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Thread: Before Abraham

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    Before Abraham

    I would like to know people's thoughts on the fate of those who belonged to civilizations that existed before God revealed himself to Abraham (and please understand I am not a Biblical scholar by any means, so forgive my ignorance regarding scripture).

    People lived and died worshipping many different gods long before Abraham and the Bible. How were these people judged? Not only that, how can any one of us know the answer? Does the Bible mention the fate of people to whom the word of God would have never reached?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasko View Post
    I would like to know people's thoughts on the fate of those who belonged to civilizations that existed before God revealed himself to Abraham.
    Genesis 3:15 is the first prophecy of the Messiah; and also, the first indication for man's fate to be appropriated through another.

    "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel." (Genesis 3:15).

    All of this occurred before Abraham, at the dawn of the first creation (Adam). Christ therefore was the nucleus for which past and present time revolved for. Redemption through intercessary means was always the need for all man.

    John 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

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    But what of the polytheists, like the Sumerians and Egyptians, for example, who lived and died worshipping their "false" gods? Their religious beliefs date back to around 3000 bc, and they would have never known the name "Yahweh", or "Jehovah".

    They died believing in their mythical gods, the only gods they ever knew, and they would have died believing in the afterlife promised by or expected of their religions, or myths.

    They would have never had the opportunity to accept Christ or even know of Jehovah, therefore they would have been non-believers - so what was the fate of their souls?

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    Hi Rasko,

    The moderator will probably split this into a separate thread because technically, each question and each questioner in this forum is supposed to be separate. Please read the forum rules stickied at the top of this forum.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rasko View Post
    I would like to know people's thoughts on the fate of those who belonged to civilizations that existed before God revealed himself to Abraham (and please understand I am not a Biblical scholar by any means, so forgive my ignorance regarding scripture).
    It's often assumed that YHWH suddenly appeared on the scene to Abraham and before then, He was utterly unknown. But that's not the case. Job was before Abraham and he knew the LORD. Adam knew the LORD and taught the true worship. Noah knew the LORD and taught the true worship. When Abraham came into the promised land, he met someone named Melchizedek who was a king and the priest of the Most High God -- so he both knew and taught of the LORD.

    People lived and died worshipping many different gods long before Abraham and the Bible. How were these people judged? Not only that, how can any one of us know the answer? Does the Bible mention the fate of people to whom the word of God would have never reached?
    Maybe this will give you some insight.

    Acts 17:22-31

    Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:

    TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.

    Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."
    We also see that no matter where people are, they are given some degree or another of revelation of God. Read Romans 1. Two passages in those chapters in particular speak to what you're asking about. Man is held accountable according to what he has been given by God.
    Love In Christ,
    Tanya







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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasko View Post
    But what of the polytheists, like the Sumerians and Egyptians, for example, who lived and died worshipping their "false" gods? Their religious beliefs date back to around 3000 bc, and they would have never known the name "Yahweh", or "Jehovah".

    Theism evolved into polythesism and polythesism re-corrected back to theism. It diverted originally because that is what self will wanted it to do. Apart from God the diversion slowly turned to perversion and now, while the perspective to theism has all but come back to man, he has already perverted his own spirituality with dangerous destructive understandings that never did exhort the real character of God. We have no way of knowing if the people of Egypt were presented with Jehovah or not, much less whether they were and chose to reject it, or could'nt understand it, or whether or not they decapitated the messenger for bringing it. We also have no way of knowing if some of man, in their fallen state away from God's guidance in those times, were even capable of conceiving theism in the sense that it was so. We know they were capable of building large triangles (which is quite a feat), but we also know they only communicated in symbols and had a vocabulary the size of a comic book. Understanding and knowledge would be half the battle when choosing to accept theism. The other half would be in articulating the differance and accepting it. It's my opinion that the Egyptian's and other polytheist fate may have manifest with a split apart from God in the beginning, generations and generations before most of them even started breathing air and building pyramids. While this may seem cruel and unjust if we consider that their souls are lost, it is only because we choose to assume that they are. Don't do that just because they did not hear.....you could be wrong. With hearing comes responsibility, and without hearing may come none.


