Q. Can you help me to understand what happens to the people that lived before Abraham? I understand the difference between the Church and Israel and even the nations as it pertains to end times but where do the Old Testament people before Abraham fit in? If you could expand on this to cover were they will live, New Earth, New Jerusalem, Israel or New Heaven? Also what judgment will they be in the Bema seat, Sheep and the Goats or the Great White Throne?
A. Right from the beginning, men were saved through faith in a coming redeemer who would pay the penalty due them for their sins. The gospel story was contained in the names of the 10 patriarchs and was even written in the stars for all to see.
The Great flood came 1656 years after the Creation. Of the people alive at the time only 8 were saved, even though all the word had heard the Gospel story.
It was the same after the flood. The 8 people on the Ark were all believers and since Abraham was born only 291 years later, it’s likely that almost everyone on Earth had heard the Gospel story. Remember, Noah didn’t die until Abraham was 59 years old, and Shem outlived Abraham. They would have been legendary figures in their day, and their testimonies would have spread far and wide. Like it is today, those who accepted the Gospel by faith were saved, while those who rejected it were lost.
The Bible doesn’t give specifics on the resurrection of pre-Abrahamic believers, but they would not live in the New Jerusalem, nor would they participate in the bema seat judgment, both of which are exclusive to the Church. Neither would they appear at the Sheep & goat judgment, which is for tribulation survivors. The Great White Throne judgment is for unbelievers of all ages so those who rejected the Lord, no matter when they were born, will be there (Rev. 20:12-15).