Overview of the Old Testament

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1 Overview of the Old Testament 1. Creation and Fall (Gen. 1-11) 2. Abraham and the Patriarchs (Gen ) 3. Out of Egypt and into the land (Exodus Judges) 4. Monarchy: United and Divided (1 Samuel 2 Kings // 1 2 Chronicles) 5. Exile and Return (Ezra-Nehemiah) Old Testament Overview 1

2 A Rough Old Testament Timeline The Exodus (c.1446bc) CREATION FALL THE PATRIARCHS OF ISRAEL EXODUS, WANDERING, CONQUEST, JUDGES David becomes King (c.1010bc) Call of Abraham (c.2000bc) Cyrus Conquers Babylon (539BC) 500BC 1000BC Northern Tribes exiled (722BC) UNITED MONARCHY RETURN EXILE DIVIDED MONARCHY Split of Kingdom (930BC) Jerusalem Destroyed (586BC) Old Testament Overview 2

3 1. Creation and Fall (Gen. 1-11) Creation Fall Creation is represented as God s temple in Genesis 1-2 with Eden being the first holy of holies. (cf. John Walkton, The Lost World of Genesis 1 & Greg Beale, The Temple and the Church s Mission). [Discussion]: What does this tell us about God s aim in creation? Humans are created in God s image [Explain image in the ancient world]: this means (amongst other things) being Kings and Queens (Gen. 1:26, 28), Priests (Gen. 2:5) and Community (Gen 2:18) It s easy to think of the fall in Genesis 3 as a petty episode about not eating apples (which, incidentally, are not mentioned in this story). However, the story of the fall in Genesis 3 is about humans, the most important and significant created beings, abdicating their responsibility as Kings (foreign army invades; failing to have authority over creation), Priests (impurity is now in God s temple), image-bearers (we want to be like God) and community (the husband fails to help his wife). The result is a curse (Gen. 3:14-19): this is both inflicted by God and inevitable. If a senior manager in a company is guilty of gross misconduct, disciplinary action is both inevitable and inflicted by his superiors. Humans are cast out of God s temple (Gen. 3:22-24; cf. 1 Kgs 8:6-7) IMPORTANT: in the midst of the curse, there is a significant promise: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. (Gen. 3:15) The next 8 chapters of Genesis show what it s like to live in a fallen world: Sin (Gen. 4); Death (Gen. 5); Judgement (Gen. 6-9); Pride (Gen. 11). Ultimately, Jesus is the answer to all the problems which Genesis 3-11 highlights. BIG QUESTION I: HOW IS GOD GOING TO RID HIS CREATION OF EVIL? Old Testament Overview 3

4 Map of Old Testament World Old Testament Overview 4

5 2. Abraham and the Patriarchs (Gen ) The questions which Genesis 4-11 asks (how is God going to rid his creation of evil?) is answered in Genesis 12 (and other reiterations of the promises in Gen. 13:14-18; 15:1-21; 17:1-8; 22:15-19 ). God chooses a pagan idol-worshipper called Abram (whose name subsequently changes to Abraham) and makes him promises. Some of the main promises are: Land; Descendents; Blessing; Victory; Kings; God s presence. NB: These promises guide the rest of the narrative of Scripture. (cf. Wheel of Promise on next slide) Abraham moves from Ur in Chaldea (cf. map on previous slide) and moves to the area of modern day Palestine. Abraham s son Isaac takes a wife from Abraham s family (who were living in Mesopotamia) and has two sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob buys the birthright off of Esau, and (after a lot of trouble) becomes the father of the twelve patriarchs of Israel (Jacob s name is changed to Israel he wrestles with God in Gen. 35:10). Joseph, one of Jacob s sons, is sold by his brothers into slavery in Egypt. Eventually, though, God promotes him to the position of second in command of Egypt and he uses God-given wisdom to prevent Egypt starving during a famine. Jacob and his family move to Egypt to be with Joseph and avoid the famine. [Discussion] What is the point of the Joseph story, bearing in mind God s promises so far? Before Jacob s death, Jacob blesses his sons. His blessing on Judah is one of the most significant promises in the Old Testament (Gen. 49:8-12) Eventually, the Israelites go from being welcome in Egypt to being slaves (Exodus 1:8-14), something which God had told Abraham about in Genesis BIG QUESTION 2: HOW ARE GOD S PEOPLE GOING TO BE SET FREE FROM SLAVERY TO BLESS THE NATIONS? Old Testament Overview 5

6 The Wheel of Promise to the Patriarchs Land (Gen. 12:1, 7; 13:14-17; 15:7-21; 17:7-8; 26:3-4) Descendents (Gen. 12:2; 13:16; 15:4-5; 18:1-15; 22:17; 24:60; 26:3-4) Blessed (Gen. 12:2; 14:19; 22:17 Nations blessed (Gen. 12:2; 18:18; 22:18 Father of nations (Gen. 17:4-5) Victory (Gen. 22:17; 24:60) Kings (Gen. 17:6) Presence (Gen. 17:7-8) Old Testament Overview 6