    John 5:24
    Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

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    We have this in Genesis 4, second generation from Adam: Genesis 4:26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.

    This would have been by faith. Faith is the only way to please God so even ignorant faith God may honor. But we are called out of ignorance now by God Himself. Here are some scriptures to ponder:


    Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.

    3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

    4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

    5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

    6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.



    Acts 17:29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.

    30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

    31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.



    God Bless!
    Watchinginawe

    I Samuel 3:10 And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

  7. #7
    Hi Rasko
    Quote Originally Posted by Rasko View Post
    I would like to know people's thoughts on the fate of those who belonged to civilizations that existed before God revealed himself to Abraham (and please understand I am not a Biblical scholar by any means, so forgive my ignorance regarding scripture).

    People lived and died worshipping many different gods long before Abraham and the Bible. How were these people judged? Not only that, how can any one of us know the answer? Does the Bible mention the fate of people to whom the word of God would have never reached?
    There's clearly true worship in the days from Adam to Abraham because of Cain and Abel's sacrifices, then from Enosh "At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord." (Gen 4:26). Then of course Melchizedek who has a priest of El Shaddai.

    But the majority of mankind before the flood, and after, Nimrod and Babel, clearly rejected God. St Augustine and many others have interpreted the "sons of God" and "daughters of man" in Gen.6:2-6 as the gradual decay, falling away, of these believers, the descendants of Seth intermarrying with the daughters of Cain. Until only 8 were left on the ark.

    But all we really know for certain is that three men from that period, Abel, Enoch and Noah are listed among those who "all these died in faith" in Heb 11:13 who will be rewarded "together with us" in Heb 11:39. Since before Abraham there was no covenant of circumcision - though strangely Noah recognised clean/unclean food laws - we can assume the whole population of the earth was called by God, much like the NT era (1Tim2:4, Acts 14 to the Lystrans, Acts 17 to the Athenians).

    So were there any that the word of God did not really reach prior to Abraham? Let's assume there were. The answer is we don't really know their fate beyond the basic rule that without Christ man will "perish" (John 3:16), and that is what Isaiah says of the Babylonians (Isaiah 26:14). Isaiah (26:14) seems to disagree with Peter (1Pe3:5) about whether pagans will even be raised and judged - and Paul (Acts 24:15) doesn't specify.

    Sorry not to be of more help, but there are some things the Bible doesn't tell us.
    God bless
    Steven
    Last edited by Steven3; Oct 15th 2007 at 05:40 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasko View Post
    I would like to know people's thoughts on the fate of those who belonged to civilizations that existed before God revealed himself to Abraham (and please understand I am not a Biblical scholar by any means, so forgive my ignorance regarding scripture).

    People lived and died worshipping many different gods long before Abraham and the Bible. How were these people judged? Not only that, how can any one of us know the answer? Does the Bible mention the fate of people to whom the word of God would have never reached?
    Quote Originally Posted by Rasko View Post
    But what of the polytheists, like the Sumerians and Egyptians, for example, who lived and died worshipping their "false" gods? Their religious beliefs date back to around 3000 bc, and they would have never known the name "Yahweh", or "Jehovah".

    They died believing in their mythical gods, the only gods they ever knew, and they would have died believing in the afterlife promised by or expected of their religions, or myths.

    They would have never had the opportunity to accept Christ or even know of Jehovah, therefore they would have been non-believers - so what was the fate of their souls?
    Because of several peculiarities in the text of Genesis, and especially when compared with non-biblical ancient texts that have been discovered over the last 50 years or so (such as the Ur cylinders, tablets of Muri and Nari, and tablets in the Hittite library), many OT scholars believe that Genesis was not composed by Moses, but rather was compiled by him from clay tablets originally written by Adam, Seth, Noah, Abraham, and perhaps others.

