Excerpt from “The 14 Eras” booklet by Iva May
The Patriarch Era
Genesis 11:27-50:26 (Approximately 360 years)
Ten generations after the flood passed, God spoke to a man named Abram, whose father was an idol worshiper. God promised Abram that He would bless him and make him a great nation, although Abram was 75 years old and his wife, Sarai, could have no children. God promised Abram that He would give him a land—the land of Canaan. God
promised that He would bless those who bless Abram, curse those who curse Abram, and that in Abram’s seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed. God also told Abram that his descendants would go into captivity for four hundred years, and that God would bring them out of captivity to the land that God had promised him. God’s promises demanded faith on Abram’s part; Abram in response simply believed God. God eventually changed his name to Abraham and God counted Abraham’s faith as righteousness.
After ten years of waiting on God to fulfill His promise, Sarai succumbed to unbelief, persuaded Abraham to sleep with Hagar, her Egyptian maidservant, who then bore a son, Ishmael. He was not the child of promise.
God commanded Abraham and his male descendants to be circumcised as a physical reminder of His covenant that one day One would come who would fulfill the promises of God. For twenty-five years, Abraham trusted God to fulfill His promise regarding a male heir, and God gave him a son through Sarah named Isaac.
God began to keep his promise to Abraham through succeeding generations. Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau. God promised that the older son would serve the younger. Isaac’s younger son, Jacob, had twelve sons. The eleventh son, Joseph, was given two dreams about the future and had to wait thirteen years for God to fulfill them. Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him and sold him as a slave to Egypt, trying to keep his dreams from being fulfilled. God delivered Joseph in Egypt, where he eventually became prime minister. Through Joseph’s position in Egypt, God rescued all of Jacob’s family and united them during a time of famine. Before his death, Jacob blessed all his sons. Jacob promised his son, Judah (through Leah), that from his descendants would proceed kings, a lawgiver, and Shiloh (the Messiah).
What does the Patriarch Era reveal about God?
• God initiates a relationship with Abram and obligates Himself to Abram by promising him an heir, a land, and a nation who will be a blessing to all the families of the earth.
• God’s detailed instructions reveal His knowledge of the future and His determination to fulfill promises made to past generations.
• God opens Sarah’s barren womb twenty-five years after He promised Abraham a son.
• God provides a substitute ram in place of the offering of Isaac.
• A gap exists between the promises of God and the fulfillment of His promises. During this gap man must learn to walk with God by faith (Hebrews 11:6).
• Things are never as they appear in the natural realm. Circumstances are the least reliable gauge to spiritual reality.
• God takes a man as he is and changes him over time as He orchestrates his circumstances, teaches him to trust Him, and demonstrates His covenant faithfulness.
• Flawed people do not prevent God from fulfilling His promises; rather, He receives great glory for accomplishing His purposes through unlikely participants.