Biblical Missiology of the Hebrew Scriptures by Dr. Michael Goheen

austin plantr

In a MicroConference with Austin Plantr, Dr. Michael Goheen (professor and author) shared on the “Biblical Missiology in the Local Church.”

Here’s some of the insights he shared on the missiology found from Genesis to Malachi:

The Good News begins in Mark 1 when Jesus announced that “The Kingdom of God has come!” Everything hinges on the death and resurrection of Jesus.

In Luke 24, we are given a hermeneutical key on how to read the Scriptures.The Gospel begins with Jesus and what He accomplished needs to be made known to all peoples. We have been brought into the story of Jesus and part of advancing The Kingdom of God. Our mission is to continue Christ’s mission.

Starting with God’s Mission:

  • Long term purpose/intention to restore creation and all of human life.
  • Told in the story of the Bible
  • Through Israel-Jesus-Church/Spirit
  • Missional identity comes from the role the Church plays in God’s mission

Chris Wright: “God’s mission involves God’s people living in God’s way in the sight of the nations.”

Howard Peskett and Vinoth Ramachandra: “Mission is not primarily about going. Nor is missions primarily about doing anything. Mission is about being. It is about being a distinctive kind of people, a countercultural community among the nations.”

Two Orientations of the Church:

  • Chosen by God
  • For the sake of the world

God’s Mission and the Church:

  • Locus or place of God’s redemptive work (foretaste of Kingdom)
  • Instrument or channel of God’s redemptive work through their words and deeds (agent of Kingdom)

We are blessed so that we may be a blessing! We are a “so that” people (Genesis 18-19).

God’s People Are Invited to Go In Three Directions:

  • Backward to creation: Embody God’s original intention and creational design for human life. Truly become human!
  • Forward to consummation: Picture of end of history – restored humanity.
  • Outward to nations: Missionary encounter with idolatry. Our culture is much more rooted in humanism than in what was intended as described in the Bible.

Formation of People:

1. Backdrop of creation and sin (Genesis 1-11)
Genesis 3-11 could be covering about 2000 years. The origin of sin, the spread of sin, and the consequences of sin paints a dark backdrop from which God chooses Abram from whom the entire world will discover hope and restoration through Christ.

Why the geneology? In Genesis 10, there are 72 nations mentioned before God chose Abram. Later, in Gospel of Luke Jesus sends out the 72.

Genesis 3:15 God promises to crush all of the evil that has been unleashed.

Normally we begin the story of our mission with the calling of Abraham in Genesis 12 which took place in 2000 BC, but don’t overlook Genesis 1-11.

2. Abrahamic Promise: Blessed to be a blessing (Gen. 12:2-3)
Election implies a privilege and a responsibility. Abraham lives this out in Genesis 18-19 and elsewhere.

The blueprint for redemptive history is revealed in Gen. 12 and lived out ever since.

3. Exodus: Formation of a holy people.

  • a redeemed people (Exodus 1-18)
  • a covenant people (Exodus 19-24)
  • a people of God’s presence (Exodus 25-40)

Israel is bound in covenant to Pharoah and his gods. In that context, God liberates Israel from service to pagan gods. Each of the plagues are directed at one of the Egyptian gods. For example, the god that protects from locusts, the frog god, the god of the Nile. One of the words for “plague” means more like “blows” or “punches” against the Egyptian gods.

Exodus 19 is the vocational calling for Israel for the rest of the Old Testament – attractive, distinctive life shaped by Torah.

Summary of Israel’s Story on the Land:

  • On the land: On display to the nations (Visibility before the other nations is “part of their theological identity”)

In Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, and 1 & 2 Kings – Israel is on display to the nations

  • Distinctive way of life shaped by torah vs. idolatry of nations
  • God’s gifts to equip a people

God gives the people of Israel a king so that they may live faithfully among the nations. Temple and prophets were also gifts to help the people of Israel live out their missional calling.

  • Varying contexts:
  1. Tribal confederation: Holy People “in the center of the nations”
  2. A Priestly Kingdom in the Center of the Nations
  3. Exile: A Holy People Scattered Among the Nations

99-100 images for the Church in the New Testament. 2/3 are drawn from the Old Testament – from these three time periods.

  • Two dangers: Not teaching the next generation AND Being absorbed into idolatry of nations
  • Not fulfilled – all the nations needed a Messiah by the end of the Old Testament

Prophetic Promise:

Great summarizing prophetic moment = Ezekiel 36: Instead of bringing glory to God, the people of Israel profaned the name of God.

  • Gathering of Israel
  • Restore to missional calling
  • Renewal of Israel
  • Pilgrimage of nations (Zechariah 8:23)
  • Intertestamental period: Eclipse of missional vision
  • The Messiah will restore the mission of God’s people.


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