    As others have mentioned, Genesis clearly shows that knowledge of God and His expectations goes back to the beginning of time. Animal sacrifice as a temporary atonement for sin (which foreshadowed Y'shua's death as the final and complete atonement for sin) did not begin with either Abraham or with the Israelites, but was known from the beginning. They may not have known His name YHWH, but they knew WHO He was - the Almighty Creator.

    Gen 4:3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground.
    Gen 4:4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering;
    Gen 4:5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.
    Abel brought the prescribed offering; Cain did not, but rather chose to give an offering of his own invention.

    Gen 22:7 Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." And he said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"
    Gen 22:8 Abraham said, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together.
    On the way to the mountain where God had told Abraham to sacrifie Isaac, Isaac asked where the animal was that they would sacrifice. Clearly, he was familiar with the practice of a burnt offering to God. These verses also clearly shows Abraham's faith. As later verses demonstrate, he was fully prepared to sacrifice Isaac, but he had faith to believe that God would instead provide an animal (which He did).

    Gen 8:20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
    Noah also was aware of the practice of burnt offerings to God. (And as noted by another poster, was also aware of the clean & unclean animals specified again in Leviticus.)

    Genesis also shows that the other types of offerings specified to the Israelites in Leviticus were also known long before that:
    Gen 35:14 Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He had spoken with him, a pillar of stone, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it.

    As well as mentioning a burnt offering in Job 42:8, the book of Job also shows that Job knew of the coming Messiah and knew of the resurrection:
    Job 19:25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he will stand at the latter day upon the earth:
    Job 19:26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
    Job 19:27 Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

    The entire book of Job shows that knowledge of God's existence was prevalent. Those who came to comfort and councel Job were from places at such a distance from where Job lived that they had to prearrange the meeting:
    Job 2:11 Now when Job's three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, they came each one from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him.
    A fourth man from yet another place was also there:
    ...Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram... (Job 32:2)

    The idea that knowledge of God was scarce in the ancient world, and that people became polytheists out of ignorance is simply untrue. People rejected worship of the true God because, like Cain, they wanted to do things their own way.

    For anyone throughout history who supposedly had no knowledge of God, the NT says this:
    Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
    Rom 1:19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
    Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
    Rom 1:21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
    Rom 1:22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
    Rom 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
    Rom 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
    Rom 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
    The standard upon which all men will be judged is:
    Rom 2:9 There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek,
    Rom 2:10 but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
    Rom 2:11 For there is no partiality with God.
    Rom 2:12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law;
    Rom 2:13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.
    Rom 2:14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves,
    Rom 2:15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,
    Rom 2:16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

    The existence of God and how He expects people to behave has never been a secret. All men thorughout history have had the evidence of God before them if they choose to see it; and all men throughout history have had God's commands written in their hearts and attested to by their consciences. God is fully aware which of the men of history would have accepted Christ if they had heard of Him - it is evident to Him not only by their behavior, but by the attitude of their hearts.

    When punishments and rewards are dispensed, there will be no injustice.

    But, you are not one of the ancient Sumerians or Egyptians. You have heard of YHWH; you know that He has given commandments; you are aware of Y'shua and His claims to be Messiah. So, will you accept the knowledge that is provided for your head in the Bible, as well as the knowledge written in your heart and attested to by your conscience, and believe in Y'shua's atoning death for forgiveness of your sin? Or will you, like the Sumerians, Egyptians, and others reject Him in favor of your own inventions?

    Throughout history God has offered man the choice: MY way, or your way?

    Which will you choose?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasko View Post
    I would like to know people's thoughts on the fate of those who belonged to civilizations that existed before God revealed himself to Abraham (and please understand I am not a Biblical scholar by any means, so forgive my ignorance regarding scripture).

    People lived and died worshipping many different gods long before Abraham and the Bible. How were these people judged? Not only that, how can any one of us know the answer? Does the Bible mention the fate of people to whom the word of God would have never reached?
    You've received plenty of good replies here and I'd just like to draw your attention to the Biblical Chronology to strengthen the idea that ALL people prior to Abraham would have had an opportunity to know about the true and living God.