7 3. Out of Egypt and into the land (Exodus Judges) The Exodus is Israel s defining event. In response to Israel s suffering, we are told that God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. (Ex. 2:24) and set them free whilst also humiliating Egypt. [Taken Illustration]. Time in the wilderness (Run through map on following slide). This is a period characterized by grumbling and moaning and a lack of faith on Israel s part to the point that they are not allowed to enter the promised land yet, but it is also a period in which God s grace shines through (e.g. the Baalam-Balak narrative in Num ) At Sinai, the people start to receive the Law from God. [Discussion] Why does God give Israel the Law? One reason: Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 4:5-8. The Conquest of the land, under Joshua, is both a victory and an incomplete event. Some passages highlight to complete nature of the conquest (e.g. Joshua 11:23), probably highlighting God s faithfulness and the totality of his part of the deal. Others help us realise that the land has not been fully conquered (Joshua 13:1-7). This incomplete conquest will be a snare to Israel in the future (cf. Deuteronomy 7:1-5) After Joshua s generation, there ensues the period of the judges. The judges are local heroes, not national leaders. Israel is not a particularly unified country at this time and there is evidence of infighting going on (cf. Judges 20). Judges 1-16 follows a constant cycle of Rebellion Judgement Crying for help Deliverance Repentance Rebellion. (cf. Judges 2:11-19) Judges tells of a few seriously messed up events which happened during this period, with the regular refrain: In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25; cf 17:6, 18:1, 19:1). Hint: something needs to change. BIG QUESTION 3: HOW DO GOD S PEOPLE GET OUT OF UNORGANISED, DECENTRALISED CHAOS? Old Testament Overview 7

8 Exodus and Wilderness Map (Exodus Deuteronomy) Yahweh is my strength and my song God saw the people of Israel and God knew. Hear, O Israel, Yahweh your God, Yahweh is one Yahweh will fight for you, and you have only to be silent We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are How can I curse whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce whom Yahweh has not denounced? And the glory of Yahweh filled the tabernacle I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt Old Testament Overview 8

9 4. Monarchy: United and Divided (1 Samuel 2 Kings // 1-2 Chr.) After a few hundred years of pressure from foreign nations, with the events in 1 Samuel 4-7 breaking the metaphorical camel s back, Israel had had enough and they demanded a king, something which God had allowed them to do (Deut. 17) and wanted them to have (Gen. 17:6; Gen 49:8-12; Num. 25:15-19), but they demanded this for the wrong reasons. Saul becomes king first, but after a while he becomes disobedient and God rejects him in favour of David. Eventually, David becomes king over the whole of Israel. In 2 Samuel 7, God makes an exceptionally significant promise to David: And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever. (2 Sam. 7:16). David s son Solomon builds the Temple (1 Kgs. 5 8): God s glory fills the temple (8:10-11). God is with his people! Solomon eventually falls away from God and as a judgement, God promises to rip the kingdom away from his descendents (but to leave him 1 tribe because of his promise to David). [Dramatise the Split of the Kingdoms] After a catastrophic political mistake by Solomon s son Rehoboam (1 Kgs. 12:1-11) the kingdom of Israel splits, with 10 tribes in the north and 2 tribes in the south (Judah and Benjamin). The northern tribes are completely idolatrous. Not one good king emerges from them. Eventually, they are wiped out in 722BC by the Assyrians (2 Kgs 17:1-18). This period is the time when the writing prophets start to prophesy (Hosea or Amos being the probable earliest). The prophets call God s rebellious people to turn back to him. [Group Activity] can you name all the prophets? The kingdom of Judah lasts a bit longer and is ruled by a mix of kings, some good, some bad. Eventually, though, Judah completely rejects God and God punishes them by raising the Babylonians. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon exiles many Judahites in 597BC before completely razing Jerusalem and the temple in 586BC. Most of the educated and nobles are exiled to Babylon. God s presence has left his temple. This is Israel s lowest point! BIG QUESTION 4: HOW ARE GOD S PEOPLE GOING TO BLESS THE NATIONS IF THEY ARE IN EXILE? Old Testament Overview 9

10 The Ancient Near East After the Exile Old Testament Overview 10

11 5. Exile and Return (Ezra Nehemiah) The Babylonian exile, from 597 BC (particularly 586) to 539 BC was the lowest point of Judah s history. To all intents and purposes, it looked like God had abandoned his people. Imagine sitting in a huge foreign city knowing that your own one lay in ruins and that God was not in his temple anymore. (This is the setting for the book of Lamentations). Yet even during the exile there was clear prophetic hope of a return, which would be absolutely glorious: Ezekiel 36:22-28; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Isaiah 52:7-10. Eventually, the Babylonians were defeated by the Persians in 539BC. Cyrus, king of Persia allowed the exiles to return back to their city. This had been predicted accurately by Isaiah (cf.isa. 45). However, the return from exile was far from what we might have thought from the prophetic purposes. In 539BC, a wave return to rebuild the temple: [Group Discussion] spot the difference between Exodus 40:34-35, 2 Kgs 8:10-11 and Ezra 6:16-18 In c.458bc, Ezra the scribe returns to instruct God s people in the Law. There are significant marriage problems amongst the returned exiles, though. In 445BC, Nehemiah returns to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. When he returns a second time in 432BC, he is faced with another load of problems. The last narrative of the OT is about the many sins and problems which plagued the returned exiles (!). Clearly, Judah s heart of stone had not yet been replaced with a heart of flesh. Clearly, God s glory had not returned to the temple. Clearly the ends of the earth were not seeing the Salvation of our God. BIG QUESTION 5: WHERE IS GOD S PRESENCE? HAS GOD ABANDONED HIS PEOPLE? The Answer: Read the whole of Isaiah Jesus is the true end of exile! Old Testament Overview 11

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