Creation: In the beginning the earth was without form and void. (Gen. 1:2) There was nothing except darkness and God. On the first day, God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Gen. 1:3) On the Second day, God separated the water and called the expanse above the water Heaven. (Gen. 1:6-8) On the third day, God created dry land, and called the land earth, producing vegetation of all kinds. (Gen. 1:9-13) On the fourth day, the Lord created the Sun, the Moon, and the stars to be signs of seasons and provide light over the earth, both by day and by night. (Gen. 1: 14-19) On the fifth day, the Lord God created sea creatures and birds of all kinds to inhabit the sky and waters. (Gen. 1: 20-23) The Lord saw that all of these creations were good. On the sixth day, humanity (Adam and Eve) was created along with all livestock and creatures of the earth. (Gen. 1:24-27) The Lord created Adam in his own image, (Gen. 1:27) and entrusted His entire creation to the care and stewardship of our initial ancestor. (Gen. 1: 28-30) The Bible says in Genesis 1:13, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” On the seventh day, the Lord rested as found in Chapter 2 of Genesis. The Lord blessed the seventh day and made it holy. The sabbath day is known as the Sabbath.
Fall: Within the Garden of Eden (which God created for Adam and in Genesis 2:8) was a tree called the “tree of life”. It represented the knowledge of good and evil. (Gen. 2:9) In Genesis Chapter 2:16-17, the Lord commands Adam not to eat from the Tree of Life. It is Adams only commandment from God. He was able to eat from every plant and tree provided he obeyed that one simple rule. In Chapter 3 of Genesis, we are introduced to the serpent. The Bible says, “the serpent was more crafty than any other…” and tempts Eve by questioning Gods commandment. (Gen. 3:1) This was the first display of deceit recorded in the Bible. In a pivotal point of human history, Eve succumbs to temptation and eats the fruit from the tree. After sharing the fruit with Adam, their eyes were opened, and they realized that they were naked. (Genesis 3:6-7) They had sinned against God, thus separating man from all that God intended. This moment had more impact on humanity than perhaps any other moment in history. It was the moment that man had to die to pay for their disobedience to the Lord. No human has ever been able to be born without sin (except for Jesus) since this failed moment.
Flood: These failed moments seemed to multiply leading up to the days of Noah. The Bible says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen 6:5) It goes on to say in verses 11-13 that the earth was corrupt in Gods sight and that He planned to destroy humanity and all the earth. However, Noah found favor in Gods eyes. (Gen 6:8) The bible states that Noah was a righteous man that walked with God. (Gen 6:9-10) Because Noah found favor by God, in Genesis 6:14-18, the Lord makes a covenant to Noah, instructing him to build an ark and save himself and his family from the damnation of the flood that God was about to administer on the world. Noah was directed by God to preserve the Lord’s creations by housing two of every kind of animal on the earth and keep them alive on the ark until the waters subsided. (Gen. 6:19) After the flood, nations descended from Noah and the three sons he fathered once on dry land. Shem was among one of Noah’s three sons. (Gen. 10:1) Perhaps one of the greatest patriarchs of all time descended from Shem. (Gen. 11:10-31) Abraham, the father of nations.
The Patriarchal Period
Abraham: Abram, more commonly known as Abraham was born in Ur around 1800 BC according to The Jewish Virtual Library. He lived to be 175 years old and is known to most religions as “the father of nations”. Abram departed from Haran when he was 75 years old in accordance with the Abrahamic covenant established between himself and God. (Gen. 12:4) This covenant declared that The Lord would make Abraham’s descendants into a great nation and bless all nations through him. (Gen. 12:2) Abram could not wait for the fulfillment of this promise and had a son named Ismael with his maidservant when he was eighty-six years old despite what the Lord had commanded. (Gen. 16:15-16) Abram’s disobedience and lack of patience caused him to wait another thirteen years for the “son of promise” to be born as God intended. When Isaac was born the Lord officially changed Abram’s name to Abraham, which in Hebrew means, “father of multitudes.” Abraham would later be tested in Genesis 22:2 when the Lord tells Abraham to take his beloved son Isaac to a mountain in the Moriah region and sacrifice him. The Lord was testing Abraham’s faith and obedience. The story ends with the sacrifice of Isaac being spared by a ram in which the Lord provided and an angel reconfirming God’s covenant. “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Gen. 22:16-18)
Isaac was miraculously conceived when Abraham was 100 years old by Sarah who was long past child bearing age at the time. (Gen. 21: 2-5) Through Isaac, the Abrahamic covenant would descend and be fulfilled rather than through Ishmael, Abraham’s first born. (Gen. 17:21) Later in life Isaac marries Rebecca (Gen. 24:67) and the two fell in love. For many years Rebecca remain childless and it was thought that she might be barren, which would have ultimately left God’s covenant with Abraham unfulfilled. However, Isaac prayed to the Lord on Rebecca’s behalf and was granted twins at the age a sixty. (Gen. 25:21-24) Rebecca and Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob. Of the two sons, Isaac favored Esau the most. The bible says, “Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebecca loved Jacob.” (Gen. 25:28) Despite how Isaac felt about Esau, God had a different plan. When the time came to administer Isaac’s blessings onto his sons Jacob and Rebecca tricked Isaac into blessing Jacob over Esau. (Gen. 27: 1-30) This fulfilled the promise of the Lord to Rebecca, “the older shall serve the younger.” (Gen. 25: 23)