    According to the Genesis genealogies, Adam lived for 930 years after creation began. Noah was born only 130 years after the death of Adam. Without going into specifics, both Noah's father (Lamech) and grandfather (Methuselah) would have personally known Adam (they were living at the same time as Adam) and were part of the Godly line descended from Seth (Adam & Eve's son). So right through to Noah there are people who believe in God and for most of this period you have the original created man present on earth as irrefutable evidence concerning the creation story.

    Now after the Flood all people on the earth were the descendents of Noah and his 3 sons who were obviously well aware of God's existence and would have relayed this to their offspring. Abraham was born about 350 years after the flood and Noah died 350 years after the flood according to Gen 9:28. So in essence you have this continuous witness or testimony about God's existence right from Adam to Abraham and the people of the day would have been aware of this however most of them rejected this powerful revelation and instead chose their own gods over the Living God.

    Even if the godly line was broken as appears the case with Abraham's father, God simply revealed Himself to Abraham (who was an idol worshipping pagan) and picked up where He left off several generations earlier. The Bible simply says that unbelievers are "without excuse" when it comes to acknowledging the existence of God because He has clearly revealed His existence (ie. through creation and conscience) to all men.

    Cheers
    Leigh

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasko View Post
    I would like to know people's thoughts on the fate of those who belonged to civilizations that existed before God revealed himself to Abraham (and please understand I am not a Biblical scholar by any means, so forgive my ignorance regarding scripture).

    People lived and died worshipping many different gods long before Abraham and the Bible. How were these people judged? Not only that, how can any one of us know the answer? Does the Bible mention the fate of people to whom the word of God would have never reached?
    First of all, we have to understand that God is just - a perfect judge. He is good and His very nature demands that He be fair and just in all things.

    Genesis 18:25, "....shall not the judge of all the earth do right?"

    We, or anybody else that has lived during any time, are only accountable for what we know is true. The bible tells us in Genesis 3 that Cain & Abel offered sacrifices to God, therefore there was a 'law before the law' in place before Abraham or Moses. They had sufficient knowledge of salvation through blood of the Messiah.

    Everyone that has ever lived has been given a measure of light (or knowledge) of Jesus - enough in which to respond to.

    "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." John 1:1-9

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    I'm just gonna summarize all of these wonderful responses for you in a very brief way.

    The Truth has always been out there, it has always been available and shared.
    But there have always been people who rejected that Truth, and as long as there is sin in the world, there always will be those who reject the truth.
    Before the time of Christ, people were saved by faith in the "coming Messiah". Now we are saved by faith in the Messiah who came and paid for our sins on the cross of calvary.
    Don't seek too much knowledge. You just may be putting more weight on your shoulders than you're able to bare. Let God be the one to decide how quickly you grow.

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    Thank you all for your responses. I've read every one, carefully, and intend to do so again, and again. There is a great deal of food for thought here, and reading through the first time - focused as I was, it's much to absorb.

    This is proving to be quite a learning experience, and I'm sure I'll have much to discuss.

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    It looks like the Bible does address this issue, and even though I'm still a little uncertain, after reviewing your enlightening responses (you were all very helpful, thank you), I don't see a need to pursue the issue further.

    The bigger issue I have - really, the biggest, the one that shook my faith the most and was a big contributing factor as to why I went agnostic years ago, has to do with biblical stories that I discovered had their origins in earlier, ancient religions.

    I have numerous specific examples, and I'm guessing this is still on topic since these stories were before the Bible?

    Please let me know if it would be better that I start a new thread or if I can just list my examples here....I'm really anxious to discuss the matter!

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    Make a new thread, Rasko.
    Love In Christ,
    Tanya







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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasko View Post

    The bigger issue I have - really, the biggest, the one that shook my faith the most and was a big contributing factor as to why I went agnostic years ago, has to do with biblical stories that I discovered had their origins in earlier, ancient religions.
    Ecclesiastes...There is nothing new under the sun.
    Don't seek too much knowledge. You just may be putting more weight on your shoulders than you're able to bare. Let God be the one to decide how quickly you grow.

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