PrefaceThe Holy Bible is the best seller of all time, yet it may be the least-read book per published copy. Its wisdom is universally unknown, ignored, and misunderstood, yet it's the key to discovering the answers to all of our questions. One of the problems the Bible reader faces is the awesome physical size of the book. Few readers have the fortitude to begin reading a book, knowing that they will finish it only after eighty to one hundred twenty hours of reading. Most of those who do begin are discouraged by their lack of understanding which causes them to view the scriptures as dry and dull literature. Their reading seems in vain so they soon quit.
This book was written to help facilitate the understanding of the Bible. It's not a substitution for the Bible, but rather a synopsis and literary aid. It presents a concise summary of the Bible from cover to cover. It will also yield insight and reference for topical studies. Yet, unlike traditional commentaries, it's structured as a continuous story rather than a textbook. It was written for the benefit of the average Bible reader, not the seminary graduate. The text doesn't boast unfamiliar doctrinal terms, and it isn't filled with unrecognizable names of cities and countries. Its primary audience consists of those who would like to personally understand the Bible, but who lack the incentive to read it in its entirety. Most readers will be able to read this book in three or four hours to uncover the basic truths of the Bible as well as its history and purpose.
The secondary audience consists of those frustrated Bible readers, who may even have read the entire Bible, but haven't grasped the real purpose and unity which it discloses. When one understands various concepts but has questions about their parity or seeming contradictions, the usual answer from the knowledgeable Bible scholar is that we must understand that issue in its proper context in relation to the rest of the Bible. Yet, the problem remains that such understanding is often not readily available without years of extensive study. The intent of this book is to expedite this understanding for the average Bible reader. Also, the subheadings in every chapter are convenient markers for future reference.
In this regard, this book differs from teaching or preaching on one given passage of scripture, yet such in-depth teaching must be a regular technique in order to understand the scriptures. The attempt here is to bring all the various concepts of the Bible together in a three or four hour session, thus allowing the reader to view its teachings from a general and complete viewpoint. Once the wisdom of the Bible is seen from this viewpoint, the detailed studies will be more meaningful. Although the scriptural support for varying opinions on certain doctrines are noted when applicable, the intent here is to summarize what the Bible says, rather than to indoctrinate the reader with particular or biased interpretation.
The commentary here is written in order according to the physical location of scripture as found in the Holy Bible. That is, it begins with commentary in Genesis, presents commentary on each passage of scripture, and ends with commentary on The Revelation. Therefore, some of the commentary is presented as short and seemingly crude ideas according to the presentation by the Biblical authors. Its priority is to present the truth. Further study of the truth in a logical literary flow according to various doctrines will be critical for subsequent understanding.
Finally, although the intent is to present the truth, universal agreement by all readers isn't expected. Unlike the Bible, this is an imperfect book. This suggests the final goal of its writing, that of providing the reader with the incentive and fortitude to further investigate Biblical truths by personally referring to the final authority, The Holy Word of God.
1 - The Beginning
Creation - Genesis 1-2"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." During six successive days of creation, God created:
1 The light of day and the darkness of night
2 The sky and the oceans
3 Dry land and plants
4 The sun, moon, and stars, in order to measure time
5 Fish and birds
6 Animals and man
All that He created was very good. Of particular goodness was the man He created, because He created him from dust in His own righteous image. This specially created man was given dominion over the earth and was charged by God to multiply and subdue it. The supreme specialty, however, was not the man, but his Creator.
In Genesis 1:26, God reveals that He is one essence, but this single essence consists of multiple persons: "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.' "
Note that Genesis 1:30 seems to imply that all animals were created as vegetarians: "'And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground, everything that has the breath of life in it, I give every green plant for food.' And it was so."
The seventh day was made a Holy one, because God chose to rest from His work of creating on that day. During creation, God had planted a garden in a place called Eden, where the created man lived. In Eden were two special trees: the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God had also created the institution of man's free will and He commanded man not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or else suffer the penalty of death.
God charged His created man to name all the animals and birds. This man's name was Adam. Adam obeyed God by naming God's creatures. However, Adam needed companionship that none of the creatures could give. Therefore, God put Adam to sleep, removed one of his ribs, and created a woman for Adam. God then created the institution of marriage between men and women, which restores and completes the man by returning to him the flesh which had been removed as a rib and then returned to him as a woman.
Sin - Genesis 3Unfortunately, through the suggestion of a crafty serpent, the woman was convinced to disobey God by eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The woman in turn convinced her husband to perform this same evil deed. They mistakenly did this in order to gain wisdom similar to God's. The wisdom that they gained revealed things to them that they hadn't previously realized. They now recognized alternatives to situations, such as wearing clothing as opposed to being naked. Therefore, in their "wise" judgment, they made themselves clothes from fig leaves.
When God confronted them, Adam confessed their mistake. In Genesis 3:14-19, God's righteous response was a series of curses, the first prophecies:
- The serpent was cursed to crawl on its belly. That may be why snakes cannot walk upright today.
- In Genesis 3:15, a promise is made that a feud will exist between men and serpents. This seems to explain why, even today, men and snakes share a state of particular enmity for each other. Snakes strike at men's heels and men crush the snakes' heads.
- Genesis 3:15 is also considered by many Bible students to symbolize the strife between good and evil, between the spirit of the man (his soul) and the spirit of Satan (symbolized by the serpent), or between God and Satan. Most of Christendom today believes that the promise that man will crush the serpent’s head alludes to a man, Jesus Christ, who will ultimately defeat Satan. This interpretation assumes that verse 15 is a separate series of curses implied against Satan. Others hold to the interpretation that this curse is simply against snakes, as noted above, concluding that verse 15 is a continuation of the curses in verse 14 against the serpent, since Satan isn't explicitly named as the object of the curses, as was the serpent.
- Genesis 3:16 curses the woman with a promise of pain in childbirth, and dependency upon and submission to her husband. Genesis 3:17-19 curses the ground to no longer satisfy man by automatically supplying his food. Instead, the ground would bear weeds and stickers to inhibit food production, and only through continued work would man sustain life.
Also, man's body would return to the form of the dust from which it came. Fortunately, the man apparently hadn't yet eaten from God's tree of life, which may have insured that he would have lived forever in his fallen state of separation from God. God then put the fruit of that tree out of man's reach and cast Adam and his wife from Eden to begin their progression to physical death.
It was then that Adam named his wife, "Eve." God helped Adam and Eve by replacing their inadequate self-made clothing with animal skins. This shows that God's omnipotent wisdom is still superior to man's "new wisdom.” Of greater significance however, is the fact that the animal skins were provided through the shedding of the blood of God's creatures which once wore them. This is the first mention of sacrifice in the Bible.
Cain and Abel - Genesis 4God also created the institution of family. Adam and Eve bore two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain was a gardener and Abel was a shepherd. In order to show reverence God, they each made sacrifice offerings to Him. Cain gave produce from his garden, and Abel gave prime firstborn animals from his flock through the shedding of their blood and their death. God was pleased by Abel's sacrifice but He apparently didn't recognize Cain's as sufficient. In response to Cain's disappointment, in Genesis 4:7, God explains that through man's self-inflicted "wisdom," his knowledge of right and wrong brought additional responsibility. That responsibility is to recognize wrong as "sin" and to master it. Cain's human response was to commit more sin by killing Abel out of jealousy. God responded by cursing Cain as a marked fugitive.
Noah - Genesis 5-10Since Adam and Eve's only remaining son was an outcast, they had another son, Seth, to replace Abel. The genealogy from Seth to Noah in Genesis 5 is included in Chart 1 in the appendix.
Man's "wisdom" continued to increase his sin and trouble for the next 1500 years. Then God became particularly angered by the sin of intermarriage between the "Sons of God" and the "daughters of men," and He vowed to destroy man in 120 years.
Although some Bible scholars disagree, these "Sons of God" were probably angels who married human women who then bore superhuman giants as their offspring. This could help to explain some of the anomalies seen in prehistoric bones and fossils.
God chose to save only Noah and his family from otherwise total destruction. He charged Noah to build an ark which would save them from the coming destruction of a flood. Under strict specifications from God, Noah built the ark 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.
Seven days before the flood began, God commanded Noah to board all species of animals onto the ark:
- Seven of each "clean" species, including male and female
- Two of each "unclean" species, male and female
- Seven of each species of birds. Noah again obeyed
We're specifically told that it was because of his righteousness that Noah was saved from destruction. This becomes more significant when we discover from subsequent scriptures that God demands complete righteousness.
In the 600th year of Noah's life, a great flood came and the rains lasted 40 days. Genesis 7:19 is emphatic to note that the entire earth was completely covered with water. All living things not on the ark perished. Of mankind, only Noah, his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and each of their wives survived.
When the water finally receded, 150 days after the flood began, the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat. After 74 more days mountain peaks became visible. After 40 more days, Noah released a raven, which could find no place to land, and a dove which returned. After seven more days, he released a dove again and it returned with a tree branch. Since the dove had been able to find a tree branch, Noah was assured that the water was continuing to recede. After seven more days, a released dove didn't return, so Noah knew that it had found dry land. After 36 more days, the ark's door was opened, and 56 days later Noah and his family left the ark, after having spent 371 days (over a year) on it.
Noah built an altar to honor God. The aroma of Noah's sacrifices pleased God and He promised never to destroy the earth by flood again. This covenant was marked with the appearance of a rainbow.
God then charged man to repopulate the earth. Genesis 9:2-4 notes man's dominion on the earth, including becoming meat-eaters. God then created the institution of government by recognizing the sanctity of "lifeblood" (because life is in the blood). Genesis 9:5 cites the primary Biblical argument for God's institution of capital punishment.
Noah's son Ham founded the land of Canaan which received a curse because Ham looked upon his father's naked body. From Ham came King Nimrod, the nations of Babylon, Sheba, Egypt, India, Asia, and the black African nations (through Ham's son Cush). From Ham's son Mizraim came the Philistines, and from his son Canaan came the Amorites and Hivites. Noah blessed his other two sons: Shem, who fathered the Jews and Arabs, and Japheth, the father of Indo-Europe and the western world.
Babel - Genesis 11Man's "wisdom" soon failed him again at Shinar (Babylon), where the people decided to build the Tower of Babel. Their purpose was to establish fame and unity for themselves. However, this provoked God's wrath, and man spawned God's creation of nationalism onto himself, whereby God scattered the nations by confusing their tongues, and dividing them according to their language. This marked the beginning of nations. The genealogy covered in Genesis 11 is included in Chart 2 in the appendix.
2 - Israel
Abram - Genesis 12-13In Genesis 12, God created a new type of covenant. It was unique because it dealt with a particular man, while all previous promises had been universal. God chose a righteous man, Abram from Ur, the son of Terah from the line of Shem, to receive His covenant. This was a two-way covenant of commands of obedience and promises of blessings. God commanded Abram to leave his home, his friends, and his father's family, and go to wherever God commanded him. The promised blessings were as follows:
- Abram would be made into a great nation
- God would bless Abram
- Abram's name would be made great
- Abram would be a blessing (dispensing good to others)
- Those blessing Abram would be blessed
- Those cursing Abram would be cursed
- All mankind would be blessed through Abram
This constituted the Abramic covenant.
Abram obeyed the commands. He took his wife, Sarai, and his nephew Lot also went along. Their first stop was in Canaan. There, God unconditionally promised that He would give Canaan to Abram's seed, or offspring, and Abram built an altar to God. Then they traveled through Bethel and Ai. Due to a severe famine, they then went to Egypt. Because Sarai was so beautiful, Abram feared that the Pharaoh of Egypt might kill him out of jealousy, so Abram told the Egyptians that Sarai was his sister. This "wise" plan backfired when Pharaoh took Sarai into his palace since he thought she wasn't married. As a signal to Pharaoh, God inflicted him and his family with a serious disease. Upon realizing the truth, Pharaoh sent Abram and Sarai out of Egypt.
They traveled through Negev, Bethel, and Ai. Having both accumulated great wealth and flocks, Abram and Lot decided to separate since the land couldn't support their combined flocks. Abram allowed Lot to choose his own dwelling place. Lot chose the whole plain of the Jordan and lived near Sodom, while Abram stayed in Canaan. Again God confirmed His promise of land and offspring to Abram and his posterity (Genesis 13:15).
Melchizedek Genesis - 14-18Then great wars erupted between Sodom and Gomorrah and the empire of Elam. Sodom was invaded and Lot was captured. Abram and 318 members of his family rescued Lot and defeated his captors. Abram then met Melchizedek (possibly Noah's son, Shem, by certain Hebrew tradition), the high priest of God and the King of Salem (later called Jerusalem). Melchizedek blessed Abram, and Abram gave him one tenth of all the spoils of the battle.
At this point Abram reminded God of His previous promises; because Abram still had no children and he didn't understand how he would become a great nation without children. God responded by reemphasizing his promises in Genesis 15:5. He assured Abram that he would have numerous descendants. Genesis 15:6 shows a response from Abram and another response from God that establish the basis for our understanding of man's relationship with God. Abram believed God, and because of his believing God, God accepted Abram's believing Him as righteousness. To consummate each of their responses, Abram sacrificed several domestic animals to God, and God revealed further promises to Abram:
- Abram's descendants would be enslaved in a foreign country for 400 years.
- That country would be punished, and Abram's descendants would be freed and would obtain great possessions.
- Abram would die in peace and old age.
- The fourth generation of his freed descendants would return to Canaan.
As a final emphatic promise, God performed a supernatural act by making "a smoking fire pot with a blazing torch" appear and pass between the pieces of sacrificed animals. God then promised that He would give Abram's descendants the land from the Nile River to the Euphrates River.
Despite Abram's faith in God, his wife Sarai didn't believe she would bear any children because she had always been barren. To "help" God, she "gave" her maid, Hagar, to Abram. Abram slept with Hagar and she conceived. This caused Hagar to become haughty and to despise Sarai, which stirred jealousy in Sarai. Sarai blamed Abram and insisted that he choose between Sarai and Hagar. Abram allowed Sarai to make Hagar leave. God told Hagar to return and that the son she would bear should be named Ishmael and that he would be wild and hostile. This also seems to have been a prophecy of some of Ishmael's descendants, the Arabs, who have exhibited wandering and lawlessness throughout the years. God also assured Hagar of numerous descendants. She returned and bore Ishmael when Abram was eighty-six.
After thirteen more years passed, when Abram was 99 years old, God reiterated to him His promise of being the father of a great nation, and He changed Abram's name to Abraham as a symbol of his fruitfulness. The promise is stated this time as an everlasting covenant, including the promise of the land of Canaan. God commanded Abraham to be obedient in keeping this covenant, and God instituted the ritual of circumcising eight-day-old males for Abraham and his family as a sign of this covenant. God also changed Sarai's name to Sarah.
Apparently, in disbelief that Sarah could bear a son at age 90, Abraham laughed, and then He asked God to fulfill His promises through Ishmael. God told Abraham that He would make Ishmael a great nation also, but His covenant would be fulfilled through another son to be born within one year. In belief, Abraham obeyed God by circumcising all males in his household.
God next appeared to Abraham in the form of three men (God and two angels). This time, when God promised a son, Sarah laughed. In Genesis 18:14, God exclaimed, "Is anything too hard or too wonderful for the Lord?"
God promised that through this son, all nations on earth would be blessed.
God then told Abraham that He was planning to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their excessive evil. Abraham pleaded with God, so He promised not to destroy them if He could find ten good men there.
Lot - Genesis 19-20Back in Sodom, the two angels visited Lot. Some evil men in Sodom threatened to rape the two angels for their own pleasure. God blinded the evil men, Lot and his family fled to Zoar, and God told them not to look back. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah since there were not ten good men there. Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt. God saved Lot because of Abraham.
Later, Lot's two daughters got Lot drunk so that he would have sexual intercourse with them, and their family line would continue. They both conceived and bore sons, Moab, the father of the Moabites, and Benammi, the father of the Ammorites.
Abraham went to Negab and played the "Sarah is my sister" trick on King Abimelech. Abimelech took her, found out the truth, and returned her along with gifts to Abraham. Abraham prayed and God removed the curse of barrenness on Abimelech's women that He had placed on them because of Sarah.
Isaac - Genesis 21-24When Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90, she bore Isaac. Upon Sarah's request due to Ishmael's mockery, and God's confirmation, Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away. Ishmael had become an archer. God supernaturally supplied them with water in the wilderness in order to preserve the nation Ishmael would become. Meanwhile, Abraham and Abimelech argued over water rights. They signed a treaty and Abraham bought the well he had dug.
Next, God chose to test Abraham's faith. He commanded Abraham to kill his beloved son, Isaac, as a sacrifice to Him. According to the usual ceremony, Abraham and Isaac prepared for the sacrifice, and Isaac questioned Abraham about it. Abraham told him that God would supply "a lamb" (Genesis 22:8). In obedience, Abraham tied Isaac up, laid him on the altar, and raised his knife to kill him. Then God commanded him to stop. Abraham had passed the test. God didn't desire Isaac's blood, but rather, Abraham's obedience. God supernaturally provided a bound ram, which they sacrificed instead. In response to Abraham's faith and obedience (Genesis 22:16), God again promised Abraham that he would become a great nation, and that through his descendants, all nations on earth would be blessed because of his obedience.
Genesis 27:20-24 declares the genealogy of Abraham's brother, Nahor. He had eight sons including Uz, Buz, and Bethuel. Bethuel had a daughter named Rebekah.
Sarah died in Hebron at age 127. Abraham bought a cave at Machpelah for forty pieces of silver and buried Sarah there. Abraham sent a servant to Iraq in order to find a wife for Isaac. Rebekah was chosen while she was drawing water. She had a brother named Laban. Isaac and Rebekah married.
Jacob - Genesis 25-36Abraham married Keturah and had six more sons. He died at age 175 and was buried at Machpelah with Sarah. Genesis 25:12-18 notes Ishmael's genealogy, twelve tribal-ruling sons, and his death at age 137. Meanwhile, Rebekah was barren so Isaac prayed for children. God answered and Rebekah conceived. Concerned about unusual movement in her womb during pregnancy, Rebekah prayed for an answer. God explained that she was carrying two boys, that each would become a rival of the other, and that the older brother would serve the younger, stronger brother. When Isaac was sixty, Rebekah bore twin sons, Esau (or Edom, because he was red), then Jacob, who grasped Esau's heel during their birth. Esau became a good hunter, so Isaac favored him. Jacob was quiet and Rebekah favored him. Their sibling rivalry increased when Jacob bribed Esau for his birthright with a bowl of soup when Esau was hungry.
Isaac obeyed God and moved to Gerar during a famine. Out of fear, he played the "Rebekah is my sister" version of Abraham's trick. His crops yielded 100-fold as God blessed his obedience. Upon encountering jealousy from the Philistines, he moved to Gerar Valley. He dug the water wells of Argument, Anger, and Oath. At age 40, Esau married two Hittites, Judith and Basemath. He was a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.
A plotting Rebekah caused Isaac to mistakenly bless Jacob instead of Esau by disguising Jacob in Esau's clothes and putting goatskins on him in order to simulate Esau's hairy body. Isaac was too old and blind to tell the difference. Rebekah then sent Jacob to her brother Laban in Haran to escape Esau's wrath. Isaac wanted Jacob to marry a cousin. God appeared to Jacob at Bethel and promised him the land there. Jacob vowed to worship God and to tithe.
Jacob agreed to work for Laban for seven years in return for his daughter Rachel's hand in marriage. After the seven years, Laban tricked him into marrying his older daughter Leah, instead. Jacob then received Rachel also, in return for seven more years of work. Rachel was barren and since Jacob didn't love Leah, God "opened her womb" and Leah bore Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. Out of jealousy, Rachel insisted that Jacob sleep with her maid Bilhah, so as not to be out-performed by Leah. Bilhah bore Dan and Naphtali. In jealous response, Leah insisted that Jacob sleep with her maid, Zilpah, who then bore him Gad and Asher. Leah then bore Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah. Finally Rachel conceived and bore Joseph. Jacob compromised with Laban, and Jacob accumulated large, strong flocks. Jacob obeyed God and left Laban, setting out for Canaan. Laban pursued Jacob and accused him of stealing idols from him. Rachel had stolen them but she was not found out. Jacob and Laban then signed a boundary treaty.
In fear, Jacob sent presents ahead to Esau in order to appease his anger before they met again. Jacob's humility was manifested when he told God, "I am unworthy of all the loving-kindness and of all the faithfulness which thou hast shown to thy servant" (Genesis 32:10). One night, a supernatural man (God incarnate) wrestled with Jacob all night. He disjointed Jacob's hip, and He changed Jacob's name to Israel.
Then Jacob and Esau met in peace. Esau went to Sier, and Jacob to Succoth and then to Shechem in Canaan, where he bought some land for 100 pieces of silver.
While living in the land of the Hivites, Shechem, the son of King Hamor, raped Israel's daughter, Dinah. In order to resolve the feud that this created, King Hamor asked Israel and his sons to allow Shechem to purchase Dinah as his wife. They agreed, upon one condition, that all males in Shechem be circumcised. Hamor agreed, and all males were circumcised. Three days later, while all these males were defenselessly recovering in pain from their wounds, Simeon and Levi avenged their sister's rape by killing every male in Shechem and looting the city. Jacob worried that this would cause all the Canaanites to be their enemy.
Jacob traveled to Bethel. God re-affirmed his name change to Israel, then he went to Bethlehem. Rachel bore Benjamin, but she died in childbirth. Jacob now had twelve sons, the twelve tribes of Israel. Reuben sinned by sleeping with Bilhah. Isaac died at age 180. Esau's genealogy includes the Edomites and the Amalekites.
Joseph - Genesis 37-50In Canaan, Jacob's favorite son, Joseph, dreamed of his brothers' sheaves and stars bowing down to his own. Out of jealousy, in Dothan, his brothers threw him into a pit, sold him to some Midianites, and told Jacob that a beast had killed him. Joseph was sold as a slave to Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Joseph was seventeen then.
Back in Kezib, Judah married Shua's daughter and had two sons, Er and Onan. Er married Tamar, God killed Er for his evil, Onan slept with Tamar, and God killed Onan for "spilling his seed on the ground" in disobedience. Then Judah slept with Tamar, thinking that she was a prostitute, and she bore twin sons, Perez and Zerah. In childbirth, Zerah's arm was born first, and it was marked by tying a thread around it. It was withdrawn into the womb, and Perez was born first, the oldest, then Zerah was born.
Back in Egypt, though Joseph refused the seductive advances of Potiphar's wife's, he was framed for allegedly raping her, and he was imprisoned, where his leadership skills were recognized, and he became the prison administrator. While there, he interpreted dreams for Pharaoh's baker and his wine taster, who were imprisoned by Pharaoh's wrath. These interpretations were prophecies to be fulfilled in three days: the baker would be hanged and the wine taster would be restored to his position. Both were fulfilled. Pharaoh was troubled over some dreams of his own. Upon testimony from the wine taster, Pharaoh freed Joseph to interpret his dreams about seven strong and seven weak cows and heads of grain. Joseph's interpretation was a prophecy of seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh rewarded Joseph by making him overseer of a storehouse program by which to save grain during the seven good years, which could be rationed during the seven bad years. Joseph was thirty years old then. He bore two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. The prosperity and famine occurred just as Joseph had predicted.
During the famine, Jacob sent ten of his sons (all but his beloved Benjamin) to Egypt for grain on two separate occasions. Through a game of trickery, Joseph scared them into believing they might have to sacrifice Benjamin. Then he revealed himself to them as their brother, and he sent them back to bring all their family to Egypt. All sixty-six members of their family came, including Jacob, his eleven sons, and Levi's son Kohath, making the population of Israel in Egypt to total seventy, including Joseph and his family. Jacob was given the land at Rameses, the best land in Egypt. Joseph levied a twenty per cent tax on all of Egypt. Jacob lived there seventeen years and died at age 147. Before his death, he blessed Joseph and Israel as follows:
- Ephraim over Manasseh as great nations
- Reuben to turmoil, he had lost his birthright in adultery with Bilhah
- Simeon and Levi were to be scattered, they had lost their birthrights in their violence at Shechem
- In Genesis 49:9, Judah is blessed to be strong like a lion, the ruling tribe
- Zebulun would live by the sea
- Issachar would be strong
- Dan would provide justice like a serpent
- Gad would be pursued
- Asher would produce rich food
- Naphtali would be free and bear beautiful offspring
- Joseph would receive heavenly blessing
- Benjamin would be a conqueror
Joseph buried Jacob in Canaan as he had promised. He was good to his people. God worked good from his suffering. He died at age 110 and was buried in a coffin in Egypt.
3 - Freedom
Moses - Exodus 1-4There is no detailed Biblical account of the 279 years of Jewish history immediately following Joseph's death. During that time, the Hebrew (Israelite) people were greatly oppressed as slaves in Egypt, but they also greatly multiplied. Afraid of the growing number of Hebrew slaves, the Pharaoh of Egypt ordered the midwives, who assisted in childbirth to Hebrew mothers, to drown all newborn Hebrew boys in the river. One mother of the tribe of Levi escaped this by hiding her baby, Moses, in a basket afloat in the river. Moses was found, saved, and raised by Pharaoh's daughter.
Moses grew up as an Egyptian socially, but he was really a Hebrew. At age 40, he killed an Egyptian for oppressing the Hebrews, and he had to escape to Midian. There he married Zipporah and became a shepherd. Israel continued to suffer in Egypt.
One day, at age 80, Moses saw a burning bush, which God had supernaturally inflamed. Although it was burning, it was not consumed. In Exodus 3:5-10, God spoke to Moses. He commanded the fearful Moses to remove his shoes because he was "standing on Holy ground." God told Moses that, as an act of grace through the leadership of Moses, He would free the suffering Hebrew people in Egypt and lead them back to Canaan. Moses questioned his own leadership ability, but God assured him that he could trust Him. This prophecy would come true just like the prophecy in Genesis 15, of 400 years of slavery, had come true. In Exodus 3:14, God emphatically refers to Himself as "I Am."
In disbelief, Moses asked God for a sign of His power. God responded by demonstrating His power of miracles by turning Moses's staff into a snake, and then causing and healing leprosy on Moses's hand. He promised to use miracles and plagues in order to free Israel. Still Moses questioned his speaking abilities, and God promised he would speak sufficiently, after all, in Exodus 4:11, "who gave man his mouth." Still Moses rebelled and asked God to send someone else. Angrily, God agreed to send Moses's brother Aaron with him. In His wrath, God almost killed Moses on his trip to Egypt (apparently for not circumcising his son), but God changed His mind (when Moses did circumcise his son). He told Aaron, who was 83, to meet Moses, and together they demonstrated God's miraculous power in Moses's staff to the Hebrew people in Egypt.
The Exodus - Exodus 5-17Moses and Aaron approached Pharaoh and demanded that he free the Hebrew slaves. He responded by persecuting the Hebrews even more. As a demonstration of God's power, they showed Pharaoh how Moses's staff became a snake. Through what was apparently satanic power, Pharaoh's magicians duplicated this demonstration by turning their staffs into snakes. However, Moses's snake devoured theirs. Then through God's power, the Nile River was turned into blood. A week later God sent a plague of frogs and predicted that Pharaoh would promise freedom then deny it. When this happened, God sent plagues of lice and flies. Again Pharaoh promised freedom, but when the plagues were lifted, he denied it. This occurred again with plagues of disease on the animals, boils, hail, locusts, and darkness, except on the Israelites who still received light. God then promised to send a final plague of death to all firstborn Egyptians, that is, the oldest sibling in every family.
God then instituted the Passover (for Jews only by Exodus 12:43), and the Feast of the Unleavened bread for the Hebrew people. He commanded them to mark the doors of their houses with blood and to eat bread made without yeast. His death plague wouldn't enter those houses. As promised, all other firstborn children were killed. Finally, Pharaoh freed the Hebrews after 430 years of enslavement.
Moses led them from Rameses to Succoth, where God declared the rules for the Passover and The Feast of Unleavened Bread, which were to be celebrated for generations to come. Also, their firstborns were dedicated and the firstborn of the flocks were promised to God.
God then led them to Pilahiroth, Migdol, and Baalzephon. He provided a cloud to guide and cover them in the daytime and a fire to guide them by night. Pharaoh then changed his mind and pursued them. The Hebrews lost faith and rebelled against Moses. Moses rebuked them, "The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent" (Exodus 14:14). Moses used his staff to part the Red Sea. They crossed it on dry land, then God closed the sea and drowned the pursuing Egyptian Army.
The immediate response of the Hebrew people was to praise God by singing to Him. In Exodus 15:16, Israel recognized themselves as having been "purchased" by God. They then proceeded to Shur. However, by the next month, at Sihu, the people lost faith again and rebelled in fear of starvation. Then God supernaturally provided bread (manna) from heaven each morning with the dew. They were to collect only enough for each day, the rest would spoil if collected, except on Friday, when they were to collect enough for Saturday too, so they could rest on the Sabbath (seventh day).
