The Biblical Timeline

Have you ever wondered how the timeline of different events in the Bible could impact the narrative? In the Scriptures, a few verses may represent moments in time, days, years, or even decades! To understand the true narrative, it is imperative that we consider the timeline of events that occur in the Bible.

God establishes days, seasons, and years

Early on in Genesis, God established days, seasons, and years. He finished His creation in a six-day timeframe, and then rested on the seventh day. Days, seasons, and years all have significant meaning in Scripture. While God doesn’t need to divide time to keep track of it, we need markers of time to understand the past, present, and future.

“Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years.” —Gen. 1:14 [ESV]

For example, this Sunday we will celebrate Easter, knowing that Jesus rose on the third day.

Forty days and nights of rain

In the story of Noah’s ark, it is commonly known that it rained for forty days and forty nights. However, from the time God told Noah that He was going to destroy the earth until the flood rains started was estimated to be 100 years! Noah, his family, and all the animals spent about one full year on the ark.

Knowing the timeline of Biblical stories can also give us a clearer perspective on the event itself. Recently, in our iBIBLE Behind the Scenes “Creating a Chronological Narrative,” we discussed the story of Job and how he spent months in agony before his three friends came to visit him.

And now, we are currently animating Jacob’s story. The Bible reveals a very specific timeline of his life.

Jacob asks Laban to let him go

Jacob agreed to work for his uncle Laban for seven years so that he could marry Rachel whom he loved. However, Laban tricked him into marrying Rachel’s older sister, Leah, and forced Jacob to work another seven years in order to marry Rachel as well.

And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” Laban said, “It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” Jacob did so, and completed her week. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. —Gen. 29:25–28

As we unpack the narrative of Scripture, and look at the timeline, it becomes clear that Jacob has 12 children from four different women (Leah and her servant Zilpah, and Rachel and her servant Bilhah) in a seven-year timeframe. Joseph, the youngest child at the time, was born to Jacob after he had completed his second seven years of service.

Jacob confronts Laban after being tricked

As soon as Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own home and country. Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, that I may go, for you know the service that I have given you.” —Gen. 30:25–26

Jacob then worked another six years for Laban, taking the spotted and speckled sheep and goats as his payment. So, when he departed Haran after 20 years of service with his family, his servants, and his livestock, the 12 children were between the ages of 6 and 13.

As we determine the timeframe of each Biblical event, we can more accurately animate the characters in an age-appropriate manner. And, more importantly, the viewer will gain a much deeper understanding of Scripture!

Leah with children

Jacob’s 12 children at the time he served his Uncle Laban from oldest to youngest (see Genesis chapters 29 and 30):

Reuben (born of Leah)
Simeon (born of Leah)
Levi (born of Leah)
Judah (born of Leah, and in the genealogy of Jesus!)
Dan (born of Bilhah)
Naphthali (born of Bilhah)
Gad (born of Zilpah)
Asher (born of Zilpah)
Issachar (born of Leah)
Zebulun (born of Leah)
Dinah (born of Leah, and Jacob’s only daughter)
Joseph (born of Rachel)

Jacob paid close attention to this timeline as well because he needed to challenge his Uncle Laban who had cheated him multiple times over the 20-year period.

Jacob challenges Laban

These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed.” —Gen. 31:41–42a

Jacob patiently waited on God, and in due time, God blessed Jacob beyond measure!

Because we only use the Bible for our iBIBLE scripts, we are able to focus on the facts and timelines presented in Scripture to accurately reveal the Biblical narrative instead of creating an animation based on Scripture. Thank you for helping us create—for the first time in history—a cohesive, complete, and visual presentation of the Biblical narrative to be made available free to the world!

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