Jacob is considered the last patriarch in the Patriarchal Period. Jacob was the second twin born of Isaac and Rebecca and came out holding Esau’s heel. (Gen. 25:26) The Bible says that Jacob was a quiet man that stayed in most of the time, contrary to his brother, who was a great hunter and enjoyed being outdoors. (Gen. 25:27) Despite the favor shown for Esau by Isaac, Jacob obtained his fathers blessing by posing as his older brother. (Gen. 27) The deceitful interception of Isaac’s blessing lead to a rivalry between Isaac and Esau. The Bible says in Genesis 27:41, “Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, the days of mourning my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
When Rebecca hears of this, her and Isaac send Jacob to Laban, Rebecca’s brother in Haran (Gen. 27:43) Jacob marries Leah and Rachel, the daughters of Laban while in Haran. (Gen. 29: 21-30) One night, in what seems like a dream, Jacob wrestled a man until the break of day. (Gen. 32: 24) When the “man” did not prevail against Jacob, the Bible says, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and man and have prevailed.” (Gen. 32:28) Jacob had twelve sons all together, one of which was Joseph, who would later become a very close servant of the Pharaoh in Egypt. (Gen. 41: 46). These twelve sons would later become the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel, the Israelites. (Gen. 49) After Jacob’s family settled in Egypt, Jacob died and was returned to be buried in Canaan, the land promised by God to Abraham. (Gen. 50: 4-7)
Egyptian Bondage and the Exodus
While in Egypt, the Israelite’s grew greatly in numbers. (Gen:1: 1-7) Just as God had promised Abraham an Isaac, their descendants were prospering and multiplying. This became a threat to the new Pharaoh long after Joseph and the other sons of Jacob had died. The new Pharaoh devised a plan, to enslave and wound the Hebrews by throwing every son born of the twelve tribes into the Nile river.(Gen. 1: 8-22) This oppression would only get worse as the years went on. The Bible says, “During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God.” (Exo. 2:23)
Moses was born from the house of Levi and hidden as a child due to the decree of the Pharaoh. When he was about three months old, his mother put him in a basket and sent him floating down the river in attempt to save his life. Moses was found by the Pharaoh’s daughter who had went down to the river to bathe. Moses was raised as her son, grandson to Pharaoh, even though technically, he was an Israelite. (Exo. 2: 1-10) The Bible says that one day Moses was looking out on the burden of his people and saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew. Moses then killed the Egyptian and as a result had to flee to Midian. (Exo. 2:11-15) While in Midian, Moses encounters God in the form of a burning bush. The Bible says, “…he looked, and behold, the bush was burning and yet it was not consumed.” (Exo. 3:2) God commands Moses to return to Egypt and deliver his people from the bondage of the Pharaoh and deliver them into the Promise Land. (Exo. 3: 16-17) Moses returns to Egypt, and through a series of ten plagues, convinced the Pharaoh to release God’s chosen people. The order of these plagues was: Plague of Blood, (Exo. 7:14-25) Plague of Frogs, (Exo. 8:1-15) Plague of Lice, (Exo.8:16-19) Plague of Flies, (Exo. 8:20-32) Plague of Murrain or Pestilence, (Exo. 9:1-7) Plague of Hail, (Exo. 9:13-35) Plague of Locusts, (Exo. 10:1-20) Plague of Darkness, (Exo. 10:21-29) and the final plague which was labeled as “the Passover” which included the death of every Egyptians first born son. (Exo. 11:1-12:36)
Exodus: (1290 BC)
Moses lead the Israelite’s out of Egypt with the help of God who appeared as a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. (Ex. 13:22) The Pharaohs army pursued the Israelites all the way to the Red Sea where God instructed to Moses to raise his staff and part the waters. (Exo. 14 :21) The Israelites escape on dry land while the Egyptian army is crushed by the power of God who collapse the parted sea on top of them. The Bible says, “The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained.” (Exo. 14:28) The nation of Israel celebrated with singing the “Song of the Sea.” (Exo. 15)While in the wilderness the Lord continues to provide for the nation, He showed this by providing water and manna for the people (Exo. 15) Despite all God provides, the nation grows unappreciative and unfaithful. God creates a covenant with Israel known as the Mosaic Covenant. The Bible says, “now therefore if you will indeed obey my voice an keep my covenant , you shall be a treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priest and a holy nation.” (Exo. 19: 5-6) According to Hindson &Yates, in their book, The Essence of the Old Testament: A Survey (2015), “The Mosaic covenant offered the nation the opportunity to be the vessel through which God would transmit His redemptive purposes to the rest of mankind.” Moses is then called up to Mount Sanai in Exodus Chapter 19, where the Lord creates the ten commandments (Decalogue) as instructions to the holy nation. These are known as the covenant texts.
