The Abiding Gift of Prophecy


Chapter 3—The Gift in the Patriarchal Dispensation

The centuries covered by the progress and development of the plan of redemption are marked off in Scripture into three great divisions. AGP 36.1

The first is designated as the patriarchal dispensation, covering the time from Adam to Moses, a period of about two thousand five hundred years. AGP 36.2

The second is known as the Mosaic dispensation, extending from Moses to the first advent, or about one thousand five hundred years. AGP 36.3

The third is called the Christian dispensation, which began at the first advent, and is to continue to the close of time, or to the second coming of our Lord. AGP 36.4

It is now our purpose to trace the presence and operation of the prophetic gift through these three dispensations. Naturally, the logical place to start is at the beginning of the race, which is the beginning of the patriarchal dispensation. “Patriarch,” says one writer, “is the name generally applied to the men of whose lives a record is preserved, before the time of Moses. It is applied more particularly to the great fathers of the Jewish race, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and to the sons of the last. The title is once given to David. Acts 2:29.” AGP 36.5

“By the ‘patriarchal system’ is meant the order of society which grew naturally out of the family before nations with ordered government arose. The ‘patriarchal dispensation’ refers to the fellowship with God vouchsafed to men before the choice of Israel.” “The Temple Dictionary of the Bible,” Ewing and Thomson, art., “Patriarch,” p. 565. London: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd.; New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1910. AGP 36.6

Except in the Bible, no writings or records of any kind produced by the men who were in communication with God during the patriarchal age have been preserved. The information we have regarding the work of the gospel and the lives of God’s people in that long period of time has come to us only through the Bible, or through the subsequent writings of the spirit of AGP 36.7

prophecy. From these sources we learn that instruction and guidance were given to each generation from Adam down to the time of Moses. AGP 37.1

While yet in Eden, before they were sent forth, Adam and Eve were given the cheering assurance that the Lord had made provision for their return to their lost Paradise home. How fully this provision may have been explained in the garden has not been disclosed. But in the brief statement they heard the Lord make to Satan, there was enough to assure them that they were not to be utterly abandoned by the Lord; that Satan was not to have undisputed control over them and their lost dominion; and that ultimately Christ, the Seed of the woman, would be triumphant in the great conflict. AGP 37.2