In previous posts we have briefly touched on the idea that there is a difference between the Old and New Covenants. But at this point you might not understand what a covenant is all about. That is ok. Before we get to that point I want you to first think about the Bible as a book that is divided into three periods or ages. We have the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian ages. The Bible teaches something called progressive revelation. That is, God did not fully reveal Himself to early man. He has progressively revealed His character through history (cf. John 1:17).
The reason God did it this is was to prepare a context for Jesus Christ to come into the world. As we go through this study we will see how everything in the OT points to Jesus. It is not a collection of random stories. They are there in order to share God’s story of preparing the world for Jesus. In order to do this the Lord had to lay the foundation so that when Jesus came people would have a context to understand his claims and his death on the Cross. This will become clearer as we go through our study.
The Patriarchal Age
This age spans from Creation to the giving of the Law when Moses lead the Hebrew people from Egypt to Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19). During this period God was communicating directly to the patriarchs (fathers) of the family. He would either speak to them through dreams, visions, or through a voice from the sky. On a few occasions he actually appeared as a man to eat, drink, and converse with the Fathers. The key figures of the Bible during this span are Adam, Noah, Job, Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph. The two OT books that fit this period are Genesis and Job.
The Mosaic Age
The Patriarchal age is followed by the Mosaic age. The reason for the name is due to the fact that God gave His Law through Moses to the nation of Israel. This age spans from the giving of the Old Testament Law (Exodus 20) until Jesus’ death on the Cross (Hebrews 9:16). It covers about a 1400-year period. Everything in the OT from the Exodus until Jesus is under the Mosaic Age. God had picked Israel to be the keepers of His divine law and the nation through whom Jesus would come. During this time God gave Israel the Law of Moses to govern the nation. He also sent them prophets to help bring them back to obedience of the Law.
The Christian Age
This began when Jesus died on the Cross (Hebrews 9:16) and will continue until He comes back to judge the world at the last day. Technically Jesus’ ministry was still under the Mosaic covenant but we could also see it as a transition period. No longer would God speak to men through the Patriarchs or through Prophets. Now God is going to speak to the world directly through His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2; John 1:17). We spoke earlier about progressive revelation. We can view these three ages as the Starlight, Moonlight, and Sunlight ages. God was progressively revealing to us His plan and His character. Now that we have arrived at the Christian age (Sunlight) God has fully revealed Himself (John 1:18).
By now we should begin to grasp how the Bible is laid out. There are three major divisions; the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian age. God was progressively revealing Himself and His plan during this time. His plan was to prepare a context for Jesus to enter into so that his claims and death on the Cross would make sense to the world. In the next chapter we want to examine how God reveals Himself and tools we can use in order to understand Him.