OV5 – The Bible’s nine historical eras
© Jeff Stacey | Last updated: 25 July 2016
To start exploring the Bible’s theological big picture, I have identified nine historical Eras in the biblical record. The boundaries between these Eras were whenever God changed the ways people were to know and respond to Him (the “rules of the game”). This was mostly when God introduced further covenants.
Obviously the people living in each Era could not be expected to respond to what God only revealed in later Eras. But what He had revealed in all previous Eras would apply, unless specifically discarded by Him (for example, Hebrews 8:6-13).
The nine Eras are as follows:-
1. God’s creation of the universe, including the Earth and the first two people, and His primary purpose in it all. Then how God’s relationship with Adam and Eve actually worked out before and immediately after the “FALL”. [GENESIS 1:1 – 3:24]
2. God’s continuing interactions, in grace, with Adam and Eve and their descendants after the FALL. Then how this actually worked out until God declared His coming universal judgment. [GENESIS 4:1 – 6:8]
3. God brought universal judgment by the worldwide FLOOD, then in grace He “established His everlasting Covenant” with Noah and all his descendants, all creatures and the whole Earth. Then how this actually worked out until the birth of Abraham. [GENESIS 6:9 – 11:26, JOB]
4. God in grace “established His Everlasting Covenant” with Abraham and his descendants Isaac and Jacob (Israel) as His chosen people. Then how this actually worked out until the death of Joseph. [GENESIS 11:27 – 50:26]
5. God in grace chose Moses to lead the Hebrew people out from slavery in Egypt (the “Exodus”) and at Mt Sinai God made His Covenant with them as His chosen people (the Israelites) and nation (Israel). Then how this actually worked out as He led them through deserts for forty years and to invade Canaan, and they continued to live there until the beginnings of the monarchy in Israel. [EXODUS to RUTH, PSALM 90]
6. God in grace chose David to be Israel’s second king and “established His everlasting Covenant” with him. God declared that David’s kingdom would endure forever and always be ruled by one of his descendants. Then how this actually worked out in the rest of the Old Testament period. [1 SAMUEL to MALACHI, except Job and Psalm 90]
7. God in grace sent His only Son to Earth, as Jesus of Nazareth. He was the promised “Messiah” or “Christ”. He went primarily to the people of Israel, the Jews, proclaiming the presence of the Kingdom of God on Earth. He called all people to believe in Him and His good news (“gospel”) that they could share in His Kingdom. Through Jesus’ death, God established His New Covenant with all believers in Jesus (His “disciples”). Then how this actually worked out during Jesus’ life on Earth until He ascended to Heaven. [MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE, JOHN and other relevant New Testament passages]
8. On the Day of Pentecost, ten days after Jesus the Christ ascended to Heaven, God in grace sent down the Holy Spirit upon all Jesus’ first disciples and to remain in them. This was the birth of His “Church”. The Spirit empowered them to make the gospel known to others, and many of them also became His Spirit-empowered disciples, even from other nations. They all became known as “Christians” and grouped together as local “churches”. Then how this actually worked out in the history of Christians/the Church until about 100AD. [ACTS to REVELATION, as well as relevant passages from the four Gospels]
9. God’s declared future, including the end of the world, as foretold throughout the whole Bible. Then how it has and will actually work out. [the whole Bible]