Soon the people rebelled due to lack of water. At Elim, God led them to twelve springs and at Pephidin, Moses hit a rock with his staff and God supernaturally provided water.
Israel engaged their first enemy when they were attacked by the Amalekites. Joshua led the army and Moses stood on a hill with his staff. When he held up the staff, the Israelites were winning, but when he lowered it, they were losing. When his arms tired of holding it up, Aaron and Hur helped raise his arms, and Joshua defeated the Amalekites. God told Moses to keep a written record of these events.
The Ten Commandments - Exodus 18-24Next, Moses's father-in-law, Jethro, convinced him that the task of acting as judge to all the Hebrews was too large for one man. Therefore, Moses chose capable men and delegated authority to them as judges in a hierarchical pattern where Moses remained the chief justice. Moses then approached God on Mount Sinai, where God established the Mosaic Covenant with Israel in Exodus 19:4-6 as follows: If Israel fully obeyed God, then they would be God's treasured possession above all other nations, and Israel would be a Holy nation of priests. This was a conditional covenant based on the obedience of Israel. Also, God commanded that only Moses could approach him, the others were to stay off the mountain.
Then in Exodus 20:2-17, after 430 years of slavery, God gave the Ten Commandments to Israel in order to show them how to preserve their freedom:
1) Serve God and do not serve any other God.
2) Do not make or worship idols.
3) Do not misuse God's name.
4) Do not work on the Sabbath day (Saturday).
5) Honor your parents.
6) Do not murder.
7) Do not commit adultery.
8) Do not steal.
9) Do not lie against your neighbor.
10) Do not covet (want) what others possess.
These commandments were given to Moses in a spectacular celestial display of thunder and lightning, observed in fear by all the Israelites. These were moral commandments to the nation of Israel as a part of the Mosaic Law, and they are moral principles for all of humanity in order to preserve man's freedom. God reiterated the first two commandments, then He commanded Israel to build an earthly altar and to sacrifice sheep, cattle, and goats on it to Him. God had also promised punishment for a man's sin to the next four generations, but love to those who obeyed. Some Bible students use Exodus 21:22-25 to demonstrate that an unborn fetus is a human being with "life" and a soul.
God continued listing commandments to the Israelites, and the corresponding punishments for various sins including matters related to servant ownership, physical violence, cursing parents (which carried the death penalty), protection of property, social responsibility, sacrificing to other Gods, treatment of foreigners, physical abuse, usury, blasphemy, offerings, justice, mercy, Sabbath laws, and legal holidays and festivals. God promised to send an angel to lead the Israelites.
The people swore to obey God, and the Covenant was confirmed with sacrifices and blood. Moses stayed on the mountain for forty days.
The Tabernacle Exodus 25-40Then God commanded the Israelites to bring Him precious offerings. From these gifts, they were commanded to build an earthly dwelling place for God, a tabernacle. The tabernacle was to include a courtyard, a Holy Place, and a Holy of Holies Place. Within the tabernacle, they were to build an ark (of the covenant), a table, a lamp stand with oil, an altar of burnt offerings, and an altar of incense with incense, oil and a washing basin. God set forth the patterns for each item to be made in great detail. Also, priestly garments were to be made, including the ephod, breast pieces, and robe. God also instituted a strict atonement offering.
Aaron and his four sons were consecrated as God's priests in an elaborate ceremony. Only they were allowed to approach God. God promised to dwell among the Jews in the tabernacle. The tabernacle was built by Bezalel and Oholiab, whom God filled with His Spirit for that purpose. God reiterated his commandment of rest on the Sabbath day and specifically directed this commandment to the nation of Israel in Exodus 31:16-17. He gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on two stone tablets.
During the forty days that Moses listened to God's instructions on Mount Sinai, the people lost faith and persuaded Aaron to build a golden calf to worship. In His wrath, God threatened to destroy them all and build a nation from Moses instead. Moses boldly interceded to God on behalf of the people, so God changed His mind. However, when Moses descended from the mountain and saw the extent of their evil in a drunken orgy, his anger prevailed and he broke the two stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments. He made the people melt down the golden calf, and God sent a plague upon the people for their sins.
Moses often approached God in "the tent of meeting,” which was always covered by a "pillar of cloud" while he was there. Although Exodus 33:11 says that God and Moses spoke face to face, Exodus 33:20 says that nobody could see God's face and live. Sometimes God allowed His back to be seen. Exodus 33:19 emphatically proclaims God's sovereignty.
Moses returned to Mount Sinai for forty more days. God replaced the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments, and Moses's face glowed when he returned. He told the people all that God had commanded, and the tabernacle was built according to God's specifications from the peoples' gifts. They gave of their freewill as their hearts moved them (Exodus 35:21, 22, 29). The priest's garments were made, and God actually entered the tabernacle.
4 - The Law
Laws - Leviticus 1-24
The establishment of the laws for the Jewish people (Exodus 19:3, Deuteronomy 4:44) that God began in the book of Exodus He continues in great detail in the book of Leviticus. In all, He laid down some 613 laws for the Jews to obey. To a high degree, these laws governed their daily living. They included moral, religious, and civil regulations. Of great significance were the laws concerning various sacrifices by which one could please God and/or restore himself to temporal fellowship with God (and sometimes avoid the death sentence for certain sins). All of these sacrifices involved giving the best of one's substance to God.
Three of these sacrifices were voluntary sacrifices just to please God, as a fragrant aroma in His nostrils. These three were the burnt offering, the grain (or meal) offering, and the peace offering. The burnt offering involved carefully choosing a male animal from their herds or flocks which was without defect, laying one's hands on it in order to show that it was given on the giver's behalf, carefully slaughtering and preparing it, and then burning it, all according to specific instructions. In order to make atonement for the giver, God insisted that blood had to be shed; this indicated to God that it was a real sacrifice. The grain offering symbolizes the perfection of a person that God requires from the giver in order to come into fellowship with Him. The peace offering symbolizes the reconciliation by God of the giver's imperfection.
Two of the sacrifices were not voluntary. They were required in order to restore fellowship with God when man had broken that fellowship by sinning. The sin offering addressed unintentional sin and the trespass (or guilt) offering addressed deliberate sin. Again, both involved laying hands on an animal to transfer one's sins to it, before the shedding of its blood and its sacrifice. In some sacrifices, incense played a very important role, possibly symbolizing prayer. God emphatically commanded the Jews not to eat fat or blood. The fat was to be given to God as the best part of the animal, and the blood atoned for one's sins. Also, sacrifices had to be made at the tabernacle.
God required an elaborate ceremony to consecrate the priests. When Aaron's sons, Abihu and Nadab sinned by offering unauthorized fire for sacrifices, God killed them for their disobedience. However, when Eleazor and Ithamar, Aaron's other priest sons, sinned by not eating of a sacrifice as God commanded, they were forgiven. In Leviticus 10:9, the priests were forbidden to drink fermented drink while in the Tent of Meeting.
God commanded that the Jews could eat only clean animals, those that both had cloven hooves and chewed their cud. He forbad them to eat the camel, rabbit, swine, fish without scales and fins, eagle, hawk, vulture, any insects other than the locust or cricket or grasshopper, crawling animals, diseased animals, and dead animals.
God gave various laws concerning touching unclean things, childbirth purification, leprosy purification, ceremonial defilement, restitution by restoring and adding one-fifth of an item's value, marriage, sex, homosexuality (emphatically forbidden, carrying the death sentence in Leviticus 20:13), dead bodies, eating Holy sacrifices, observation of seven festivals annually, including the Passover, the Feast of First Fruits on Sunday, symbolizing God's eternal blessings, the day of atonement, annual atonement for sin, and the memorial offering. The Day of Atonement is of special significance. It was the one-day of the year that Aaron could enter the Holy of Holies. It was a day of self-examination. A bull was sacrificed and a goat (scapegoat) was set free after symbolically bearing man's sins.
In Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:2, and 20:7, God summarized His commandments by commanding, "Be Holy because I am Holy." Atonement for sin allowed man to be Holy and clean. In Leviticus 18:5, God said, "Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord."
Leviticus 19 adds these various laws:
- Be holy and obedient
- Don't steal
- Don't lie
- Don't gossip
- Don't hate
- Don't be seductive
- Don't eat the first five fruit crops
- Don't cut hair or beards
- Don't engage in prostitution or witchcraft
- Observe the Sabbath
- Care for the elderly
- Don't endanger life
- Don't mate two different kinds of animals
- Don't sow two kinds of seed in one field
- Don't wear clothes of two kinds of material.
Leviticus 19:28 forbad tattoos on the body. Leviticus 20:9 even calls for the death sentence for those who curse their parents. Leviticus 24:7 calls for "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." Leviticus 19:18 summarizes the law: "Love your neighbor as yourself." In Leviticus 24:22, God established one standard for all men, whether they be Jew or Gentile (non-Jewish).
Jubilee - Leviticus 25-27God commanded that the land be allowed to rest (not to be sown) every seventh year (the Sabbatical Year). Furthermore, every seven Sabbaticals (49 years), the 50th year was to be declared the Year of Jubilee when all debts were to be canceled. God emphasized not to overcharge (say, in the 49th year) and to be fair.
God then promised He would bless Israel if they obeyed His laws. He would provide rain for their crops, and the people would multiply. However, if they disobeyed, He would plague them and scatter them. They would stoop to such consequences of their sin as eating their own children. However, if this happened, He wouldn't completely destroy them, He would keep His covenant with them (Leviticus 26:44). He then added that the Jews must tithe to pay for their consecration. This meant that one-tenth of everything was given to God.
Leviticus 8:8 describes a breastplate, the Urim, and the Thummim worn by Aaron. These were articles upon which the high priest placed his hand in order to discern God's divine Will for Israel.
The Census - Numbers 1-12God then commanded Moses to take a census of all men over twenty (fighting age). The total was 625,000. According to God's command, the Levites (all of the tribe of Levi) were dedicated as priests (those who could approach God). God gave more duties and laws, even tests to discern when a wife had been unfaithful.
The people soon grew tired of the manna that God provided. They complained to Moses. In response, God miraculously sent quail from heaven that covered the ground three feet deep. God also commissioned seventy elders to help ease Moses's burden of leadership.
On one occurrence, Aaron and Moses's sister, Miriam, criticized Moses for marrying a Cushite woman (probably a black woman). To teach them a lesson, God plagued Miriam's hand with leprosy for seven days. Moses interceded for them, so God forgave them and healed her hand. In Numbers 12:3, we see that Moses was the most humble man on the earth.
The Twelve Spies - Numbers 13-16Then Moses sent twelve spies into Canaan to explore the new land. They returned and reported at Kadesh. They said that the land was the most fertile land anywhere, but that it was inhabited by enemy giants. Ten of the spies recommended that Israel not go into Canaan because of fear of the giants. However, two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, said that Israel could defeat the enemy with God's help. All of Israel sided with the ten pessimists, and they wanted to kill Joshua and Caleb for trying to lead them to destruction.
God intervened in anger against Israel. Upon Moses's request, He forgave them for their lack of faith in Him (except He did kill the ten unfaithful spies, proclaiming that it was too late for confession to save them), but He placed a curse on all those who were counted in the census. None but Joshua and Caleb would enter Canaan (The Promised Land). The people would wander aimlessly in the wilderness for forty years (one year for each of the forty days that the spies had stayed in Canaan), until all the unfaithful had died.
God gave more laws concerning sacrifices, the Sabbath, and wearing tassels on garments. Then Dorah and 250 other Israelites rebelled against Moses and Aaron. To settle the argument, Moses said that if those men were kept safe until they died a natural death, then they were right. However, if God destroyed the men in a unique way, then they were wrong. Immediately, the earth "opened" and devoured all the unfaithful men and all their possessions. In His wrath, God killed 14,700 Israelites with a plague until Moses pleaded for Him to stop.
Aaron's rod Budded - Numbers 17-Deuteronomy 28With another miracle, God caused buds to grow on Aaron's rod in order to prove his authority as a priest. God gave more laws on priests, the tithe (the Levites inheritance), and defilement. The tithe was used to give financial support to the Levites (priests).
Next, the people rebelled because of lack of water. God told Moses to speak to a rock and water would gush out. However, Moses struck the rock twice with his staff to make the water come out. God recognized Moses's action as unbelief since he didn't simply speak to the rock. His punishment was that he wouldn't lead the people into Canaan.
The country of Edom refused to let Israel pass through their land. On their journey around Edom, Aaron died and the people again rebelled because they detested the same food every day. In response to their lack of faith, God plagued them with venomous snakes. When Moses prayed for the plague to stop, God told him to make a bronze snake and mount it on a pole. Whenever a snake-bite victim looked at the bronze snake, he or she was healed.
En route to the Promised Land, Israel traveled through Negev, Oboth, Moab, Jazer, and Bashan. They defeated King Arad and the Canaanites in Negev, King Sihon and the Amorites in Jazer, and King Og in Bashan. King Balak of Moab summoned Balaam to curse Israel. God told Balaam to bless Israel instead. To prove His authority to Balaam, He stood His "angel of death" in the road where Balaam was traveling. The donkey that Balaam rode ran off the road to avoid the angel. It crushed Balaam's foot against a wall then lay down. Balaam beat it three times. Then God miraculously made the donkey speak. God revealed the angel to Balaam, and Balaam believed Him. Balaam did bless Israel, which enraged Balak.
The people of Israel engaged in sexual immorality and idolatry with the Moabites. God began killing the Israelites with a plague. Phinehas killed a guilty Israelite and his Midianite wife, and God stopped the plague after killing 24,000 people. He then commanded Israel to defeat the Midianites.
Upon God's command, Moses took another census after the forty years of wandering in the wilderness. This time there were 601,000 men over twenty, and 23,000 Levites. Only Joshua and Caleb had been counted in both censuses. God then gave more laws on inheritances, vows, marriage, the Sabbath, and festivals (including The Festival of Trumpets). Moses dedicated Joshua, the son of Nun, to succeed himself as Israel's leader. The Israelites defeated the Midianites. They even slaughtered the boys and women of Midian, sparing only the virgins. They divided the booty and gave their tithe of the spoils of battle to God. The people often rebelled. Cities were built. Numbers 33 lists their travel itinerary. Here, we also learn that Aaron's death had occurred at age 123, forty years after the Exodus from Egypt.
Moses gave each of the tribes their land boundaries. They traveled to Jordan and Moab. God commanded the establishment of six cities of refuge for the Levites since they were not given any land. Moses told Israel all of God's commandments including capital punishment for murder.
Deuteronomy gives an overview, at Kadesh, of God's instructions and of the forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Deuteronomy 1:2 says that these forty years were spent on what could have been an eleven-day journey. Israel's battles are reviewed, where we discover that King Og, whom Israel defeated, was a giant, having had a bed thirteen and one half feet long and six feet wide. The Ten Commandments are reiterated. God commanded Israel to frequently discuss His commandments and to teach them to their children. He assured them of victory in the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. He promised to bless obedience and to curse disobedience, leaving the people with their own freewill choices. They were to obey the commandments, worship God, and offer good sacrifices.
Deuteronomy 10:16 commanded a circumcision of the heart. This explains that the circumcision of the body is only a symbol, an outward sign, of the more important inward circumcision of the heart, whereby the sinful attitudes of the flesh are cut away. God commanded death for idolaters, and He gave the requirements for choosing a King, namely, the one God chooses. He explained that false prophets are identified when their prophecies don't occur. He proclaimed "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." He repeated the command for establishing Cities of Refuge. Israel was to destroy all of her enemies. The land must not be defiled. Evil is to be avoided. Adulterers were to be killed. Eunuchs and bastards were not to enter the sanctuary. A man could divorce his wife with a letter of divorcement. Newlywed husbands could not be inducted for military duty. An individual didn't pay for his parents' or his children's sins. Forty stripes instituted justice. The tithe was necessary. It was a sort of religious income tax (not an offering) assessed upon all Jews, both believers and unbelievers, in order to support the Levite priests, festivals, and the poor, every three years (Deuteronomy 14:22-30). God would curse: idolatry, cheating, unfairness, adultery, murder, bribery, disobedience, and sexual immorality, particularly with relatives, in-laws, or animals. God would curse disobedience with plague and with exile. If Israel disobeyed God, they wouldn't live long in Canaan, but they would be scattered throughout the earth. God often commanded Israel to "purge evil from among themselves." God's will for Israel is summarized in Deuteronomy 10:12-13: Fear God, walk in His ways, love Him, serve Him, and obey Him.
Deuteronomy 18:9-13 forbad magic, witchcraft, and the occult. In Deuteronomy 18:15-19, Moses assured Israel that God would provide another Israelite prophet like himself in the future. Israel was to listen to him. Deuteronomy 28:56-61 explains that obedience of God's laws would result not only in honor for God, but also in prolonging life for the Jews. This is evident today as we have discovered the natural health reasons for many of their laws such as the high risk of disease associated with eating the foods that God forbad.
Renewal of the Covenant - Deuteronomy 29-34In Deuteronomy 29, Moses renewed the covenant. He reminded Israel that God is merciful. They must be brave. In Deuteronomy 30, God promised not to forget Israel or to break His everlasting Covenant with her. After she was scattered for disobedience, He would gather her from throughout the earth, return her to Canaan, and restore her prosperity, if she obeyed Him. Some believe that the oil treasures of the Middle East in the twentieth century were prophesied in Deuteronomy 33:19 and 24. Moses then blessed Israel, climbed Mount Nebo, and died at Pisgah Peak at age 120, still with "strength and good eyesight," and Joshua became Israel's leader.
5 - Possessing the Land
Jericho - Joshua 1-6God charged Joshua to lead Israel across the Jordan River, and the people agreed to follow Joshua and to meditate upon God's Word. Joshua sent spies into Jericho where they were protected by a prostitute named Rahab. God miraculously caused the Jordan River to stop flowing in order to allow the priests to carry the Ark of the Covenant across it, and to prove His authority to the other nations. This did cause those nations to fear God and Israel.
Israel again experienced a massive circumcision ceremony, then an angel appeared to Joshua and he had to remove his shoes because he was standing on Holy ground, just as had once happened to Moses. According to God's detailed instructions, Joshua marched Israel around Jericho once a day for six days, and then seven times on the seventh day. Then the people shouted, and God miraculously caused the walls of Jericho to fall down. Israel took Jericho but spared Rahab because of her prior help. Joshua pronounced a curse of death upon anyone whoever rebuilt Jericho's walls.
The Sin of Achan - Joshua 7-22On one occasion, Achan stole some booty from a battle victory. As punishment, God allowed all of Israel to suffer defeat in a battle at Ai. Joshua discovered that the defeat was due to the sin of Achan, so the people stoned Achan. God then allowed Israel to ambush and defeat Ai.
Then Israel's enemies, the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perezzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, united against her. The Gibeonites, however, came to Israel and claimed they were not natives of the land so God's command to destroy Israel's enemies didn't apply to them. Without confiding in God, Israel signed a peace treaty with the Gibeonites. When Israel found out that they had been tricked, they spared the Gibeonites' lives but they enslaved them.
In a battle with King Adonizedek of Jerusalem and four other Amorite kings, God performed another miracle by causing the sun not to set until Israel was victorious. Joshua then personally killed all five kings with his sword. In all, Israel defeated thirty-one kings under Joshua's leadership, but still they didn't occupy the land of the Philistines, Geshurites, and Canaanites. Joshua divided the land inheritance among the twelve tribes, the Levites' cities of refuge, and Caleb. Joshua blessed the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh. The other tribes became jealous of this, but war was avoided.
Renewal of the Covenant - Joshua 23-24Joshua then renewed the covenant and bid farewell to Israel. He warned the people that if they disobeyed God, He would punish them and not forgive them. Joshua died at age 110. Israel buried Joseph's bones in Canaan, and continued to serve God.
The tribes separated, but continued conquering the land. Judah defeated the Canaanites, then in an unusual act of violence, they severed King Adonibezek's thumbs and big toes, and conquered Jerusalem. Othniel became Israel's next leader (judge), and he led for forty years. Like the leaders before him, he was blessed by God's Spirit sent upon him through an act of Old Testament Grace by God. The tribe of Joseph defeated Bethel, and Zebulun took slaves, but Benjamin, Manasseh, and Dan failed in their endeavor of conquest.
The Judges - Judges 1-5The next several years became a cycle of Israel falling into intermarriage and idolatry, suffering defeat as God's punishment for disobedience, repenting and turning back to God, being delivered by a "judge,” then falling back into idolatry and repeating this process. Among the people, cities, and nations that God left to test Israel were the Philistines, Canaanites, Midianites, Sidonians, Hivites, Hazor, Syria, and Moab. One heroic judge was Shamgar, who earned his fame by killing 600 Philistines with an ox goad. Deborah became the first female judge of Israel when she went with Barak to defeat General Sisera. Jael killed Sisera by driving a tent peg through his head and into the ground while he was sleeping. Deborah led Israel for forty years.
Gideon - Judges 6-11Gideon also served as judge ofIsrael, but not before trying God's patience by asking for "signs" of assured success. God responded with miracles of throwing fire from a rock and controlling the early morning dew. Gideon then defeated Midian with only the 300 men of his army who drew water with their hand to drink while all the others lay down with their face to the river water. They confused the Midianites during the battle by strategically carrying torches and making them believe that they were outnumbered. In the confusion, the Midianites killed each other. Gideon killed Kings Zehab and Zalmunna, and he led Israel for forty years until his death.
Gideon's son, Abimelech, was evil and he proclaimed himself as king when Gideon died. In doing so, he had to kill 69 of his 70 half-brothers. Only Jothan survived, who put a curse on Abimelech, which killed him.
The next judges were Tola of the tribe of Issachar, Jair, and Jephthah. Jephthah told God that if He helped him to defeat the Ammonites, he would sacrifice the first member of his family to greet him after the battle. God did, so Jephthah regretfully sacrificed his beloved daughter as a burnt offering. The tribe of Ephraim then rebelled, and Jephthah subdued them by killing 42,000 of them.
Samson - Judges 12-16Ibzan, Elon of Zebulun, and Abdon served their terms as judge, then Israel fell under powerful dominance of the Philistines for forty years. It was during this time of persecution that Samson of the tribe of Dan rose to fame. He was consecrated to God as a Nazarite, and he never cut his hair because it was the channel of supernatural physical strength from God.
Samson loved a Philistine girl. One day he killed a lion with his great strength. The carcass of the lion drew bees that made honey. Samson "played" this story as a "riddle" to some Philistine men. The men threatened Samson's girlfriend so she told them the answer to the riddle. Samson became furious and killed thirty Philistines. The girl's father refused to give her to Samson. This enraged Samson, so he caught 300 foxes, and tied them together by their tails in pairs, with torches tied to them. He released them and they burnt up the Philistines' grain. In fear of the Philistines, 3000 men of Judah delivered Samson to them. He then used his great strength to kill 1000 Philistines while armed only with the jawbone of a donkey. Fleeing into the wilderness, he became thirsty and prayed, and God provided water from a rock.
Samson's lover, Delilah, betrayed him, however, by learning from him that his hair was the secret to his strength. She then had her barbers cut his hair, so he lost his super power. The Philistines imprisoned him and gouged out his eyes. In prison, his hair grew back. At a festival, the Philistines paraded him as an exhibition of their dominance. As his last endeavor, he prayed for strength then pushed apart the pillars of the building where the festival was being held. It collapsed, killing Samson and 3000 Philistines. Samson had ruled Israel for twenty years while under Philistine domination. See Charts 5 and 6 in the appendix for a chronology of the era of the judges.
Benjamin's Sin - Judges 17-21Israel again fell into idolatry due to Micah, his idols, and his priests. Some men of Benjamin then committed the horrible rape of a Levite's concubine. The Levite violently cut up the concubine's body and sent the pieces to all the other tribes of Israel, in order to expose the guilt of Benjamin. Israel responded by retaliating and defeating Benjamin, killing over 50,000 Benjamites. Afterward, Israel realized that the few remaining Benjamite men had no wives left by which to repopulate their tribe. They resolved this problem by helping them kidnap women from Shiloh for their wives.
6 - Establishing the Kingdom
Ruth - Ruth 1-4During the era of the judges, an Ephrathite family, Elimelech and Naomi, moved from Bethlehem to Moab in order to escape a famine in Judah. Elimelech soon died. Their two sons married Orpah and Ruth, a Moabite, and then these two sons died. When the famine in Bethlehem ended, Naomi returned, and Ruth insisted upon going with her. Ruth secured a job of gleaning grain in a field owned by Boaz, a descendant of Perez of Judah. Boaz was generous to Ruth and Naomi, his in-law. Boaz and Ruth wanted to marry, but could not because a Jewish custom required Ruth to marry her closest relative. To resolve this issue, Boaz settled with Ruth's closest relative, bought the required property, and married Ruth. Their son, Obed, became the father of Jesse, David's father. Ruth 4:13 specifies that it is God's power and choice that enables women to bear children.
Samuel - 1 Samuel 1-7Meanwhile, an Ephraimite named Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah bore children, but Hannah was barren. Out of jealousy, Hannah promised to give God her son if He would allow her to have one. She bore Samuel and gave him to Eli, a Levite, and the high priest. She then bore five more children.
Although Eli was the high priest, his sons were very evil. They even seduced women in the tabernacle. Because Eli tolerated their permissiveness, a prophet told Eli that God would destroy Eli's family because of their evil.
The Philistines defeated Israel in a great battle at Aphek by killing 30,000 Jews and capturing God's Holy Ark of the Covenant. Eli's sons, Hophni and Phinehas died in the battle. When Eli, who was old and blind by then, was told of his sons' deaths, he stumbled in shock, fell, broke his neck, and died. He had judged Israel for forty years. Phinehas's wife was pregnant at the time. The news of her husband's death caused her to go into labor. She bore Ichabod and then she died in childbirth.
The Philistines took the Ark to Asdod where a curse for having stolen it caused the people to be plagued with boils. After seven months, they decided that their plague might be caused by the Ark. They hitched cattle to the Ark, along with gifts of gold tumors and rats. They proclaimed that if the cattle returned the Ark to Israel that would prove that the plague was sent by God. Indeed, the cattle took the Ark back to Bethsamesh. It was taken to Abinadab's house, where his son, Eleazor kept it for twenty years.
Samuel became Israel's judge after Eli. He brought repentance to Israel and turned the people to God.
Saul - 1 Samuel 8-14When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons, Joel and Abijah as judges for Israel. However, like Eli's sons, they were very corrupt. The people rebelled against their government corruption and demanded a king, like the other nations had. Samuel advised them that a king would be too demanding, and that choosing a king would show rejection of God and a lack of faith that God could lead Israel. However, the people wouldn't listen, so God sent Saul, a tall and handsome Benjamite, to Samuel, and Samuel anointed Saul as king. Saul agreed that if a specific list of prophecies, which Samuel had made, were to occur, and then it was God's Will for him to be king. Samuel's prophecies did come true, and the Spirit of God "came upon Saul in power" as another act of Old Testament Grace. First Samuel 10:6 introduces the doctrine of newness of life. The people drew lots to choose a king and Saul was chosen.
Then Nahash and the Ammonites threatened to gouge out the eyes of the Israelite men in Jabesh. Enraged by their threats, Saul defeated them, and Israel crowned him as king at age 30.
In a farewell speech, Samuel charged Israel to obey God. To prove God's authority, Samuel prayed for thunder and rain, and it came. In 1 Samuel 12:23, Samuel stresses the importance of prayer by noting that it is a sin not to pray.
It was not too long before Saul disobeyed God and exhibited his lack of faith by not waiting for Samuel to sacrifice offerings before a battle. Instead, Saul feared defeat by the Philistines, so he made the sacrifices himself, since he had waited the agreed amount of time for Samuel's arrival. Samuel told him that his punishment would be the loss of his dynasty.
Saul's son Jonathan and Abijah defeated the Philistines and Saul ordered the people to fast. Unaware of his father's order, Jonathan ate some honey. Then Saul prayed but God didn't respond because all the people hadn't obeyed Saul's order. Saul responded by ordering the sinner to be exposed and put to death. However, when Jonathan's act was discovered, the people wouldn't allow him to be killed because he was a war hero.
David - 1 Samuel 15-16Next, Samuel told Saul that God had ordered him to completely destroy the Amalekites. Saul impressively defeated the Amalekites, but he captured King Agog and collected booty from the battle in order to sacrifice it to God. In Saul's human viewpoint, this was even better than complete destruction. However, from God's divine viewpoint, Saul had disobeyed, and Samuel proclaimed that Saul's punishment would be to lose his reign as king. Samuel emphasized the fundamental truth that God wants more than sacrifice. In 1 Samuel 16:7, God says that inward belief supersedes outward appearances.
