The Post-Diluvian Age
August 24th, 1988 @ 7:30 PM
THE POST-DILUVIAN AGE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-24-88 7:30 p.m.
‘Tis a loving church and a loving congregation God hath given us here in the heart of this great city. And to be here on Wednesday night and to share together in these precious moments is one of the dearest privileges in human life.
In our studying through the Book of Genesis, we have come to the age beyond the Flood. And as we said last Wednesday night, this whole earth used to be a greenhouse. The climate at the North Pole was the same as it was at the equator, and the same as it was in Antarctica; the whole earth was verdant, beautifully foliated. There was a canopy above it, a firmament; and the earth was watered with mist and dew. The earth had never seen rain. Man knew not what it was. But when God saw the iniquity of man and only one righteous family in the whole creation, just one, the Lord commanded him to build an ark to the saving of his house. And when the ark was built, and after one hundred twenty years of preaching and pleading without one convert [Genesis 6:3-22], God said, “Enter the ark” [Genesis 7:1]. And God shut the door; God shut the door [Genesis 7:16]. And the Lord punctured that canopy above the earth, and for the first time man saw it rain. And it rained, and it rained forty days, forty nights; and the waters rose fifteen to fifty feet above the highest mountains. And everything that breathed died in that awesome judgment [Genesis 7:17-24]. And after the waters were assuaged, and Noah came out of the ark [Genesis 8:15-18], the Lord blessed him, and gave him a great commission [Genesis 9:1-19]. And that’s where we begin speaking tonight.
There are seven great ages in the history of the world, from its beginning to its consummation. They are, number one, in the garden to the expulsion; number two, after the expulsion to the judgment of the Flood; number three, after the Flood to the call of Abraham; number four, from Abraham to Moses and the Exodus; number five, from Moses to Jesus our Lord; number six, from the days of His flesh to the days of His coming; and number seven, from our Lord’s coming to the forever. The first is the age of innocence. The second is the age of conscience. The third is the age of human government. The fourth is the age of the patriarchs. The fifth is the age of the law. The sixth is the age of grace, of the church, in which we live. And the seventh is the age of the kingdom.
We’re going to look for just a moment at the age of conscience, the age of human government, the age of social law and order, the age of the nations, the antediluvian age. I haven’t time to go into detail, just to point it out. In Genesis 9, verse 2, no longer the loving submission of the age of conscience, but the man is now the fearful ruler over all the living things of the earth. He’s not the biggest physically, or the mightiest in muscle, but he’s able to strike terror and fear into the kingdom of the animals because of his superior mentality and his organizational genius [Genesis 9:2]. In verse 3, for the first time we are given the privilege to eat one another: “Every moving thing that liveth shall be food for you; even as the green herb in the garden of Eden.” For the first time after the Flood, in Genesis 9:3, we are permitted to eat living beings, animals.
I do not blame anyone for being a vegetarian. If you’re a vegetarian, you’re going back to the beginning of the purpose of God. God never intended for us to eat one another; it was never in His purpose. It was only after the judgment of the Flood that God gave us the right to eat one another. And when you look in a chapter such as the eleventh of Isaiah, when the kingdom of God comes and Jesus is present and is our great Lord and Ruler, you’re going back to the day of the beginning, of the day of innocence, and we’ll not eat one another: the ravenous, carnivorous lion will eat straw like an ox [Isaiah 11:7]. But this is a concession made to the man after the judgment of the Flood: that he can eat flesh [Genesis 9:3].
And in Genesis 9:5-6: in the man’s hand the magistrate’s sword is placed for the first time. There is in God’s law and order capital punishment: it’s in the hands of the state. And in my humble opinion, I think it ought to be observed. I think a man who presides over a ring that sells drugs to our people, and particularly to our children, I think he ought to be put to death, period.
