"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." [1 Peter 3:15]

How can we study the Old Testament; it seems very complicated?

A .The author agrees, the Old Testament (OT) is very complicated, written about ancient people and lands that do not exist today. The way and form the OT is organized in our Bibles is not chronological. We believe the Old Testament (OT) is easier to understand and remember by visualizing the OT as nine historical narratives shared as a chronological revelation for the coming of Jesus. God’s wisdom lessons through people and events of each time period help us to know Him. The Old Testament is the Foundation for a New Covenant revealed through the Life of Christ in the Gospels of the New Testament. The nine narratives organize reading the Old Testament chronologically. They can be further divided into two groups; 3 Narratives leading up to the Hebrews becoming a Nation, and 6 narratives sharing the time of nationhood up to the time of Jesus. The nine great narratives of the Old Testament provide the Foundation for the Fulfillment, the coming of Jesus Christ, the promised messiah. The nine narratives and their approximate time frames are listed below.

Nine Foundation Narratives of the Old Testament

Three Narratives Leading up to the Hebrews Becoming a Nation

  • 1. Creation – God created the Heavens and the Earth (Beginning of time – 1900 B. C.) – Genesis 1:1 and 1:27 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. …So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."
  • 2. Monotheism – One God (1900 – 1700 B. C.)– Genesis 17:7 (God to Abraham) "I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants and after you for generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you."
  • 3. The Exodus - God’s Laws - Moral (1270 – 1230 B. C.) – Moses led the Exodus from Egypt and slavery. As Moses on Mt. Sinai, God gave him Ten Commandments, (Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-22). "These are the commandments the Lord spoke face to face with Moses on the mountain and he added nothing more. Then the Lord wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to Moses."

Three Narratives Leading up to the Hebrews Becoming a Nation

  • 4. Occupation of God’s Land (1230 – 1030 B. C) - The story is told in Joshua and Judges. Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you” (Joshua 3:5). Joshua led the Hebrews in overtaking Jericho and entering the Promised Land. Later, (Joshua 24:15b) "as Joshua was passing away he told the nation, then choose for yourselves this day who you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."
  • 5. United Kingdom – (1020 – 931 B. C.) – Samuel, the last Judge, follows the will of the people and anoints Saul as Israel’s first king. Saul’s reign starts as he is serving God, but ends with a tragic reversal. Israel’s King David comes to the throne and proves to be a man after God’s heart. Much of the great wisdom literature of the Old Testament is penned under the reigns of David and his son Solomon (Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs). The golden Age of Israel ends with the first temple being built by Solomon to God. Upon Solomon’s death the kingdom divides between Solomon’s General Jeroboam (10 Northern tribes) and Solomon’s heir and son Rehoboam (2 Southern tribes).
  • 6. Northern Kingdom – (931-721 B. C.) –The 10 Northern Hebrew tribes unite under Jeroboam. Most kings of this Kingdom did evil and did not serve the Lord. Baal worship was common. Intermarriage with Assyrians was common, causing a Samaritan race. Oral prophets (Elijah and Elisha) were prominent; but finally the Northern tribes were conquered in 721 B.C. by the Assyrians and Israelites were deported to Assyria. Diaspora, the dispersion of Hebrews, begins with Jews relocating and living throughout the Mediterranean basin.
  • 7. Southern Kingdom – Pre – Exile (921 – 586 B. C.) -The story center is Judah and the Jerusalem Temple. There were good and bad kings. Great Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah etc.) emerge to record God’s word. Jerusalem falls in 586 B. C. to armies of Nebuchadnezzar, talented Hebrews deported to Babylon.
  • 8. Southern Kingdom – Exile and Return (586 B. C. to about 300 B. C.) -During Babylon exile and period that follows some positive events happened to God’s people. For example, scriptures were recorded, synagogue communities formed, Persians began to rule, and return of the Hebrew remnant occurs allowing the 2nd temple to be built in Jerusalem.
  • 9. Fullness of Time – (about 300 B.C. until the Birth of Jesus Christ) -Greek, Persian, Roman and Hebrew cultures converge to provide a platform for the coming promised Messiah, Jesus. Between the Old and New Testaments, examples of persons to study include; Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Judas Maccabeas.
  • Let us study each of these narratives in greater detail and work our way through the Old Testament reading key selected passages as narratives.