Many people think that the Great Commission began when Jesus said in Matthew 28 “Go…” but this is a misconception. The Great Commission was first given in Genesis.
“27 So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” (Genesis 1:27-28 NKJV)
There are two key elements to this command that I would like to point out. First, this command was given to people who were both in the image of God but also in fellowship with him. Second, this command was asking humanity to fill the earth by being fruitful (producing fruit), multiplying, filling the earth.
So what was the endgame? What was God trying to accomplish? God wanted the earth filled with men and women that were a reflection of Him and in relationship with Him. Flash-forward to today and what do we have? Humanity has done well with the “fill the earth” aspect of the command. We have multiplied greatly, at least biologically. However, humanity is, at its best, a marred reflection of our creator. Imagine a statue of Quasimodo next to Michelangelo’s David and we haven’t even scratched the surface of the difference between what we should be and what we are. None the less, we have “Filled the earth.”
The endgame hasn’t changed. The goal is still the same. God still wants the earth filled with men and women that are a reflection of Him and in relationship with Him. That is where the Great Recommissioning comes into play in Matthew 28.
19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. (Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV)
So since we have already multiplied and filled the earth, what needs to be accomplished is bringing those souls back into relationship with God and restoring His image in them. This is what missions is all about; finishing the task given to us in the beginning.