In order to appease God's wrath, Samuel violently chopped up King Agog with a sword. When Samuel sought a successor for king, God led him to Jesse's eight sons. Of them, God chose David, who was the youngest of the eight and a shepherd, and Samuel anointed David as the new king of Israel. God no longer consecrated Saul as king. God’s Spirit left Saul, and an evil spirit from God terrorized him (1 Samuel 16:14). In his despair, Saul summoned his aids to bring him a harpist to comfort him. The harpist chosen was none other than David, although Saul was not aware of Samuel's anointing of David as king. David's harp playing gave great comfort to Saul.
7 - King David
David and Goliath - 1 Samuel 17-19Meanwhile, in Philistine, there was a giant named Goliath who was infamous among Israelites for his mockery of their nation and their God. Everyone was afraid of Goliath, but when David learned of his blasphemy, he confronted the giant alone, wearing no armor and armed only with a slingshot. This insulted and enraged Goliath since David was so young and small, but with God's help, David killed Goliath and beheaded him. David's faith overcame his fear because he knew, "The battle is the Lord's" (1 Samuel 17:47).
Israel proclaimed David as a hero even greater than Saul. This caused Saul to become jealous of David, and in a fit of rage, and possessed by evil spirits, he tried to kill David but he couldn't. Recognizing David's qualities of military leadership, Saul charged him to lead against the enemy, and promised to give David his oldest daughter, Merab, in marriage. But Saul deceived David and gave her to Adriel instead. Then David bargained for another of Saul's daughters, Michal. Saul promised her to David in exchange for the foreskins of 100 Philistines. To be sure, David delivered 200 Philistine foreskins to Saul, and he married Michal.
Saul still wanted David killed. On one occasion, Samuel, Jonathan, and Michal saved David from one of Saul's attacks by substituting a dummy in David's bed. Jonathan pled with Saul for David's safety. David and Jonathan were very close friends, but they had to part company due to Saul's strife. In his rage, Saul even tried to kill his own son Jonathan.
Ahimelech - 1 Samuel 20 - 24As a hungry fugitive, David was allowed by the priest Ahimelech to eat forbidden Holy bread. To elude King Achish of Gath, David "played insane" and scared his potential captors away. David hid in a cave. Meanwhile, Saul killed Ahimelech and 85 other priests for helping David. Only Ahimelech's son, Abiathar, escaped Saul's wrath, and he told David of the priest's fate.
Under God's guidance in prayer, David defeated the Philistines at Keilah. Through another answer to prayer, God showed David that he could not trust the people at Keilah. David and his small army of followers were then betrayed by men at Ziph. In pursuit of David, Saul almost caught him but had to return to Israel when he heard that Israel was under Philistine attack. Though David could have killed Saul on numerous occasions, he swore to let God decide who would be king. On one occasion, he crept unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul's robe in order to show Saul that he could have killed him but didn't. On another occasion, he crept into Saul and Abner's camp and stole their water and Saul's spear, again to prove that he had spared Saul's life.
The Death of Samuel - 1 Samuel 25-27Meanwhile, Samuel died. He was Israel's last judge. Nabal refused to help David, so God killed Nabal. David married Nabal's wife, Abigail.
David and his 600 men then lived with the Philistines for a year and four months. They lied to King Achish and deceived him into believing that they were fighting Judah, when they were actually destroying other Philistines in their battles. King Achish found out later and made David leave.
The Witch at Endor 1 Samuel 28-31In desperate fear of the Philistines, Saul consulted a witch at Endor to talk to Samuel's spirit. To Saul's shock, his own death, as well as his sons', was foretold, as Samuel told him, "Tomorrow you will be with me."
The Amalekites captured David's wives and David destroyed them for it. David insisted that all his people share the booty from the battle, even those who didn't fight. As Samuel foretold, Saul and his son's died in a battle. The Philistines beheaded Saul and hung his body in a public display. The Israelites stole it and cremated it.
David's Dynasty - 2 Samuel 1-10The Amalekite who claimed to have killed Saul bragged the news to David, but David killed him and mourned the deaths of Saul and Jonathan. The tribe of Judah then crowned David as king. This only expanded Israel's civil war between followers of Saul and followers of David. Saul's military leader, Abner, crowned another of Saul's sons, Ishbosheth, as king. David's general, Joab, defeated Abner's army, and Abner, in turn, killed Joab's brother. Then to avenge his brother's death, Joab killed Abner, but he didn't tell David. Baanah and Recbal killed Ishbosheth in order to gain David's favor. However, David killed them for their murderous act, and as a grotesque response, he cut off their hands and feet and hung their bodies.
David had been crowned King of Judah at age thirty and King of all of Israel at age thirty-seven. Then his reign lasted thirty-three more years. He captured Zion (Jerusalem) from the Jebusites. His son, Solomon was born there. David built a great palace from cedar sent from King Hiram of Tyre. David constantly asked God for guidance, obeyed God, and defeated the Philistines. David and 30,000 Israelites took the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. The Ark was such a Holy and forbidden article of God's, that when Uzzah helped transport it and placed his hand on it to steady it, God struck him dead. Meanwhile, Michal accused David of foolishness, and she was cursed to be barren (without children).
David wanted to build a great temple for God, but God's prophet, Nathan, forbad it because David was a man of war and he often shed blood. God said that David's son would build the temple. Thus, in 2 Samuel 7:12-16, God established the Davidic Covenant. He vowed that through David's lineage, the eternal king and kingdom of Israel would be established forever. Second Samuel 8 graphically portrays how violent David was. In one battle, he "butchered" two-thirds of the Philistine captives, enslaved the others, and lamed their animals. David provoked such fear on the earth, that the Kings of other nations showered Israel with gifts.
Yet, David was just in God's sight. In an act of kindness, he ministered to Jonathan's lame son Mephibosheth, who was handicapped as a child when his mother dropped him. David was also kind to King Hanun of the Amorites. However, in disrespect to David, Hanun insulted him by cutting off the robes of David's friendly messengers, at their buttocks. In retaliation, David defeated the Amorites and the Syrians.
Bathsheba - 2 Samuel 11-12During one spring, when wars were prevalent, David sinned by lusting after Bathsheba and committing adultery with her. Furthermore, he had her husband Uriah killed in battle. God convicted David of his sin through a story told to David by Nathan. The story was about a greedy man who stole from the poor to feed his own sinfulness. Enraged by such circumstances, David pronounced the death sentence upon such a man, and then Nathan revealed that David himself was the guilty one. David confessed his sins to God, so God spared his life, but He killed Bathsheba's baby in order to avenge David's sins. David mourned the baby's death sentence but ceased his mourning when the baby was killed. Bathsheba then bore him another son, Solomon. However, in 2 Samuel 12:11-12, God promised David the humiliation of his own wives' adultery in broad daylight.
Absalom 2 - Samuel 13-24Three of David's children then caused him severe grief. Amnon raped his half-sister, Tamar. David failed to discipline him, so David's son Absalom killed Amnon and fled to Geshur for three years. When he returned, David refused to bless him. He stayed anyway for two years, and then he went to Hebron for four years, where he became a popular politician and built a powerful conspiracy against David. David had to flee from Jerusalem to escape. He took the Ark with him. Then he turned to God for guidance. God led him to return the Ark to Jerusalem. David prayed that a traitor would give Absalom foolish advice. David's friend, Hushai, was the answer to that prayer. Hushai befriended and then betrayed Absalom, and Absalom followed his purposely-poor advice. Joab violently killed Absalom, and David mourned his son's death in 2 Samuel 18:33.
Upon David's return to Israel, some of the tribes argued with Judah because they were jealous of David's favoritism toward her. Sheba, a Benjamite, led a rebellion against David, but Joab killed Sheba and Amasa. Israel was then cursed with a famine for three years in order to avenge the prior murder of the Gibeonites by Saul. David gave the remaining Gibeonites seven members of Saul's family. They were killed, and God ended the famine. At this point, David stopped his military career.
In 2 Samuel 22 David sang an affectionate song of praise to God where he vowed to praise God even among the non-Jewish (Gentile) nations (2 Samuel 22:50). Second Samuel 23 gives his last words to Israel. His military advisors are noted. The top three were Josheb, Eleazor, and Shammah. Abishai was famous for having once risked his life just to provide David with a drink of water when he was thirsty. Benaiah is also noted, plus thirty more.
Before his death though, David used his human viewpoint in order to sin by conducting a census, contrary to God's Will. Israel's population was 800,000 and Judah's was 500,000.In order to discipline David, God offered him his choice of three punishments: a famine, pursuit by his enemies for three months, or a plague. David chose the plague, which lasted three days and killed 70,000 men. Finally, David's altar sacrifice appeased God's wrath and the plague ended.
8 - King Solomon
The Death of David - 1 Kings 1When David grew old, his concubine, Abishag, cared for him. David had failed to adequately discipline his children. Consequently, his son, Adonijah rebelled and crowned himself as king. However, David crowned Solomon as king, but Solomon chose not to hurt Adonijah. David charged Solomon with leading Israel to allegiance to God, and then he died. The Bible says that he had reigned forty years, seven in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem.
Solomon's Dynasty - 1 Kings 2David's death sparked a plot by Adonijah against Solomon. Solomon's military leader Benaiah killed Adonijah. Benaiah also killed Joab, who had joined Adonijah, and Shimei. This secured the kingdom for Solomon.
Wisdom - 1 Kings 3-4Then God confronted Solomon and vowed to give him any request. Solomon requested wisdom, and God made him the wisest man ever, even wiser than a man named Heman in 1 Kings 4:31. The Bible cites an example of his unusual wit when he settled two women's dispute over claim to a baby. When he threatened to kill the baby and give each woman half, the REAL mother identified herself by showing her genuine love for the baby by offering to submit, if only the baby could live.
Solomon's reign was one of peace and safety, made secure by such cabinet officers as Ben Hur. Israel collected taxes from other countries. The Bible even explicitly lists the massive daily food requirements for Solomon's palace. Solomon's wisdom led him to write 3000 proverbs and 1005 songs. He was famous for giving excellent advice. He had particular interests in animals, birds, snakes, fish, and trees.
The Temple - 1 Kings 5-11In the fourth year of his reign (480 years after Israel's Exodus from Egypt, according to 1 Kings 6:1), Solomon began construction of the temple, using wood supplied by King Hiram of Tyre. The temple was the most magnificent building ever. It was ninety feet long, thirty feet wide, and forty feet high. Upon its completion, Solomon made sacrifices, dedicated the temple, and moved the Ark of the Covenant into it. Details of the temple and the bronze work in it are explicit in the Bible, as well as details of a better palace Solomon built for himself. God vowed to live in the temple if Israel obeyed Him. He promised to hear Israel's prayers and forgive their sins. However, God warned Solomon that if Israel disobeyed Him, He would remove the people from the land.
Solomon was famous throughout the known world as being the richest and wisest king, and having the most stable kingdom. The Queen of Sheba often called on Solomon for advice, always bringing him gifts. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, and, wise as he was, he stooped to blasphemous and blatant disobedience of God by worshiping the gods of his concubines, primarily a god called Ashtoreth. As punishment, God vowed to take his kingdom away, though not from Solomon, but from his son. God would leave only one tribe, and that, for David's sake. However, he wouldn't take it away forever. God strengthened Solomon's enemies, and through the prophet Ahijah, He promised ten tribes to Jereboam, who had rebelled against Solomon. Solomon died after a reign of forty years and his son Rehoboam succeeded him as king.
9 - Loss of the Kingdom
The Splitting of the Kingdom - 1 Kings 12-14Jereboam incited the people against Rehoboam. In response, Rehoboam vowed to be a tougher king than Solomon was. This caused the kingdom to be split. Jereboam became king of Israel (and the ten majority tribes), and Rehoboam was king of Judah (and Benjamin).
Jereboam led Israel into such evil, that they even worshiped a golden calf. To prove His authority, God miraculously paralyzed and then healed Jereboam's arm, and He split their altar in a burst of power. Then God vowed to destroy Jereboam. Following this, Jereboam's son, Abijah died. The people of Israel continued in sin. They conquered Egypt and they were in constant war with Judah.
Elijah - 1 Kings 15-22The Israel/Judah rivalry continued through the reigns of many kings on both sides, as shown in Charts 7 and 8 in the appendix. All of Israel's kings were evil and so were most of Judah's. First Kings 15-22 documents various accounts of their evil, and God's responses. On one occasion, He cursed Baasha, and he was eaten by dogs and birds. Israel's King Ahab was the worst king of all. He married the infamous Jezebel, and they worshiped Baal. Obadiah controlled Ahab's household affairs. Jericho was rebuilt, and Joshua's curse was fulfilled as the builder's two sons died.
During Ahab's era, God used Elijah as His prophet in Israel. Elijah accurately foretold a drought, and he was saved from it when God sent ravens carrying him bread. He also healed a woman's son. Elijah staged an impressive contest between God and Baal on Mount Carmel. The people agreed that the true God could send fire from the sky. Of course, Baal could not. To emphasize God's power, Elijah had the wood on the altar soaked three times with water, and then God sent fire from the sky that completely consumed it. Although Elijah felt like he was the only believer left, God assured him that there were 7000 men left in Israel who hadn't worshiped Baal.
Elisha would later be chosen to replace Elijah. Meanwhile, Israel defeated Syria. Jezebel had Naboth stoned for his vineyard. In response, God fulfilled His prophecy that "dogs will lick her blood," when she was thrown out of a window. Then the prophet Micaiah predicted Israel's defeat, and Ahab was killed in the Syrian War.
Elisha - 2 Kings 1-20Elijah continued to show the people God's miraculous power. On two occasions, God killed fifty men with lightning. Then God took Elijah to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha was empowered as a prophet, and his first miracle was to purify Israel's unclean water supply. Israel defeated Moab, and the King of Moab sacrificed his own son. Elisha and his helper, Gehazi were treated kindly by a barren Shunamite woman. God caused her to bear a son, who later died and was brought back to life. On another occasion, God miraculously fed a crowd with a seemingly inadequate amount of food. Elisha told Naaman that his leprosy would be healed if he bathed seven times in the Jordan River. At first, the suggestion sounded foolish to Naaman, but he did it, and he was healed. Gehazi then secretly profited by charging Naaman some money for his healing. Gehazi's punishment was to contract leprosy himself. Elisha showed many more miracles, including making an ax head float, accurately foretelling enemy maneuvers, and blinding the enemy. The epitome of Israel's evil included women eating their own sons during a famine. Elisha also accurately foretold that the Syrian king would die in the famine. Even after Elisha died, another dead man was brought back to life when his body touched Elisha's dead bones (2 Kings 13:21).
King Jehu of Israel killed all of Ahab's family, including seventy sons and forty-two of former-King Ahaziah's brothers. Jehu destroyed Baal but not the calf idols. Later, King Menahem earned his fame by "ripping open all the pregnant women." The split kingdom of Israel was finally conquered by Assyria.
Meanwhile, Judah's Kings Rehoboam and Abijam were sinful, Asa was good, and Jehoram was so wicked that he married the daughter of the evil King Ahab of Israel. King Ahaziah's mother killed all the heirs to the throne of Judah, except for one-year-old Joash. She hid him until he was seven years old, when he became king, when the woman ruler Athaliah was killed. Joash was a good king and he had the temple repaired. King Azariah (Uzziah) died as a leper. King Ahab's evil included sacrificing his own son.
King Hezekiah was good and he even removed the evil shrines on the hill, an act that no other king had done. He confided in the prophet Isaiah, and he defeated the Assyrians, despite the Assyrians curse that the Israelites would eat their own dung and drink their own urine (2 Kings 18:27). On his deathbed, God added fifteen more years to his life. Isaiah proved his own authority by causing a sundial to move backward. He also predicted Babylonian captivity of Judah.
Babylonian Captivity - 2 Kings 21-2 Chronicles 36King Manasseh was evil, and he even rebuilt the shrines and murdered innocent people. King Amon was evil, but Josiah was Judah's best king. He discovered a scroll containing the laws of Moses, which had been lost and neglected for years. He reinstated the Passover and renewed the covenant with God. Despite Josiah, God vowed to destroy Judah as he had done to Israel. Josiah died, and King Jehoahaz was evil. Judah fell under Egyptian oppression, and Pharaoh Neco changed King Eliakim's name to Jehoiakim. Then Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, attacked Judah. Jehoiakim surrendered and he was imprisoned. Nebuchadnezzar appointed Jehoiakim's great uncle, Zedekiah, to act as Judah's king. Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon and he was defeated, and Judah was forced into exile in Babylon, as Isaiah had foretold. Nebuchadnezzar chose Gedaliah as Governor over Judah. After Nebuchadnezzar's reign, King Evil-Merodach of Babylon released Jehoiachin from prison, after having spent thirty-seven years there, and Evil-Merodach treated him well.
The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles recap the genealogy from Adam to Jehoiachin including the descendants of the twelve tribes of Israel, the reigns of Kings Saul, David, and Solomon, the splitting of the kingdom, and the kings of Judah.
Second Chronicles 7 is a magnificent account of God's promises when he consecrated Solomon's temple. In particular, 2 Chronicles 7:14 is His solemn pledge to help His people if they are humble, repent, turn to Him, and pray.
10 - The Captivity
Rebuilding the Temple - Ezra 1-6Eventually, world domination changed hands from Babylon to the Medo-Persian Empire. During the first year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, he allowed the captives of Judah to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. It was during this era that the Israelites became known as Jews (derived from the word "Judah"). Ezra lists the families of the 42,000 Jews who returned.
They began construction of the temple in King Cyrus's second year of reign. Although the new temple was magnificent, it could not compare to Solomon's temple. Those Jews who remembered the original temple wept over the mediocrity of the new one.
The nearby Gentile nations wanted to help build the temple, but the Jews wouldn't permit it. To retaliate against the Jews' insult, these Gentiles construed lies about the Jews, which caused the King of Persia to order that the temple construction be halted. Persian Kings of this era included Cyrus, Ahasureus, Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Methsedath, Tarbel, and Darius.
God sent two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, to encourage the Jews. Finally, in the second year of King Darius's reign, he ordered the construction of the temple to resume. The temple was completed in the sixth year of his reign.
Ezra 7-10Ezra was a Jewish priest in Babylon. He was a Levite, a seventeenth-generation descendant from Aaron. What glory he brought to God through his dedication to study, practice, and teach God's laws. The King of Persia sent Ezra to Jerusalem as their "spiritual leader." Ezra lists those who went with him. One of the first things Ezra addressed was the sinful intermarriages of the Jews with foreigners. Ezra 9 contains Ezra's beautiful prayer for forgiveness. The people repented and obeyed God by divorcing their heathen wives.
Nehemiah 1-13During the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, Nehemiah went to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. His first act was to stop the usury, which the Jews were exploiting. The wall of Jerusalem was rebuilt in fifty-two days. Nehemiah lists the exiles that then returned to Judah.
Ezra led the people in a renewing their commitment to obey God by praising Him and reading the Law of Moses. Nehemiah, who had become governor, renewed the covenant with God by signing a written document of allegiance to God. Nehemiah lists the leaders of Israel, which included Zerubbabel. The wall was dedicated and the Levites were restored to priesthood.
Esther 1-10The book of Esther documents a story during the reign of King Ahasureus of Persia. The King's Queen Vashti refused to go to a party given by the king. This caused the king to dethrone Vashti and to hold a beauty contest in order to determine the new queen. The king chose Esther, a beautiful Jewish girl, to be his new queen because of her beauty. In the meantime, Esther's cousin Mordecai, a Benjamite, saved the king and his throne from conspirators.
Haman was the prime minister of Persia. He ordered all Jews to bow to him, but Mordecai wouldn't. This provoked Haman to order that all Jews be killed. Mordecai pled with Esther to use her royal influence to persuade the king to save the Jews. Esther realized the risk that this could provoke the king's wrath, but she agreed to confront him anyway. Esther 4:16 quotes her courage in saying, "If I perish, I perish."
Esther held two banquets for the king and Haman. Meanwhile, the king discovered in his records that Mordecai had never been rewarded for his prior exposure of the king's conspirators. Therefore, the king honored Mordecai and made Haman honor Mordecai also. At Esther's banquet, she told the king about Haman's evil plot against the Jews. Unaware of the king's disapproval of his plan, Haman had built gallows 75 feet high on which to hang Mordecai. The king had Haman hung on the gallows which Haman had prepared for Mordecai.
Since a royal order could not be repealed, Esther persuaded the king to give the Jews permission to defend themselves against Haman's death sentence against them. This saved them from total destruction. Furthermore, the king had Haman's ten sons hanged. He then made Mordecai the new prime minister.
11 - Why Suffer?
Job - Job 1-37The book of Job tells a story of a wealthy man named Job from the land of Uz. The time isn't specified. Job was a good man and he had been greatly blessed by God. He obeyed God to the extent of offering burnt sacrifices just "in case" his children had provoked God's wrath by sinning.
One day, Satan went from earth to heaven to approach God. He made an accusation against Job, saying that he was good only because God had blessed him so much. God proclaimed that Job was righteous, above other men. Satan claimed that Job would curse God if he lost his wealth. To prove his omniscience, God allowed Satan to test Job, with the only restriction being that Satan not physically harm him. God placed all of Job's earthly possessions into Satan's hands, and Satan consequently destroyed his wealth and killed his children. Job's righteous response in Job 1:21 was to praise God for giving, and then taking away. Job wouldn't sin by accusing God.
Again Satan left the earth and approached God in heaven. This time God allowed Satan to test Job with his physical being, and Satan struck Job with sickness and terrible boils that covered his body. Job remained righteous in his suffering, but his wife suggested that he "curse God and die" in Job 2:9. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar visited him and they were all silent for seven days.
Then Job broke the silence by cursing his own birth. Some believe that Job 10:8-12 explicitly describes the miracle of human reproduction. In lengthy dialogues in the next 35 chapters, his three "friends" repeatedly claimed that Job's misfortunes were due to wicked sin in Job's life. They said that Job should confess his sins, repent, and pray, and then maybe God would heal him. They continually pleaded with Job to "return to God," proclaiming the truth that God is the all-powerful and righteous judge. The three were angry with Job.
Job however, in repeated retaliation, said that his misfortunes were not due to sin in his life, noting that many others sinned more and were punished less than himself. To him it seemed that God was unfair in His righteousness, and that his punishment was greater than his sin. He rebuked his three "friends" as poor comforters. Job was satisfied that he would eventually experience glory in heaven. His conscience was clear, but he asked God to explain His actions.
God's Answer - Job 38-42In Job, chapters 38 through 41, God spectacularly appeared in His wrath to Job in a whirlwind, in order to answer Job's questions. Beginning at Job 38:1-4, God answered Job, "Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said, 'Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand.'"
For four whole chapters, God continues to taunt Job with rhetorical and unanswerable questions such as, "What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside?" (Job 38:19).
God reminded Job that He created the world, not Job. Only God has the knowledge and power to understand all things. Job could not understand because he was not God. God challenged Job to explain His power. Could he send lightning, snow, or hail? How are the animals reproduced?
Finally, Job humbles himself and submits completely to God's omniscience. He responded simply, "I am unworthy." In Job 42:3, Job says, “Surely I spoke of things I didn't understand, things too wonderful for me to know." The answer to God's questions is that he (Job) is nothing. God is powerful, not man. God laid the divine plan for the universe, not man. God is righteous and omniscient in all things. Job agreed with God and confessed his sin. God then reprimanded Job's three friends for their sorry advice. God then blessed Job with new prosperity, even surpassing what he previously had, and Job lived another 140 years.
Although the book of Job can seem a bit boring, if read carefully, it offers some unique wisdom not found anywhere else in the scriptures. For example, Job 26:7 reveals God's omnipotence in His knowledge of the earth being suspended in space. Job 32:6-10 shows that although wisdom is usually a function of age, young people can attain it also. God may be describing dinosaurs in Job 40:15-24.
Job could also be a prophecy of the Church Age. In our day, Satan tempts us and accuses us before God. It's up to us to cling to God's sovereign judgment as to how He works each of us into His Divine Master Plan of the Universe, even if it means persecution for us.
12 - Songs
PsalmsThe book of Psalms is a collection of 150 songs, historical events, and prophecies that were written by David, Solomon, Moses, and possibly some anonymous authors, in order to praise and reverence God and His supremacy. The Psalms repeatedly acknowledge God as:
- A Rock
- Our Refuge
- The source of all blessings.
They continually plead with God in prayer for:
They plead with God to shed His mercy and forgiveness on His sinful people. They challenge those sinners to repent and to reverence and long for God with their obedience, kindness, bravery, faith, fear, blessings, patience, honor, exaltation, and profession. They repeatedly thank God for His love, forgiveness, and answers to prayer. They promise God's redemption and peace, offering all men the choice of heaven or hell as their own freewill choice of their own eternal destiny.
Righteousness - Psalms 1-21Men are to be righteous and blameless. Psalms 2:2 promises a great King who will eventually (2:9) reign the whole earth in peace as God's "anointed one," His son (2:7). Psalms 3 is a prayer for deliverance through a difficult period of great tribulation. In the end, all the righteous will be blessed and all the wicked judged. Justice will prevail. Psalms 8 acknowledges the majesty and Grace of God. It's only by God's Grace that man exists, as Psalms 8:4 says, "What is man, that you are mindful of him?" Psalms 8:5 tells us that God even made men only "a little lower than heavenly beings." God is righteous in all that He does, and man must trust Him. Yet, Psalms 14:3 notes the truth that no man is good, "not even one" (53:3). God is supreme and man is to obey Him.
God's deity can be seen in the perfect laws of nature, His creation. Our response to God is to glorify and please Him. Psalms 19:1-4 is used by some astronomers as biblical support of God's revelation in the stars.
The Coming King - Psalms 22-94Psalms 22 is a vision of God's Anointed King. God allows great persecution to temporarily subdue Him through torture by dehydration (22:15) and physical piercing of His hands and feet (22:16), but He is revived to reign forever.
Psalms 32 provides for a blessing due only to God's not counting David's (man's) sin against him (32:2). Psalms 32:5 reveals that this blessing comes when man simply confesses his sins to God. The joy that ensues is a product of God's sovereignty and man's salvation. Psalms 34 is a story of God's mercy shed upon the oppressed.
Psalms 37:2 promises that evil men will soon die away. Those who trust God (37:3) and turn from evil and do good (37:27) will always live securely. God will not forsake His faithful ones (37:38). We must wait on God, even in times of trouble. Man is so little, but God's mercy is so big. It isn't sacrifice and offerings that God wants (40:6), but rather, obedience to His Will (40:8). We should seek God, long for Him, and keep our hope in His power. Psalms 45 assures a time of everlasting victory, eternity.
Psalms 46 looks into the future when God will allow great wars on the earth before it is destroyed, then He will end all wars. We belong to God throughout eternity, but failure to trust in God will provoke Him to place us in eternal doom (49:13). Psalms 51:5 again offers evidence that life begins at conception. Our sacrifice must be our very lives, the breaking of our hearts by our sin (51:7), just as David's broke for his. Psalms 52 is David's curse on Doeg.
Psalms 59:13 assures God's eternal reign over Israel, and his eternal curse on those who slander Him. His eternal kingdom will be ruled by an eternal king. Our trust in God assures us that He will reward every person according to their deeds (62:12). God's eternal king will be worthy of man's honor and gifts. The king will be honored because He will be willing to assume responsibility for all men's sins (69:9). Yet He will be persecuted, and He will be given vinegar to drink. However, the persecutors of this king will be "blotted out of the book of life,” they will not prevail in the eternal kingdom.
Psalms 72 is a vivid description of God's eternal kingdom and His King, His own son. He will judge righteously and save the oppressed. This King will not only reign over Israel, but all nations (72:17). However, the untrusting men will perish (73:27).
Psalms 74:14 is a possible reference to God's curse on Satan in Genesis 3:15, saying, "He crushed the heads of Leviathan."
Psalms 78:2-3 foretells of someone who will speak in parables, revealing secrets forgotten through the ages. Psalms 80:14 compares Israel to a "vine." Psalms 84:10 tells us that it's better to be small with God than to be a big "somebody" in the eyes of evil men. Psalms 85 emphasizes God's mercy in overlooking men's sins. Psalms 86 emphasizes God's power and justice. Psalms 87 is a tribute to Zion. Psalms 88 through Psalms 94 describe a period of great tribulation during which men plead for deliverance. Psalms 90:3 says that God has the power to return men to dust. Psalms 90:4 shows that in His omnipotence, 1000 years are like a day. Psalms 90:10 possibly cites man's average life span on earth, 70 to 80 years. Psalms 91:11-12 foretells a time in which men will live in eternal safety, guarded by angels. Yet, God will destroy those whose thoughts are futile (94:11, 23).
