Second Dispensation: The Age of Conscience
This age began after the fall and ended with the flood, Gen. 4-7. It is also called Antediluvian, which means, before the flood. Man for the first time became sin conscious, he realized what sin was. Adam and Eve tried to cover their nakedness with their own efforts, but their fig leaves dried up and crumbled. That is the way with man’s righteousness. But God’s provision for man was by blood sacrifices. Of course they pointed to or represented the One sacrifice of Jesus Christ (the promised deliverer to come, Gen. 3:15) who atoned for man’s sin.
Man’s responsibility was to offer the blood sacrifices. In Gen. 4:1-8 we read of two offerings. Cain brought of the fruit of the ground that he grew and worked hard to get. Able brought a firstling of the flock that God had asked for and instructed that this was the way to come unto Him (Heb. 11:4). Some might say that God was not fair by rejecting Cain’s offering, but God didn’t cut him off. He gave Cain a chance to bring the right offering and to be accepted. God told him he did not do well, that a sin offering is lying at the door. He didn’t have to work for it, just take it and offer it unto God. But Cain didn’t do that. Instead that rebellion grew in his heart against God. He couldn’t kill God, so He killed his brother Able.
There are really only two religions in this world, followers of Cain or followers of Able. Those who follow Able, go the blood way, they accept Jesus Christ as their Savior (whose blood was shed for sin) and become righteous. The others reject that sacrifice and trust in their works which is not acceptable to God. Eph. 2:8-9; II Tim. 1:8-10; Titus 3:4-6.
God tested man as to the blood sacrifices. In Genesis 4 and 5 we read of two lineages, Cain and Seth. After Cain refused to offer the blood sacrifice and deliberately killed Able his brother, we read, “And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD (Gen. 4:6). What a terrible place to be. He started a line of people that were out of God’s fellowship completely. God doesn’t say much about any of his descendents as to how long they lived or when they died. They were a very skilled people. Cain built the first city we read of in Scripture and named it after his son. Of Cain’s descendants we read of a rancher and also one who built musical instruments and played them, another made swords. But they were ungodly.
Adam had another son, Seth. His name means “appointed one.” Eve said, for God hath appointed me another seed for Able whom Cain slew. Seth was a godly man, an appointed man to be a seed for God. These were a different kind of people, that knew God. The fifth chapter traces the genealogy of Seth to ten generations. Adam lived 930 years. He was still alive when Lamech was born. See how it was possible for Moses to have written the first five books of the Bible. Adam could have spoken to Lamech and Lamech to Noah and Noah lived to be 950 years old. In this genealogy is Enoch and it says of him that he walked with God, and he was not; for God took him, Gen. 5:24. Enoch’s son Methuselah ended this dispensation.
Notice the conditions that ended this dispensation, (Ch. 6) every man was governed according to his conscience. The sons of God were the descendants of Seth and the daughters of men were descendants of Cain. The godly married the ungodly and things went down hill from there. God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thought of his heart was only evil continually. It repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. The Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth - Gen. 6:5-7. Man failed and became so wicked he had to be judged because of God’s holiness. This age ended in the judgment of the flood.
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” – Ch. 6:8. God instructed Noah to build an ark which would save him and his family when the flood came. “Make thee an ark of gopher wood” – V. 14. It is the only tree which grew in the wilderness. It reminds us of Jesus, “a root out of the dry ground” – Isa. 53:2. The tree had to be first cut down. This is wonderfully significant of Christ! He had to be crucified before man could have an Ark of safety from Divine judgment. All that were in the Ark were preserved from judgment, for even the seams were closed. The whole ark was pitched within and without with resin, that which flowed from the tree when it was cut into. Christ death not only saves us, but secures us eternally. No waters of judgment could enter that ark of safety The resin from the tree, is symbolic of Christ’s blood. Not one drop of the water of judgment could even touch them. The wondrous provision of Calvary is figured by the ark which Noah built. John 10:28-30.
Also God’s grace was shown to man in that Noah preached as he built the ark, but the people didn’t believe him. Read Heb. 11:7; I Pet. 3:20; and II Pet. 2:5. God had several stewards during that age.
Next issue: The Age of Human Government