The Conquest and the Period of the Judges
Joshua lead the Israelites into the promise land after they wandered 40 years in the wilderness with Moses due to disobedience. With the help of the Lord Joshua defeated Jericho, claiming the first victory of the Lord’s army. Joshua continued to lead the Israelites into many victories throughout the land of Canaan, ultimately fulfilling God’s covenant to the descendants of Abraham. Joshua devotes his house to the Lord in Joshua Chapter 24. In his book Courageous Faith: Life lessons from the Old Testament Heroes, author Ed Hindson states that, “ on that day, it was a high and holy day. A ne nation was born in the Promised Land, the covenant with God was renewed, and the people of that generation kept their promise to God.”
Judges: (1350 – 1004 BC)
Once the conquest of the land was completed the nation was divided by Joshua before his death, into twelve tribes. These tribes were governed by what were known as “Judges.” There was fifteen total Judges during this era including Samson, Eli, and Samuel. Samuel was the last Judge before the Israelites demanded a king. Samuel would be to the one to deliver the Israelites their first king and later find God’s chosen replacement.
Ruth was a widowed Moabite woman (descendants of Lot) who found redemption and love from an Israelite named Boaz. Ruth was found demonstrating devotion and perseverance while gleaning in Boaz’s field. Boaz became interested in Ruth and began to show compassion towards her by helping her in various ways. Eventually, the two fell in love and Boaz redeems Ruth through marriage. Through this marriage would come the line of King David and ultimately the line of Christ.
United Monarchy (1050-930 BC)
Saul was the Israelites first King. The Israelites wanted a ruler, like other nations, and elected Saul as King. Saul was anointed by Samuel and was, in appearance, everything that a good king should be. Saul won many battles during his reign and united the 12 tribes of Israel under one monarchy, and yet, due to his disobedience was rejected by God as King.
King David is still considered the best king that the Jews have ever had. The Bible says in Acts 13:22 that David was a man after Gods own heart. At a young age David faced the Philistine Goliath and defeated him with only a sling and a stone. The King at the time, Saul, became increasing jealous of David and his success and plotted to kill him. Eventually Saul died at the battle of Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 31:3-6) and David was anointed king. His reign is still considered the greatest in Jewish history. David was responsible for making Jerusalem the capital of Israel and placing the Ark of the covenant there, in the center of the north and south tribes. The Lord promised David that his offspring would establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2 Samuel 7:13) Basically that within David’s offspring a messiah would come to ultimately fulfill the covenant to Abraham. Jesus Christ was a descendant of David thus fulfilling this prophecy.
Solomon was King David’s son and succeeded him on the throne. One day Solomon prays to the Lord for wisdom (1 Kings 3-9) and ultimately designs and erects Jerusalem’s first temple. (1 Kings 6:1) Solomon becomes very wealthy and begins to marry multiple women from other nations for political gain. Solomon then introduces, adapts and allows the worship of other deities and false gods (those of his wives) under his reign, beginning the decline of the holy nation. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, inherited the throne and was ultimately responsible for the division of the United Kingdom. (1 Kings 12)
The Divided Kingdom/ Prophets (930 BC)
The nation of Israel was divided into two kingdoms after Solomon’s reign- the north, Israel and the south, Judah. Both kingdoms have become increasingly disobedient to God and all but few kings remained faithful throughout their reign. God sends prophets (ex., Elijah, Joel, Micah) to mediate Gods will and warn Israel of its destruction.
