Introduction to “TIME PAST” & “THE GOAL OF PROPHECY”

The most important division in the Bible is between PROPHECY and the great MYSTERY proclaimed by the Apostle Paul. Let’s compare these contrasting verses, noting what differs.

Luke 1:70 As he (GOD) SPAKE BY THE MOUTH OF HIS HOLY prophets, which have been SINCE THE WORLD began:

Acts 3:21 … until the times of restitution of all things, which GOD HATH SPOKEN BY THE MOUTH OF ALL HIS HOLY PROPHETS SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN.

Acts 3:24 Yea, and ALL THE PROPHETS from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.

Compare those above with these Pauline verses. Note the differences between Prophecy & “the Mystery.”

Romans 16:25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the REVELATION OF THE MYSTERY (Gk., mysterion, secret), which was KEPT SECRET since the world began,
Ephesians 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of THE MYSTERY (secret), which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Colossians 1:25 Whereof I (Paul) am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me (Paul) for you (the body of Christ), to fulfil (Gk., pleroo, complete) the word of God;

NOTE ABOVE the great difference between that which was SPOKEN BY THE MOUTH OF ALL HIS HOLY PROPHETS SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN and what was KEPT SECRET since the world began.”

What is A TESTAMENT? It’s important to note that the common assumption that the “Old Testament” begins in Genesis 1 is not correct. That Old Testament is the covenant called “the Law” dedicated by the “blood” of animals (v19 below). The Law was given to the Israel through Moses (John 1:17; Gal 3:19), coming into effect in Exodus 24. This means the book of Genesis and the first 20+ chapters of Exodus are not in the Old Testament. We need to be careful with common false assumptions we may have been taught. Also the “New Testament” could not begin until Jesus was killed (John 19:30). A testament is of a “testator” who must die in order to put it in effect.

Hebrews 9:16 (KJV) For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. Hebrews 9:15 (KJV) And for this cause he (Jesus) is the mediator of the NEW TESTAMENT, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament (covenant), they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance (not necessarily “heaven”). Hebrews 9:19
For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,

This means, dispensationally, Abraham, who was called by God in Genesis 12:1, was not under “the Law”; the covenant that required works. Abraham simply believed God and it was countedfor righteousness.”

Romans 4:2-3 (KJV) For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 3 For what saith the scripture? ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS COUNTED UNTO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Romans 4:23-25 (KJV) Now it was not written for his (Abraham’s) sake alone, that it (righteousness) was imputed (counted) to him; 24 BUT FOR US (the body of Christ) ALSO, to whom it shall be imputed (counted), IF WE BELIEVE ON HIM THAT RAISED UP JESUS OUR LORD FROM THE DEAD; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

ULTIMATELY, God’s Goal ConcernsTHE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH.” The very opening words of the Bible declare “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” It doesn’t say that He created the universe, but rather “the heaven and the earth.” This is because God’s eternal purpose is with “the earth,” as being quite distinct from His purpose concerning “the heaven.”

·         God’s purpose for “the earth” and Christ’s reign upon it is the subject ofPROPHECY.” The name “ Israel ” transliterated to the Greek is “yis-raw-ale’,” meaning he will rule as God

·         By contrast, God’s purpose for the heaven” and the body of Christ’s exalted position there in glory (in heaven, Eph 1:3; Philipp. 3:20) with and “in Christ” is the subject of Paul’s MYSTERY” Gospel.


The basic characteristic of “Time Past” is the great distinction between the Circumcision and the Uncircumcision; that is between Israel & the Gentiles. Below we see that Israel had the clear advantage while the Gentiles were at equally distinct disadvantage.

Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; 5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the (human) flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:


Gentiles were:

Israel Enjoys the adoption

The Uncircumcised

To whom Christ came

Without Christ

Whose are the fathers

Aliens from Israel

Had the covenants and Law

Strangers from the covenants

Are to be in the service of God

Without God

Have the promises

Without hope in the world

 “The Middle Wall of Partition” - Ephesians 2:14 For he (Christ) is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the MIDDLE WALL OF PARTITION between us (between Jew & Gentile);

God Himself had erected the Middle Wall of Partition between the Nation Israel and the Gentiles as seen by “the circumcision in the flesh made with hands” (Eph 2:11). Romans 1 indicates that Gentile alienation was of their own doing. Rom 1: 24 “Wherefore God gave them up”; Rom 1:26 “For this cause God gave them up”; Rom 1:28 “God gave them over.” There, Paul presents the sad history of rebellion, evil thinking and self-will that resulted in the three-fold division of Time Past,” “But Now” and “the Ages to come.”

In “Time Past,” God gave up Gentile mankind - “(God) Who in TIMES PAST suffered all nations to walk in their own ways (Acts 14:16).  God did this by selecting out Abram, out from among mankind, through whom He would bless the world. Genesis 12:1-3 (KJV) Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and IN THEE SHALL ALL FAMILIES OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED.

The Gentiles were without hope; being “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel , strangers from the covenants of promise” – thus utterly lost in the world “without God in the world” (Eph 2:12).

