Saturday, February 26, 2011

Summary

We are now through the historical portion of the Old Testament (minus the books of 1 & 2 Maccabees, not found in Protestant Bibles).  All the rest of the books were written about or during the time of the other books, and are not historical.  So it seems like a good time to summarize the historical events thus far.

First, God creates everything.  That's remarkably important, so we can't forget it.  He creates it out of nothing, and then creates humans.  He gives humans free will, which we use to sin against Him and His Divine plan for us; first, with Adam and Eve.  They are banished from the Garden of Eden where they could have lived in harmony with God forever.

They have such a disastrous start that God floods the Earth, continuing his relationship through Noah and his family.  Note God starts the relationship with a couple and expands to a larger group with each major part.  God is working to get us all back to a place where we can spend eternity with God.

After a time, God works through Abraham to expand again, this time to a tribe.  He makes many promises to Abraham about his future family, including many descendants, much land, and a blessing for all of humanity (us, through Jesus Christ).  Abraham and Sarah have Isaac, who has Jacob, who will be Israel.  This nation is God's favored nation, and He cares for them and works through them.

Israel is in slavery in Egypt when God works through Moses to secure their release.  He provides them with instructions for an ark for His Presence, and a Tabernacle (tent).   They have every reason to trust in Him by this point, but they rebel and refuse to enter the Promised Land He will provide for them.  So they wander 40 years in the wilderness until all of that generation has died except for two faithful men.  Joshua then leads the people into the Promised Land.  They do not follow all of God's commands though, and do not get rid of all of the pagans who worship other gods.

After Joshua dies, the people forget to trust God again, and instead start trusting the gods of the people around them, just as God said they would.  Due to their lack of faithfulness, God allows them to be attacked and conquered by various people.  Each time when they plead to him for help, he sends a judge (book of Judges) to lead them to victory and back to him.  Each time after the judge dies, they return to wickedness and abandon God.

Eventually, they demand a king to lead them just like the nations around them.  They want to be just like everyone else!  God tells Samuel to warn them of what will occur, but they still want it.  And Saul is proclaimed King.  Saul is not faithful, and loses his throne to David.  David is very far from sin-free himself, but He is faithful to God.  David's son Solomon becomes king after him, and while he is blessed with great wisdom, he stops being faithful to God.  In his life, he builds a temple to house the ark.

His son does not rule wisely, and 10 of the tribes of Israel rebel.  There then two countries - Judah and Israel.  Judah is the line of David, and has the house of Judah, Benjamin, and most of the Levites.  The books of Kings follow both lines.  Israel is the first to fall, as none of their kings remain faithful to God.  They worship other gods and utilize priests of their own making.  They do not consult God or trust Him.  They are attacked and deported by the Assyrians.  The Assyrians deport most of the population, and fill the land with other peoples who worship other gods.  The survivors marry the new people, and this is where the Samaritans (of Jesus' parable) come from.

Judah also has bad kings, but also has some good kings.  The bad kings are as bad as the kings of Israel, but the good kings are faithful to God and lead Judah in the right direction.  The bad kings lead the people into greater and greater wickedness until they are also attacked and deported by the Babylonians.

After this exile, King Cyrus of Persia, who had conquered Babylonia, allows them to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple.  It is not easy rebuilding, and there is no king at that time.  This is all 500-600 years before the birth of Jesus.

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