temple.
As we are about to discover, Missio Dei, did not change, but the outworking of that mission is!
Answers in Genesis Website
Moreau, Corwin, McGee. “Introducing World Missions.” Baker, 2004
Pratt, Sills, Walter. “Introduction to Global Missions.” Baker Academic, 2014
VanRheenan, Gailyn. “Missions, Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Strategies.” Zondervan, 1996