Was there a knowledge of God before Abraham? What is the history of the followers of God before Abraham? What about the people that lived and died before Christ came to earth? How were they supposed to know of God? Their sins weren’t forgiven or it wo

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Was there a knowledge of God before Abraham? What is the history of the followers of God before Abraham? What about the people that lived and died before Christ came to earth? How were they supposed to know of God? Their sins weren’t forgiven or it wo

Post by Admin on Tue Jan 26, 2016 1:12 am

YES—there was plenty of knowledge of God before Abraham. Certainly Adam and Eve would have shared their stories of fellowship with God, their sin, and God’s promise of a Rescuer. While Abraham doesn’t come on the scene until toward the end of Genesis 11, we learn about a man named Enoch who left quite a legacy: When Enoch (son of Jared, Genesis 5:18) had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away—Genesis 5:21-24. What an amazing picture of intimate fellowship! In fact, though brief in historical terms, Enoch leaves quite footprint: He is found in the human Messianic lineage of Jesus as recorded by Luke (specifically, Luke 3:37). And the “faith hall of fame” recorded in Hebrews 11 includes Enoch: By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him—Hebrews 11:5-6. In fact, Hebrews 11 also includes Abel, the son of Adam and Eve, among its faith warriors. Another pre-Abraham person whose life reflected an intimate knowledge of God is Noah; his story is found in Genesis 8-10. Eventually, God began to intervene in human history specifically through the descendants of Abraham—the Jews.
As far as the people that lived and died before Christ came to earth (which obviously would have included Abraham), the Bible teaches that there was an abode for all departed spirits, called in Hebrew “Sheol” and in Greek “Hades.” There were two “compartments” if you will—one for what we would term unbelievers and one for believers so, while all the dead souls would in fact depart for Sheol, believers versus unbelievers would have vastly different experiences. Jesus told a great story that illustrates this perfectly: There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell (Hades), where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ He said to them, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead’”—Jesus Christ, Luke 16:19-31. Note that, while death has occurred, they are both experiencing full consciousness. Memory, speaking, joy, sorrow and pain are part of what is taking place. Personalities—who they are—are fully in place. What also needs to be understood is that, though translated as “hell” in the NIV, the Greek is “hades”—the abode of the dead. Now, it is understand that today, there are no longer two compartments in Hades; with the death and resurrection of Christ, all believing souls from before Christ were transported to heaven; in other words, “Abraham’s side” is now in heaven. This is what Paul had in mind when he wrote: For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far—Paul, Philippians 1:21-23. The final heaven and hell, as eternal destinations, are still to come, at which time our eternal souls with be reunited with eternally compatible bodies. And what brought someone to the part of Sheol where they experienced fellowship with God? The same thing that brings us into heaven today: belief and trust in God. Moses expressed it this way regarding Abraham: After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” But Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness—Genesis 15:1-6. Paul went to great lengths to get his readers to understand that Abraham’s righteousness was not based on the goodness of his works but rather on the object of His trust—God Himself. That is what “saved” him in the OT context: What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. . . . Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “SO SHALL YOUR OFFSPRING BE.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words, “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification—Paul, Romans 4:1-5, 18-25.

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