Understanding the Patriarchal Age

Understanding the Patriarchal Age

We may have assumed too much about what we commonly call the Patriarchal Dispensation. While it is true that Abraham and the sons of Jacob are called patriarchs (Heb 7:4; Acts 7:8-9), God also calls David, who lived over 500 years after the Patriarchal Dispensation ended, a patriarch (Acts 2:29).

I was told as a child that during that ancient age God spoke to the fathers, but this expression is used to refer to the period of the Mosaic Dispensation when He spoke to the fathers by the Old Testament prophets (Heb. 1:1). The assumption I made was that God spoke first to “father Adam,” then spoke to “father Seth,” and then in each succeeding generation He spoke to each of the fathers one after another. I understand that God did communicate orally to men during that age but probably not in the way I once viewed it.

Last week in our in-depth Monday night study of the Bible, we looked at the ages of the ancient to see how much “overlap” that would have been by each of the twenty generations from Adam to Abraham. (By the way, this class is open to anyone who wants to come or who want to attend using Skype—just let me know.) We think the “begats” found in Matthew chapter one help us trace the lineage of Jesus, but Genesis chapter five has the “begats” from Adam to Noah and Genesis chapter eleven has the “begats” from Noah to Abraham. One striking difference in the Genesis “begats” and Matthew’s “begats” is that Genesis tells exactly how old each person in the lineage was when each had his son. It is therefore possible to know the exact number of years there was from Adam to Noah and from Noah to Abraham. That Monday night study was so enlightening to all in the class. Consider the following truths revealed in the Genesis accounts.

(1) Adam lived for 930 years and obviously knew his children and grandchildren for so many years. What can easily be overlooked is that Enoch, who walked with God, could have known Adam for over 250 years before God took him.  Even Methuselah (eight generations from Adam) could have known Adam for 66 years. By the way, Methuselah died the same year the flood came.

(2) Noah lived nearly 350 years after the flood came and Terah, the father of Abraham, could have known Noah for the first 44 years of his life. Shem, the son of Noah who was in the ark, lived so long after the flood that his life overlaps 120 years of Abraham’s life and twenty years of Isaac’s life.

Monday night classes are different and allow a deeper look into the text. We discovered more than this article discusses. It is a different class—come and see. I believe you would enjoy it. You can attend using Skype on your computer.

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