Understanding The Bible
STUDY REFERENCE
Clarence E. Mason's "ESCHATOLOGY 1"
SECTION 2B - Genesis 3:7-8:14
THE ANTEDILUVIAN AGE and
THE DISPENSATION OF MORAL RESPONSIBILITY (Conscience)

BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
1970

Edited by Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.


  1. Genesis 3:7-8:14
    THE ANTEDILUVIAN AGE and THE DISPENSATION OF MORAL RESPONSIBILITY (Conscience)
    This dispensation and age was ushered in by the Adamic Covenant.
    1. The key personage(s): Adam and his children, especially Cain, Abel, Seth.
    2. The extent of the period was from the Fall to the Flood.
      Antediluvian means the age back of (i.e., before) the flood as viewed from the perspective of our day. It is the usual term used, although it would be simpler to say Prediluvian (before the flood) in contrast to Postdiluviari (after the flood).
    3. The general Scripture portion is Gen. 3:7-8:14. See New Scofield note on Gen. 3:7.
    4. The characteristic or state of man during its course: (3:7-24 is an overlapping) Adam's new state or condition may be seen very graphically by comparing it with the points which showed his former state (see A, 4).
      1. He was no longer innocent. Gen. 3:22
      2. He was no longer allowed to remain in the garden. Gen. 3:23-24
      3. He had now to win his food by the sweat of his brow and take it from a reluctant earth. Gen. 3:17-19
      4. His mental faculties were dulled and perverted. Gen. 6:5
        (The first poem on record is in honor of murder - Gen. 4:23-24)
      5. His work was no longer a pleasure, but arduous. Gen. 4:11-15
      6. He chose "fair wives" regardless of God's will. Gen. 4:19; 6:2
      7. However, he was again forewarned by Noah's preaching. 2 Pet. 2:5
      8. Man, except for a few cases, had no fellowship with God. Gen. 6:5-7, with Gen. 6:8-9, also see Gen. 5:22

        Examples of fellowship:
        (1) Sacrifice is seen in this age
                (a) 3:21 "coats of skin"
                (b) 4:4 "Abel and his offering" - Heb. 11:4
        (2) Prayer is seen
                (a) 4:26 After Seth's son was born
                (b) 5:22, 24 "Enoch walked with God"
                (c) 6:8-9 "Noah walked with God"
        (3) In the list of the men of faith of Heb. 11, Abel, Enoch, and Noah are mentioned.
         
    5. "The special responsibility now was to see whether man, guided by conscience, would choose to do good and to approach God by means of a sacrifice as the example of the victim which provided the coats of skin taught them." (Thiessen)
      1. The name of this dispensation, implying special responsibility under it, is taken from Rom. 2:15, "conscience also bearing witness." (Scofield)
      2. Romans 2:12-15 indicate that the heathen today are under the same responsibility as men were from the fall to the flood,
      3. The following situations seem to illustrate man's responsibility under conditions of conscience:
        (1) Job 1:1, 8; 2:3 - "Feareth God and avoideth evil." Job evidently lived before the giving of the Law. Apparently God had not given a detailed revelation of His will, but left conscience as man's guide.
        (2) Jonah 3:4-10; 4:9-11. Nineveh was without the law of God as were those of Lystra and Athens.
        (3) Paul at Lystra - Acts 14:15-18
        (4) Paul at Athens - Acts 17:22-34.
        (5) Note Romans 1:18-2:16, especially 2:12-16 (v. 15). Depicts situations apart from the Law. Innocence and an ideal situation had failed to induce man to perform righteousness. What would conscience accomplish toward that end?

        The Test:
        "Guided by conscience, would man choose to do good and to approach God by means of a sacrifice, as the example of the victim which provided the coats of skin taught them?" (Thiessen)
         
    6. The failure of man under the test of conscience:
      1. Note the following Scriptural data on "conscience":
        (1) It convicts of wrong. John 8:9
        (2) It excuses or accuses. Rom. 2:15
        (3) It is not a safe guide:
                (a) Some consciences are good. 1 Tim. 1:5,19; Acts 23:1; 24:16
                (b) Some consciences are weak. 1 Cor. 8:7
                (c) Some consciences are seared. 1 Tim. 4:2 Conscience may err; it is fallible; it has no enabling force nor power to help us do right.
      2. Some definite steps in the growth of wickedness in this period are seen as follows:
        (1) The refusal of Cain to acknowledge himself a sinner, either by his offering or by attending to God's admonition. Gen. 4:3, 7
        (2) The exhibition of Cain's hatred of God in the murder of Abel. Gen. 4:8
        (3) The progress of civilization without God. Gen. 4:17-24
        (4) The birth of Seth in Adam's sinful likeness. Gen. 5:3
        (5) The breakdown of the line between the two seeds (cp. Gen. 3:15). Gen. 6:2
        (6) Widespread evil imagination, desire, and purpose of heart. Gen. 6:5
        (7) Open violence and corruption. Gen. 6:11-12
    7. The resultant judgment
      1. Man was indifferent to conscience, silenced and seared it. 1 Tim. 4:2
      2. So, though "the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing" (1 Pet. 3:20) and though that man of God pled with men of that generation as "a preacher of righteousness" (apparently for 120 years. Gen. 6:3), God closed that method of direct dealing with men and sent the flood which destroyed all but eight souls.
    8. The gracious intervention of God
      God graciously intervened and did not make a full end of man, "Noah found grace in his sight" (Gen. 6:8-9). So Noah, moved by faith in God's word leading to obedience to his command, prepared an ark to the saving of his house (Heb. 11:7). See also Gen. 6:14ff.; 7:1; and 8:1. So, eight souls were saved and brought forth to a new age.

 

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