Praise - Psalms 95-150Psalms 95 describes how men will enter faith rest and bow down and worship God's King. He will live forever (102:27). This provides hope for the destitute. Psalms 109 is quite a harsh Psalm of David, asking for stern vengeance upon his adversaries. God's King reigns at God's right hand as a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek (110:4), with His adversary (Satan) as His footstool (110:1). He saves the oppressed and His righteousness endures forever. Jews and Gentiles alike, all praise Him. He is with all. This King is described as a stone, in Psalms 118:22 that was rejected by the builders yet, somehow became the capstone. "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" (118:26).
God provides us with our children as His gift to us from the mother's womb (127:3). Psalms 128:6 gives another clue to the extent of man's longevity on earth. God blesses obedience, and we're blessed if we live to see our grandchildren. In Psalms 132, God fulfills His covenant through His King, as David's kingdom was fulfilled through Solomon. Psalms 133 describes the Utopian kingdom under this King. Psalms 137 describes the violent destruction of Babylon. Psalms 138:2 shows the importance of the Bible in that God's Word is "exalted above all." Psalms 139 is a picture of man's submission to God, "Search me O God, and know my heart" (139:23). Psalms 144 through Psalms 150 simply praise God, culminating in 150:6, "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord."
13 - Proverbs
Wisdom - Proverbs 1-2The book of Proverbs, written mostly by Solomon, teaches God's divine viewpoint of truth, wisdom, and justice. God gives wisdom. Wisdom is simply doing what is right. Wisdom yields a long and happy life, riches, honor, pleasure, peace, a good life, goodness, eternal life, blessings, safety, success, comfort, health, and peace of mind. All this culminates the epitome and purpose of life.
God spells out seven things that He hates:
- Plotters of evil
- Eagerness to do wrong
- False witness
- Sowing discord among brothers.
Failure to adhere to God's divine viewpoint of life yields punishment, frustration, death, weakness, unhappiness, and eternal death.
Obey God - Proverbs 3:1-31:5The following summary of Proverbs' hundreds of sayings is ordered by what seems to be God's priority of them, according to the emphasis and repetition of each thought. In over 35 Proverbs, God says we should be good, Godly, fair, and righteous. Be like God. In 65 proverbs there are warnings against sin, cheating, evil, unfairness, and Godlessness. We're to learn, and to seek wisdom and common sense, by watching and studying. As a man thinks, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). Yet, we cannot expect to understand everything as God does (Proverbs 20:24). Avoid being foolish, rebellious, and stupid. "As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly" (Proverbs 26:11). We're advised to be honest, truthful, and frank, and we're warned against dishonesty, deceit, lies, and flattery. We should exercise restraint, being calm, patient, and peaceful. When we help our enemy, we "heap burning coals on his head" (Proverbs 25:22). We should control our temper and not be anxious for revenge and fighting.
We must trust, obey, and revere God in our daily life and through prayer. Never despise or disobey God. Give and help generously, avoiding greed, envy, and covetousness. Work hard and stay busy. It's against God's purpose for us to be lazy, idle, or useless.
We should recognize our dependence on others by willingly accepting their criticism, reproof, and suggestions. We must listen to others because we aren't self-sufficient, and we must not allow our stubborn will to convince us that we are.
We should be kind and comforting, yet mind our own business. It is sinful to mock, curse, or gossip. Be courageous and faithful to take a stand. Never submit to peer pressure through fear.
Proverbs emphatically reveals God's Will for us to be humble and meek. Our pride and haughtiness is despised by God. "He mocks the proud mockers but gives grace to the humble" (Proverbs 3:34). "A prudent man ignores an insult" (Proverbs 12:16). We're to exhibit self-control and indulge only moderately, even in the good things of the earth. Overindulgence, charm, beauty, and pleasure should not be our goals. Everything should be in moderation, even our dress (Proverbs 7:10).
Be friendly, happy, and cheerful, not cranky, crabby, or complaining. Be stable, reliable, and diligent, and don't be worrisome. Be thrifty and plan ahead. Gambling and speculation are wasteful. Love others and be an encouragement to them. Never be hateful, apathetic, or discouraging.
Our families are to be honored, not mistreated. "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord" (Proverbs 22:18).
We should seek Heavenly rewards, not earthly ones such as money. "A rich man can buy his way out of threatened death by paying a ransom, but the poor man does not even have to listen to the threats" (Proverbs 13:8).
Be QuietIn surprising revelation to us, Proverbs reveals that we're to be quite, not talkative. The Bible does not just say that we should talk only when we have something worthy to say. Rather, it says, "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise" (10:19). "A man of knowledge uses words with restraint" (17:27). "A fool uttereth all his mind..." (29:11). "Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue" (17:28). Always think before speaking. Often, the conclusion of the thought will be to remain silent.
Discipline ChildrenAnother surprise is how explicitly the Bible states that we should discipline our children, and not pamper them. "The Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in" (Proverbs 3:12). Proverbs 13:24 reveals God's divine viewpoint of "children's rights." "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." "Discipline your son, for in that there is hope" (Proverbs 19:18). "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6). "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it from him" (Proverbs 22:15). "A servant cannot be corrected by mere words; though he understands, he will not respond" (Proverbs 29:19).
EternityAnother important revelation is our outlook on our life after death. Our primary concern is to spend eternity in heaven, but that end is achieved through our responses during our life on earth. "If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner" (Proverbs 11:31). God's blessings and punishments depend upon our actions on earth. Our responses not only affect this life, but the hereafter also. There are even degrees of goodness in heaven. Although we're to seek moderation in earthly rewards, we're to seek heavenly rewards with fervor. "Does not He who guards your life know it? Will He not repay each person according to what he has done?" (Proverbs 24:12).
Other facets of our lives that please God are:
- Persuading others of truth
- Valuing grace
- Not fearing old age
- White hair
Other warnings which God gives are against: sexual sin, cosigning notes, and, indulgence in liquor and wine which lead to depression, particularly for those in positions of leadership whose judgment would be impaired by alcohol (Proverbs 31:4-5).
Women Proverbs 31:6-31Finally, Proverbs 31 contains God's divine viewpoint of womanhood. The Godly wife honors her husband, cares for her family and home, and is thrifty, skillful, generous, and wise.
14 - Futility
Futility without God - Ecclesiastes 1-10The book of Ecclesiastes is, at first, a great disappointment to its reader. It's the book of the natural man. The central theme is, "Everything is meaningless" (1:2). Sin is seen as an essential part of human nature, and since sin can't be right, our very existence is cited as futile. Ecclesiastes 2:13 cites wisdom being better than folly, but even with wisdom, life is described as a meaningless existence, here only as a vapor. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is the familiar passage declaring that there is "a time for everything,” even for such seemingly godless acts as grief and hate. Ecclesiastes 3:22 confuses us further by declaring the ultimate satisfaction in a man's life can only be to "enjoy his work."
Ecclesiastes 4 reemphasizes that all is futile, and Ecclesiastes 6 concludes: why bother. However, Ecclesiastes 5 yields some true wisdom, declaring that we must keep our promises to God. If we make money our priority, we will discover that we never have enough money. We're to avoid speculative investments. Ecclesiastes 7 adds that we should maintain a good reputation. Above all, we need to simply watch God work, and fall into line, in accordance to His will. We have no right to question His Will because "There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins" (7:10). Ecclesiastes 7:28 reveals that only one man in a thousand can be considered "upright,” and there are no "upright" women at all.
We must simply fear God. He has predestined each of us into His divine plan of mankind (Ecclesiastes 9:1). We all share the common destiny (9:2) of "death" in this life. What seems unfair to man causes him not to try to be good. This causes him not to reap God's potential rewards for him.
Again, Ecclesiastes 9:9-10 forewarns that the best one can hope for in this life is to enjoy life until death. Ecclesiastes 10 cites that in our lack of wisdom, we fall prey to the consequences of this life, since there is risk in everything.
Obey God - Ecclesiastes 11-12Ecclesiastes 11 says "Give" and be generous, because a life is coming after this one where anything given away will be returned. We can do what we want, but someday we will account to God for all things. Finally, Ecclesiastes 12 reveals the key to understanding this book. We must remember our Creator. We must "fear God and obey His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (12:13). "God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it's good or evil" (12:14). This is what matters, and everything else is futile.
Love - Song of Songs 1-8When we do fall into line with God, the relationship between God and man reaches its climax. The book of the Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) is a beautifully composed poetic tribute to this relationship. It is compared to the love between a bride and groom. It's the ultimate love. Song of Solomon reveals God's love for Israel, and for all mankind. Its eight chapters cannot be adequately summarized or paraphrased. It simply needs to be read by all. It reveals that God made all things good. Only man has degraded them. Man has even degraded the divine viewpoint of God to the extent that the true language and beauty of the Song of Songs can be masked by the wicked preconceptions of our evil society (Song of Songs 6:3).
15 - Isaiah
Isaiah 1Isaiah wrote his book of prophecy in Judah during the reigns of Kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah. In it, he informed the Jews that God would eventually conquer and judge all evil. He pled with the Jews not to give up on God, but to repent. However, the people continued in sin, so Isaiah foretold of the awful, though not complete or eternal, destruction of Judah and Jerusalem. Isaiah 1:21-23 tells of God's judgment upon Israel for debasing their monetary system. Some believe that this is similar to what the United States has done by discontinuing silver coins and silver certificates. In the end redemption will reign.
The End Times - Isaiah 2-5Isaiah 2 is the first vivid prophecy that we have of the "end times,” that is, the end of the world as we know it, even in the future for us in the twentieth century. The great King of Israel will reign in Jerusalem over a world of peace. "They will beat their swords into plowshares" (Isaiah 2:4). However, the "proud and lofty" (2:12) will be judged. For them, it will not be a good time.
Isaiah 3 and 4 refer back to the destruction of Israel and Judah, which is now past history for us. Isaiah warned the Jews that their destruction would be so complete, and so many men would perish, that seven women would remain for each man that survived. The destruction would begin with the elders, but even some women would perish. However, the Godly would escape destruction. Isaiah 5:13 predicted exile into a foreign country. We have seen how this was fulfilled by Israel's captivity under Assyria, and Judah's under Babylon. Furthermore, Isaiah 5:18-30 describes "woe to those" that are ungodly. They will suffer an eternity of stress in hell.
Isaiah's Call - Isaiah 6Isaiah 6 describes the miraculous ceremony with seraphs by which God called Isaiah into His ministry, after God symbolically atoned for Isaiah's sins with a "live coal" (6:6-7). God asked who would be His messenger, and Isaiah replied, "Here am I. Send me" (6:8). God instructed Isaiah to warn the people by foretelling of a time to come when they would further reject His Word and His King, rather than to repent (6:9-10). Israel would be destroyed. Only ten percent of the people would remain in the barren land of Israel. But eventually, God would redeem them.
The King - Isaiah 7-13In Isaiah 7, King Pekah of Israel planned to attack King Ahaz of Judah. Isaiah predicted that Israel would fail, within 65 years Ephraim would also be destroyed, and Assyria would conquer Israel. Judah would eventually be destroyed too. Isaiah also foretells of a miracle that God would eventually perform by causing His King to be born of a virgin. He would be called Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14). This would be a sign to the Jews of God's authority. Isaiah then predicted the destruction of Damascus and Samaria. Through the coming destruction, most of Israel and Judah would reject God and His King. Those who placed their trust in the Lord however, would see that the coming King was from Him.
In Isaiah 8:19-20, Isaiah says not to consult the spirits of the dead, but to consult only those in accordance with God's Word. His King would minister in Zebulun and Naphtali, in Galilee, with Gentiles, and along the Jordan River. This King would be the messiah, sent from God to save the people. He would cause people to believe in God and repent. He would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. A glorious time would come when He would rule the world in peace from David's throne in Jerusalem (Isaiah 9:7). His righteousness will reign eternally. However, unbelievers will suffer God's wrath eternally.
Isaiah then predicted that after Assyria destroyed Israel, Assyria too would be destroyed. A remnant of Israel would return to their destroyed land (Isaiah 10:22-23).
Isaiah 11 promises hope after the coming destruction. God promised that His King would be a descendant of Jesse and David, from the tribe of Judah. The King will reign eternally in peace. God's spirit will be with Him, giving Him wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, fear of God, and righteousness (the seven Spirits of God). In that Utopian society, the King will reign with perfect justice and peace. He will defend the poor. Even wild animals will be peaceful, as in the Garden of Eden, before sin. The Gentiles will be under His rule also (Isaiah 11:10). God's covenant in Isaiah 11:11-12 assures that all of Israel will be reunited after their scattering throughout the world. Finally, all men will praise God (12:3-4), as was God's purpose for man from the beginning.
Next, Isaiah predicted the destruction of Babylon. That great city wouldn't be inhabited again (Isaiah 13:20). This was fulfilled in the sixth century B.C. when the Babylonian Empire fell. Babylon is still deserted today. After Israel's destruction, she would return to her homeland. Just as surely that the Godly will live in eternal peace, the wicked will face God's wrath in the terrible "Day of the Lord" (Isaiah 13:9). The sun, moon, and stars won't even shine.
Satan - Isaiah 14-23Isaiah 14:12-23 describes Satan being in heaven originally, becoming jealous of God, plotting against God, and being cast out of heaven by God, to roam the earth until his eventual doom in hell.
Isaiah then predicted the destruction of Assyria, the Philistines, Moab (the cities of Ar and Kir in one Night), Damascus (the capital of Syria), Cush (Ethiopia), Egypt, Babylon, Edom, Arabia, Jerusalem, and Tyre (over a seventy-year period). These prophecies have been miraculously fulfilled. The prophecy against Tyre being completely destroyed and scraped clean is particularly amazing, being fulfilled in minute detail against mathematical odds that some historians have estimated at one in 400 million. Some believe that Isaiah 19:19-20 identifies the Egyptian pyramids as God's sign to the nations.
The Christ - Isaiah 24Isaiah then turns again to prophecy of the end times. Preceding the reign of God's Christ in Jerusalem (Zion), described in Isaiah 24:27, will be a period of massive confusion, collapse, and judgment on the earth (Isaiah 24:21-22).
Redemption - Isaiah 25-52Again, Isaiah predicted the return of Israel, the atonement of sin (Isaiah 27:9), as well as the judgment of Satan. He promises contentment for all who trust God's precious "cornerstone" in Zion (Isaiah 28:16). He reiterates the coming doom for the hypocrites of Jerusalem, Israel, and Samaria. The people will be amazed by God's miracles (Isaiah 29:10-16, 30:20). Isaiah 28:11 prophesies of the gift of tongues. In the end, God will reign (Isaiah 30:25). He will conquer (Isaiah 31:4), so Isaiah pled for Israel to return to God. Isaiah 32 and 33 beautifully describe the peace and justice in the end times. However, Isaiah 32 also describes the awful battle and destruction of Israel's enemies before the time of tranquility. Then Chapter 35 again describes the joy of those redeemed into that tranquil era. In that time, all fear will dissolve (Isaiah 35:4) and all illness will be healed (35:5). All the earth will be Utopian (35:6-7).
Then Isaiah returns his thoughts back to the business at hand in the days of King Hezekiah. Assyria attacked Judah and discouraged the people of Judah from trusting God. However, Isaiah convinced Hezekiah to stand on God's power. Isaiah predicted Assyria's defeat, and God defeated them. Then Hezekiah became fatally ill and Isaiah predicted that he would recover and that he would live fifteen more years, and he did. Isaiah then prayed for peace, but also predicted exile to Babylon.
Isaiah 40:3-5 predicted that there would be a time when God's glory would be revealed through His King, and God would use a messenger to prepare the way for Him. Isaiah 40:31 describes a time when the people will soar on wings like eagles. Isaiah 40:6-8 reiterates the smallness of man and the everlasting omnipotence of God. Isaiah 40:22 reveals God's omniscience, in His knowledge that the earth was round, a fact that was not discovered by man for thousands of years. We can't even understand God's glory (40:13). Yet in His glory, He answers our prayers, and He will support and protect us through this life and into His Utopian kingdom (41:18). That kingdom will be ushered in by God's chosen King (42:1). That King will rule with perfect justice by the power of God's Spirit. In the end, man's only hope is through Him (42:4).
Isaiah then predicted that after a period of Babylonian oppression, King Cyrus of Persia would order the destroyed Jerusalem and temple to be rebuilt. In fact, a day will come when everyone will acknowledge God (Isaiah 45:23). Babylon would be destroyed. Isaiah 48:12 shows the power of God, "I am He; I am the first and I am the last." "I am the Lord and there is no other. Besides me there is no God" (Isaiah 45:5). His authority is further reckoned in Isaiah 49:1 where He called Isaiah before his birth. This verse is also used by some to demonstrate God's stand on abortion, in that life begins before birth. God's salvation will be through the Jews, but for all men (49:6). Israel will be restored. God will help and comfort man. Righteousness will prevail. The day will come when God's wrath will end. Israel would be delivered out of the hands of the blasphemous Babylonians, and eventually into God's Kingdom.
The Messiah - Isaiah 53-56Isaiah 53 is a vivid prophecy and description of the Messiah who would save God's people. In His strength and humility, He would willingly accept the burden of all sin of men. He would be "pierced" for man's transgressions and "crushed" for our iniquity (Isaiah 53:5). "The Lord has laid on Him, the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). He would suffer oppression and affliction for men's sins. He wouldn't be considered attractive. He would be beaten beyond recognition (Isaiah 52:14). He would be rejected by most men. Few would listen to His truth. He would even be killed, and buried in a rich man's grave. His life would be a guilt offering. However, he would live again.
In His new life, He would reign with perfect justice in God's Utopian Kingdom. Man's duty is to seek God. He is everything and we're nothing (Isaiah 55:9). This is the argument that many cite against secular humanism.
God's Word is pure, effective truth (55:11). The Bible and its teachings always yield the results that God intends.
His salvation will reach past the Jews into all nations. The Jews are God's tool. They are to accept God's covenant and serve Him.
Death - Isaiah 57-65Isaiah 57 deals with death. Men must die, whether they're good or bad. The righteous, however, will be "spared from evil" (Isaiah 57:1), but "'There is no peace,' says my God, 'for the wicked'" (57:21). They will burn in hell. Yet it isn't by our own works of righteousness that we're saved from hell, rather through the grace of God.
The Jews were charged to keep the Sabbath and to fast. Sin separates man from God (Isaiah 59:2). God does not listen to man in His sinful state. He must punish evil. Although Isaiah must have been dumbfounded as to how God would do it, he wrote, "The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins" (59:20). In Isaiah 59:21, God made a covenant to restore believers to their righteous state and to leave His Spirit with them forever. Somehow, He would provide man a propitiation for his sins in order to restore His fellowship with man. God's people will reign in heaven. The sun and moon won't be necessary because "The Lord will be your everlasting light" (60:19).
Isaiah 61 further describes how God's King will preach good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, and release the prisoners (61:1). In a wonderful day to come, the mourners will be comforted and despair will turn to gladness. Ruined cities will be rebuilt. God will establish His everlasting covenant with man for His Utopian earthly Kingdom for the faithful. God is our power and we should never stop praying to Him. God is just. He won't desert the faithful. In the end the faithful will be redeemed and God will have a "Day of Vengeance" on the wicked. Isaiah 63 describes the violent battle in which God's King conquers the evil nations of the world. Isaiah 63:17 says that God causes us to stray from Him.
God is the only God (Isaiah 64:4). We're sinful. "All our righteous acts are like filthy rags" (64:6), compared to God's righteousness. We must confess sin, praise God, and anticipate His revelation. Yet, in Isaiah 65, Isaiah predicted that Israel would reject the truth that God gave them. In response, God would allow destruction of Israel, saving only a remnant. Yet, in the end, God's glory will be revealed in a new heaven and a new earth. Old things will be forgotten. "Be glad and rejoice forever" (65:17-18). In God's marvelous earthly kingdom, men will live for hundreds of years, like they did originally. Only sinners will die young.
Judgment - Isaiah 66In the ultimate Day of Judgment, hypocrites will be doomed. God deserves our humble and contrite spirit, which causes our trembling at His Word (Isaiah 66:2). Isaiah 66:5-8 describes the birth of a country born in a day. But just as good as the faithful are rewarded; even to a greater extent will the wicked be punished. They will suffer fire for eternity in hell (66:24).
16 - Jeremiah
Destruction and Exile Predicted - Jeremiah 1-52Jeremiah wrote his book of prophecy in Judah during the reigns of Kings Josiah, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah of Judah. Like Isaiah, God called Jeremiah into service before his birth. In a vision of a branch of an almond tree and a boiling pot, God revealed that Israel would be attacked from the North but God would deliver her. Jeremiah cites Israel's guilt and faithlessness, and calls the people to repent and to be healed from their sins. One major sin was heir worship of evolution to the extent that they claimed that the trees and stones were their ancestors (Jeremiah 2:26-27). Jeremiah told them that it was not too late to be saved and forgiven. He cited their failure to repent, and the Babylonian seizure to come, due to their sins. Those who don't yield to God's words will be consumed in the fire of His Words (Jeremiah 5:14). The people acted like they could commit any evil deed, and then return to God's house and claim safety from Him. Jeremiah 7:11 refers to God's house as a "den of robbers." God demanded their obedience, not their sacrifices and offerings. Jeremiah pled with them to confess and repent in order to avoid God's wrath. God could repent from it. Instead, He would make their land desolate (7:34).
God's love is steadfast. What matters is for men to be circumcised in their heart, not their body. Love God and boast only in knowing Him (Jeremiah 9:23). Yet, Jeremiah recognized the people's sins and the wrath they provoked from God. He prayed, "Please be gentle." He continually pled with the people to obey God and not to sin. Although his heart "longed for God," he knew it was too late for Israel. God would abandon them. He would ruin the pride and stubbornness of Judah (13:9). He would destroy them (13:14). They would be exiled.
A famine and drought occurred and Jeremiah continued pleading with God. God rejected his plea to save Israel, saying that "even if Moses and Samuel " pled, he would destroy her (Jeremiah 15:1). However, He would save Jeremiah because of his faithfulness in the persecution he suffered from the people for bearing God's truth which Jeremiah "ate" (15:16).
God commanded Jeremiah not to marry. He promised that Israel would return from captivity. He charged Israel to trust Him and to keep the Sabbath. The people's response was to attack Jeremiah when he revealed God's message. In one symbolic act, God made Jeremiah compare Judah's destruction to the breaking of a clay jar. They would scatter like the broken pieces of the jar. Some will argue that Jeremiah 18:10 invalidates all of God's previous promises to the nation of Israel.
Jeremiah was beaten and arrested. Jeremiah 20 contains his complaint to God concerning his persecution. This is symbolic of the coming "time of Jacob's trouble." So, terrible is God's wrath that Jeremiah asked, "Why did I ever come out of the womb?" (20:18). Then, when under Babylonian attack, the people pled for Jeremiah to pray for their deliverance. Jeremiah refused, saying it was too late. They had to submit to God's wrath. "'I will punish you as your deeds deserve,' declares the Lord" (21:14). Jeremiah 22 contains Jeremiah's curse on Jehoiachin and his son Coniah, which promised that none of their descendants would be Israel's Messiah and King.
Then Jeremiah reminded the people to place their hope in the wonderful coming Kingdom of God to be reigned by a King from David's descendants. He also warned that false prophets would be punished for their lies. He identified those false prophets as ones who say, "I had a dream . . ." (Jeremiah 23:25). Then God gave Jeremiah a vision of two baskets of figs. The good figs were the good exiles from Judah, and God would protect them. However, God's curse was on the bad figs, which were survivors from Jerusalem, Zedekiah and his and his followers.
It was in the fourth year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, and the first year of the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, that Jeremiah predicted Judah's Babylonian captivity for seventy years. This was eventually fulfilled. He also predicted Babylon's defeat, which King Cyrus and the Medes eventually fulfilled. God's cup of wrath, from which the evil nations would drink, would be so terrible that He commanded Jeremiah to tell them, "Drink, be drunk, vomit, fall down, and rise no more . . ." (Jeremiah 25:27).
God told Jeremiah to warn the people, and He explicitly commanded, "Do not omit a word" (Jeremiah 26:2). In the first year of Jehoiakim, Jeremiah predicted the destruction of the temple. The people rebelled against such prophecy. God's prophet Uriah was butchered by Jehoiakim. However, Jeremiah was saved by Ahikam. Next, God made Jeremiah publicly wear a yoke as a symbol of Judah's bondage in Babylonian captivity. A false prophet, Hananiah lied (falsely prophesying of a two-year captivity) and he broke the yoke. Jeremiah cursed him with death, and he died two months later.
Jeremiah 29 contains a letter from Jeremiah to the exiles in Babylon after their captivity. He encouraged the people to be patient through their seventy years of captivity. They should be good and pray, and God would listen when they "seek Me with all your heart" (29:13).
In Jeremiah 30, God commanded Jeremiah to record His prophecies in a written record. God promised the restoration of Israel, but he also promised great tribulation described in Jeremiah 30:6, "Can a man bear children? Then why do I see every strong man with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor, every face turned deathly pale?" It will be known as the time of trouble for Jacob (30:7). But He wouldn't completely destroy them (30:11). Again God gives hope in His coming Kingdom ruled by His King referred to as "David" in verse 9, indicating that He would be one of King David's descendants. Jeremiah 30:24 says that God's wrath must come, but He assures us that in the days to come, we will understand this.
Jeremiah 31 is a fantastic prediction of rebuilding Israel, the coming Christ, and the new covenant. The promise is to gather Israel from around the world, as is being done in the twentieth century. However, also promised is a time when women will grieve the loss of their children (31:15). Jeremiah 31:29-30 implies that God's new covenant would make each individual responsible for his own sin and actions, unlike the days of Moses, when sin was punished through generations to come. With the new covenant, God’s words would reside in men's hearts and minds. All would know Him. God would forgive sin. God emphatically promises that Israel will be a nation forever. Jeremiah 31:38-40 gives a vivid prophecy of exactly how the destroyed city of Jerusalem would be rebuilt. Some believe that this prophecy has been fulfilled in the twentieth century with the rebuilding of Jerusalem that was completed by 1935 A.D. Jeremiah 31:22 refers to a perfect monogamous marriage relationship.
Jeremiah 32 returns to the description of Jeremiah's persecution. He was imprisoned in Zedekiah's tenth year. While the Babylonian seizure was in progress, Jeremiah bought a field, as God had commanded him, in order to symbolize Israel's ownership of their land, even when exiled. (Some believe that Jeremiah 32:18-29 is also a reference to the Egyptian pyramids.) Jeremiah 33 contains predictions of the end times, the Christ's reign, the destruction of Judah, and their restoration and cleansing.
It should also be noted that many believe that Jeremiah 31 through 35 refers to the present Age of the Church, rather than to a restored Jewish nation.
Jeremiah 35 is a lesson in obeying one's parents. In Jeremiah's day, it was legal to drink alcoholic beverages. However, a man named Rechab chose not to drink, and he commanded his sons not to drink. This was his right. His sons obeyed their father, even though they were not legally forbidden to drink, and this caused them to be a glory to him.
In the fourth year of Jehoiakim, Jeremiah and his helper, Baruch, painstakingly recorded God's prophecies in written form. The king burnt the document, page by page. God commanded them to rewrite it, and they obeyed, writing more than what they had previously written. Then Jeremiah was arrested and beaten. Nebuchadnezzar appointed Zedekiah as king, and Jeremiah was imprisoned in an empty cistern. Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, and Jeremiah advised Zedekiah to surrender in order to save Jerusalem from being burned. In Zedekiah's ninth year, under Babylonian rule, Nebuchadnezzar gouged out Zedekiah's eyes, but saved Jeremiah and freed him from prison.
In captivity, Gedaliah was appointed as governor of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar. Then a Jew named Ishmael killed Gedaliah, which caused the Jews to fear Nebuchadnezzar. However, God commanded them to stay in Babylon, and not to flee to Egypt. Some of the people disobeyed and fled to Egypt anyway. God promised to destroy those who didn't return. He also promised protection to Baruch.
Jeremiah 46 through 50 are prophecies of destruction against Egypt, the Philistines, Moab, the Ammonites, Edom, Damascus, Kedar, Hazor, and Elam. God also promised to use Cyrus to destroy Babylon and to free Judah. There were a total of three separate Babylonian sieges. In the 37th year of captivity, King Evil-Merodach freed Jehoiakim and was kind to him.
The book of Lamentations is a description of the Jews under Babylonian captivity. It mourns for Jerusalem, which God had destroyed in His wrath against their sin.
