Oct 16, 2008

The Gospel in Patriarchal Names

How was the word of God and gospel concerning Christ (Messiah and Redeemer) communicated to men between Adam and Moses, during that time when there was no recognized written record that was known as the "word of God" or "inspired writings"?

Certainly Lord God preached the gospel to Adam and Eve in what is called the "protoevangelium." (Genesis 3: 15) Certainly too this gospel message of the coming Redeemer and Restorer was taught by Adam and Eve to their children, and was handed down by oral tradition till the time of Moses when the truth was codified and enlarged.

There has always been a debate about whether any peoples have died without the means of grace, without the gospel. I do believe the bible teaches that some men have died without the means; however, I say that with a caveat, for the gospel message was present, among the nations, between the time of Adam and Moses, in several forms. One form was in the ancient original inspired Zodiac (or "Mazzaroth" in Job), where the gospel was written pictographically and used as a means of orally teaching the gospel story (as Bullinger and Seiss pointed out long ago). Another form was in the names given to the partriarchs (as we shall see). And of course, there was simple oral tradition or handing down of the message.

Patriarchal Names & Their Significance

Adam, the likeness, of God
Seth, appointed
Enos, suffering
Cainan, gaining
or purchasing a possession
Mahalaleel, the shining forth of God
Jared, he shall come down
Methuselah, from death he releases
Lamech, being smitten
Noah, he gives rest

"Such are the meanings of the names of the ten antediluvian Patriarchs. Early Christian tradition has said, that in them is contained the whole scheme of the Gospel."

"Seth, to whom is attributed the invention of these Signs, seems to have desired to call his descendants by names alluding to the prophecies expressed in them. He might observe that the divinely given name of Adam, the likeness, would accord with the divinely ordained sacrifice. The Lamb was the appointed likeness of the coming of the second Adam, whose redemption he had typified in the emblems he had chosen..."

"The name which his mother had given to himself would also agree with the next of his emblems. He, whose coming in power the chief of the herd prefigured, was also the appointed. In the following eight names the correspondence is so close, as to indicate design. If that design was to follow out the analogy of the Signs, two more names were required: we find them in Shem and Arphaxad, in whom was continued the line of the promised Messiah."

Shem, ordained, set up
Arphaxad, supporting the assembly

"It has been observed that the names of the antediluvian patriarchs, as enumerated in Genesis 5 and 1 Chronicles 1, contain the whole scheme of the Gospel. The assertion has been differently explained by different expositors; all however agree in referring it to the meanings of the names in Hebrew."

"In this genealogy we have the authority of the context for the intentional application of the name of Noah. We may therefore infer that the intermediate names were also given with some intended application of their ancient Hebrew significations. Their roots are to be found in the Hebrew Scriptures, used in the sense here attributed to them, which, in some instances, differs from the meanings heretofore given, where the texts in which the words are used have not been referred to by those who explained them.

If these successive names be found to form a sentence containing a meaning, it appears probable that the meaning was designedly expressed; if this meaning contain prophecy, it shows that a revelation had been given. That it does contain prophecy may be made clear to the English reader as follows:—

The likeness of God, appointed, suffering. Gaining a possession, the shining forth of God, He shall come down. Dedicated, from death he releases, being smitten. He gives rest, ordained, supporting the assembly.

Each of these four lines in the original would consist of three words. Such is the measure of the Song of Moses, Deuteronomy 32, and such that of Lamech in the line of Cain, which has often been cited as the earliest poetry. The tradition that these names contain the whole scheme of the Gospel is corroborated by the somewhat similar meanings in the names of Cain's posterity. In the line from which the Messiah was to descend, the names are more clearly expressive of the prophecy, and given in such succession as to convey it. In the family of Cain, they are only as it were a faint echo of the promise made to the common ancestor. The eldest son of Cain was called Enoch, dedicated, probably because, as the firstborn, he was to be the religious as well as temporal head of the family. Such was the birthright which Esau failed to recover, though he sought it with many tears. To the name of Irad, the next in succession, the meaning usually annexed is that of "a wild ass," in Syriac, untamed, in Arabic, hard to subdue, as if inheriting the temper of his grandfather Cain: the next, Mehujael, declaring God, written by the Sept. as they write Mahalaleel, and having nearly the same signification. Methusael, his death is required, may set forth the doctrine taught by the rite of sacrifice. These two last names encourage the hope that the promise of the coming Saviour was not wholly disregarded among the Cainites. The name of Lamech, sixth in the line of Cain, and eighth in that of Seth, has the same meaning in both: whether it had any reference to his homicide is not known. It is considered that with him polygamy began; and he named his offspring not after spiritual, but temporal good. Jubal, fruit of the earth; Tubal-cain, worldly possession; Zillah, likeness or shadow, as of the parent; Naamah, gracious."

Had the names of the patriarchs of the chosen family merely individually referred to the promised Redeemer, as did many in later times, their series would not thus have formed a sentence or stanza conveying the prophecies, amplified much beyond what is contained in the promise of the seed of the woman.

If, as antiquity asserts, Seth was the inventor of astronomy, his arrangement of the emblems would account for the sequence of the names of his descendants, most of whom he lived to see. The meanings and order of these names therefore furnish corroborating evidence that such was the origin and intention of the signs.

Were it proved that Chinese or Egyptian chronology went back further than the date usually assigned to the deluge, there might have been transmitted by Noah the history of his ancestors, or of chiefs and dominions in the line of Cain, especially if connected with astronomical data, such as eclipses or conjunctions of the orbs of heaven. Seth has often been supposed by ancient writers to be Hermes Trismegistus."


No comments: