The period of the Patriarchs uses Genesis as its narrative text, picking up the story where the Early World left off at Genesis 12 and continuing to the end of the book. God’s covenant family expands in the Patriarch period, growing from a married couple (Adam and Eve) to a family (Noah and his sons) to a tribal chieftain (Abraham) and his entire clan, including servants, shepherds, and various dependents.
The period of the Patriarchs focuses on Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the three patriarchs (“fathers”) of the nation of Israel—and on Jacob’s favored son, Joseph. Each of these forefathers experiences dramatic events, and their stories, like tributaries, flow into the family history that will be the foundation of the identity of God’s people Israel.
The Early World ended in Babel with rebellion. The period of the Patriarchs, however, begins with the obedience of one man, Abraham. In act one of this period, the Lord of the cosmos calls Abraham to journey to a new homeland. Abraham obeys, making the journey to the land of Canaan, but questions, “What good is family land without an heir?” In act two, Abraham, the father of faith, learns through trial and error how to trust God in all things, in particular for the gift of a son and heir, Isaac, and for the sustaining of Isaac’s life. The focus of act three is Isaac’s son Jacob, who wrestles with both God and man, and who receives a new name that reveals the future of the nation of God’s people. Act four focuses on Jacob’s beloved son Joseph and a remarkable tale of family feuds, favoritism, and forgiveness.
The action of this period moves from the region of Babel, where the Early World period ended, to the promised land of Canaan, finally ending down in Egypt. Regardless of their travels, the question lingers whether Abraham and his descendants will answer God’s summons to walk with him in righteousness and be the faithful channel through which God desires to reverse the consequences of Adam’s sin.
Let Us Pray
Dear heavenly Father,
In the time of the Patriarchs, you called Abraham and promised his children land, a royal kingdom, and worldwide blessing: Help me to trust in your promises today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
For Further Reading
The narrative for the Patriarchs time period is Genesis 12-50.
The Bible in a Week continues tomorrow with Egypt & Exodus and Desert Wanderings.
This post is taken from Walking with God: A Journey through the Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins.
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