Previously, three periods of time were addressed during which God dealt differently with people. Those periods are the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian. In this article, we examine the Patriarchal age in greater detail.
After Creation, God spoke directly to Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:28). There are no middlemen, no priests, and no written word from Jehovah. God told Adam and Eve what he wanted them to know. He warned them and guided them directly. When sin occurred, as with Cain, he directly rebuked the sinner and punished them as he saw appropriate.
It was during this period that God spoke directly to Abram. He spoke to Abram and told him to leave the house and the land of his father. He enumerated three great blessings later fulfilled fully. God would speak directly to Abram’s progeny and restate the same promises to them. The point is that God is speaking directly to people.
Years after he spoke to Abraham, God would speak directly to Moses and establish a second period or dispensation. This Mosaic age includes only the children of Israel, the Israelites. The Patriarchal period would continue for everyone else until chapter 10 of Acts when Cornelius, a Gentile, was baptized and added to the Kingdom of Christ. The kingdom of Christ, or the church, is part of the third age or Christian dispensation.
It is troubling to some that the Patriarchal and Mosaic ages could coexist. We offer some Biblical examples to defend our position.
After the Mosaic period began, God still had dealings with non-Jews. The entire conquest of the land of Canaan occurred because God was judging those nations who had turned from Him to idols (Deuteronomy 9:5; 18:9-12; Leviticus 18:24, 25). They were responsible for their sins. They were punished with divine judgment.
There were non-Jewish priests even after the establishment of the Mosaic law. Jethro (Reuel), was one such priest. He is a priest of Midian (Exodus 18:1) and as the father-in-law of Moses. After the giving of the law at Sinai, Jethro advises Moses in the adjudication of disputes (Exodus 18:13-27). There is no suggestion in Scripture that his priesthood ended.
In the famed story of Jonah, the prophet is sent to Ninevah, an Assyrian city, to cry out against the wickedness of the people. Assyria, and Nineveh particularly, are non-Jewish places. Nevertheless, God expected their conduct to be holy. They were subject to God despite their Gentile ancestry. We know that God did not destroy Ninevah, at least, not at that time, because they repented (Jonah 3:10). They were amenable before God.
Finally, we point to Cornelius of Acts 10:1ff. He is undeniably Gentile (Acts 10:1; 14-16; 11:18). He is also undeniably godly as inspiration describes him as “devout” (Acts 10:2). He was not a Jew. He was not under the law of Moses, yet he is a righteous man. He is amenable to God’s laws as given under the Patriarchal age.