Eternity, Judgment, Heaven and Hell

Relation of Gentiles to God Between Moses and Christ

So far as I am able to ascertain, it was the same as that of all mankind before the Mosaic period, which was more or less of a patriarchal religion – with God communicating through certain chosen individuals. For example, Abraham originally from Ur of the Chaldees, was a prophet (Genesis 20:7). Melchisedek, king of Salem (later Jerusalem), "as priest of God Most High," to whom Abraham paid tithes (Genesis 14:20 and was a type of the high priesthood of Christ (see Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:5-6, 10; 6:20; 7:17,21; 7:1,10,11,15). Job, in the land of Uz, east of the Sea of Galilee, functioned as a priest (see Job 1:5; 42:7-9). Jethro (also called Reuel) was priest of Median and father-in-law of Moses (Exodus 2:15-3:1; 4:18; 18:1-27). And Balaam, of Pethor, east of the Euphrates River, was a prophet (2 Peter 2:15-16; see numbers 22:24; 31:1-8).

Also, between the time of Moses and Christ, God still dealt with Gentiles to the extent that he reasonably could. for instance, he sent Jonah to Nineveh to preach, resulting in wholesale repentance (see Jonah 1 - 4; Matthew 12:41). Daniel, who became a prophet, was used mightily in Babylon under the reigns of Nebuchadnezzer and Belshazzar, of Darius the Mede, and finally, of Cyrus the Persian (Daniel 1 - 12). These are notable examples, but by no means exhaustive. Yet the time did come when the Gentiles had so greatly rejected God that he gave them up (Romans 1:18-32), ceasing to send messengers to them until after the beginning of the Christian era (see Acts 10:1 -11:16; 15:1-29; 17:16-34).

But any time individual Gentiles wished to adopt the religion of the Hebrews, they could be circumcised and do so (see Exodus 12:49), thus coming into covenant relation with Israel’s God (see Isaiah 56:1-8 in contrast with Ezekiel 44:7-8). On the day of Pentecost, when Christianity had its formal beginning in Jerusalem, "sojourners form Rome, both Jews and proselytes" were present (Acts 2:10). Cornelius, the first known Gentile convert to Christianity was "a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house" (Acts 10:1-2). And when Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch of Pisidia on their first missionary journey and invited to speak in a Jewish synagogue, Paul addressed his hearers as "Men of Israel, and ye that fear God" (Acts `13:16) – that is, Gentiles who are God-fearers – and it is said that "when the synagogue broke up, many of the Jews and of the devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas" (v.43).

But aside from full-fledged converts to Judaism and formal convenant relationship with God, the following scripture may indicate the salvation of some Gentiles even before and without their knowing about Christ (though it would still be through the efficacy of his blood, just as would the salvation of those in covenant relation with God prior to the death of Christ, per Hebrews 9:15):

"… in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; [he] will render to every man according to his works: to them that practice in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil; and also to the Greek: for there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without the law [Gentiles] shall also perish without the law [Moses]; and as many have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law; for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified: (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves: in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them;) in the day when God with shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ" (Romans 2:5-16; cf. Acts 17:30-31 for God judging the secrets of men by Jesus Christ).

Cecil N. Wright
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