1 Creation/Primeval History
Genesis 1-11 focuses on the creation of the earth. It goes through the theme of the natural world. The Lord spoke the world into being in 6 days and proceeded to rest on the 7th. At the end of each day of the creation the Bible says, “and evening passed and morning came,” emphasizing the difference between the days of creation (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31 NLT). After the Lord was done creating all of the earth and those that inhabit the Bible says, “And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all His work of creation (Gen. 2:3 NLT). Following the creation of the heavens and earth was a period of time where Adam and Eve were living in full obedience with the Lord and had everything they could imagine provided for them. The fall came at this point which is where Adam and Eve sinned against God and brought sin into the world. They ate of the one tree that the Lord directed them not to. There was a serpent in the garden who was evil tempted them and convinced Eve that the Lord was with-holding this amazing thing from her, so she ate of the tree and convinced Adam to do the same. This amazing garden that the Lord had provided for them was then taken away because they disobeyed and there had to be consequences for their actions.
The evil continued throughout the world and more people were becoming less focused on the Lords path for their life and everything became more about the world and what it had to offer to them. In Genesis chapter 6, God was fed up with the evil in the world and decided to destroy it. Because the wickedness that had taken over the world and human life, “God moved to destroy humanity through the flood” (Hindson 58). One man had proved himself worthy enough to help the Lord and found favor with Him. Noah was described as a “righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God” (Gen. 6:9 NLT). The Lord recognized the violence that had corrupted the world, so He decided to take out every living creature and start new with less violence. He commanded Noah to build an ark and fill it with his sons and their wives and two of every animal. The Lord brought a flood, as promised, and wiped out all that was not on the ark. The flood went on for months but finally there was a sign of land.
2. The Patriarchal Period
The Patriarchal Period consists of the remainder of Genesis which includes chapters 12-50. There are 4 major characters of this period that made a great impact on the Bible and the time period. In Chapter 12, Abram is introduced through a promise God makes to him. God promises this, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families through earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:1-3 NLT). Abram did as God called and he got married to Sarah and they were not able to have a son. The Lord promised Sarah that they would have a son, it was fulfilled, and his name was Isaac. Before Isaac was born, Abraham had gotten his servant, Hagar, pregnant and she had a child named Ishmael. Now this child, Ishmael, was not the promised child as God had said. Because of this, Isaac’s descendants would be blessed with the promised land, but not those of Ishmael.
Isaac had two sons named Jacob and Esau. Jacob deceived his father and cheated Esau out of the blessing of the first born, and yet still received the promises of the Abrahamic covenant. This had mad Esau very angry, so Jacob fled and became married to Leah and Rachel according to Genesis 29. Between the wives of Jacob came 12 sons which later became known as the 12 tribes of Israel. One of the sons of Isaac and Rachel, named Joseph, was used by the Lord to relocate the nation of Egypt. Joseph had many brothers that were jealous of his relationship with their father that they sold him into slavery. Even though Joseph was put through all of these crazy things, the Lord’s plan prevailed and he was promoted to second in command as a grand vizier to Pharaoh and was blessed with the prophetic blessing that claims the messiah is coming to fulfill the Lords original design for the earth.
3. Egyptian Bondage and Exodus
In the book of Exodus, it talks about the grand exodus of Israel from Egypt and can be explained as the “unfolding drama of redemption” (Deffinbaugh). This was such an important event to the Israelites who came out of their slavery and would no longer suffer. “The exodus was, in many ways, the birth of the nation Israel,” the Lord would recognize himself as the Creator of Israel (Deffinbaugh). Throughout the beginning of the Bible the Lord’s focus was more so on an individual and less on a nation and now He is focusing on the great work he will be doing in Israel. Moses became a key character in this book as he became a hero of so many during this time. In the time of Moses’ birth any child born that was male was to be killed, but when Moses was born his mother hid him and sent him along the river in a basket praying that he would be cared for. Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses and adopted him as her own as it says in Exodus 2.
Through Exodus, the Lord used three events to accomplish freeing the Israelites; redemption, liberation, and preservation. Moses is used throughout this entire process as a large advocate for the Lord. The Lord reaches out to Moses in many ways and asks him to lead his people out of Egypt. During this process of freeing the Israelites the Lord brought 10 plagues to the people of Egypt that showed the power that God had over the small gods of Egypt. Eventually the Israelites were allowed to leave and then the Lord sent them into the wilderness for 40 years to prepare them to become the holy nation and “kingdom of priests” if they listened to the Mosaic covenant.
The Mosaic covenant included 10 commandments that God had given to Moses for his people to follow. After the commandments were given the Lord directed that the tabernacle be built. According to Exodus 25, the tabernacle was built according to divine instructions that were sent by God. In the tabernacle there was a lampstand, ark of the covenant, bronze altar, incense altar, and table which all would represent unique aspects of worship that the Israelites had while in the wilderness.
4. The Conquest and Period of the Judges
The Conquest and Period of the Judges starts with Joshua leading the Israelites into the promise land. In the book of Judges, it talks about when the Israelites entered the Promised Land and the serious of great victories. Following these victories, the Israelites fall into a cycle of sin and darkness which causes Israel to fall.
5. United Monarchy
Throughout the Old Testament thus far time and time again humans have proved themselves unworthy and sinful, but the Lord prevailed through every situation. The Israelites wanted a king to rule their nation and God was in the works of finding one for them. God used a man named Samuel to find a king for their nation. Samuel found a man named Saul, who seemed to be the perfect choice for a king, but Saul chose to seek a path other than God’s so God sent out Samuel to find someone else to fill the role of king. Samuel found a young man named David even though he did not seem like he had what it takes to be king. One day David stepped up and showed that he was capable of being king by standing up to the largest and meanest Palestine man. David become so well-know and eventually he did become king of Israel. David followed God’s path and became the king that God had always wanted for Israel. He eventually passed on and his son, Solomon, became king. Solomon was a great ruler but did find himself being pleasured by things of the world and that caused Israel to become weak. This led Israel into a whole new word of trouble, but as always God provided a way out.
6. The Divided Kingdom through the Pre-Exilic Period
Following the death of Solomon, the monarchy became two split kingdoms. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin stayed loyal to Rehobam and maintained the capital of Jerusalem and served under Davidic kings for about three hundred and fifty years. Because of where Judah was located perched on a hill, they found it difficult producing crops and did not have access to trade because they were not close to the sea. The other kingdom of Israel, had none of these issues for nearly two hundred years. They were in prime location and had it easy to plant produce and trade and on top of that they had no rival. There were many temptations to follow the god of the Canaanites and that brought an announcement of God’s judgment upon Israel.
The exile was a tragedy in the Bible and caused so much hurt. God had given the Israelites so many warnings about how bad things would happen to them if they would put their eyes back on God. The Lord slowly allowed the people to see their sin and how it is affecting their faithfulness and the lack thereof. The Lord had protected the nation for so many years and then decided to allow the other countries to wreak havoc. The Israelites were driven out of their homes, the northern kingdom and then the southern kingdom later followed.
8. The Post-Exilic Period
Years went on and there was no distinct spot that was the kingdom of Israel. There were a few that remembered God’s promised and trusted him. They trusted that God had a plan. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were a prime example of people that were following God no matter what happened. God had not forgotten them and He reminded them that He had a plan for all of them. The Lord was looking out for His people and eventually used a man named Cyrus to put in a decree that the Jews in captivity would be allowed to return to their homeland. Many would take him up on this and return to start rebuilding their homes.