“BUT GOD” – While the nations of the earth were allowed to “walk in their own ways,” God turned to one solitary man – Abram.

Genesis 12:1-3 Now the LORD had said unto ABRAM, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I WILL MAKE OF THEE A GREAT NATION, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and IN THEE SHALL ALL FAMILIES OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED.

Thus, with the Lord’s call of Abraham, there became two kinds of people in the world: the Abrahamic lineage, later to be called the Circumcision and all others, to be called the Uncircumcision.

Genesis 17:4-14 As for me (the Lord), behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 5Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. 6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 7 And I will establish MY COVENANT BETWEEN ME AND THEE and thy seed after thee in their generations for an EVERLASTING COVENANT, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, THE LAND wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan , for an EVERLASTING POSSESSION; and I will be their God. 9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11 And YE SHALL CIRCUMCISE THE FLESH OF YOUR FORESKIN; and IT SHALL BE A TOKEN OF THE COVENANT betwixt me and you. 12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. 13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an EVERLASTING COVENANT. 14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

The covenant that God made with Abraham is called “The Covenant of Circumcision.” Acts 7:8 And he (God) gave him (Abraham) “THE COVENANT OF CIRCUMCISION:” and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.

Thus, God made Israel a distinctive, separated and peculiar people in the world!

Numbers 23:9 For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, THE PEOPLE SHALL DWELL ALONE, and SHALL NOT BE RECKONED AMONG THE NATIONS.

1 Kings 8:53 For THOU (GOD) DIDST SEPARATE THEM FROM AMONG ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE EARTH, to be thine inheritance, as thou spakest by the hand of Moses thy servant, when thou broughtest our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord GOD.

When God gave “the Law” to Israel , it was “added” to the “Covenant of Circumcision” that came first.

Galatians 3:19 Wherefore then serveth THE LAW? IT WAS ADDED because of transgressions, till (only until) the seed (see v16, Christ) should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator (Moses).

This was to strengthen and fortify the “Middle Wall of Partition” between Israel and the Gentiles.

Romans 2:14 For when THE GENTILES, WHICH HAVE NOT THE LAW, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

Deuteronomy 4:5-7 Behold, I (Moses) have taught you (Israel) statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. 6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations (Gentiles), which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.

Now God had an agency upon the earth through which He would ultimately accomplish His purpose and plan of making Christ the ruler over the earth He created.

Exodus 19:3-5 … the LORD called unto him (Moses) out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel5 … if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then YE SHALL BE A PECULIAR TREASURE UNTO ME ABOVE ALL PEOPLE: for all the earth is mine:

God’s earthly purpose is to make Jesus Christ the head over things in the earth through the instrumentality of a kingdom vested in the nation Israel .  Ephesians 1:10 (KJV) That IN THE DISPENSATION OF THE FULNESS OF TIMES he might GATHER TOGETHER IN ONE ALL THINGS IN CHRIST, both which are IN HEAVEN, AND WHICH ARE ON EARTH; even in him:

Thus it would be through Abraham’s seed, this favored nation of Israel , that God would bless “all the nations of the earth.” The Nation Israel is to be God’s channel of blessing for all nations in the Millennium when Christ’s throne is established on earth.

Genesis 22:18 And IN THY SEED SHALL ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED; because thou (Abraham) hast obeyed my voice.

Zechariah 8:13 And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O HOUSE OF JUDAH, AND HOUSE OF ISRAEL; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.
Zechariah 8:20-23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: 21 And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also. 22 Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem , and to pray before the LORD. 23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days (the Millennium Kingdom) it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even (that is) shall TAKE HOLD OF THE SKIRT OF HIM THAT IS A JEW, SAYING, WE WILL GO WITH YOU: FOR WE HAVE HEARD THAT GOD IS WITH YOU.

In “Time Past” Gentile Salvation came through the nation Israel . There were two doors available to Gentiles who came to recognize their gods were false and that Israel had the one true living God.

1. A Gentile could become a proselyte:

Esther 8:17 And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.

Exodus 12:48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.

2. A Gentile could put himself in the place of blessing by blessing Israel :

Genesis 12:3 And I WILL BLESS THEM… THAT BLESS THEE, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
Joshua 2:9-11
And she (RAHAB the Gentile harlot) said unto the men (Joshua & Caleb), I know that the LORD hath given you ( Israel ) the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. 10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

Hebrews 11:31 BY FAITH THE HARLOT RAHAB PERISHED NOT WITH THEM THAT BELIEVED NOT, when she had received the spies (Joshua & Caleb) with peace.

Thus we have learned that;

  • God chose the Nation Israel as His earthly nation and agency of blessing to all nations on earth.
  • God gave the Nation Israel the “Covenant of Circumcision,” and then “the Law” to “separate” them from the nations as a “peculiar people unto God.
  • Gentile salvation at that time was available only through the Nation Israel
Yet later, by Israel ’s FALL (Rom 11:11-12, 25), God hath concluded (Gk., synkleio, shut together) them ALL in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon ALL (Romans 11:32 (KJV). “ALL” here indicates Israel joined the Gentiles in unbelief, needing God’s mercy and salvation that is found “in Christ” alone.