Understanding The Bible
STUDY REFERENCE
Clarence E. Mason's "ESCHATOLOGY 1"
SECTION 2D - Genesis 11:27 - Exodus 18:27
THE PATRIARCHAL AGE and
THE DISPENSATION OF PROMISE

BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
1970

Edited by Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.


  1. Genesis 11:27-Exodus 18:27 THE PATRIARCHAL AGE and
    THE DISPENSATION OF PROMISE
    This age and dispensation are ushered in by the Abrahamic Covenant. The name of this dispensation is taken from Heb. 6:13, "promise to Abraham, " and 11:9ff., "the land of promise, " where the word occurs seven times.
    1. The key personage is Abraham.
    2. The extent of the period is from the call of Abraham to the giving of the Law at Sinai.
    3. The general Scripture portion is Gen. 11:27 to Exodus 18:27.
    4. The characteristic or state of man during its course.
      In this age a chosen portion of the race became the recipient of wonderful and gracious promises. These promises are the unconditioned expression of Jehovah's own purpose respecting Abraham and his seed. The formula is "I will." Till now the ages had included all mankind in their regulations. In this fourth age God was selective; He chose out one man, Abraham, and his descendents that He might make a representative test in them.
    5. The special responsibility instituted by God
      1. "The test was: whether great material, social, and spiritual promises and prospects would make Abraham and his descendents believe and serve God." (Thiessen)
      2. The responsibility of Abraham was to be a continuing witness to the true God in the midst of universal polytheism at the then crossroads of the world, connecting the continents of Asia, Europe, and Africa. Gen. 26:1-4. This was the simple responsibility of Abraham and his seed. They were to remain in faith in the place of promised blessing and continue separate from the nations. The promises did not make Israel holy; only obedience would.
      3. Abraham's experience was one of increasing separation unto God.
        (1) He left his own country, and kindred. Gen. 11:31
        (2) He left Haran and his father's house as soon as he was freed from his father's interference by the latter's death. Gen. 11:32; 12:4
        (3) He left Lot's company. Lot was one of "the kindred" that he should have left in Ur of the Chaldees. Gen. 13:11
        (4) He left his own plan about Ishmael who was his child after the flesh. Gen. 17:17-18
        (5) And finally, in response to God's direction, he gave up, in his own heart, his only son Isaac, in whom all the promises rested. Gen. 22:2, 9, 10; Heb. 11:17-18

        NOTE: From Gen. 12:1 to Gen. 25:8, the portion in which we have the whole record of Abraham's life, there is not one single "if" by which God conditions His blessings to Abraham. We have in all this portion the clearest unconditional covenant language and formula: "I will. " It is in no sense meant that Abraham, as an object of God's gracious dealing, could or would be careless and unconcerned about his walk before God simply because the promises of Jehovah were unconditional. What is maintained is that the principle of God's dealings with Abraham was that of gracious unconditional promise. Abraham was truly grateful and worshipful. See New Scofield note on Gen. 12:11.
         
    6. The failure of man under the test
      1. Abraham, indeed, believed God and so was justified. Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:1-4. And so, no doubt, Isaac and Jacob were justified. But Abraham had failure in his life.
        (1) In the case of Ishmael Gen. 16:1-6 Ishmaelitish people - Mohammedanism
        (2) In the case of his descent into Egypt Gen. 12:10
        (3) In the case of his descent into Gerar Gen. 20:1
        (4) In the case of his deception regarding Sarai, both in Egypt and in Gerar Gen. 20:2
      2. Isaac, likewise, failed in the same way. Gen. 26:6-7
      3. Jacob
        (1) Unbelief as to the promise made respecting him to his mother (Gen. 25:23) led him to steal the blessing through lying and deceit. Gen. 27
        (2) Unbelief as to God's care and provision led to bargaining with Him in the face of the promises. Gen. 28:13-15, 20
    7. The resultant judgment
      It has been urged by some that failure constituted in Jacob taking the whole "nation" down into Egypt, in spite of the specific warning to Isaac in Gen. 26:1-5. Gen. 46:1-4 is interpreted as God's permissive will. Others have wondered about this. They suggest the personal failure of the patriarchs (see 6 above) brought personal discipline and distress. Since the Abrahamic Covenant continues, the "Law" was an added thing which ran alongside it, introducing additional factors to Israel's life.
    8. The gracious intervention of God
      1. Israel was preserved in the furnace (like burning bush) Ex. 3:2; Gen. 15:17
      2. Moses, a deliverer, was provided Ex. 3:6-10
      3. Passover protection was provided for the guilty Ex. 12
      4. God's divine power wrought deliverance Ex. 14-15
      5. The oppressor was slain Ex. 14:28
      6. Their material needs Ex. 12:35-36 and physical needs were supplied miraculously Ex. 15:23-27
      7. Victory over new enemies was given Ex. 17
      8. They were borne on eagles' wings Ex, 19:4

 

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