God’s love for the Jewish people drives our work here at The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.
The basis for His calling of His Chosen People lies in Genesis 12 in which He made a covenant with Abraham to bless him and his descendants. That covenant has affected the rest of human history.
But what about the people in the 11 chapters of Genesis prior to this moment? Did God take interest in them, or were they left to their own devices to earn God’s favor? Was God’s grace present then, too?
There’s plenty to digest here. Eleven chapters of human history pass before God speaks to Abraham. And there are some pretty serious, universe-defining moments that build up to that moment.
From the Beginning
Let’s start with Adam. God’s plan for man seems pretty clear here: Govern the earth and live in perfect relationship with Him. But sin ruined this perfect plan and brought sin nature into every new birth.
God was not deterred. Adam’s son Abel honored the Lord and looked to be enjoying fellowship with God as He intended. Abel’s older brother Cain killed him, seemingly ruining God’s plan. But God continued to show His grace through a different means. He allowed another son, Seth, to be born to Adam and Eve, and through Seth’s line came followers of God, culminating in Noah, a God-fearing man in an unparalleled time of rebellion against the Creator.
A Second Chance
God can use just one person when all the rest of humanity is against Him. In the midst of a global rejection of Him, God promised a worldwide flood to decimate the earth, but He pledged to spare Noah, who was obedient to the Lord and built an ark for the survival of himself and his family.
God can use just one person when all the rest of humanity is against Him.
Through Noah’s son Shem, God continued preserving a remnant of those who feared Him. Again man tried to disrupt God’s plan by building a tower at Babel to reach the Lord in heaven, but He confused their plans and dispersed the wicked, perverse people of Earth. Through God’s grace, the bloodline of Shem’s people, the Semites, reached Abraham, with whom God made a covenant of blessing among His people.
While God’s covenant with the Jewish people didn’t start until after so much human history, we can see that His qualities have never changed. Just as faith in Him and His saving grace was the program of salvation for Old Testament saints starting with Abraham, we can see the same elements at play in those before Abraham. Genesis 4:26 records that at the time Seth had a son, people “began to call on the name of the Lᴏʀᴅ.” Genesis 6:8 encompasses God’s salvation of man well, as it says, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lᴏʀᴅ,” followed by Noah’s physical salvation from the flood and covenant with God.
Most of all, let’s not forget Jesus’ words in John 8:58. After a lengthy conversation with His unbelieving Jewish listeners, He was asked if He had seen Abraham. He replied, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”
Jesus was present during this pre-Abrahamic period. In fact, He has never not been present. Colossians 1:15-16 notes His existence since the beginning of eternity:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
God’s plan for Jesus to come to Earth as a sinless Man, die on the cross to bear the sin of the world, and be resurrected to life was in motion since the beginning of history. Adam’s sin did not catch God off guard. His plan to reconcile humanity to Himself started before the first man was born, is evident through the Jewish people, and is available to all—”for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).
Past, Present, and Future
It’s comforting to see that even though His methods may have looked different in the early days of the created world, God is constant in His character and purposes for man. He tells us of His unchanging ways all throughout Scripture, as in Malachi 3:6, when He says He does not change; James 1:17, when James says there is no variation or change in Him; and in Hebrews 13:8, when we see that Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
The world may have operated a lot differently in the first 11 chapters of Genesis than it has at any time since. But to see God’s sovereignty in action in the early days of humanity is a reassuring reminder of His grace toward us.