17 - Ezekiel
Ezekiel 1-3Ezekiel was a Jewish priest living with exiles from Judah in Babylon. God called him the "son of dust" and the "son of man." God sent a vision to Ezekiel of a whirlwind and four beasts, each with four faces, the face of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. He also saw a moving wheel and a man, and he heard God speak. He told Ezekiel to give the people messages of warning, sorrow, and doom. God told Ezekiel to "eat" the scroll containing God's Words. When he did, it tasted as sweet as honey in his mouth. Under control of the Spirit of God, Ezekiel was made as stubborn as those he would encounter. God caused him to meditate on His words and not to fear. If Ezekiel warned Israel, God would save him. If not, Ezekiel would die.
Punishment - Ezekiel 4-22Ezekiel 4 is full of interesting symbols, which God used in order to express Himself. He told Ezekiel to draw a map of Jerusalem on a clay tablet, and to act out a siege on the city. Then he placed an iron pan between the city and himself, and he turned his face away. Then he lay on his left side and symbolically bore the peoples' sins. Israel had sinned for 390 years, so he lay for 390 days, one day for each year. Then he lay on his right side and bore the sins of Judah for forty days, again a day for each year. God tied him with ropes so that he could not move from the position. God told him that during these 430 days, he was to eat bread, which was baked using human dung for fuel. Ezekiel rebelled against such defilement, so God let him bake the bread over cow manure instead. This symbolized a food and water shortage in Jerusalem.
Next, God commanded Ezekiel to shave his head and burn one third of the map of Jerusalem. This prophesied the burning of Jerusalem. He then slashed one third of the map, foreseeing disease, famine, and cannibalism. He scattered the last third, as the Jews would be scattered. God would save only a remnant of them.
In the sixth year of Jehoiachin, God showed Ezekiel a "man with a writer's case" who revealed idol worship among the Jews, so extensive that even the elders would indulge. God then said, "I will show you greater sins than these." Some of them worshiped a god named Tammuz. The Godly would be "sealed" on their foreheads, but the rest would be killed, starting with the priests.
Ezekiel then saw a vision of a whirlwind and cherubim. He prophesied against the elders, saying they would be scattered and killed, and against the false prophets. He illustrated life in exile. God commended three of His previous faithful followers, Noah, Daniel, and Job, by saying that if they were among the current generation of Jews, they would be the only ones worthy of being saved from the coming catastrophe, because of their righteousness.
Ezekiel prophesied again of the burning of Jerusalem as God's repayment to Jerusalem for her sins. He reiterated God's new covenant in Ezekiel 16:61-62. He then used a riddle involving two eagles and a vine in order to foretell Zedekiah's death in Babylon.
Ezekiel 18 states God's requirement for repentance. Man is destined to die for his sins. Only those who repent will live, when they become lawful, right, God-fearing, obedient, merciful, honest, and fair. Even believers who return to evil will suffer temporal death for their sin (Ezekiel 18:24-29). However, nobody will die for the sins of his ancestors. Only one's own individual sins would condemn him. Ezekiel 19 is a death dirge for those condemned.
God reveals the extent of his wrath by exclaiming, "How dare the people ask for help." It was too late this time. However, again He assures that the Jews will eventually be gathered and offered salvation (Ezekiel 20:33-42). Ezekiel describes the scattering as being doom by God's "sword."
Two Sisters - Ezekiel 23-35Ezekiel then uses a story of two sisters, Oholah and Oholibah (symbolic of Samaria and Jerusalem), to prophesy Assyria's destruction of Jerusalem as God's punishment for sin. He then used a cooking pot illustration to describe how they would be judged according to their actions (Ezekiel 24:14). The death for Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple occurred in Jehoiakim's ninth year.
Ezekiel prophesied the destruction of Amon, Moab, Edom, Egypt (to be desolate for forty years), the Philistines, Tyre (possibly symbolic of Satan), Mt. Sier, and Sidon, Israel's enemies. After these things, "You will know I am Lord."
Again he tells how repentance is necessary in order to sustain life, and how mere works yield only death. God will save His people and provide them eternal life through His Messiah from Israel's and David's lineage. Fulfillment of God's prophecies will prove their truth. Again the Utopian kingdom is cited as Israel's hope. Ezekiel 34 is God's handbook for pastors (shepherds).
Return - Ezekiel 36Ezekiel 36:16-19 further explains how the lack of faith and responsibility of the Jews led to their scattering. Yet, God would reveal Himself to the whole world by gathering them. He would return them to their own land (Ezekiel 36:24-26). He will cleanse them and transform them into His obedient servants, giving them a new (reborn) heart. He will provide perfectly for them.
Valley of Dry Bones - Ezekiel 37Ezekiel 37 is the famed passage of "The Valley of Dry Bones." It symbolizes Israel as scattered, dead bones being brought together and given life. God will even eventually fill them with His Spirit, providing their salvation. All the tribes of Israel will unite under the rule of the Messiah ("David"), and they will obey God. God will give them His new covenant of everlasting peace. "I will be their God, and they will be my people (Ezekiel 37:27)."
Gog and Magog - Ezekiel 38-48Ezekiel 38 and 39 contain amazing prophecies, also yet to be fulfilled. Once Israel is reestablished in their homeland, they will be massively attacked from all sides. The primary attack will be from "Gog and Magog,” far north of Israel. The mighty army will be on horseback and her allies, including Iran, Ethiopia, and Libya, will surround Israel. When they attack Israel, God will intervene, save Israel, and destroy her attackers with an earthquake. Gog will never live again. This will happen "so that the nations will know Me."
18 - Daniel
Captivity - Daniel 1Daniel may be the most difficult book of the Bible to understand. This prophetic book begins with the account of the Babylonian captivity of some of the young Jewish men taken captive from Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (assigned Babylonian names: Belteshazzar, Shadrack, Meschach, and Abednego, respectively). When commanded to eat rich royal food and drink wine, they refused to eat anything but vegetables and water. When this proved to be healthier food indeed, Daniel became King Nebuchadnezzar's counselor.
Prophecies of World Empires - Daniel 2Nebuchadnezzar called on Daniel's wisdom to interpret a dream. Not only did he want the interpretation, but the dream itself, because he couldn't remember it. Daniel prayed praise to God, and asked His help, and God showed him the dream. Daniel explained it to Nebuchadnezzar, and gave God the credit for it. The dream showed a statue made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, and clay, which was destroyed by a rock. Its meaning was that there were four Gentile world kingdoms to come (followed by a Heavenly Kingdom). The fourth world kingdom would split. It pictured Gentile world domination before God set up His Heavenly Kingdom on earth. We know this prophecy was fulfilled by the world empires of Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome, which eventually split. God's heavenly kingdom on earth is still to come.
The Fiery Furnace - Daniel 3-4Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah refused to worship the idols of Babylon. The king reprimanded them, and then offered them a second chance. They refused the second chance and emphasized that they worshiped only God. They were thrown into a fiery furnace, so hot that it killed the men who cast them into it. God incarnate went into the furnace too, and He protected the three men. Their hair or clothes weren't even singed or smoky.
Daniel interpreted another dream for the king, by the power of God's Holy Spirit which God had put into Daniel in an act of Old Testament Grace. This dream showed a tree and a messenger. The dream predicted that Nebuchadnezzar would lose his throne and be lost in the wilderness. Then he would be restored to the throne by acknowledging God. The prophecy was fulfilled, beginning twelve months later.
The Writing on the Wall - Daniel 5Nebuchadnezzar's son, Belshazzar, succeeded him as king. At a party, Belshazzar witnessed a mysterious handwriting on a wall. Daniel interpreted the writing as a prediction of Babylon being destroyed by Media-Persia. Belshazzar was killed that very night.
The Lion's Den - Daniel 6-8Later, King Darius of Persia ordered a decree against prayer, punishable by death in the lion's den. Daniel took a faithful stand and continued his prayer life. Consequently, Daniel was thrown into the lion's den, but he was protected by an angel. Darius then ordered fear and reverence to Daniel's God.
During Belshazzar's reign, Daniel had a dream about four beasts, God, God's King, and God's "record book." God's interpretation of the dream was that four worldly kingdoms were coming. This prophecy has been partially fulfilled. First was Babylon, the lion, led by Nebuchadnezzar. Second was the Media-Persia kingdom, the bear. Third was Greece, the leopard (which would eventually be led by Alexander the Great). Fourth was Rome, which split and which will have ten kings. Its eleventh king, the Antichrist, will destroy three of the other kings. God's people will be persecuted for "time, times, and half a time." Then God and His King will reign.
Daniel also had a vision of a ram and a goat interpreted as follows: The ram (the Media Persia Empire) would be overthrown by the goat (Alexander the Great). His kingdom (Greece) would split into four pieces. Rome would become a world empire. God's people will be persecuted. In the end, the Antichrist will demonstrate his evil. The daily sacrifice in the temple would be desolated. Daniel then asked a question of great concern to himself, as well as to us in the twentieth century, "How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled?" Daniel 8:14 says that from the abomination of the temple to its new consecration would take "2300 evenings and mornings." The temple destruction would be avenged in Daniel's distant future (Daniel 8:26), the time of the end (8:12). First would come God's wrath in tribulation, then His everlasting Kingdom.
Seventy Sevens - Daniel 9-11Daniel knew, from reading Jeremiah that their captivity would last seventy years. He prayed for Jerusalem's restoration. Gabriel brought Daniel the answer to his prayer. Seventy sevens (or weeks), or 490 days (or years), were required for the atonement of the Jews for their evil, in order for God's kingdom to be established. The seventy sevens were divided into 62 sevens, 7 sevens, and 1 seven. From the time the order to rebuild Jerusalem was given, until the Messiah came, would be "7 sevens and 62 sevens." Jerusalem would be rebuilt during troubled times. After the 62 sevens, the Messiah would be "cut off and have nothing." During a period of wars, the sanctuary would be destroyed (this happened in 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome). The Antichrist would promise peace with the Jews, only to break his promise in the middle of the 1 seven, by stopping the temple sacrifices, and he would defile the temple. Then God would destroy him.
Daniel 10 gives more details of the Persian and Greek empires. Egypt would become a world power and she would ally with Syria. Israel would be persecuted.
Tribulation - Daniel 12Daniel 12 describes God's wrath during the Great Tribulation. Anyone whose name is in God's book of life will be saved. The dead will rise, some to heaven and some to hell. Some people will be wise. Some will be God's witnesses. In the end times, travel and knowledge would be increased. Daniel asked, "How long will it be before these things happen?" God replied, "a time, times, and a half a time." In the end, the wise would recognize Daniel's prophecy and fulfillment. The time from the sacrifices being abolished until the "abomination of desolation" would be "1290 days." "Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1335 days." This would be long after Daniel's lifetime.
19 - The Minor Prophets
Hosea 1-13Hosea wrote his book of prophecy in Judah during the reigns of Kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah, and King Jereboam, son of Jehoash, of Israel. God commanded Hosea to marry a prostitute in order to symbolize Israel's adultery against God. He married Gomer. They named their first son Jezreel in order to cite God's coming wrath upon Jehu. They named their daughter Lo-Ruhamah to signify God's withdrawal of love and mercy to Israel. They named their next son Lo-Ammi to symbolize God's rejection of Israel. However, one day God would again love Israel and Judah and unite them under one ruler.
Hosea 2 identifies Israel as God's "wife." Hosea pleads with Israel to repent. Hosea 3:4-5 predicted that Israel would be a scattered nation. It isn't difficult to see that this prophecy has been fulfilled over the past two thousand years. Hosea cited the new covenant to come from God. In the end, after her punishment, Israel would be restored to God forever. They will again be "His people." Meanwhile though, Israel would spend a long time without a leader or a temple. They will return to God, and the Messiah will reign as their King.
Hosea proclaimed, "Woe to Israel." She was doomed for her sin. It was too late for forgiveness. God demanded her love and fellowship, not sacrifices and offerings (Hosea 6:6). Hosea predicted their exile to Egypt and Assyria. Despite Hosea's warnings, Israel continued in sin, but Judah was faithful. Hosea said that a tribulation so terrible would come, that men would pray for death (Hosea 10:8). He pled with them to return to God. Hosea 11:1 assures God's people of escape from His wrath. However, those who reject Him would be punished for their sin. They would suffer invasion, their babies would be killed, and the pregnant women would be "ripped open." Hosea ends with a plea to return to God, ask for His mercy and forgiveness, be wise, listen, and understand that God would heal and love them.
Joel 1-3Joel begins with a prediction of an awful invasion of locusts. It's a part of the coming tribulation. Joel 1:6 cites attack by a powerful nation. Joel urges the people to repent, and maybe God would save them yet. The coming tribulation would be terrible. An army of noisy locusts would trample everything and leap over mountains. Fear would grasp the nations. The earth would shake from the fierce army. Again, Joel preached repentance. He described a coming day of the Lord when God's Spirit will fill men, but God's wrath will fill the earth, and "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Joel 2:32). God will judge the earth, and He will restore Judah and Jerusalem. God's followers will live in paradise, but his enemies will be defeated in the final battle. It will all happen when God decides, that "the harvest is ripe" (Joel 3:13). This prophecy is to be taught through all generations, and it's not to be forgotten 1:3).
Amos 1-9Amos, a shepherd, prophesied in Tekoa during the reigns of King Uzziah of Judah and King Jereboam, son of Joash, of Israel. He predicted the destruction of Damascus, Tyre, Edom, Temon, Rabbah, Moab, Judah, and Israel, for her sin, despite all that God did for her. He predicted that God would further warn Judah through His prophets before their destruction. He predicted Samaria's destruction, danger, drought, and death. "Prepare to meet your God, O Israel" (Amos 4:12). Israel is called to repentance. Israel would be exiled. "The Day of the Lord" would be terrible.
Amos cites Israel's pride and complacency. Israel would be fiercely attacked from the North. In the end, locusts and fire would manifest God's wrath. Israel would be tested with a plumb line, and condemned. At this point, Amos rebelled against further prophesying for God, and God cursed him and his family. God compared Israel to ripe fruit, ripe for punishment. Israel would plead to God. God would restore Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple. Jews would return to Israel under God's new covenant.
ObadiahObadiah is another prophecy of God's judgment, the destruction of Edom and other Gentile nations, and the eternal reign of Israel. <>Jonah 1-4 Jonah gives the account of God commanding Jonah to go to Ninevah and speak for Him. Jonah refused and fled on a ship to Tarshish. Caught in a terrible storm, the others recognized that Jonah was a Jew, and they attributed the storm to the wrath of his God. They threw Jonah overboard and the storm stopped. A fish swallowed Jonah and he lived in the fish for three days. While in the fish, Jonah prayed and repented, and the fish spat him out. He went to Ninevah and called the people to repentance. The king heeded Jonah's advice, the people repented, and God spared them. This made Jonah angry, and he complained to God. To explain His decision, God caused a vine to grow and to give Jonah shelter from the sun. Then a worm ate the vine, and Jonah was miserable. God explained that creation is HIS doing, not Jonah's or any man's, and only God has the right to judge anything.
Micah 1-7Micah prophesied in Morepheth during the reigns of Kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah. He warned Judah and Samaria of coming judgment and destruction. He predicted that people would reject the messiah when He came. Even Israel's leaders were evil enough to reject Him. Yet, in the end, God would deliver Israel, and the world would be at peace. "They will beat their swords into plowshares" (Micah 4:3). In Micah 5:2, Micah predicted that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Yet, He already lives in heaven, and He has since eternity past. God would abandon Israel until her spiritual rebirth and eternal peace. Micah 6 charged the people to please God, "to act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God" (6:8). Yet, Micah predicted that the people wouldn't obey God, and that they would suffer His just punishment. Micah 7 says that Israel will be destroyed, "A man's enemies are the members of his own household" (7:6). Yet, Israel would prosper again and be honored by Egypt because God "forgives the transgression" (7:18). Israel will again obey God, and be blessed as promised.
Nahum 1-3Nahum prophesied in Elkosh against Ninevah. He cited God's jealousy and man's need or discipline. Ninevah would be destroyed. God does not forgive easily. He attributed their massacre to "the lust of a harlot" (Nahum 3:4). Ninevah was doomed.
Habakkuk predicted the Babylonian captivity and God's deliverance from it, and he offered prayer of triumph to God. We need not fear if we're Godly, "the righteous will live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4).
Zephaniah was a descendant of Hezekiah and he prophesied during the reign of King Josiah of Judah. He predicted the Great Day of the Lord. It would be a time of great tribulation by God's wrath. He prophesied against various nations and called the people to repentance. The time would come when the remnant of Israel would be restored to their homeland and they would speak Hebrew again.
Haggai 1-2Haggai prophesied during the captivity, during the reign of King Darius of Persia, encouraging Zerubbabel to rebuild the Temple. He assured the people that God's Spirit was still with Israel. They were not to be afraid. God would bless them. God promises to "shake the earth" in "a little while," and glorify the Temple. Haggai adds that holiness does not propagate, but defilement does.
Zechariah 1-11Zechariah also prophesied during the reign of King Darius of Persia. He had a vision of four horses (red, brown, and white) and their riders, four horns, and four craftsmen. This symbolized that under supervision of four angels (the horses), the four nations (the horns) that scattered Israel would be destroyed, and the Temple would be rebuilt. Zechariah 2 describes how a man with a measuring line measured Jerusalem. Zechariah foretells freedom from captivity, and a time when God will live among men. God would send a "branch" (Joshua), the Messiah, and remove sin in a single day (Zechariah 3:9). Peace will prevail. Zechariah 4 is a vision of a gold lamp stand and two olive branches (the two anointed ones). God's spirit is in control.
Next, Zechariah saw a curious vision of a "flying scroll," thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide. This scroll would bring justice. Then he saw a woman in a basket, symbolizing sin. Two other women with wings flew the basket of sin away to Babylon to prepare its place of destruction.
Then Zechariah saw four chariots with horses that were red, black, white, and gray, respectively. These were the "four spirits of heaven." They rode in four directions, patrolling the earth. Zechariah again promised leadership and a temple. However, Israel would also be scattered and oppressed due to her sin and lack of sincerity. Israel's only hope was in the day that God would deliver her and live with her in Jerusalem. Zechariah prophesied doom for Hamath, Hadrock, Damascus, Tyre, Sidon, Ashkelm, and Ashdoth. However, in Zechariah 9:9, Israel is told that her king would come, riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey. He would be righteous and He would provide salvation. Through Him, Israel would be delivered and Judah would be comforted. Zechariah predicted the destruction of Lebanon. Breaking two staffs as symbols of Favor and Union, he prophesied that God would deny Grace to Israel. He would provide her with evil leaders and He would separate Judah and Israel.
The End Times - Zechariah 12-14Zechariah 12-14 describes the end times. All the nations of the earth will wage war against Israel and they will invade her. However, God will defend her. Through a final battle of war and the plague of a great earthquake, Israel will defeat her enemies. Israel will "look on me, the one they have pierced" (Zechariah 12:10). God will cleanse them from sin, and purify them. The shepherd will be "struck" and the sheep "scattered," but God will spare the remnant (one-third) that worship Him. Their sin will be removed. Israel will triumph in the end. God's King will return in a second advent and He will reign on earth.
Malachi 1-4The Old Testament ends with Malachi's prophecies in Israel. He cites how one day the Gentiles will honor God. God should be given the best for offerings. God will reject any other offering. Malachi condemns divorce, and emphasizes that men need to control their passions.
He calls Israel to repentance and he foretells how the Messiah will be preceded by a messenger to prepare His way. Malachi demands that the nation of Israel be faithful to the tithe. Finally, he warned of "The Day of the Lord,” the coming judgment day, and he urged Israel to obey God. He predicted the return of Elijah the prophet, and warned that those who do not repent will be destroyed.
20 - Matthew
Genealogy of Jesus - Matthew 1:1-17Matthew begins the New Testament with "a record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ" (Matthew 1:1). The lineage given is that of Jesus's LEGAL father, Joseph. It includes:
- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah from the beginning of the Jewish nation
- Rahab, the prostitute, from Joshua's era
- David and Solomon from the era when Israel was a world power
- Zerubbabel after the exile
It extends all the way to "Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ" (1:16). We're told that there were fourteen generations between Abraham and David, fourteen between David and the time of the exile, and fourteen between the time of the exile and Christ, forty-two generations in all.
The Birth of Jesus - Matthew 1:18-2Mary was a virgin but she was impregnated by the Holy Spirit of God. This miracle fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 that God's King would be born of a virgin. God sent an angel to explain this to Joseph, her fiancé, who otherwise would have broken their relationship because Mary's being pregnant caused him social disgrace. They didn't physically consummate their marriage until Mary gave birth to a son, whom Joseph named Jesus.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, fulfilling the prophecy of Micah 5:2. Magi came all the way from China, following His star, so that they could worship Him. King Herod charged the Magi to let him know where "the king" was, because he considered Jesus as a threat to his kingdom, and Herod wanted Him killed. However, the Magi didn't report to Herod. Advised by an angel, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fled to Egypt in order to escape Herod's wrath. This fulfilled Hosea 11:1, that the Christ would be called out of Egypt. Herod ordered that all boys in Bethlehem who were two years old and younger were to be killed. This fulfilled Jeremiah 31:15, "Rachel weeping for her children . . . because they were no more." After Herod died, an angel told Joseph to take Mary and Jesus back to Nazareth, in safety.
John the Baptist - Matthew 3John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3 by preparing the way for the Lord. He preached repentance (thinking differently or changing one's mind), and he baptized with water in the Jordan River. This baptism of John was a symbol of Israel's national repentance and preparedness for salvation, the Messiah, and His earthly Kingdom. He preached that the Christ would baptize with the Holy Spirit of God (the baptism of the Holy Spirit). Jesus traveled from Galilee to the Jordan River, and He was baptized by John. When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit of God descended upon Him "like a dove," and God verbally commended Him from heaven (Matthew 3:17).
Temptations - Matthew 4Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1). He fasted for forty days, so Satan tempted Him to turn stones into bread in order to satisfy His hunger. In response, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, saying that man lives on God's Word, not just bread. Then Satan quoted Psalms 91:11-12 and tempted Him to jump to safety from the top of the temple in Jerusalem in order to prove His deity. Jesus responded with Deuteronomy 6:16, saying that he should not tempt GOD. Finally, Satan offered Jesus "all the kingdoms of the world" if He would bow down and worship him. This time Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:13, saying that God alone is to be worshiped and served. Having failed to lure Jesus into sin, the devil left Him. Jesus had overcome evil.
Jesus then went to Capernaum. This fulfilled Isaiah 9:1-2, which prophesied that the Christ would minister among Gentiles in Zebulun and Naphtali (near Capernaum). By the Sea of Galilee, Jesus called four fishermen to be His first disciples. They were two sets of brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew, and James and John, sons of Zebedee. Jesus traveled throughout Galilee, preaching repentance and performing miracles of healing among large crowds.
Sermon on the Mount - Matthew 5-9Jesus taught Bible doctrine to all who would listen. Some of the most critical doctrine He taught was in the Sermon on the Mount, which was directed at the Jews in order to explain God's new covenant in Old Testament terms that they could understand. In the beatitudes, Jesus cited as positive traits:
- Wanting good
- Wanting peace
- Persecution for doing good
Jesus is the fulfillment of the covenant promised by the Old Testament prophets. Each law in the Old Testament will achieve its purpose. Jesus explained that there are degrees in heaven, and that the particular rewards which each soul in heaven will experience are determined in this live on earth; that is, our life before death will predetermine our life after death. Our goals should be to seek Heavenly rewards, not earthly rewards, even through persecution in this life. The greatest accomplishment in this life is to obey God. The worst deed in this life is to sin. Of all who go to heaven, those who broke God's laws on earth will be the least in heaven, and those who obeyed God on earth will have treasures in heaven. Jesus adds that one must be better than the hypocritical Pharisees in order to even get to heaven. Those who don't go to heaven will go to hell and suffer "constant death pains" there. They will include murderers and adulterers just as the Old Testament indicates, but Jesus further explains the Old Testament laws.
Concerning murder, He quoted Exodus 20:13. However, he also included anger as the target of God's wrath, as well as murder. Reconciliation is Godly and necessary. He quoted Exodus 20:14 concerning adultery, but He also included lustful looks as adultery. He quoted Deuteronomy 24:1 concerning divorce, but explained that adultery is always either the cause or the effect of divorce. He condemned breaking oaths. He quoted Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20 and Deuteronomy 19:21 concerning revenge ("an eye for an eye . . ."), but He explained that when approached by an evil person, we should "turn the other cheek" as a witness to them. He quoted Leviticus 19:18, but He explained the need to love and pray for one's enemies. God challenges us to be perfect. He will keep His promises of rewards for goodness and punishment according to our sin.
Godly men should give to the needy, but in humility. Vanity and pride will cause one to lose his heavenly rewards. Men are to do good, practice fasting, and pray, sincerely, secretly, and not by memorization. God knows our needs even before we pray, but He still commands us to pray. Jesus showed the Jews a model prayer (The Lord's Prayer) in which He offered praise to God, glory to His Kingdom, supplication for man's needs, a plea for forgiveness, a promise to forgive others, a plea for protection from temptation, and a plea for deliverance from evil. He emphasizes that God won't forgive one's sins unless he forgives others.
He reemphasizes that God rewards good conduct, and that men on earth should store up Heavenly rewards, not earthly rewards. "You cannot serve both God and money" (Matthew 6:24). He commands men not to worry. If we simply seek God, He will provide all we need.
Jesus condemned man's hypocrisy and judgment of others. Violators will receive God's discipline, which was meant for those whom they judge (Matthew 7:1-2). Jesus cited religion and deceit as being futile. In Matthew 7:6 He commands men not to give holy things to depraved men. The command and reward for prayer and Bible study is seen in 7:7, "Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you." God will supply men's needs. Matthew 7:12 is the Golden rule which "sums up the Law and the Prophets, 'Do to others what you would have them to do to you.'" Jesus said that the way to heaven is the "narrow gate" and that few will reach heaven. He likens God and men to a tree and its fruit. Men either obey God and produce good fruit, or they're cut down. Matthew 7:21 assures judgment of the Gentiles. Jesus is the authority. Like the rock foundation of a house, He will sustain man. Matthew 7:21-23 shows how demons are able to perform acts of healing.
Jesus performed widespread miraculous healing. He healed lepers, Peter's mother-in-law, and a centurion's son (and praised the centurion for his faith which was particularly admirable because he was a Gentile). Matthew 8:11-12 proclaims that many Gentiles from around the world will go to heaven, and many Jews will not. His healing and casting out of demons (and into swine) fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53:4. He also taught against putting off commitments. He rebuked and calmed a storm simply with a word. This even surprised His disciples who still lacked the faith to really believe that Jesus was the Messiah. "You of little faith, why are you so afraid" (Matthew 8:26).
Jesus decided to forsake his popularity among the Jews by publicly forgiving the sins of a paralyzed boy, and then healing him. This insulted the unbelieving Jews. He then called Matthew to be his disciple, which drew more public criticism because Matthew was an infamous tax collector. Jesus answered the hypocritical Pharisees with Hosea 6:6, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." Jesus pitied and ministered to the oppressed. He proclaimed God's New Covenant. He healed a faithful woman of "an issue of blood." The daughter of a Rabbi named Jairus had died, and Jesus revived her. He healed the blind and the dumb. Matthew 9:34 verifies that some healing and casting of demons can be performed by Satan as well as by God. Jesus told His disciples to pray for more disciples.
The Disciples - Matthew 10-12Jesus then gave authority to His twelve disciples:
He sent them out to heal and to preach the coming of God's Kingdom. He sent them among Jews, but not Gentiles. They were to witness according to the leadership of God's Spirit. Matthew 10:33 assured them that before their task was complete, God's Kingdom would come to earth. He told them to be brave, and to acknowledge God, reminding them that God rewards even a small kindness. In Matthew 10:34-36 He told them He hadn't come to bring peace, but a "sword." He quoted Micah 7:6 and explained that God's truth would divide families and that some wouldn't believe.
Jesus quoted Isaiah 35:4-6 to assure John the Baptist's messengers that He (Jesus) was the Messiah. He quoted Malachi 3:1 to show that John the Baptist was God's messenger who preceded the Messiah. He rebuked those refusing to turn to God. Their penalty is constant death in hell. However, those accepting Jesus would find that their burden is light.
Jesus's authority in the New Covenant was demonstrated when HE superseded the Sabbath Day laws. He allowed the gathering of grain on the Sabbath, and He healed a man's shriveled hand on the Sabbath. This is the only one of the Ten Commandments, which isn't repeated in the New Testament as a part of the New Covenant.
Jesus tried to persuade His followers to keep His ministry secret. This fulfilled Isaiah 42:1-4. His ministry disturbed the orthodox teachings of the Pharisees, and they plotted against Him, even accusing Him of being from Satan. In Matthew 12:25-29, Jesus rebuked them and predicted a time when Satan will be bound. Matthew 12:30 says that either we believe or we do not. There is no compromise. Although our sins can be forgiven, "blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven" (12:31-32). He explained that believers are revealed by what they produce, just like a tree is identified by its fruit. He predicted that He would spend three days and three nights in "the heart of the earth," but this was the only sign given when the Pharisees asked for a miracle. He refused to do miracles just for the pleasure of unbelievers.
