We know from the Bible that Israel and some of the surrounding areas knew God before Jesus was born. Is there any evidence that any other people around the rest of the globe might of known about God?
And if someone for example was searching for something spiritual, would God have made him self known to people who hadn’t heard of him? Or were the people of Israel the only ones to have knowledge and communication with God until Jesus came?
On the subject of whether God makes himself known to those who have not heard of him, check out what I have written in the answer to “Who gets to Heaven” – I’ll take the liberty of posting it again below this next part, so it’s easier to access.
Now on to Israel and the rest of the world.
1. Israel was a priest nation. God’s purpose for them was that they should be his representatives on the earth.
2. Israel lies on a main world trade route. Traders have passed through this area for millennia, connecting all of North Africa, Europe, and the far East. This was, at the time, “the known world”. These travellers carried information far and wide. Societies were not as isolated as we imagine.
3. Israel’s duty towards the world was the same as our duty towards our world – to disseminate the knowledge of God. As I have said while speaking on Ezekiel, whether the world listened to them, or whether it listens to us, is irrelevant. They still had this duty, and so do we.
4. There is no society in the world which has not had a social history of belief in a divine being, or beings.
It seems to be a part of human nature to understand that we owe our existence to a being beyond ourselves. There is also a need within every person to “worship”. Many do not worship the correct Person, but everyone worships one thing or another.
5. Moreover, God does not need to have influence from Israel in order to save people. Let’s see some examples:
Abraham didn’t come from the land of Israel, he came from what is now Iraq. He didn’t descend from the “Chosen People”, (they descended from his grandson). But he believed God when God told him about his Messiah/Descendant. If you like, he believed in Jesus before Jesus came.
Enoch walked with God, and he wasn’t even a Hebrew. (Gen 5 22-24) He wasn’t even Semitic. The reason was that Semites came from Noah’s son Shem, who was Enoch’s great, great grandson. And the Hebrews came from Abraham, many generations after Shem.
Noah is listed in Ezek 14 14 as one of the three most righteous men in history. Gen 6 9 tells us, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.” God made a covenant with Noah, (Gen 6 18) and Noah showed that he, too believed in the perfect sacrifice that was to come by building an altar and sacrificing to God (Gen 8 20).
In the book “Eternity in Their Hearts” by Don Richardson, there are stories of people from unreached tribes who knew about Jesus as a result of a vision or other means. It’s available from Amazon here http://www.amazon.com/Eternity-Their-Hearts-Startling-Throughout/dp/0830709258
The “Who gets to Heaven” answer also connects at this point.