Looking through all the similarities I highlighted in the old versus the new restoration, one question screams more loudly than others: why? Why would God go through a restoration all over again? Why not just close the age after the generation of the prophets? The only answer I can think of is that God is just. He shows no favoritism (Acts 10:34). He gave a chance to the Jews, and now He gives a chance to the Gentiles because He is the God of all. He gave a book of laws to the Jews, and now He gives a new law to the Gentiles (John 13:34). Salvation has always been on the mind of God from the day He created the earth. No one was to be left out.
Early in our history, before the nation Israel was born, man could secure salvation through faith in the unknown God and the freedom of conscience. There were no laws given, no covenants made. Every man worshiped God as his conscience allowed and very few ever got it right (Genesis 5:22-24, Genesis 6:5-8). Where there is no law, there is no sin, so men followed their heart. This was the age of conscience, the time of Enoch, Noah, Job, and Abraham. All over the world, men lived by following the dictates of their conscience and God judged them accordingly. Very few men were ever found worthy to enter into the Master’s rest.
Up until the time of Noah, God had always treated the earth as one big family. When He referred to His creation, God called them by their individual names or just as “man” (Genesis 6:1-8). After the flood and the confusion at Babel (Genesis 11), the earth was divided into scattered families spread across the known world at the time. Since there were no laws, the best way to reveal God was by the rule of contrasts. This was a method of showing two options, a right and a wrong from which people could choose. This contrast is very apparent in Genesis 6 where the Bible talks about the constant evil in the heart of man and how sad God was over it. Then suddenly in verse 8 of the chapter, the Bible states, “But Noah found grace in the sight of God.” And then verses 11-12 return us again to the corrupt nature of the earth. The difference was very obvious to an unbiased observer. Any one who was true to their conscience would know which side was aligned with God. This was the known method of evangelizing in the old world—if I may call it that. Then along came Abraham, and God promised that a new era would begin with him: the age of the family covenant.
Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. – Genesis 12:1-3
While living in Ur of the Chaldeans, Abraham was given a two-part promise from God. There was one condition. God wanted a covenant that required active participation by both parties bound by it. Abraham had to leave his country, his people, and his family and go to wherever directed. With God, there is no place for patriotism, racism, or clan bias. These are features and divisions that the kingdom of darkness has raised to cause confusion and wars through the ages. With God, there is only one kingdom (and one king), one people, and one house to which we must all become affiliated: the kingdom, people, and household of God. In this passage, God told Abraham to come out from among them and be separate (see also 2 Corinthians 6:17). In other words, Abraham had to die to self and all that he lived for, and then God would receive him to Himself. If Abraham could achieve this ‘dying to self,’ God would effect salvation and an eternal restoration of man and earth to Himself. He would separate the earth into two family groups, both of which would come under the Abrahamic covenant.
A Great Nation
And I will make of THEE a great nation, and I will bless THEE, and make THY name great; and THOU shalt be a blessing. – Genesis 12:2
The first part of the blessing was exclusively for Abraham and his biological offspring. God told Abraham, “I will make you a great nation. You will be blessed. Your name will be great. You will be a blessing.” This nation, as we know, came to be identified as Israel; the people of his covenant. This covenant that God made with the Jewish people was embodied in the Mosaic laws, the prophets and the writings. It became the route of salvation, and anyone who desires eternal life had to join the Jews in worship. We therefore read about the king of Tyre (1 Kings 5:1-18), the queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10), and Naaman the Syrian (2 Kings 5) who came to Israel to be blessed.
Many Jews and some strangers received salvation under the law and the prophets, but many souls were still being lost. Most of the world would hear of the God of Israel. The Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and even the Romans were acquainted with the God of the Jews. The power of their God was unmistakable and their monotheistic faith was a stark contrast to the polytheism practiced around the world. They were a city built on a hill, a light to the world, but their laws and rigid form of worship was hard for non- Jews to adhere to if not raised in it. Nations have risen, fallen, or ceased to exist, but Israel still is, and will continue to be.
Please note that though the Law and the covenant was given through Isaac’s seed (Genesis 21:10-12), Ishmael along with Keturah’s children (Genesis 25:1-4) were greatly blessed too (they form the very wealthy Arab middle eastern countries). This is the first promise of God to Abraham fulfilled. He became a great nation with a great name and he is a blessing. But the promise did not end there. There is a second often-overlooked part that follows. I will focus on that in my next post.
Back to the beginning of our Genesis 1 restoration series.