Parables - Matthew 13-16Jesus spoke in parables in order to fulfill Isaiah 6:9-10 and Psalms 78:2, which revealed that people would hear but that they wouldn't understand. The Parable of the Sower explains that one's fruit tells the truth about his belief. Some won't understand, some won't commit, and some will establish the wrong priorities, but believers will bear fruit yielding 30, 60, or 100 times what was sown.
The Parable of the Weeds shows Jesus sowing good seed among thistles sown by Satan. Both will live together until Judgment Day when the thistles (unbelievers) will burn (in hell), and the crop (believers) will be harvested (into heaven). The Parable of the mustard seed illustrated that heaven is best in the long run. The Parable of the Yeast shows that God's Spirit permeates all of a man. The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl command complete sacrifice for heaven. The Parable of the Net pictures fishermen separating good fish from bad. This probably illustrates God's judgment of men at the end of the age. Jesus went to Nazareth but He was rejected and thus did no miracles there. "A prophet is without honor" in his hometown (Matthew 13:57).
John the Baptist was beheaded by King Herod through a plot by Herodias and her daughter. Jesus's response was to pray privately. Afterward, He miraculously fed 5000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish, and they had twelve baskets of leftovers. Again he went to a solitary place to pray. He returned to the disciples by walking on water. Peter also walked on water until he lost faith. In Matthew 14:31, Jesus rebukes the disciples, "You of little faith." Men were healed just by touching Jesus's coat.
Jesus quoted Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16, Exodus 21:17, and Leviticus 20:9 in order to teach that all should honor their parents and that they should put God before tradition. He condemned hypocrisy by quoting Isaiah 29:13. It's the inner self that counts, not the outward self. Only God has authority.
Jesus traveled to Tyre and Sidon where a Gentile woman pled for His healing of her daughter. At first He denied her by saying that he was "sent only to the lost sheep of Israel" (Matthew 15:24). However, because of her persistent faith, He finally healed her daughter. At the Sea of Galilee, he performed more healing, and again He miraculously fed a crowd of 4000, this time with only seven loaves and a few fish, which yielded seven baskets of leftovers.
Jesus taught that God reveals truth, and that what matters is faith in things unseen, rather than belief by seeing miracles. In Matthew 16:18, He promised to build His church upon a rock. Jesus predicted His own death by murder. He preached that eternal life is what matters, and that one must deny self (Matthew 16:24). All will be judged according to their deeds. He also predicted that God's Kingdom would come within the lifetimes of those present.
The Transfiguration - Matthew 17-20Upon a high mountain, with Peter, James, and John as witnesses, Jesus was supernaturally transfigured. "His face shown like the sun and His clothes became as white as the light" (Matthew 17:2). Moses and Elijah appeared, and God spoke audibly from a cloud, "This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him" (Matthew 17:5).
Jesus then again explained that John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecy of Malachi 4:5 which predicted that Elijah would return. He then healed a boy whom the disciples were unable to heal because of their lack of faith, prayer, and fasting. Jesus said that a small amount of faith is powerful enough to literally move mountains (Matthew 17:20-21). He then predicted His own death and resurrection from the dead. Via another miracle, He told Peter to pay their Temple Tax with a coin to be found in a fish's mouth.
Jesus taught that in order to enter heaven, one must have the humility of a child. He also taught that children should be welcomed, upheld, and respected. He taught that we should separate ourselves from all evil, even to the point of dismemberment of evil parts of the body. The Parable of the Lost Sheep illustrated that God wants all people to go to heaven. It also reveals that all people have their own guardian angels in heaven who are in union with God.
Jesus outlined a series of steps to follow in resolving differences among believers. The two parties should resolve the problem privately. If that doesn't work, include one or two witnesses. Then involve the congregation, and as a last resort, the guilty party should be excommunicated from the congregation.
Jesus continually reminded His followers that God remained with them. In Matthew 18:19, He promised that when any two believers agree on anything and pray, God would do what they ask. The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant again illustrated the need for people to forgive others. The consequences of God's wrath in judgment is torture in hell.
Jesus quoted Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24 in order to rebuke divorce. He always encouraged young children to listen to His teachings.
In Matthew 19:16, a rich young man asked Jesus what he had to do to gain eternal life. Jesus said he must obey the commandments, completely. The man claimed to have done this and he asked what else he lacked. Jesus told him that if he wanted to be perfect in God's eyes, he should give all of his wealth to the poor and then follow Jesus. As He had previously taught, God must come before money. The man refused and Jesus explained that it is difficult, but not impossible, for the wealthy to be saved. Those who obey but don't believe strongly enough to commit will burn in hell.
God has divine power. The disciples' reward in heaven is to reign and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. The reward for anyone's commitment on earth will be 100 times that portion in heaven. "Many who are first (on earth) will be last (in heaven), and many who are last will be first" (Matthew 19:30).
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard cites the owner's right to pay equal wages for unequal effort, as long as the agreement to each employee is kept. In eternity, there will be no room for jealousy. God has all the rights there. We may challenge Him, but we will lose.
Jesus again predicted His own death. The mother of James and John asked Him to favor her sons. Jesus' response was that God decides everything, and that only Jesus would suffer the baptism of the cross. Her request stirred jealousy among the other ten disciples. His response was a reminder that the most humble servant on earth will be the greatest in heaven. He condemned pride. Then he healed two blind men.
The Triumphal Entry - Matthew 21-22:30Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem by riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey, in order to fulfill Zechariah 9:9. The crowd quoted Psalms 118:26. Jesus cleansed the Temple by driving out the moneychangers and quoting Isaiah 57:6 in order to proclaim God's Temple as a house of prayer. Even the children proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah, as prophesied in Psalms 8:2. He judged and cursed a fig tree for not bearing fruit, and He added that faith yields anything. The Pharisees tried to trick Him and test His authority, but Jesus cleverly rebuked them. The Parable of the two sons taught obedience by action, not words. Repentance is better than idle promises. The Parable of the Tenants prophesied Jesus's murder and God's judgment upon Israel. Jesus quoted Psalms 118:22-23 in order to illustrate God's rejection of Israel and His Blessings on His Heavenly Kingdom. This could be another reference to the church, but it's more likely a prophecy of God's coming Kingdom.
The Parable of the Wedding Feast shows that many are called but few are chosen into God's Kingdom (Matthew 22:14). This prophesies the Jews' "rejection" of Christ, and the invitation to Gentiles into the Kingdom. Jesus commanded men to pay their taxes to the government, and to give their ALL to God. Matthew 22:29 emphasizes that we must study and know the scriptures. In Matthew 22:30, Jesus explains that in heaven, men will be like angels, and there will be no marriage there.
Exegesis - Matthew 22:31-23In Matthew 22:31-32, Jesus teaches two doctrinal principles. First, God is the God of the Living, not the dead. Secondly, the exegesis (precise word study) of scripture is a key to the understanding of the Bible. He quotes Exodus 3:6 and deduces the truth by examination of the phrase "I am." "I was" would have deduced a different interpretation. Therefore, we today MUST learn by exegesis of available Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, just as Jesus did.
Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to "Love God" (Deuteronomy 6:5), and the second greatest is to "Love men" (Leviticus 19:18). These commandments will yield obedience. Jesus quoted Psalms 110:1 in order to prove His authority to the Pharisees by explaining that the Christ is David's "son" even though David called Him "Lord." The Messiah is divine, despite His human form.
Jesus proclaimed seven woes against the scribes and Pharisees, condemning hypocrisy and pride. He taught humility, justice, mercy, and faith. Only God is the master. Men should expect persecution. In Matthew 23:25, Jesus quotes Psalms 118:26 in order to prophesy His return to reign in Jerusalem after the church age.
The Olivet Discourse - Matthew 24-25Matthew 24 and 25 contain the Olivet Discourse, Jesus's Sermon on the Mount of Olives concerning the end of the age. There is some disagreement among Bible scholars as to how Jesus's prophecies here relate to the Church Age, the tribulation period, and the millennium. Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple (which occurred in 70 A.D.). He said that wars would occur throughout the age. Toward the end, the magnitude of the wars would increase. Earthquakes and famines would be "birth pains" for Israel. (Some believe that the pestilence in Matthew 24:7 is describing the black plague, or even AIDS.)
Through persecution, the gospel would be preached throughout the world. He refers to the abomination of desolation, the Antichrist, to whom Daniel had also referred. Though the Temple would be rebuilt, the Antichrist will again disrupt the temple sacrifices and force the Jews to flee at the midpoint of a seven year Great Tribulation Period. This will be the worst trouble of all time for the world, so bad that God will shorten it, otherwise all would perish. He quotes Isaiah 13:10 and Isaiah 34:4 in order to prophesy celestial disruptions. At Jesus's return (Matthew 24:30), the world will mourn, which will fulfill Zechariah 12:10-13:1.
He promises that all of this will occur within that generation of Israel (24:34). Since we do not know exactly when this will occur, Jesus commands us to be prepared always. Matthew 24:40 describes salvation for the Godly into heaven, and judgment for the heathen by the wrath of God. In 24:50, He assures us that He will return unexpectedly.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins teaches the need to be prepared, and the baptism of fire upon the unbelieving Jews of the tribulation who will suffer death in Hades.
The Parable of the Talents teaches men to use all they have in order to glorify God. If they do, they will be blessed abundantly in heaven. Those who prove to be trustworthy to God on earth will receive God's accommodation in heaven, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21). They will also receive rewards of leadership and authority. Also, it's each believer's responsibility to be the best possible steward of his money (Matthew 25:27). If one squanders his life, he will burn in hell. (Matthew 25:28-30).
The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats is probably describing the separation and judgment by God of the Gentile unbelievers who will be living at the end of the Great Tribulation. They too will suffer death in Hades. Hell awaits those who were not kind and didn't minister to God's "brothers" (or witnesses) (Matthew 25:40). Hell is eternal fire and Heaven is eternal life (Matthew 25:41, 46).
Jesus's Arrest - Matthew 26:1-27:26aIn Bethany, a woman anointed Jesus's head with expensive perfume and He commended her, despite the disciples' objections. At this point Judas Iscariot agreed to betray Jesus to the chief priest for thirty silver coins. At the institution of the Last Supper (The Lord's Supper), Jesus predicted His own betrayal as well as Peter's denial of Him, three times before morning. In fact, by Zechariah 13:7, He predicted that all of His followers would leave Him. The disciples symbolically ate the body and drank the blood of Jesus. At the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed while the disciples slept. There, Judas betrayed Jesus, and Jesus was arrested. The Sanhedrin found Jesus guilty of blasphemy for confessing to be the Messiah, and Peter fulfilled Jesus's prophecy of his denials.
The Jews delivered Jesus to the Roman government, requesting the death sentence for Him. Meanwhile, Judas repented, returned the money, and hanged himself. The chief priest used the money to purchase a field, which became known as the field of blood. This fulfilled Zechariah 11:12-13 and Jeremiah 32:6-9. At the request of the Jews, the Roman governor, Pilate, released a criminal, Barabbas, and allowed Jesus to be sentenced to crucifixion, but Pilate washed his hands in order to symbolize that the blood of Jesus was on the hands of the Jews, and the Jews accepted the guilt (Matthew 27:25).
The Crucifixion - Matthew 27:26b-52Jesus was stripped, mocked, spit upon, beaten, and forced to wear a crown of thorns, all by the Roman soldiers. They forced Simon of Cyrene to carry Jesus's cross to Calvary (or Golgotha), where they crucified Jesus. Psalms 22:1-22 was then realized to be an amazing and vivid prophecy of Roman crucifixion, hundreds of years before man conceived it. The Roman soldiers gambled for Jesus's clothes, which fulfilled Psalms 22:18. From noon until 3:00 p.m., darkness "came over all the land" (Matthew 27:45). Then Jesus quoted Psalms 22:1, saying, "My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?" Then He died.
At that moment, the temple veil was completely split. God did this to indicate that, since Jesus had been sacrificed, He would now be the only Priest necessary for communicating with God. No longer were the High Priests the only ones allowed in God's presence, rather, all believers may now individually approach God. Also, at that moment, "the tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life" (Matthew 27:51-52).
Resurrection - Matthew 27:53-28:8Joseph of Arimathea courageously claimed Jesus's dead body for burial, and guards were posted at His tomb. On Sunday morning, Mary and Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. An earthquake occurred and an angel rolled back the stone, which blocked the tomb entrance. The angel announced that Jesus had risen from the dead. Then the women saw the risen Christ and they worshiped Him. The Jews claimed that Jesus's disciples had stolen His body. With the death and resurrection of Jesus comes the reality that although Psalms 22:1-22 was a prophecy of His First Coming, Psalms 22:23-31 is a yet-unfulfilled prophecy of His Second Coming.
The Great Commission - Matthew 28:8-20Meanwhile, Jesus met the eleven disciples at Galilee and He charged them with "The Great Commission," proclaiming that He now had "all authority in heaven and on earth" (Matthew 28:18). The disciples were commanded to "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20). In this statement, He proclaimed the Trinity of the Godhead (which had been a mystery since Genesis 1:26), and He institutionalized discipleship and evangelism. The baptism here is probably that of the church age, baptism, symbolically identifying believers with Jesus Christ.
21 - Mark
Mark 1-15The book of Mark is Mark's account of Jesus's life. Most of it covers the same accounts as Matthew, except from Mark's viewpoint. Although similar, they aren't identical, and both merit in-depth study. However, to avoid repetition, the only events covered here are the ones not covered in the previous discussion on Matthew.
Mark adds an interesting truth about the woman healed from an issue of blood. When she touched Jesus's coat in order to be healed, Jesus said, "Who touched my clothes?" (Mark 5:30). This indicated that He actually felt the power leave His body. In Mark 9:23, when Jesus healed a man's son, he said, "Everything is possible for him who believes." The man responded with a truth of many men, even today, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief." (Mark 9:24).
In describing hell, in Mark 9:48, Jesus quoted Isaiah 66:24, saying that in hell, "their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." Hell is eternal suffering. In Mark 9:49-50, Jesus uses salt to symbolize the "spice" for life, which brings peace. In Mark 10:46-52, a blind beggar healed by Jesus is identified as Bartimaeus. In Mark 11:22-25, Jesus says that anything believed and asked for in prayer will be given. He then reaffirms the necessity of men to forgive others in order to be forgiven by God.
In Mark 12:38-40, Jesus warns the people to beware of false prophets. In Mark 12:41-44, He commends a widow who gave 100% of her money, above the rich who gave more, but a much less percentage of their wealth. Mark's account of the Olivet Discourse is enlightening due to a detailed description of the questions asked by the disciples. Mark 15:28 quotes Isaiah 53:12 and cites Jesus as the bearer of all transgressions.
The Resurrection - Mark 16:1-18Mark describes the various appearances of Jesus, after His resurrection, in greater detail than Matthew did. The first appearance was to Mary Magdalene. The second appearance was to Mary also. The third was to Peter, in the book of Luke). The fourth was to two disciples on their way to Emmaus, and the fifth was to the ten disciples (all but Thomas). The Great Commission in Mark sent the disciples to "all creation" (Mark 16:15). Mark 16:15 says "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." Jesus said that believes would be able to cast out demons, speak with new tongues, pick up serpents, drink deadly poison and remain unharmed from it, and heal the sick through the laying on of hands. Note that some manuscripts do not contain Mark 16:9-20.
The Ascension - Mark 16:19-20The glorious ascension of Jesus is described in Mark 16:19, "...he was taken up into heaven and He sat at the right hand of God." The disciples obeyed and preached everywhere under God's supervision.
22 - LukeLike Mark, Luke describes many of the same events covered in Matthew. Luke's accounts are often more detailed than either Matthew's or Mark's, but only the unique points will be covered here.
John the Baptist - Luke 1:1-25Luke begins with the most vivid account in the whole Bible of the events surrounding Jesus's birth. An angel, Gabriel, appeared to Zechariah, an old man. Gabriel informed Zechariah that though his wife Elizabeth was old and barren, she would bear a son, whom Zechariah should name John (who became known as John the Baptist). Gabriel said this son would "be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth" (Luke 1:15). He was never to drink alcoholic beverages, and he would "go before the Lord" (1:17). Gabriel caused Zechariah to be unable to speak until this son was born.
Mary - Luke 1:26-38Later, Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary who was engaged to Joseph. Gabriel informed her that she had found favor with God and that she would bear a son to be named Jesus. He proclaimed the "Christmas Covenant" in Luke 1:32-33, saying, "The Lord God will give Him (Jesus) the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His Kingdom will never end." Mary would conceive through the power of the Holy Spirit by an act of Grace from God.
Elizabeth - Luke 1:39-56Mary visited Elizabeth, and when she told Elizabeth about her good news, John the Baptist "leaped for joy" in Elizabeth's womb (Luke 1:44). Mary offered a song of praise to God.
Zechariah - Luke 1:57-80When John the Baptist was born, Zechariah named him John, and then his speech was restored. Zechariah offered his song of praise to God. John the Baptist would be the messenger to prepare the way for the Messiah.
The Birth of Jesus - Luke 2Caesar Augustus ordered that a census be taken, and that everyone register in their own town. Joseph took Mary and traveled to Bethlehem, the town of David, since he was a descendant of David. Jesus was born there and He was worshiped by nearby shepherds. Jesus was circumcised and named on His eighth day. In order to follow Jewish laws of Exodus 13:2, 12 and Leviticus 12:8, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the Temple to present Him to the Lord. There a man named Simeon recognized that Jesus was the Messiah. The Holy Spirit had told Simeon that he would see the Messiah before he died. Now he could die in peace. Also, a woman named Anna, who had been called to a lifetime ministry of prayer, also recognized that Jesus was the Messiah, and she shared the good news with others. Jesus grew up in Nazareth (Galilee) and taught in the Temple as early as age 12, even without his parents' permission.
Jesus's Ministry - Luke 3-4It was when Jesus was thirty years old that He was baptized by John the Baptist and He began His public ministry. Luke 3:23-38 gives the genealogy from God to Jesus through Mary's bloodline. Like Joseph's, this descent was also through the tribe of Judah and the line of King David, but Mary's was through David's son Nathan, instead of through David's son Solomon as Joseph's was. This fulfilled Jeremiah 22:30.
After the temptations by Satan, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit of God. In a synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus read Isaiah 61:1-2 from a scroll. This was His subtle claim as the Messiah. Close study of this passage reveals the collation the Church Age into the dispensational Age of the Jews.
Peter - Luke 5-8Luke adds how the calling of Peter included a miraculous catch of fish by the power of God in order to convince Peter that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus often prayed in solitary places. Luke also added that the paralyzed man whom Jesus healed and forgave was lowered from a roof by his friends, in order to reach Jesus in a crowd. Luke refers to Matthew as Levi when he tells about Jesus calling Matthew as a disciple. Jesus proved His own authority from God through the Parable of the Wineskins, thus excusing the disciples from fasting. Then when the Pharisees questioned Jesus Himself about not honoring the Sabbath, Jesus referred them to 1 Samuel 21:6 where David ate consecrated bread and was justified.
Jesus preached that the oppressed will be victoriously rewarded in heaven, but the rich oppressors will go to hell. He preached faith in the Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind. The Parable of the Speck in the Eye teaches us not to judge others, but to examine ourselves. He emphasized how we're like trees bearing fruit because whatever is in our hearts will be manifested in our speech. He condemned hypocrisy. In Luke 6:34-38 we're taught to willingly give to others without expecting anything in return. God will properly reward us in heaven.
Luke writes of the healing of the centurion's slave due to faith. Jesus also revived a widow's son at his own funeral. The Parable of a Lamp on a stand teaches us to let our faith and talents (light) shine to glorify God. Close examination of Luke 8:28-30 reveals that Jesus IS God. In Luke 8:37, when Jesus was asked to leave, he left. Luke 8:55 defines death simply as the separation of body and spirit, rather than the end of life.
Mary and Martha - Luke 9-11When Jesus sent out the twelve disciples, He told them not to take any provisions because God would supply all their needs, and to leave from the places where they were rejected. God commands men to submit to Jesus immediately, and not to be ashamed of Jesus. Jesus sent out seventy-two more disciples and He even gave them power over demons, recalling how He saw Satan fall from heaven (Luke 10:18). He said that the highest priority in life is to be assured that one will go to heaven after death. In answering a question about how to get to heaven, Jesus told the Parable of the Good Samaritan to emphasize one must love God and others like himself according to the Law of Moses. Jesus visited Mary and Martha and He commended Mary for her devotion to Him while Martha was more concerned about her household duties.
Jesus taught that the key to prayer is consistency. In Luke 11:23-26, He tells a rather confusing story of a demon being cast out of a man, then returning with seven other demons. Perhaps this teaches that we must always be alert, regardless of previous experiences. The most important thing is to hear and to practice God's Word. In speaking of the sign of Jonah, Jesus refers to the Queen of the South rising on judgment day. This may be the same Queen of Sheba who visited King Solomon. Jesus condemns experts in religion who hypocritically contort the law.
Worry - Luke 12-15We must fear God, not man. We must not worry because God provides, even food for the sparrows. The Holy Spirit leads the Godly person. Luke 12:12 says that He teaches us the appropriate words to say. Jesus condemns covetousness and greed, and He demands that we master the material details of life. The Parable of the Farmer and his storehouses again teaches against worrying. Those who will be rich in heaven do not need to worry about being rich on earth. The more we sacrifice on earth, the greater the degrees of treasure in heaven.
The Parable of the Wedding teaches alertness to Christ's second coming. On judgment day, the punishment will be worse for those who knew and rejected the truth than for those who didn't know the truth. Luke 13:3 says that man will either repent or perish. Yet man isn't punished according to his sin. God will judge him according to the fruit he bears. Jesus also healed a lame woman on the Sabbath.
Luke reiterates that few are chosen by God. Those who are chosen should be aware of their commitment, because the cost of being a disciple isn't cheap. One must be prepared to lose the love of his own family, as well as to lose his own life.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep, The Parable of the Lost Coin, and The Parable of the Prodigal Son all illustrate greater rejoicing when the lost are saved than when the saved aren't lost. Like the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, what matters most is that God is glorified, not that earthly life seems unfair.
Accountability - Luke 16The Parable of the Shrewd Manager teaches us not to abuse authority and to be honest even in small matters. To be good is to be good in our heart. To be bad is to boast our goodness in public. Jesus proclaimed that the law of the Old Testament was still valid. The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus shows how terrible hell is, and that we have no excuses for disobeying God. We're all accountable for ourselves.
The End Times - Luke 17Jesus taught that one of the worst sins is to tempt others to sin. Obedience is our only duty, and we aren't worthy of praise when we do obey. Jesus healed ten lepers but only one glorified God by returning to Jesus and thanking Him. Luke 17:21 teaches that God's Kingdom is already here, within His believers. However, a time will come when Jesus returns to reign on His earthly throne. At that time, the world will be full of sin, but everyone will see Jesus return. He even compares that time to the judgment of Sodom in Genesis 19:1-5. Rapture will occur. Believers will be saved and unbelievers will be judged. Luke 17:37 says that vultures will gather at the dead bodies.
Prayer - Luke 18The Parable of the Persistent Widow commands us to pray persistently until our prayers are answered. The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector teaches us to be humble and compassionate, and to ask God for mercy in our prayers. Jesus loved to teach children. In fact, he said that we must be like children in order to receive the Kingdom of God (Luke 18:17). Luke also records the story of the Rich Ruler. He cites the key to eternal life as obedience and submission to God. Believers will be rewarded in this life on earth as well as in heaven (Luke 18:30).
Zacchaeus - Luke 19-20Luke records the familiar story of a dishonest tax collector named Zacchaeus who was so short that he had to climb a sycamore tree in order to be able to see Jesus in a crowd. Zacchaeus repented of his dishonesty and he was saved. The Parable of the Talents teaches us to utilize what God has given us, for His Glory, until Jesus returns. Luke 19:26-27 promises rewards and judgment based on the fruit we bear. Those who have will be given more, but those without will lose all. Luke 19:43-44 predicted the destruction of Jerusalem (which was fulfilled later, in 70 AD). In cleansing the Temple, Jesus quoted Jeremiah 7:11 and Isaiah 56:7.
The Olivet Discourse - Luke 21By day, Jesus taught, and by night, he prayed, often at the Mount of Olives. In Luke 21:28, in Luke's account of the Olivet Discourse, we're commanded to "look up" at the time of Jesus's Second Advent.
The Crucifixion - Luke 22-23Luke gives his unique account of the Passover, the Last Supper, and Jesus's betrayal and trials. Jesus predicted a time of Great Tribulation by quoting Hosea 10:8 in Luke 23:30. Also in 23:30 (which some early manuscripts do not have), Jesus asked God to forgive His accusers. While on the cross, Jesus assured a criminal who was crucified with Him that he would go to paradise with Him that very day. He repeats that salvation is solely based on faith (or belief).
The Resurrection - Luke 24Luke's account of Jesus's resurrection begins with the citing of two angels. Peter saw Jesus, and Jesus ate a meal. He cited Himself as fulfillment of the suffering and resurrection of the Messiah. In Luke 24:16, He shows that it's God, not man, who is responsible for man's salvation, "He opened their minds." He proclaimed that the next step was the preaching of the Gospel throughout the world. He reiterates that the key to forgiveness from God is turning to Jesus. He promised that God would send His Holy Spirit from heaven, which would fill His followers with power.
23 - John
The Word - John 1-2In eternity past, the Word (Jesus) was the same as God. God is life, the light of men. John the Baptist bore witness of His light. All who receive God are the sons of God. The Word (Jesus) became a man in the flesh. Jesus gave Grace and Truth, where Moses gave law. Nathanael was saved when Jesus called him and displayed His supernatural abilities. Jesus said that he would "see heaven open" (John 1:51).
Jesus changed water into wine at a wedding (His first miracle). John cited Psalms 69:9 when Jesus cleansed the Temple. Then Jesus predicted that the Temple (His body) would be destroyed and rebuilt in three days.
Nicodemus - John 3-6A Pharisee named Nicodemus secretly came to Jesus by night and asked Him how to get to heaven. Jesus said that one must be "born again,” of water and of spirit. John 3:12 says that nobody but Jesus had ever been in heaven yet. One must believe in Jesus. Trust, believe, and obey. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). This may be the most important verse in the Bible for unbelievers. Believe here means to trust, cling to, and rely upon Jesus. Believers will not be condemned for their sin (John 3:18). Those who reject Jesus will burn in hell and "not see life" (John 3:36).
Jesus didn't personally perform the ritual of baptism. He saved a Samaritan woman at Jacob's well when He foretold things to her that she hadn't revealed. John 4:24 tells us that God is a Spirit, a spiritual being. Jesus's second miracle was the healing of the government official's son. He healed a man at a pool who had been sick for thirty-eight years. This pool supposedly had healing power when stirred by an angel, but the man hadn't been healed until he met Jesus. Jesus commanded men not to sin or else worse consequences would come. God gave Jesus the authority to judge men. Salvation comes from hearing and believing. John 5:28-30 gives the account of the day the dead will rise. The good will rise to life and the evil to condemnation, not oblivion. Our duty is to do God's Will, not our own. Salvation is only through Jesus, even Moses taught that (John 5:46).
In John 6, Jesus repeatedly emphasizes that He is the only avenue to God. One must believe Jesus. This is God's Will. One must "eat the bread of life" through Jesus, just as the Jews ate bread from heaven (Exodus 16:4 and Psalms 78:24). In John 6:45, Jesus quotes Isaiah 54:13, indicating that all are taught by God, but God chooses those who will listen (John 6:65, Deuteronomy 18:15-19).
Faith - John 7-12In Galilee, the Jews accused Jesus, but Nicodemus protested His arrest, citing that no Old Testament scripture indicated that a prophet would come from Galilee. Jesus saved a woman who was sentenced to be stoned for adultery by telling the crowd to let the first stone be cast by the one without sin. He told the woman to stop sinning. John 8:24 shows that hell is dying in one's sins. Jesus said the Jews who relied on their bloodline from Abraham for salvation were the children of the devil. Abraham was saved by obedience through faith (Genesis 15:6, John 8:56). Jesus demonstrates His omnipresence in John 8:58, "Before Abraham was, I Am" (not "I was").