One of Israel’s many kings was Ahab, who worshiped the god Baal. Elijah was among one of God’s chosen prophets and challenges Baal’s power publicly on Mount Carmel. Two altars are built for each God to affirm their power. The Lord prevails when he consumes the altar with fire. Elijah then has the prophets of Baal killed. (1 Kings 18:20-40) Elijah is one of the two people found in the bible that did not die, Enoch being the other. The Bible says, “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” (2 Kings 2:11)
Elisha is the prophet that succeeds Elijah and performs many miraculous things in God’s name.
Elisha helped a widow pay her debts by miraculously regenerating oil. (2 Kings 4: 1-7) He raised a young boy from the dead. (2 Kings 4: 18-37) Elisha also helps heal Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Syria, of his Leprosy. (2 Kings 5:1-14)
In approximately 722 BC the Assyrian Empire attacked and conquered the Northern kingdom of Israel. The Bible says “In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.” (2 Kings 17:6) Samaria (the capital) was then inhabited by people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim while the Israelites were sent into exile. (2 Kings 17:24) These are know as the “10 lost tribes.”
In Approximately 586 BC, over 130 years later, Judah falls to the Babylonians and Jerusalem is sieged. (2 Kings 25) King Nebuchadnezzar (King of Babylon) destroyed the temple in Jerusalem that Solomon had built and stole its treasures, including the Holy Arc of the Covenant which held the 10 commandments. The remaining Jews were sent into exile or captivity. There are multiple secular sources apart from the Bible that confirm these historical events including a clay Prism, (the Taylor Prism) which is a six-sided ancient Assyrian artifact that correlates to the biblical account.
After the fall of Judah, Daniel was extradited to Babylon to serve king Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel remained faithful to the Lord and started to interpret dreams for the king, something that all of Nebuchadnezzar’s sorcerers and magicians couldn’t do. He was promoted and well loved by the King. (Daniel 2) They bible says, “Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him” (Daniel 2:46) Daniel is appointed is high honors and made ruler over a providence of Babylon (Daniel 2 :48) in which he entrusted the affairs to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. (Daniel 2:49) In chapter 3 of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar erected a massive golden statue of himself and commanded all nations to bow before it. Three men remained faithful to God and did not bow to worship the Idol of the king – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The three were thrown into a furnace by Nebuchadnezzar and delivered safely, being protected by God. The fire was so hot that it burned the two guards instructed to deliver them to the furnace. (Daniel 3:22-27) Nebuchadnezzar recognizes the power of the Lord and promotes the three within Babylon. A similar event happens in Chapter 6 when Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den for praying to God. As he did with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego the Lord protected Daniel and delivered him safely from the clutches of the lions.
Return to Jerusalem:
In approximately 538 BC, The Babylonian Empire fell to Persians who allowed the Israelites to return home. Cyrus, the Persian ruler allowed the Hebrews to again occupy Jerusalem. It was in this time that prophets like Haggai and Zechariah emerged and began speaking the will of God to Israel. Haggai relays God’s command to rebuild the Temple (Haggai 1) and Zechariah has eight visions predicting the future of Israel and the reform that it needs. (Zechariah Chapters 2-6)
Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament and is only 4 chapters long, written by an unknown prophet. The word Malachi means “messenger” and does not refer to the prophet’s name. He advises Israel of the reasons that God allowed the nation to suffer such downfalls and offers hope for the nation’s future. The bible says, “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.” (Malachi 3:17)
Nehemiah / Rebuilding:
the reestablishment of Jerusalem after the exile, Nehemiah was appointed
governor over Jerusalem and Judah. He had learned of the horrible conditions
the Jews faced after returning from exile and asked King Artaxerxes to allow
him to rebuild the walls and temple. He completed the construction of the wall
in only fulfilling the prophecy of Daniel. (Daniel 9:25) In their book, The
Essence of the Old Testament: A Survey, author’s Hindson and Yates point
out how, “God sovereignly worked through Nehemiah to restore the nation
politically.” He also helped repopulate the city after the construction of the
wall and helped restore the nation spiritually as well. Nehemiah Chapter 8
addresses the story of Ezra and the reading of the law. This signified Israel’s
covenant renewal with God and the commitment of the nation to the Lord.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. (2001). Minneapolis, MN.: Crossway.
Abraham. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/abraham
Hindson. (2003). Courageous Faith: Life Lessons from the Old Testament Heroes. Chattanooga, TN.: AMG Publishers.
Hindson & Yates. (2012). The Essence of the Old Testament: A Survey. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group.