Right at the beginning of creation, humanity received from God what could easily be called our first “Great Commission”.
God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
~Genesis 1:28 NASB
“Take over the world for the glory of God” is basically what we’re commanded to do.
Skip ahead to Babel and read what the people’s two reasons were for building the tower:
They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
~Genesis 11:4 NASB
They wanted to make for themselves a name (above God’s name and for their own glory), and they did not want to be scattered abroad; which is exactly what they were commanded to do: “…fill the earth, and subdue it”.
So, God scattered them. God scattered them by using different languages to cause division.
Right after the Babel story we are introduced to Abram, later to be named Abraham, the father of many. Starting with Abraham, God enters into a covenant with the Hebrew people, and for many hundreds of years, deals only with these people.
Did the Church exist in the Old Testament, or was that some different dispensation? Absolutely the Church existed in the Old Testament. Israel was the Old Testament Church; they were also of the same ethnicity. All those who were saved in the Old Testament were saved by the person and work of Jesus Christ. The animal sacrifices and the temple were types and shadows.
The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship.
~Hebrews 10:1 NLT
Now we can jump ahead to Pentecost.
At the beginning of the book of Acts, Jesus gives the Great Commission.
“…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
~Acts 1:8 NASB
And this is what happened when they were filled with the Holy Spirit:
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language.
~Acts 2:1-6 NASB
The miracle of Pentecost was not that they spoke with other tongues. The miracle of Pentecost was that all the people present, from “every nation under heaven”, heard “the mighty deeds of God” (Acts 2:11) spoken to them in their own languages.
At Pentecost God used different languages to bring the people together.
At Pentecost God did the reverse of what He did at Babel.
Where as before God was only dealing with the Jewish people, now God was opening His arms to the gentiles as well.
The miracle of Pentecost was not that God was creating the Church in some new dispensation. The miracle of Pentecost was that God was taking the gentile nations and grafting them into the Church, which already existed as Israel, the true Israel.
Now reread the Great Commission as stated in Matthew:
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
~Matthew 28:18-20 NASB
“Take over the world for the glory of God.”