Jesus healed a blind man and the Jews interrogated him and his parents. Jesus is the "Gate" and the "Good Shepherd." He predicted His own voluntary death. He could not be killed unless He laid down His life voluntarily. At the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah (John 10:22), Jesus proclaimed the security of the believer (John 10:29). In John 10:34, He quoted Psalms 82:6 in order to proclaim His own deity. Jesus miraculously raised Lazarus (the brother of Mary and Martha) from the dead. The Jews plotted Jesus's death. When Mary anointed Jesus's feet, Judas was the one who complained. In John 12:28, God spoke audibly from heaven, glorifying His own name. In John 12:37-38, the Jews' unbelief fulfilled Isaiah 53:1. John 12:49 proves the inerrancy of the Bible. John 10-15 contains many guidelines for pastors (shepherds).
The Church - John 13-17In John 13 through 17, Jesus addresses the subject of the church. The night before His crucifixion, He washed the disciples' feet and told the disciples that they should wash one another's feet. He predicted His betrayal by Judas (John 13:18, Psalms 41:9) and He predicted Peter's denial three times. He also gave a new commandment, "Love one another" like Jesus loves us (John 13:34).
John 14:1-4 reveals much about heaven and the end times. Through Grace, God has prepared many "rooms" in heaven for believers, after their rapture and during the tribulation on the earth. Salvation is only through Jesus. We must obey God. God's followers were to be given power to perform miracles. At the Pentecost, God would send His Holy Spirit to teach and to comfort. If one loves Jesus, he will obey. Furthermore, how can one obey without knowing God's Word? The purpose of Jesus's miraculous prophecies was that men would believe.
Jesus is like a vine and His followers are the branches (Psalms 80:14). During the Age of the Jews, the branches were Israel, but during the Church Age, the branches are the Church. Power and life comes from the vine (Jesus) and fruit comes from the branches (the church). Jesus has predestined His followers (John 15:19). In John 15:25, Jesus quotes Psalms 35:19 and Psalms 69:4 in order to predict His own death. Again He promised the coming of the Holy Spirit. John 16:12 may be Jesus's prophecy of the writing of the epistles.
Until Jesus returns, He commands us to persevere through persecution, because in the end, God will prevail over evil. Jesus prayed for Himself. In John 17:5, we see His existence in eternity past. He prayed for His disciples and for the church to come.
The Crucifixion and Resurrection - John 18-21John gives a vivid account of Jesus's betrayal, trial, persecution, and crucifixion. John 19:28 fulfilled Psalms 69:21 where the Messiah was to be given vinegar to drink. John 19:36 fulfilled Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12, and Psalms 34:20. John 19:37 fulfilled Zechariah 12:10. In His resurrection, Jesus commanded Mary and Mary Magdalene not to touch Him since He hadn't yet ascended to God. Though Jesus was seen by many, Thomas doubted the truth of His resurrection until he saw Jesus too. Jesus said that those who believe by faith (not by sight) are blessed. He told Peter that if he loved Him, he would feed His sheep (build His church). John also says that Jesus did much more than is recorded in books.
24 - The Church
Acts 1-28The Book of Acts ushers in a new age, the age of the Church. Not since God chose the Jews (age of the Jews) by choosing Abraham, instead of the Gentiles (age of the Gentiles), had such a change occurred in God's manifestation to man. God began revealing Himself to all men (Gentiles) at their creation. Later He chose the Jews as a means of revealing Himself to man. Here in Acts, He gives that duty to a group called His Church. Jesus spoke of this church in the Gospel of John. This is the same church that is still God's revelation to the world today.
The Ascension - Acts 1After Jesus's resurrection, He revealed Himself to His apostles for forty days. He told them that He would ascend into heaven but that they must stay in Jerusalem, where they would wait for the Holy Spirit to baptize them, thus making them effective witnesses. He spoke of the coming of the Kingdom of God and the restoration of Israel as a nation, but He didn't reveal when these events would occur. Then He ascended into heaven, and two angels assured the apostles that He would return in the same way.
One hundred twenty of His apostles, including His eleven remaining disciples, met in an upper room in Jerusalem, and they prayed for days. Peter assumed the leadership of the group. He recalled how Judas betrayed Jesus then committed suicide. By Psalms 69:25 and Psalms 109:8, he proclaimed that Judas should be replaced. They drew lots and Matthias was elected as the new disciple.
Pentecost - Acts 2-4At the day of Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus's resurrection, the Holy Spirit appeared in a wind, in the form of a fire. He descended upon all the apostles and enabled them to speak in "other tongues." These were foreign languages that foreigners understood. Peter noted that this was like (though not necessarily the fulfillment of) Joel 2:28-32, and it was a promise of the Second Advent of Jesus, which would be accompanied by spectacular celestial displays.
The most significant revelation of this miracle is seen in Acts 2:21, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." In Acts 2:23 we see the truth of God's predetermined counsel and foreknowledge. Peter used this opportunity to preach and explain that Jesus was the Messiah. He explained how David was speaking about Jesus in Psalms 16:8-11 and Psalms 110:1. In Acts 2:37, the people realized the truth and asked, "What shall we do?" The answer is simple and complete in Acts 2:38 where Peter said, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit." Repent here means to change one's inward views. Acts 2:39 says that this gift is available to all those called by God. On that day, about 3000 were saved and baptized. The believers' lives were transformed into lives of meeting, sharing, praising, worshiping, and performing miracles.
Upon Peter's command, a man who had been lame since birth was healed, even before any mention of faith by the lame man. Obviously, this attracted attention from the crowd, and Peter took advantage of the moment as a witnessing opportunity. He quoted Genesis 22:18 to show how salvation is available through the Jews. He said that faith healed the lame man. He told how Jesus would remain with God in heaven until God does everything as He promised. Peter quoted Deuteronomy 18:15-19 and proclaimed that the prophets had spoken of this appointed time in history.
John and Peter were arrested for proclaiming the resurrection of the dead through Jesus. Before the Sanhedrin (Jewish Council), they quoted Psalms 118:22 and proclaimed salvation only through Jesus, the Messiah. They were told to stop preaching but they said that if they were released, they would continue. Because of the support of the 5000 believers, they were released anyway. The believers were all of one heart and mind. They all shared and gave, so there was no poverty among them. Peter and John quoted Psalms 2:1-2 in a prayer for understanding of the unbelievers' rejection of Jesus.
Ananias and Sapphira - Acts 5-6A husband and wife, Ananias and Sapphira, were miraculously killed by God for cheating and lying to the Holy Spirit. The apostles performed miracles of healing. They were arrested, then freed by angels, then arrested again. They proclaimed that they must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). The response of their persecutors was to seek to kill them, but they were saved by a Pharisee named Gamaliel. He argued that if their power was not from God, it would cease, but if it was from God, man could not defeat it. The apostles were beaten and released. They rejoiced that they were worthy to suffer dishonor for Jesus.
The apostles were led by the Holy Spirit to spend all their time preaching the gospel, but the church had other areas of responsibility as well. To address this problem, they chose seven men, Stephen, Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Patmenus, and Nicolas, who were full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, to care for the widows and to distribute the food. These men have come to be known as the first deacons in the church. The apostles prayed for them and they laid hands on them as a symbol of their consecration to God.
Stephen - Acts 7-8Then Stephen was arrested and tried by the Sanhedrin. In his defense, he presented the gospel in a summary of the Old Testament and of Jesus. He quoted Genesis 12:1, Genesis 15:13-14, Exodus 2:14, Exodus 3:6, Exodus 3:5-10, Deuteronomy 18:15, Exodus 32:1, Amos 5:25-27, and Isaiah 66:1-2, proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah. When he proclaimed that Jesus was in heaven at God's right hand, the crowd became furious. They laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul of Tarsus, and they stoned Stephen to death. His last words were a plea to God to forgive his murderers.
On that very day, great persecution began against the Christians, and Saul was among the leaders of the persecutors. Philip preached and cast out evil spirits in Samaria. A sorcerer there named Simon was converted by believing and he was baptized. Many there had been baptized in the name of Jesus but they hadn't received the Holy Spirit. Peter and John laid hands on them and they did receive the Holy Spirit. Simon offered to purchase this power, but he was chastised, and he repented.
Philip left Samaria and met an Ethiopian eunuch who was reading Isaiah 53:7-8 but could not understand it. Philip explained how it was referring to Jesus, the Messiah, and Philip baptized him since he believed with all his heart. Philip traveled and preached in Azotus and Caesarea.
The Calling of Saul - Acts 9One day, on the road to Damascus, Saul was blinded by a bright light, and Jesus spoke to him, asking him why he was persecuting the church. Jesus told him to obey Him and to go to Damascus, where in three days a man named Ananias would lay hands on him and his sight would be restored. Saul fasted for those three days. Jesus appeared to Ananias and told him what would happen, and He explained how He had chosen Saul to proclaim the gospel to Gentiles and to Jews. After Saul's sight was restored at his meeting with Ananias, Barnabas brought Saul to the apostles. The church grew in peace in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. Peter healed Aeneas, which caused everyone in Lydda to believe the gospel. In Joppa, Peter brought a girl named Dorcas back to life from the dead. He stayed with Simon the Tanner there.
Cornelius - Acts 10God again gave visions to men in order to further the spreading of the gospel. Peter and a Gentile named Cornelius each had visions of meeting the other. Also in Peter's vision was a huge sheet filled with animals, which were forbidden for Jews to eat, yet Jesus told Peter to eat them. This symbolized the offer of God's salvation to Gentiles. There is no difference for Gentiles and Jews in attaining salvation. Jews could not look down on anyone. Jesus wanted to save Gentiles too. This happened; Gentiles began receiving the Holy Spirit too. Many Gentiles were saved.
Saul and Barnabas - Acts 11-14Barnabas and Saul went to Antioch, where believers first became known as Christians. Agabus predicted a famine in Judea, so the apostles sent relief there. The famine occurred during the reign of Claudius.
King Herod killed John's brother, James. He arrested Peter, intending to kill him, but prayer delivered Peter, angels miraculously freed him from his chains, and he was first seen by Rhoda after his release. Herod proclaimed himself to be God, so God cursed him with sickness, maggots, and death. Barnabas, Paul, and John Mark preached in Jerusalem, Antioch, and Cypress.
Beginning in Acts 13:9, the Bible refers to Saul as Paul. Paul cursed a sorcerer named Barjesus with blindness. Paul and Barnabus went to Antioch. Paul preached the history of the gospel, quoting Psalms 2:7 (Acts 13:33 makes reference to the "second" psalm), Isaiah 55:3, Psalms 16:10, Habakkuk 1:5, and Isaiah 49:6. He explained that one must trust in Jesus in order to be freed from sin, guilt, and unrighteousness. Eternal life comes by belief. People become Christians by believing. The Jews were offered salvation first, but upon their rejection, it was offered to Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas were persecuted and they escaped to Iconium. Acts 14:15 reiterates the first commandment for the Church Age. In Lystra, they performed healing and disclaimed the people's other Gods. The Jews stoned Paul, leaving him for dead, but they could not kill him. A principle of the gospel is that believers must suffer tribulation. We must love God, love others, pray, and fast.
James - Acts 15Many of the Jews believed that they were assured of going to heaven just because they were Jews, God's chosen people. Paul and Barnabas explained that salvation is from the Grace of God, not the circumcision of man. James quoted Amos 9:11-12 in order to prove that God always planned to offer salvation to Gentiles as well as to Jews. James proclaimed that saved Gentiles didn't need to abide by all the 613 laws, which God gave the Jews through Moses. They only needed four laws:
- Abstain from food sacrificed to idols
- Abstain from sexual immorality
- Abstain from meat of strangled animals
- Abstain from blood
Then Judas and Silas went with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch where they confirmed James's instructions to the Gentile believers via a letter from the church apostles and elders. Judas and Silas went on to Jerusalem. Barnabas wanted John Mark to come with him and Paul, but Paul didn't believe that John Mark's dedication was worthy. The result of the disagreement was that Barnabas and John Mark went to Cypress while Paul and Silas went to Syria and Cicilia.
Timothy - Acts 16At Lystra, Paul circumcised Timothy, and then they and Silas went to Phrygia and Galatia. Paul was called in a vision to travel to Macedonia, a missionary trip that allowed the gospel to be spread throughout the world. They traveled through Philippi, where Lydia and all her household believed the gospel and were saved. On one occasion, Paul cast out an evil demon by which a slave girl could tell fortunes. This made her owners angry because they had been making money from her predictions. The whole crowd attacked Paul and Silas. They were beaten and imprisoned. At midnight, a violent earthquake occurred, the prison doors opened, and the prisoners were freed from their chains. The jailor started to kill himself since any escape would be blamed on him. Paul assured him that they wouldn't escape. In Acts 16:30, the jailor asked Paul, "What must I do to be saved?" In 16:31, Paul said simply, "Believe in the Lord Jesus." Paul and Silas were released because they were Roman citizens.
Mars Hill - Acts 17In Thessalonica, they were persecuted by Jews who were jealous of the Gentile believers. They traveled to Berea, where Silas and Timothy stayed while Paul went to Athens. The Christians in Berea were commended for being noble, ready, eager, and "searching the scriptures daily to see if these things were so" (Acts 17:11). It's each believer's duty to search the scriptures regularly. In Antioch, Paul preached the gospel on Mars Hill, where Dionysius and Damarias were saved. Acts 17:26 gives us appreciation for God's predestination of all men through all the dispensations.
Aquila and Priscilla - Acts 18:1-6In Corinth, Paul stayed with some fellow tentmakers, Aquila and Priscilla. He attempted to preach exclusively to the Jews there, but when they rejected the true gospel, he said, "Your blood be on your own heads" (Acts 18:6), and he turned to the Gentiles. By these events, Paul was forced to leave the unbelieving Jews in their lost state, where many have remained through the twentieth century.
Apollos - Acts 18:7-28To escape fatal persecution, Paul was given divine protection as he traveled through Ephesus, Caesarea, Jerusalem, Antioch, Galatia, and Phrygia. Meanwhile, Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus from Egypt where he had preached since the days of John the Baptist's ministry. He was preaching the true scriptural gospel, but he had never learned that Jesus had already come as the Messiah. Priscilla and Aquila told him about Jesus, which made his ministry in Achaia even stronger.
Ephesus - Acts 19-23In Ephesus, Paul baptized a group of believers in the name of the Lord Jesus, and they received the Holy Spirit. They had previously only been baptized in John's baptism as a sign of repentance. Paul spent two years in Asia (Turkey). "God did extraordinary miracles through Paul" (Acts 19:11). Even contact with items that Paul had touched caused healing and ridding of demons. The gospel spread quickly, especially when many sorcerers were converted. Paul aspired to visit Rome also. In Ephesus, he suffered persecution when the gospel destroyed Demetrius's business of making idols of Roman gods.
Paul traveled through Greece and then on to Macedonia instead of to Syria. There, he brought a man named Eutychus back to life when he fell asleep and fell three stories to his death. In Miletus, Paul proclaimed that he had "served the Lord with great humility and with tears" (Acts 20:19), by preaching repentance and faith. He preached generosity to the poor, quoting Jesus in Acts 20:35, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
In Caesarea, Agabus predicted that if Paul went to Jerusalem, he would suffer great persecution. Paul's dedication sent him there anyway, perhaps mistakenly, and he was persecuted, beaten, and bound in chains there, following what seems to have been an act of legalism on his part which is described in Acts 21:17-26. In his own defense, he preached the gospel and told of his own persecution of believers, his conversion, and his evangelism of the Gentiles. The crowd was so furious that they would have flogged him to death, but he was saved when they discovered that he was a Roman citizen. Before the Sanhedrin, he quoted Exodus 22:28, and he caused a controversy between the Pharisees and Sadducees over the resurrection of the dead. More than forty men vowed to fast until they killed Paul, but he was safely transferred by the Roman government to see Governor Felix in Caesarea.
King Agrippa - Acts 24-26Paul was accused by the Jews and tried by Felix, and he spent two years in prison. Then he was tried by Festus and he "appealed to Caesar." When he was tried by King Agrippa, Paul witnessed to the King with his own conversion testimony. He also explained how the bodies of the dead would be resurrected to reunite with their souls (Acts 26:9). King Agrippa wanted to release him, but he couldn't since Paul had "appealed to Caesar." Acts 26:20 explains that though repentance (a change of one's mind) is all that is necessary for salvation, we should live lives worthy of that repentance.
Shipwreck - Acts 27-28Paul was among 276 on board a ship to Rome, where he would appeal to Caesar. He predicted to the ship officer, Julius that a storm would cause them to shipwreck. This happened but everyone reached shore safely at Malta. There, Paul was bitten, but unaffected, by a poisonous snake. He also healed Publius and all the others who were sick. They went on to Rome where Paul preached for two years while under custody. When the Jews there rejected the gospel, Paul quoted Isaiah 6:9-10, and he cited their rejection as the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy.
25 - Rome
Righteousness Romans 1:1-17Romans is a letter written by Paul to the church at Rome, which he longed to visit. Romans 1:1-17 is the introduction of the letter. Romans 1:16 gives the theme of the letter, that the gospel is God's power for salvation to all, to Jews first, and then to Gentiles. Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 in Romans 1:17, establishing the main text of the book, that "the righteous shall live by faith" (Habakkuk 2:4). This is the verse, which inspired Martin Luther to demand reformation. In order to find one's self, we must trust God.
Heathenism - Romans 1:18-32Romans 1:18-3:20 proclaims the condemnation and the wrath of God upon the lost (unbelievers). Paul gives a history of heathenism. By nature, through the common Grace of God (Genesis 1:18), all know the truth of the existence of God. When one exercises positive volition toward that truth, God will use the church to reach him with the gospel. God will not, however, save those who are negative to the truth. Paul describes those with negative volition as partakers of things such as haughtiness, foolishness, homosexuality, greed, hatred, envy, murder, fighting, lying, bitterness, gossip, backbiting, hating God, bragging, pride, heartlessness, and pitilessness.
Faith - Romans 2-3Paul condemns hypocrisy. We will all be rewarded according to our deeds. Eternal life is given by God to those who change from their natural negative volition toward Him, and start doing His Will. God's kindness and leniency should prove His love for us, and this should change us. All must seek God. Paul is particularly critical of the Jews, by quoting Isaiah 52:5 and Ezekiel 36:22, for not witnessing to the world about their God. He says that a real Jew (or chosen one) in God's eyes isn't a circumcised member of the Jewish race; rather, anyone whose heart is right with God.
Romans 2:14-16 says that our conscience is our law. Paul quotes Psalms 51:4 in showing that the Jews are God's chosen people who were entrusted with His Word. However, nobody is righteous, not even the Jews, as he proves by quoting Psalms 14:1-3, Psalms 53:1-3, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Psalms 5:9, Psalms 140:3, Psalms 10:7, Isaiah 59:7-8, and Psalms 36:1. Yet one must be righteous in order to have fellowship with God.
Romans 3:21-8:39 explains how one obtains this required righteousness. A repentance, or change, in one's negativity toward God is what is required. Acknowledgment of Jesus as the Messiah must cause us to trust Jesus for salvation (Isaiah 53:6). He carried off all our unrighteousness. This salvation does not come by being good (obeying the law), but rather by placing faith in Jesus. Our new righteousness (Romans 3:22) then leads us into obedience of the law. This Godly righteousness, which is a gift from God, is sometimes called justification, or the doctrine of imputation. We can't be good. We're all bad. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Faith, not deeds, is what determines our destiny. Furthermore, the Jews will actually be judged more severely because they have possessed the truth since Moses's days.
Believe Romans 4:1 - 5:11Believing isn't an act or a work, it's simply accepting God's Covenant. It means that one adheres to, trusts in, and relies on God. Even Abraham, the first Jew, was saved by faith (Genesis 15:6) just as we can be saved today. This is a gift of grace from God. He loves enough to accept faith as righteousness, and He forgave all sins (Psalms 32:1-2). We must trust God to keep His promise of grace. Salvation isn't earned. It isn't received in exchange for keeping the Jewish law. Romans 4:4-5 even suggests that any works nullify God's grace. That is, if we believe that we get to heaven by God's grace plus anything else, God's grace is nullified. Paul quotes Genesis 17:5 and Genesis 15:5, and shows that Abraham was saved before he was circumcised, thus logically proving that circumcision doesn't salvation. God declares us good if we have faith to believe that Jesus saves us from God's wrath. Our sins are no longer counted against us because of Jesus's atonement for all sins by His sacrificial death on the cross. We're justified through Jesus. Yet, we must endure suffering in order to learn perseverance.
Sanctification - Romans 5:12-8:39Romans 5:12 through 7:6 explains the believer's positional sanctification, being judicially sanctified (set apart) by God, the Judge. Romans 7:7 through 8:32 explains our responsibility to live lives of experiential sanctification. In 5:12-21, Paul addresses the obvious question, "What about people before the law?" Even if a man never sinned by breaking a command from God, Adam sinned; therefore, all sinned, because we were all in the loins of Adam. All of us will die because of God's curse of death upon Adam for his sin. The law, then, made sin increase, but God's Grace increased even more through His sacrifice of His son Jesus. Jesus's obedience brought life to all.
The next question answered is, "Why shouldn't believers sin since they're assured of eternal life in heaven anyway?" Paul explains that believers are dead to sin in Jesus's death, burial, and resurrection, because of their position in Christ. Sin is one choice, but, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). Paul cites God's command of avoiding covetousness, in Exodus 20:17 and Deuteronomy 5:21, as a command against which he personally sinned. Although he didn't want to covet, the natural man in him still coveted. Only Jesus saved him from that sin's consequences.
The only way to righteousness is through the Holy Spirit. Through Him there is no condemnation. The Holy Spirit indwells every Christian at the time of their salvation, and He is the proof of their salvation (Romans 8:9). Romans 8:18-21 teaches perseverance through its comparison to our glory to come. Salvation is by trust, which teaches patience. The Holy Spirit in us prays for us (Romans 8:26). Jesus is pleading for us in heaven. God developed a predestined master plan of the universe before creation (Romans 8:28-30). His plan is good and it's working for His divine purpose. Everything is predestined for His glory. In Romans 8:36, Paul quotes Psalms 44:22 and in 8:39, he assures that once the Holy Spirit fills a believer, that believer is secure through eternity.
Israel - Romans 9-11Romans 9-11 discusses the rejection and vindication of Israel, past, present, and future. God is sovereign. Jews aren't justified by the law. All are justified by faith. Paul quotes Genesis 21:12 and Genesis 18:10, 14 in order to show how God elected Abraham and Isaac. It isn't the children of these men who are justified; rather, but the children of the promise (Romans 9:8). He quotes Genesis 25:23 and Malachi 1:23 showing God's election of Jacob. In order to constrain the thought that predestination by God is unjust, Paul quotes Exodus 33:19, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy...." We must remember that God is sovereign. Salvation is of God's mercy, not man's deeds (Romans 9:16). God even elected Pharaoh to be hard hearted in order to display His power (Exodus 9:16). Romans 9:18-21 shows that God chooses to whom he will give mercy, and He chooses whose hearts to harden.
Paul quotes Isaiah 29:16 and Isaiah 45:9 in order to emphasize God's justice. He quotes Hosea 2:23 and Hosea 1:10 to cite Gentile conversion as fulfillment of prophecy. He quotes Isaiah 10:22-23 and Isaiah 1:9 to cite similar fulfillment of Israel's rejection. He quotes Isaiah 8:14 and Isaiah 28:16 to cite that Israel's rejection resulted from their lack of faith and their dependence upon works. Some believe that Romans 9 shows that the Church replaced the nation of Israel as God's chosen people.
Romans 10:4 says, "Christ is the end of the law." Paul quotes Leviticus 18:5 and Deuteronomy 30:12-14 to stress faith over works. Paul calls for verbal profession of faith in Romans 10:9-10 in order to confirm salvation. He sees the fulfillment of Joel 3:32 in Romans 10:13, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." He quotes Isaiah 52:7, Isaiah 53:1, Psalms 19:4, Deuteronomy 32:21, and Isaiah 65:1-2 in order to show that salvation comes from belief of the gospel. Faith comes from hearing Bible doctrine (Romans 10:17). Even Moses predicted that Israel would become jealous of the Gentiles' salvation.
Paul quotes 1 Kings 19:10,14,18, Deuteronomy 29:4, Isaiah 29:10, Isaiah 59:20-21, and Isaiah 27:9 to verify that God never broke His covenant with the Jews. They're still "chosen" and some will be saved. Again, in Romans 11:6, Paul implies that works can dangerously nullify God's grace.
Romans 11 seems to verify that God isn't yet finished with the nation of Israel.
Paul condemns pride. He exalts humility, gratitude, and care. All glorifies God. Romans 11:29 emphasizes the security of the believer; God never withdraws His saving Grace. Romans 11:32 shows that even our sin manifests His mercy. Paul exalts God's power and our weaknesses by quoting Isaiah 40:13 and Job 41:11 in a doxology in Romans 11:33-36.
The Church Body - Romans 12-16Romans 12-15 exhorts the self-sacrifice of the godly life. The Christian life is a new life achieved by the "renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:2). All believers are parts of one body, the church. We each have unique gifts, such as prophecy, teaching, preaching, giving, administration, or love, and we should exercise them accordingly. We should all be patient and glad, honor others, pray, share suffering and sorrow, be humble, listen, love our enemies (Deuteronomy 32:35, Proverbs 25:21-22), obey our government (all governments are appointed by God according to Romans 13:1), pay our debts, and love all (Leviticus 19:18, Deuteronomy 5:17-21, Exodus 20:13-17). Some believe that Romans 13:4 is God's command for capital punishment in the Church Age. Romans 13:8 states that love fulfills the law. We should not criticize, argue, offend, or cause others to stumble. Paul quotes Isaiah 49:18 and Isaiah 45:23 to emphasize that our relationship with God is what matters most. Romans 14:22 instructs us not to get distracted by minute details. Romans 14:23 stresses the importance of faith and the dangers of doubting.
Paul quotes Psalms 69:9, 2 Samuel 22:50, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalms 117:1, Isaiah 11:10, and Isaiah 52:15 to explain that we must please others, and that the only pride we should have is of what Jesus does in our lives. Paul tells of planning trips to Rome, Jerusalem, and Spain.
He ends his letter by greeting Phoebe, Aquilla, Priscilla, Mary, Apollos, and various other believers. He emphasizes that nobody should do anything to cause division in the church or to upset the faith of others.
26 - Corinth
1 Corinthians 1-4Paul wrote two letters to the church at Corinth, a very carnal and immoral city where he stayed for a year and a half. He tells them that salvation frees one from all sin and guilt. God keeps His promises, and we should not argue with Him. The church should remain unified. God chooses His Elect in His wisdom. God is wise; we aren't (Isaiah 29:14). First Corinthians 1:14-17 explains that baptism is secondary to hearing the gospel. First Corinthians 1:19 and 2:5 declare that human reasoning is insufficient for understanding the Gospel. One must follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit. The gospel is foolishness to the lost. In 1 Corinthians 1:25, Paul condemns secular humanism on the basis of God's wisdom and strength. The only possession of which we can boast is Jesus (Jeremiah 9:24).
God gives wisdom "by His doing" (1 Corinthians 1:30). This was part of His divine plan in eternity past (1 Corinthians 2:7, Isaiah 64:4). He has also freely given believers the Holy Spirit. It's the Holy Spirit who teaches and controls a believer's mind (1 Corinthians 2:9-16). By 1 Corinthians 2:14-15, believers are to study God's word, the Bible. Our security is in Him (Isaiah 40:13). He will test our good works with fire and He will reward us accordingly. Christ is our foundation upon which the church is to be unified. We must trust God, not ourselves, because He is wise and we're foolish (Job 5:13, Psalms 94:11). God judges us. Our only right is to be humble. God does all. First Corinthians 4:7 proves that we have nothing that we "didn't receive" from God.
Church Discipline - 1 Corinthians 5In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul tells the church at Corinth to excommunicate a man from the church because of sexual immorality. According to 1 Corinthians 5:5, this man was an unbeliever. Paul says that believers should not even eat or associate with men involved in sexual sin, greed, swindling, idol worship, drunkenness, or abusiveness. In 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, however, he quotes Deuteronomy 17:7, 19:19, 22:21-24, and 24:7 in order to substantiate a church's judgment of its members but not of nonmembers. First Corinthians 5:7 makes a reference to Jesus as being the "Passover,” which further illustrates the New Testament fulfillment of the Old Testament laws. First Corinthians 6:9-10 reiterates the seventh commandment for the Church Age.
Liberty - 1 Corinthians 6-11Believers are to settle problems among themselves rather than to involve unbelievers. Paul addresses the subject of Christian liberty in 1 Corinthians 6:12, "Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial." Jesus has permanently averted God's wrath from believers, but we're still commanded to use good judgment, even if we have no record of Christ's explicit teachings on every issue (over eating is a prime example). Paul condemns greed, stealing, drunkenness, slander, and especially (by Genesis 2:24) all types of sexual immorality, including adultery, and, in particular, homosexuality. First Corinthians 6:18 says that immorality is a particularly vile sin because it's a sin against one's own body.
