Author: Ron Graham
Summary of the Times of Israel (Times 1-4). You can click or press a heading to take you to the appropriate chapter in the series.
About 2000 years before Christ, God called Abram out of Ur where he lived near the Persian Gulf. Abram settled in Haran, at the other end of the Euphrates river. However, God led him down to Canaan where the river Jordan flowed. God promised that Abram's descendants would possess that land and furthermore that one of Abram's descendants would bless all nations. Abraham and his wife Sarah grew old. Sarah had always been barren. They contrived to produce a son and heir through Sarah's servant Hagar, so Ishmael was born. However God insisted that Sarah would bear to Abraham a son named Isaac. Through the promise and power of God this happened. In time, Isaac begot Jacob who became known by the name Israel. He fathered 12 sons from whom the twelve tribes of Israel were descended.
Joseph, one of the twelve sons of Israel, was sold to slave traders by his brothers. Yet with God's help, Joseph rose to power in Egypt. His brothers were driven there by a famine which Joseph had foretold. Egypt was surviving the famine because of Joseph's wisdom in storing food during the preceding good years. Joseph forgave his brothers, welcomed them to Egypt, and settled the family in Goshen. Generations later, Egypt had forgotten the origin of the Israelites, who by now were many, and Egypt cruelly enslaved them.
In the providence of God, one of the Israelites, Moses, was privileged and powerful in Egypt. After forty years he tried to deliver his people from slavery, but they rejected him. Having killed one of the cruel slave masters, Moses fled to Midian and was forty years a shepherd. One day, he saw an angel in a bush that was burning yet unconsumed. The angel sent Moses back to Egypt. There he brought ten plagues upon Egypt and led the children of Israel across the Red Sea into the sandy wastes of Sinai. He led them wandering in the wilderness forty years because they were too disobedient and unthankful to enter Canaan the promised land. At Sinai, the law was given and the tabernacle of worship prepared.
The next generation of Israelites was led over Jordan by Joshua. They fought many wars to conquer Canaan. Through sin and idolatry they faltered. Through penitent revivals they prevailed, helped by judges like Gideon and Deborah. Eventually the tribes were settled around the Jordan. By this time there were thirteen tribes, not twelve, because Joseph's descendants had formed into two tribes Manasseh and Ephraim. There were still twelve territories however, because the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe, was required to settle in towns throughout the territories of the other tribes.