The first period of Bible history stretches from about 4,000 B.C. to 1900 B.C., covering a period of some 2100 years. This period is recorded in the first eleven chapters of Genesis. The second period of Bible History extends from about 1900 B.C. to about 1500 B.C. and is recorded in Genesis 12-50, lasting some fourd hundred and thirty years. In this period we have a detailed account of God calling one chosen family from the Hebrew race. This period of the Bible is characterized by the study of three persons, namely Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Shortly aftere the flood, the world had beome about as sifnul as it was before the flood. A terrible system of idolatry had arisen, corrupting true religion and morality. The post-flood world didn't take heed to the flood and the lessons God intended they learn from it. God promised never to bring another fllood on the world, but He designed a plan that would turn this world upside down. God would make one more effort to restore mankind to His loing favor. In Ephsians 2:10,11 Paul declared that this plan was the eternal purpose of God which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. He added that this plan would not only bring blessings to the human race but would also bring blessings God and the angels in heaven by showing them the manifold wisdom of God. The supreme aim of this plan was to unite God's redeemed family of earth beings with God's family angelic beings, making it one united heaveenly family. Jesus once commented that saved people in His religion would be like the angels in heaven.
For the most part, this great plan was a mystery in Old Testament times and was not clearly and fully made known to His Old Testament family. It was not to happen in Old Tdestament times. There were hints by way of prophecies and types, but it was not fully made known until New Tdestament times. However, preparations for this plan to become a reality depended on God's Old Testament family. The first obscurse mention of the plan takes place in the second period of Bible history, and these three men–Abraham, Isaac and Jacob-- had much to do with making God's eternal plan a reality. Let's take a look at these three men and catch a glimpse at their part in the Divine scheme of salvation God had in mind.
The first thing I would say abouut Abraham is that he is one of three or four greatest men who ever lived on earth. . The New Testament says that he was the friend of God. He is the ancestral father of the Jewish nation, and he is the ancestral father of the Christian race. Paul wrote to the Gentile church in Rome and said that God made Abraham the father of many
nations, and then said Abraham is tdhe father of us all. Writing to Gentile Christians Paul said, “If you a re Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise”(Galatians 3:29). All Ch ristians are children of Abraham spiritually by faith in Christ. God chose this man and his descendants to bring the Jewish Messiah into the world, in order that all nations might saved thrsough Him. The Messiah had to be a descendant of Abraham, and this Jewish nation had the responsibility to keep accurate records of their genealogy. To be the promised Messiah, He had to prove His genealogy all the way back to Abraham. How great was this man? The first thing Matthew says about Jesus is that He was the son of Abraham and traces His genealogy all the way from Abraham to the Virgin Mary. There is much more to the coming Christ into this world than meets the eye. God began making the plans about 1900 B.C. in the second period of Bible hsitory.
The second thng we should remember about the second period of Bible history, and this man Abraham who lived at that time, is that during this period God gave a set of special promises to the human race. Peter mentioned these promies in 2 Peter 1:3,4, “God's divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness throught the knowledge of Him who called us by His glory and virtue, by which He has given us great and precious promises that through these we may be partakers of the divne nature.” In Galatians 3:16 Paul said, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made.”
The set of promises God made to Abraham and the human race are first recoded in Genesis 12: 1-3, “Now the Lord said to Abram, Get out of yur country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” The first promise, “ I will make of you a great nation” was fulfilled by bringing into existence the Jewish nation and the giving of the Jewish religion. The second promise was fulfilled when Jesus came into the world, died for all mankind, established the Chrsistian religion, and offered eternal life to all willing to obey the gospel. Our Jewish friends should recognize the fact that God made promises to Gentiles as well as to Jews. The blessing upon all nations was eternal life in heaven. Before these promises were made to him, his name was Abram, which means “exalted father,” but after these promies were made God changed his name to Abraham which means, “father of many nations.” It was these promises that brought Christ into the world.
God repeated these same promises to him a second time as recorded in G enesis 22, but only after God tested him to prove that he was worthy of this great honor to be the father of the Jewish nation and the father of the Christian nation. At this time he had two sons, Ishmael, an adopted son by a slave wife, nd Isaac who was born to Sarah by the divine intervention of God when she was an aged woman. . All o f the Arab world descended from Ishmael, and all Jews and Christians descended from Isaac. Arabs also claim Abraham as their ancestral father, and this is another noteworthy fact about Abraham.
Before God repeated these great promises to him, He put Abraham under an awful test. God commanded him to take Isaac, his young son to Jerusalem and offer him up as a human sacrifice. But how could Abraham ever become a great nation and bless all nations if he killed Isaac? It seemed like a contradiction, but he obeyed at once. He took the boy to Jerusalem, strapped him on an altar and raised the knife to kill him, when God suddenly stopped him and a ram appeared.for him to sacrifice. The New Testament tells us how Abrsaham reconciled himself to kill his son. By his great faith in what God promised, he reasoned that if did kill Isaac, God would raise him from the dead. Hebrews 11:19 says that in a manner of speaking that is just what happened. God said, “Now I know that you fear me, since you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.” Then God repeated those same promises, only this time God placed Himself under oath before He repeated them. The New Testament tells us that God did this to give Jews and Ch ristians absolute confidence that God will carry out His promise to bless them with eternal life. Hebrews 6:18 states that heaven is an absolute certainty for faithful Christians by two immutable things. Immutable means unchangeable. The two immutable things are first, God's word of promise and the second thing is God's oath. He promsied us eternal life, and then He swore that He will give it to us. His word is all sufficeint, but the oath puts it beyhond all dispute.