Now, we have here for the first time, in chapter 10, the nations, nations. In verse 5, the nation; in verse 20, the nation; in verse 31, the nation; and in verse 32, twice: God establishes the state, the government [Genesis 10:5, 20, 31, 32]. And the descendants of Noah are now divided into kingdoms and into nations.
- In verse 8 of chapter 10, Nimrod is the first autocrat and conqueror [Genesis 10:8].
- In verse 10 of chapter 10, we have Babylon, in the land of Shinar [Genesis 10:10].
- In verse 11, we have Nineveh [Genesis 10:11].
- And in verse 15 we have Sidon [Genesis 10:15].
So the Japhetic and Hamitic lines are all disposed of, spoken of in the Bible; and now we come to the line of Shem. And this is an observation to be made if you ever propose to study the Bible: the Bible is not a history of the world; the Bible is a story of the unveiling of God’s grace and mercy through His chosen people. You don’t have the story of the nations of Japheth, of Ham, nor even all of those of the line of Shem; but you have the story of God’s grace. And having followed it through the line of Shem to Abraham [Genesis 11:10-26], we now have God’s wonderful grace as He reveals Himself through a chosen family.
How did man fare in this third new age, the antediluvian age? Their golden opportunity to achieve justice and righteousness in the earth failed. Noah was over six hundred years old, full of wisdom and experience; Shem, his youngest son, was ninety-eight years old. Behind them was the destruction of the whole human race [Genesis 7:21-23], and the terrible warning of the judgment of God in disobedience [Genesis 6:13, 17]. Before them, the open land, the new covenant of God: Noah establishes an altar in chapter 8, verse 20, and true worship [Genesis 8:20]. But what did they do with it? Again there was dismal failure. In chapter 11, verse 2, Shinar, between the Tigris and Euphrates River, it is the purpose of God that all the people of the earth be one in calling upon His name [Genesis 11:1-2]. But there they build a Babel. What for? To escape the Flood? No, they built a great monument there, the Bible says, “to their own name” [Genesis 11:4]. Like the pyramids, some said the pyramids were built for astronomical reasons; others say the pyramids were built to resist the encroachment of the desert; others say the pyramids were built for granaries and for food reserves. None of that is true: the pyramids were built as monuments and sepulchers to the kings, to keep their names alive in the earth. And that’s the first thing that the man did: he wanted to exalt himself, to build a monument to himself.
And the descendants of Noah and of his sons became idolaters. The whole earth was filled with idolatry. There is no record in the earth of any witness for God after the Flood. Even Terah, Abraham’s father, was an idolater [Joshua 24:2]. The race failed in Eden [Genesis 3:1-6], the race failed before the Flood [Genesis 6:5-7], and the race failed after the Flood at Babel [Genesis 11:4].
So when we come to the twelfth chapter of the Book of Genesis, we come to a new departure: God singles out one family, and He begins there afresh in the revelation of His goodness and grace.
- In 11:26, Terah was seventy years of age when Abram was born [Genesis 11:26].
- In 11:31, after Abraham’s marriage, Terah and Abram and Sarai and Lot emigrate from Ur of the Chaldees, down there toward Canaan; but they stop in Haran [Genesis 11:31].
- And in verse 4 of chapter 12, when Abram was seventy-five years old, he, his wife, and his nephew Lot resume the journey to the Promised Land [Genesis 12:4].
- They went without any knowledge of the country to which God was sending them, and they went without any prearranged plan. They just believed in the mercy and goodness of God; and on the basis of that promise, “They went out, not knowing whither they went” [Hebrews 11:8].
The first demand of faith is separation. “You get out from your country, from your people, from your native land, and go into a land you shall after receive for an inheritance…And they went out” [Genesis 12:1, 5], as I say, “not knowing whither they went” [Hebrews 11:8]. The first demand of faith is separation.
I had a man yesterday expound to me—he’s a godly man himself—expound to me why it is that revival does not come to our people. And the reason he said was, “I’m a businessman. I live out here in the earth.” And he said to me, “Preacher, I tell you truly, I can’t tell the difference between a Christian and a worldly secularist. They just act alike. They talk alike. They live alike. I don’t see any difference in them.”