Annother important person in this chosen family was Isaac. One thing to be remembered about Isaac was that his birth was of a supeernatural nature. Abraham was 100 when he was born, and Sarah was about the same age. She was barren her entire life and could not have children. When she heard the angel say she as going to have a baby, she laughed. Her laughing was instrumental in giving him his name Isaac. It leterally means, “laughter.” In his infancy , his stepbrother Ishamel was very jealous of him, and it was the cause of much contention and unhappiness in the family. The New Testament informs us that the history of these two brothers and thier mothers were allegorical, symbolical, and
prophetical. They symbolically foretold the future contention that would exist between members of the Old Covenant church and members of the New Covenant church. Paul said Hagar was symbolic of the Old Covenant, and Ishmael wa symbolic of Jews who entered that covenant by a natural birth. Contrariwise, Sarah was symbolic of the New Covenant, and Isaac was symbolic of Christians who enter God's family by being born of God, as was Isaac. Christians are born of water(baptism} and the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that except a man be born again, born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, which is the church. In this way Christians are born of God. In a symbolical sense, Paul says that Sarah is the mother of all(Christians}, even as Abraham is the father of all nations. Galaltians 4:28 says, “Now we brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.” The Jews becamea childdren of God by a flesh and blood birth, by a natural birth, but not so we Christians. We were born of God by the new bisrth of water and the Spirit.
This jealousy between Ishmael and Isaac is still going on today between Jews and Christians and between Moslems and Christians. The Mohammedan religion claims that the great leader who was to come into the world and bless all nations was to descend from Ishmael and not Isaac. Ishmael is the ancestral father of all Arabs. Their religion is based on a supposed close covenant relationshp which existed between Ishmael and God., but no such covenant relationship existed. The covenant relationship was with Isaac, through whom Jesus the Messiah was to come into the world. They believe the apponted leader to save the world was Mohammed and not Jesus Christ. The failure to understand these promises made to Abraham and his son Isaac that would bring into the world Jesus Christ the Savior, will cause millions of people to lose their souls. Why? For not submitting to the authority of Jesus Christ whom the one true God has appointed to be the final judge of all mankind.
There is one more member of the chosen family, and that was Jacob, who was the second son of Isaac and Rebekah. He was born with his twin brother Esau, who came into this world momentarily before Jacob did. A strange thing happened at their birth. As these boys were being born, Jacob's hand took hold of Esau's heel. It gave the appearance of trying to trip him, and that happening gave him his name of Jacob, which means, “A tripper-upper.” It turned out to be a rather significant name, for Jacob was not known for his good character.
When the boys were young, Jacob bought Esau's birthright which rightly belonged to the oldest son. However, all he paid for it was a bowl of stew, and that was fraud. He really stole it He lied to his nearly blind dad and disguised himself as Esau to finally get Esau birthright, which amounted to two shares of the father's inheritance. Afraid that Esau would kill him, the family sent him to live with relatives northeast of Palestine. After a lapse of 21 years of hard living, he returned from Padan Aram with four wives: Rachel, Leah and two slave wives. At this time he had eleven sons and one daughter., and he wanted to go home.
However, he had a serious problem on the way home. An angry brother was waiting for him, and in fact Esau was on his way to attzck him with four hundred men. He called on God to save him from the wrath of Esau, but ever since he cheated his brother and deceived his aged father, he had never starightened out his life with God. God was greatly displeased with him. Therefore God decided to give him a wake-up call. That very night God sent an angel in human form to contend with Jacob. They got into a fight and wrestled all night. I think we can say that Jacob is the only person who ever had a hand to hand wrestling match with an angel.
Near dawn the angel touched the socket of Jacob's hip, and his hip fell out of joint; but he kept on fighting. The angel said, “Let me go, “ but Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Jacob knew this man was sent from God. Finally, the angel said to him, “What is your name?” He answered, “Jacob.” The angel said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed”(Genesis 32:28). The angel said he was really wrestling with God and straightening out his life. He was really wrestling with God and his own conscience over the sins of his past life. This was the time of his conversion. His new name was Israel which means “a Prince with God.” His name became the name collectively of the twelve tribes of Israel. The nation that descended from him were ever after known as the nation of Israel.
He made peace with Esau and retunred home. In process of time a famine caused him to take his family and servants to the land of Egypt, where he was united with his son Joseph, who had been sold into slavery by his own jealous brothers. He went to Egypt with a total of seventy people, and in a few hundred years the nation grew to about two million. By about 1500 B.C., the first promise God made to Abraham came true. That promise was, “I wil make of you a great nation(Genesis 12:1-3). Abraham had Isaac; Isaac had Jacob, and the twelve sons of Jacob became the nation of Israel.