I wonder how true the observation is of that businessman. I don’t live out in the business world; I live a sheltered life, I live with you. I come to church. I spend my days here in the house of God; over there or here. It hurt my heart to hear him say that, that he couldn’t tell a Christian from one who has never been saved. I could just think that maybe it is confirmed by some of the things that I run into.
I was talking to a businessman here in the city of Dallas. And this is some years ago—I wouldn’t mention if it were it now—and I was talking to him, and we were, in our visiting, we were speaking about a certain other businessman here in the city of Dallas. And I said to him, “That man is a deacon in our church, and one of the members of our congregation.” He said to me, “Are you telling me the truth?” I said, “Certainly.” Well, he said, “I would never have dreamed that he was a Christian. I would never have dreamed that he was a church member. And I am amazed and overwhelmed to learn that he is a deacon.”
I can’t believe such things! The first thing, according to the Word of God, the first thing that faith demands, that the Christian commitment to Christ demands, is separation [2 Corinthians 6:17-18]. There’s just certain ways of talking that we don’t talk. There are certain places that we don’t go. There are certain things that we don’t do; we just don’t.
I’ll give you a little instance of our own congregation. I couldn’t get my heart quiet if on the Lord’s Day, on God’s Day, I was at one of these stadiums; I couldn’t do it; if on God’s Day I was out there at one of those games, in one of those stadiums, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. Much less, a thousand things that worldly people do: I couldn’t be quiet in my heart if I shared in those things. And that’s where the word “Hebrew” came from, “Hebrew.” The word “Hebrew” means “crossover.” And Abram crossed over: crossed over the great River Euphrates, and turned his face toward the Promised Land [Genesis 11:31].
And that ought to be true of us: our first act of faith, of commitment, is to step out on the basis of the calling and promise of God, to renounce the world on the basis of the promise of God. And on the basis of that promise, we leave [Hebrews 11:13]. We’re a pilgrim in the earth. We’re a stranger to this land.
I am a stranger here,
Heaven is my home.
Earth is a desert drear,
Heaven is my home;
Sorrows and dangers stand
Round me on every hand;
Heaven is my fatherland,
Heaven is my home.
[“I’m But a Stranger Here,” Thomas R. Taylor]
They confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims in the earth [Hebrews 11:13]; and they look for a city that hath foundations whose builder and maker is God [Hebrews 11:10]. “Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them that city” [Hebrews 11:16].
Let’s be like that. If somebody knows you, you’re just different. And if you love the Lord, and if you act like it, and live like it, they’ll sense it and see it, and they’ll magnify the Lord because of you. God bless you, sweet wonderful people, as we live the life of Christ in a dark and evil world.
Now, Brother Singer, I want you to lead us in a hymn of appeal. And while we sing the song, I’ll be standing down here, and you come to me: “Pastor, this is God’s day and God’s time for me, and here I stand. I want to put my life with these dear people in the church,” or, “I want to confess Jesus as my Savior” [Romans 10:9-10], or, “I want to answer a call of the Spirit in my heart.” As God shall press upon your heart the appeal, you answer with your life. Do it now, while we stand and while we sing.
THE POST-DILUVIAN AGE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. Seven great ages
1. Innocence – garden to the expulsion
2. Conscience – expulsion to the flood
3. Human government – flood to the call of Abraham
4. Patriarchal, promise – Abraham to Moses and the Exodus
5. Law – Moses to Jesus
6. Grace – Jesus to His coming
7. Kingdom – His coming to eternity
II. Government, social law comes order and nations
1. How man faired in the third new age? Failure
a. Self worship – Babel
b. Idol worship
III. God’s new decision to single out one family
1. Genesis 12
2. Separation – the first demonstration of faith
3. Faith in God’s promise