Paul said it's best not to marry, if one can control his natural sexual desire in abstinence. Paul was single. Marriage always causes one to spend attention on their spouse, which could have otherwise been spent on God. However, because the natural sexual desire is so strong, it's usually best (and not a sin) to marry. Marriage is to be monogamous (1 Corinthians 7:2). In marriage, each partner should submit their body to their spouse in all things, including sexual pleasure. Paul condemns divorce, even divorce of an unbeliever by a believer, but in this case he says that if the unbeliever initiates the divorce, then the divorce is permissible. In 1 Corinthians 7:39, he says, "A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives."
In Christian liberty, a Christian may be able to do things with a clear conscience, which others think that Christians should not do. Concerning these things, we shouldn't do them so as not to offend others. Christian liberty frees us, it doesn't bind us, but we must be conscious of others (Deuteronomy 25:4). We should be a witness through our lifestyle and friendships. Also, we must serve God voluntarily, not under compulsion (1 Corinthians 9:16-17).
Paul cites the disobedience of the Israelites after the Exodus. They saw astounding miracles from God (including the parting of the sea, the Baptism of Moses), and still they were disobedient (Exodus 32:6). First Corinthians 10:13 says that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. We just need to show a little perseverance and faith. Paul quotes Psalms 24:1 to show that the best witness is pleasing others rather than ourselves "so that they may be saved" (1 Corinthians 10:33). He calls for humility. First Corinthians 10:33 also shows that the church didn't replace Israel as God's chosen people, because it categorizes mankind into three distinct groups, Jews, Gentiles, and the Church of God.
We should be like Paul, who was like Jesus. Paul proclaims male authority during worship. Men should remove their hats to pray. Women should wear hats to prayer to prophesy publicly, as a sign of submission to their husbands. When observing the ordinance of the celebration of the Lord's Supper, we should be discrete and reverent, and we should examine ourselves. Bread and wine are partaken as a symbol of Christ's body and blood. The bread and wine should be taken in moderation, as the purpose isn't to provide a festive meal; rather, to remember Christ's sacrifice. Paul condemns the Corinthians for overeating and drunkenness at the Lord's Supper. In 1 Corinthians 11:22, he says after all, "Don't you have homes to eat and drink in?" If they chose to get drunk, they should do it at home.
Spiritual Gifts - 1 Corinthians 12Paul explains that every Christian is given a Spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit. By 1 Corinthians 12:1, believers are to study, learn Bible doctrine, and identify their spiritual gifts. First Corinthians 12:4-7 accounts for the variances in spiritual abilities which believers possess. Not all believers have the same gifts, and it would be wrong to try to conform to some image of another believer.
When one possesses the Holy Spirit, he cannot curse Jesus or fail to claim Jesus as Lord. First Corinthians 12:13 shows that the Holy Spirit baptizes all believers (the Baptism of the Holy Spirit). There is widespread controversy concerning spiritual gifts today, particularly with respect to whether all the gifts mentioned here are actually active in believers in the twentieth century. The various spiritual gifts include three miracle gifts, miracles, healing, and tongues, which seem to have been given solely as signs to the Jews in order to authorize the New Testament (1 Corinthians 13:10, 14:21-22, Isaiah 28:11-12, and Deuteronomy 28:49). They seem to have been phased out at the completion of the Canon of Scripture, along with the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, and prophecy (1 Corinthians 13:8).
First Corinthians 12:30 verifies that even in the first century church, no believer possessed every gift, and no individual gift is given to every believer, including speaking in tongues. By definition, the gift of apostles was given exclusively to those who actually saw the resurrected Christ Jesus. Other gifts, which are in effect in Christians today, include counseling, teaching, preaching, studying, faith, and discernment.
The main point by Paul is that all gifts to all believers come from the same Spirit, so the body (church) consists of many parts (believers). Whatever our gift is, each believer is just a part of the church, but his actions affect the others.
Love - 1 Corinthians 13:1-15:10Paul says that our most important attribute is love. We should be patient, kind, and loyal to others. We should not hold grudges, or be irritable, touchy, jealous, envious, boastful, haughty, proud, selfish, or rude. Paul says that we should pray for spiritual gifts. As is still the case today, many were confused about the gift of tongues. Some were jealous for not having it, and others denied that it existed. Paul says don't criticize tongues (1 Corinthians 14:39), but what really matters is the spreading of the gospel in intelligible words (1 Corinthians 14:6-12). Also, by 1 Corinthians 14:33, church services should be orderly. First Corinthians 15:2 says that any labor contrary to the gospel is vanity. By 1 Corinthians 15:10, "I am what I am by the Grace of God." In 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, Paul adds that women are to be quiet in church. Their spiritual leadership should come from their husbands at home.
Resurrections - 1 Corinthians 15:11-16:24Paul quotes Psalms 8:6 and Isaiah 22:13 in order to explain the resurrection of the dead which is similar to Christ's resurrection. First Corinthians 15:20-23 refers to Jesus Christ as the "first fruits" of the resurrection. This is both symbolic and the fulfillment of the Old Testament Jewish offering of the first fruits. He quoted Genesis 2:7, Isaiah 25:8, and Hosea 13:14 to proclaim that, for believers, death is only temporary, because they will be resurrected and they will reign with Jesus. First Corinthians 15:51-54 gives us clues to the "mystery" of the end times. At the sounding of a trumpet, the dead bodies will rise from their graves, be reunited with their souls, and be transformed into immortality.
In the closing of his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul says that the believers should willingly set aside offerings every Sunday in order to support evangelism.
More on Church Discipline - 2 Corinthians 1-3Paul proclaims God as our comforter. He explains how he meant to visit Corinth but could not. He addresses the problem concerning the sexually immoral man whom he sentenced to excommunication in 1 Corinthians 5. He says that he should be forgiven and comforted. The only reason that Paul recommended excommunication was to test the obedience of the church. Excessive punishment causes bitterness.
Assurance - 2 Corinthians 4-7In 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, Paul says that God has blinded some people so that they don't see the light of the gospel. We can recall that 1 Corinthians 1:18 and 2:14 said that the gospel, which is received as the power of God by the believer, is seen as foolishness by the unbeliever because God has not shown him the understanding of the things of the spirit. This offers great comfort and assurance to believers, knowing that their salvation is secure simply by realizing that they understand the gospel.
We're to be bold, yet sincere, witnesses. Any insincerity will be exposed. He quotes Genesis 1:3 and Psalms 116:10 to proclaim that we must be truthful witnesses.
We're to please God (2 Corinthians 5:9). Paul reveals that the dead will receive new bodies in heaven. We will all receive just punishment, or rewards of life, righteousness, rejoicing and/or glory, before the judgment seat of Christ for our earthly behavior (2 Corinthians 5:10-11). We must fear God and we must witness of His reconciliation. Jesus makes believers a "new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17). As Christ's ambassadors, in 2 Corinthians 5:20, we should study the Bible. Second Corinthians 5:21 is a reference to the baptism of the cross.
Paul quotes Isaiah 49:8, Leviticus 26:12, Jeremiah 32:38, Ezekiel 37:27, Isaiah 52:11, Ezekiel 20:34, 41, and 2 Samuel 7:14 in order to show how the present day church fulfills Old Testament prophecy. We must witness to others through the spreading of the gospel and through our lifestyles. Yet, in 2 Corinthians 6:17, believers are to be separated from unbelievers.
Giving - 2 Corinthians 8-9Paul encourages love and generosity in giving to the church and to the poor and needy. We should not only give, but we should want to give (2 Corinthians 8:10). Giving must be voluntary (2 Corinthians 8:3). This will achieve equality, by Exodus 16:18, and God will repay (Psalms 112:9). This giving should not be confused with the tithe that the Jews were required to pay in the Old Testament in order to support the Levites. This giving isn't a payment to God in order to secure God's favor. There should be no compulsion or pressure to give. Our giving should come through grace alone.
Humility - 2 Corinthians 10-11We should control every thought (2 Corinthians 10:5). In 2 Corinthians 10:17, Paul reminds us to be humble (Jeremiah 9:24). We should also be discerning and we should identify false prophets. Second Corinthians 11 warns us to prepare for spiritual warfare.
Heaven - 2 Corinthians 12-13In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul tells of a man who was taken to heaven in a vision fourteen years earlier. He sees great revelations there. To insure that Paul remained humble, God gave him a "thorn in the flesh." This was some undesirable aspect of Paul's life, which kept him humble. When he prayed for its removal, God said, "My Grace is sufficient for you" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Our weaknesses are testimonies of God's strength. Some Bible scholars believe that Paul's "thorn" remained from the time he was stoned in Acts 14. Some believe that when he was stoned, he died and was taken to heaven; and that, here in 2 Corinthians 12, God denied him the glory of telling others of his venture into heaven.
In conclusion to Corinth, Paul may be condemning pornography in 2 Corinthians 12:21. He quotes Deuteronomy 19:15, calling for all matters to be witnessed by two or three witnesses. He calls for believers to examine themselves in order to have the assurance of the presence and power of Jesus more and more.
27 - Paul's Minor Letters
Galatia - Galatians 1-6To the churches of Galatia, Paul wrote that a person receives salvation only when God reveals Jesus to him. One cannot get to heaven by obeying rules. The only purpose of the law was to teach us our need for grace. Though God commands proper behavior such as helping the poor, salvation is only through belief in Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:17-18 implies that Paul meditated upon God's Word for three years after becoming a Christian, before he tried to tell anyone about what he had learned. Galatians 2:5 tells us not to fall from liberty into legalism, even for an hour. Galatians 2:11-21 shows that even the apostle Peter fell into hypocrisy.
Paul quotes Genesis 15:6, Genesis 12:3, Genesis 18:18, Genesis 22:18, Deuteronomy 27:26, Habakkuk 2:4, Leviticus 18:5, Deuteronomy 21:23, Genesis 12:7, Genesis 13:15, Genesis 24:7, Isaiah 54:1, and Genesis 21:10 to show how Christ fulfilled the law and brought freedom. Galatians 2:16 emphatically shows that salvation is attained by faith and not by works. Galatians 3:16 is further support of the exegetical and interpretive study of scriptures. Galatians 3:24-25 shows that the law is valuable in teaching faith and grace, but once the grace concept has been learned, the law is fulfilled. By Galatians 4:10, the Church isn't to observe any religious days or holidays such as the Jews observed the Sabbath in the Old Testament.
In Galatians 5:4, Paul warns Christians not to digress to seeking justification in the law. This would inhibit spiritual maturity and further blessings from God. Without His continued abundant Grace, spiritual growth isn't possible. We must continually receive the power of God's grace, and not fall from grace by crediting our works. God does it all.
Paul quotes Leviticus 19:18 to teach how the Holy Spirit makes us do the opposite of our natural desires. Instead of practicing false doctrine, wild parties, envy, murder, and drunkenness, we change and the Spirit reveals Himself in us by His fruits of the Spirit:
We're to help sinners and believers, gently and humbly. "What counts is a new Creation" (Galatians 6:15).
Ephesus Ephesians 1-6To the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote that, in love, God predestined the elect to be chosen for eternal life in heaven, even before He created the earth (Ephesians 1:5). He reveals things to us according to His "good pleasure" and purpose in Christ (Ephesians 1:9). At the end of time (and the start of eternity), Christ will rule heaven and earth (Ephesians 1:10).
Things now and in eternity (Ephesians 1:21) depend solely upon God's mercy in which we must trust. Our salvation is undeserved. It's only due to God's mercy and kindness. All things come from God. "By Grace you have been saved (forever) through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). God prepared us in advance (Ephesians 2:10), and we're to help others. Through Christ, God now lives in the Church (people), in the form of the Holy Spirit, as He once lived in the Jewish tabernacle. The Church consists of both former Jews and former Gentiles. The Church is God's new revelation through which believers must love, be bold, and pray.
Paul preaches humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness. He reviews the spiritual gifts: apostles, prophets, evangelism (witnessing), and pastors and teachers. Each must do his part and grow in Christ. Ephesians 4:12 says that the purpose of the Church is to equip the saints in order to build up the Church. Ephesians 4:14 warns us not to let tricks and schemes deceive us from the truth. Ephesians 4:17 again distinguishes the Church from the Gentiles. Ephesians 4:19 again condemns pornography. Paul quotes Psalms 4:4 to condemn anger. In Ephesians 4:28, God ordains private ownership of property.
God says that Christians should only speak in grace, for the edification of the moment (Ephesians 4:29). He also condemns stealing, fighting, cursing, dirty stories, greed, and drunkenness. We should be kind, loving, compassionate, forgiving, and thankful, and we should submit to our spouses (Genesis 24:4). By Deuteronomy 5:16, Paul proclaims that children must obey their parents, so that they may have long and happy lives. We must fight the evil spirits in the world. We should work, pray (plead in the Holy Spirit's Will), and be honest.
God will complete His work. We must control our lifestyles and persevere through suffering in order to become stronger. Though heaven is a believer's ultimate destiny, God has a purpose for believers here and now (Ephesians 4:24). We must be humble, like Christ, thinking of others and being unselfish. We must study the Bible and learn Bible doctrine (Ephesians 4:11-12). Ephesians 4:22 reiterates the eighth commandment for the Church Age, Ephesians 5:3 reiterates the tenth commandment for the Church Age, and Ephesians 6:1-3 reiterates the fifth commandment for the Church Age. Ephesians 5:2 describes Christ as a "fragrant aroma,” the fulfillment of the voluntary Old Testament sacrifices. Ephesians 6:10-20 describes the "armor" of Bible doctrine, which Christians must "wear" in their minds, in order to combat Satan in the demonic/angelic spiritual warfare:
- The Belt of Truth
- The Breastplate of Righteousness
- The Shoes of Peace
- The Shield of Faith
- The Helmet of Salvation
- The Sword of the Spirit
Philippi - Philippians 1-4To the church at Philippi, Paul wrote that we must be considerate and unselfish, and avoid worrying. We must pray about everything. In prayer, we should thank God, identify our needs, and ask Him to provide. This will yield peace in our lives. We should not worry about anything. God does all. Philippians 1:29 says that he even gave us the faith, which is required for salvation and spiritual warfare.
In Philippians 2:3, Paul shocks us with his teachings on humility by saying that we should actually consider everyone else as being more important than ourselves. Paul acknowledges Timothy and Epaphroditus as being good examples of the Christian lifestyle. Some Bible students use Philippians 2:25-27 to show that Paul's spiritual gift of healing was being phased out in the latter part of the first century, in that he was unable to heal Epaphroditus when he was seriously ill. Philippians 3:1-3 gives a harsh warning against legalism. Christ is the only thing of value, all else is loss (Philippians 3:8). "I want to know Christ" (Philippians 3:10). Philippians 4:1 references a crown of joy for those who stand firm in the Lord. Salvation is only by faith in Christ Jesus. He gives transformation and "citizenship" in heaven. He wants us to be happy (Philippians 4:4).
Paul says that we should train our subconscious minds by thinking of things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. Then we should put our wisdom into practice. The secret to happiness is explicitly stated in Philippians 4:9. Also, "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).
Paul reemphasizes the importance of giving. In Philippians 4:18, he identifies our giving as a fragrant offering, pleasing to God like the fragrant aromas of the Levitical sacrifices. Philippians 4:17 assures that we will be rewarded for giving.
Colosse - Colossians 1-3In the letter to the church at Colosse, Paul says to pray for wisdom. Salvation is through Jesus, who existed before creation (Colossians 1:16). Lifestyle matters, but picky rules don't. We aren't to let vain philosophies deceive us from the truth. Colossians 2:16-23 explicitly warns against legalism, particularly with respect to common points of disagreement about personal convictions like Christian liberty and religious rituals such as drinking and keeping the Sabbath. These aren't matters to be judged among Christians because their importance is so minor. We should be like Jesus. We should work hard, be cheerful, and obey God. We must pray, watch for answers, and be thankful. Colossians 3:9 reiterates the ninth commandment for the Church Age.
Thessalonica - 1 Thessalonians 1-3To Thessalonica, Paul proclaims that Jesus is man's only escape from God's wrath. We must use faith and love, and please God. Church leaders should be sincere and gentle, and they should not use flattery, trickery, or theatrics to abuse their authority in order to grow their church. First Thessalonians 2:19 references a crown of glory for believers. Pray and thank Him. We must control our lifestyle, avoiding cheating and adultery. We must be Holy, clean, and pure. First Thessalonians 4:11 states that we should lead quiet lives, mind our own business, and work with our hands.
The Rapture - 1 Thessalonians 4First Thessalonians 4:13-18 is an amazing revelation of the Second Advent of Jesus Christ. Jesus will descend from heaven at the blowing of the archangel's trumpet. The bodies of the dead believers will rise from their graves to the clouds. The living believers will then ascend into the clouds (this has been called the rapture). All believers will be transformed, meeting Jesus in the air, and living with Him forever.
The End Times - 1 Thessalonians 5 - 2 Thessalonians 1The end times will occur when no one expects it and "all is well." This could be referring to attitudes such as those that are common in the United States in the late 20th century. Disaster will strike. We must watch, stay sober, and comfort, encourage, and care for each other. We must not fight or be lazy. We should be patient, do good, be joyful, pray, and thank God. By 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4, 5, 9, believers are assured that they will be raptured before the coming tribulation. By 1 Thessalonians 5:12, we're to respect our church elders.
We must exercise patience, faith, and perseverance through trouble in preparation for the coming Kingdom of God. The punishment for unbelievers is eternity in hell (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). God rewards faith with power (2 Thessalonians 1:11). Our mission is to glorify God.
The Day of the Lord - 2 Thessalonians 2-3Paul reveals that the end of time (the Day of the Lord) will be preceded by a great rebellion against God led by the Antichrist who will claim to be God. He will use satanic power to trick and fool the lost. This could include faith-healing (2 Thessalonians 2:9, Matthew 9:32-34). In 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, Paul assures the elect of their salvation in God's predetermined plan.
We should pray for the spreading of the gospel. We should not be lazy or even associate with those who are. "If a man will not work, he shall not eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
Timothy - 1 Timothy 1-2In Paul's first letter to Timothy, he warns against false prophets. He emphasizes God's patience, and our duty to keep our conscience clear and to do what is right. In extreme circumstances, when men lose their faith and good conscience, they're handed over to Satan for punishment, as were Hymenaeus and Alexander.
We're commanded again to raise our hands and pray for others and for those in authority, to plead for mercy, and to thank God. God wants all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). Women are commanded to be kind, good, humble, and silent. They must listen and learn quietly, and they must not "teach" or have authority over a man (1 Timothy 2:12). By Genesis 3:16, women were cursed with pain in childbirth, because it was a woman, Eve, who was deceived by Satan.
Church Leaders - 1 Timothy 3 - 2 Timothy 2Paul allows for only one pastor-teacher but several deacons in each local church assembly (1 Timothy 3:2, 12). He lists what are desirable assets for all Christian men, as well as explicit requirements for pastors and deacons, saying that such a man must be:
- The husband of one wife
- A hard worker
- A thoughtful, orderly doer of good deeds
- A good Bible teacher
- A man not overly-indulgent in liquor
- A man who's not a fighter
- A gentle, kind man who doesn't possess a love for money
- A man in control of his family
- A mature Christian
- A good, steady, honest man wholeheartedly following Christ
- A man who's been tested.
Christian wives should be thoughtful, faithful, and happy, and they should avoid gossip. The Godly life isn't a lazy one, but it yields respect and growth.
In the end times, some in the church will turn from God and teach against marriage, and forbid certain foods. We're to be faithful but not argumentative. Paul commends physical exercise (1 Timothy 4:8) and the examples set by young people (1 Timothy 4:12). Living a Godly life will help us here and in heaven. We must be diligent, use our abilities, and teach others. First Timothy 5:8 commands that men provide adequately for their families. In 1 Timothy 5:17, we see that the primary role of a church pastor is teaching Bible doctrine and discipling church members.
We must honor elders, relatives, and especially widows. Special honor went to a group of widows in Paul's day who were over 60 and had only been married once. Paul quotes Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7 to emphasize that pastors are to be defended, rebuked, and paid well. Close examination of 1 Timothy 5:18 seems to show that the gospels of the New Testament are scripture too, since part of Paul's quoting of scripture is only in the New Testament. Paul also warns to not be hasty in choosing church leaders. First Timothy 5:19-20 shows that although the pastor is the spiritual leader in the local church assembly, the congregation has authority over him, and they may remove him if necessary. First Timothy 5:23 implicates the merit of indulgence in wine.
We're to work hard, be happy and good, and take pride and trust in God, not money. Also, be faithful in suffering, "For God didn't give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:7). We should work, and avoid foolish discussion. Paul quotes Numbers 16:5 in order to encourage faith, love, gentleness, patience, humility, meekness, satisfaction, and companionship with believers. Second Timothy 2:25 shows that God even grants repentance. Second Timothy 2:26 references the spiritual warfare of the Church age.
The End Times - 2 Timothy 3-5Again, Paul describes the end times as a period when people will love themselves and money. They will be bad, proud, and boastful. They will sneer at God, and children will disobey and be ungrateful to their parents. People will lie and they will be hardheaded and troubled. They will be immoral, rough, cruel, and deceitful. They will go to church but they will not believe. They will have deceitful, warped, twisted, and dirty minds. Paul could be describing the 1980's. However, we can always be confident in what we learn from those whom we "know well" (2 Timothy 3:14).
Yet our greatest authority is the Bible because, "All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We must equip ourselves with the truth of Bible doctrine. We must stand by its truth and endure hardships from our oppressors. Many will not endure the truth; rather, they will turn to myths (2 Timothy 4:3-5). Second Timothy 4:7-8 promises the crown of righteousness for those who keep the faith as Paul did. In 2 Timothy 5:14, God specifies the duties of women to bear children and to care for their family and home.
Titus - Titus 1-3Paul gives Titus more qualifications for a pastor. He must:
- Have a good reputation
- Have sense, be fair, clean-minded, and level-headed
- Not be violent or wild
- Have a strong faith
- Have a power of persuasion
- Have a love for God
He adds that Christians aren't bound to the Old Testament Jewish laws. We should all be serious about life and we should live right, quietly, respectfully, carefully, and with good sense. God grants salvation and wisdom to anyone He chooses. We place our hope in the rapture and the Second Advent of Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). Meanwhile, we should obey the government and authorities. We should not argue over theology. What matters is salvation, which is because of God's mercy, not our good deeds (Titus 3:5). Yet, because we love God, we should be kind and live Godly lives.
PhilemonPhilemon is a very short letter from Paul to Philemon, asking him to welcome back a runaway slave, Onesimus. Paul is sending Onesimus back to Philemon and he wants Philemon to accept him as a Christian brother.
28 - Hebrews
Faith Rest - Hebrews 1-4The book of Hebrews seems to be written primarily to the Jews. By quotes of Psalms 2:7, 2 Samuel 7:14, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalms 104:4, Psalms 45:6-7, Psalms 102:25-27, and Psalms 110:1, we know that Jesus is on His throne in heaven, superior to the angels, who care for God's Elect. By Psalms 8:4-6, Psalms 22:22, and Isaiah 8:17-18, we know that Jesus knows our sufferings, and that He will reign forever. By Psalms 95:7-11, we're warned against unbelief. We must believe that Jesus is our high priest. He lives in us, and we must grow and share our faith with other believers. Jesus understands our temptations and we must be faithful to Him. By Hebrews 4:3-4, we must enter into God's faith rest, because God's Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). By Psalms 95:7-8, 11 and Genesis 2:2, we know that God's final wrath on those without faith will leave them to burn in hell.
Priesthood - Hebrews 5-7Psalms 2:7 and Psalms 110:4 are quoted in order to prove Christ's authority as high priest. He is a high priest like Melchizedek was in Abraham's days. This isn't of the priesthood of Levi or Aaron. Melchizedek was a Gentile whose genealogy isn't even given in the Bible, probably because it's irrelevant. Some believe that the description of Melchizedek in Hebrews 7:3 shows that Melchizedek was actually Jesus. As our high priest, Jesus provides answers to prayer, and salvation to the obedient. Hebrews 6:1-3 again says that our obedience includes Bible study. Also, the Church is to avoid quarrels over such things as baptism. By Genesis 22:17, the author of Hebrews cites our Godly duty to grow in Christ. Again, Psalms 110:4 is quoted to emphasize that Jesus is our high priest forever. Hebrews 7:27 describes Him as a "sin offering,” a permanent fulfillment of the Old Testament sin offering.
The New Covenant - Hebrews 8-10By Exodus 25:40 and Jeremiah 31:34, our present age of the church seems to be the fulfillment of God's new covenant. During this age, Jesus ministers in the Temple in heaven. Hebrews 8:7-8 explains that the new covenant was necessary because man broke the old covenant. In the new covenant, Christ provided the atonement for sin. Some believe that Hebrews 7-8 refers to the Church age, and others believe that it refers to the millennium.
In the old covenant, by Exodus 25:8, the blood of animals was offered by the priests as temporal atonement for sin. In the new covenant, the blood of Christ was offered by Himself as a permanent atonement for sin. "Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:22). By Hebrews 9:26, Christ's single self-sacrifice is sufficient. We're to be eager and to patiently await His Second Advent. Hebrews 9:28 rebukes the theory of reincarnation.
By Psalms 40:6-8 and Jeremiah 31:33-34, Jesus is the only sacrifice needed in the new covenant. The church does not need to offer animal sacrifices in order to restore temporal fellowship with God. In fact, Hebrews 10:3 says that the Jewish sacrifices served only as reminders of sin. Hebrews 10:22 stresses the importance of a pure conscience. Hebrews 10:25 commands us to meet together with our church. By Deuteronomy 32:33-36 and Psalms 135:14, we see that God's wrath will fall on those who know the truth but who won't accept (believe) it. Hebrews quotes Habakkuk 2:3-4 to assure us of the coming Second Advent of Christ.
Faith - Hebrews 11-13It has always been faith that brought men to God. Hebrews cites the faith of Old Testament characters Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham (Genesis 21:12) and Isaac (whom Abraham expected God to raise from the dead after his sacrifice (Hebrews 11:9)), Jacob, Moses, Joshua, and others. Faith will even yield a strong national defense (Hebrews 11:33-34).
Hebrews 12:2 says that God gives faith. By Proverbs 3:11-12, Proverbs 4:26, Exodus 19:12-13, Deuteronomy 9:19, and Haggai 2:6, we're to understand that God disciplines, trains, and disciples us because He loves us, in order to encourage us and yield a better world. God is with us forever (Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalms 118:6-7). We're to yield to His divine goodness through love, kindness, and purity in marriage. We aren't to love money. We're to be satisfied with what we have. We're to pray, and reject new doctrines. Hebrews 13:2 says we're to be kind to strangers because they may actually be angels.
29 - Other Minor Letters
James 1-5The book of James was written by James to the twelve tribes of Israel. It seems to explain the believer's justification before men, proof to men of his justification before God. James urges patience, prayer for wisdom, and expectation (faith) for results. Temptations come from within. We should listen and obey, and be silent and not angry. Of utmost importance, we must control our "tongues" (speech) as a witness of the Holy Spirit. We're to care for orphans and widows, and avoid being polluted by the world (such as by pornography). We're to be kind to the poor (Leviticus 19:18). All sin is bad (Exodus 20:13-14, Deuteronomy 5:17-18). We should be merciful, as God is to us, and help others. It isn't sufficient to have faith enough to yield eternal life. We must use our faith to do good. This will provide the necessary witness of Christ to others. We all are accountable to God. True faith (Genesis 15:6) will result in good deeds.
Teachers of the gospel will be judged more severely than others because they know more. Yet, no one should point out faults of others. We all stumble (James 3:2). Total self-control manifests itself through control of the tongue. We aren't to be jealous or selfish. Where we're lacking, we must pray in God's will (James 4:1-3). James 5:12 reiterates the third commandment for the Church Age.
James 4:6 says that God will give us "more grace." By Proverbs 3:34, we can obtain "super grace" from God through submission to Him. We're to be humble and to resist Satan. If we do, "he will flee" from us. We're to repent in grief, and to realize our worthlessness. We aren't to worry, judge, or criticize.
In James 5:13-16, we're to ask church leaders to pray for the sick and to anoint them with oil. God promises healing. We're to confess and pray together. "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16).
PeterIn Peter's letters to the church, he wrote that trials simply test our faith. We must exercise love. In 1 Peter 1:10-12, Peter explains that God's grace and His Holy Spirit, which were revealed in the Old Testament, are the same Grace and Holy Spirit that we have today. By Leviticus 11:44-55, 19:2, and 20:7, we're to be holy. By Isaiah 40:6-8, we're assured that God is forever.
Peter cites the perfect deity of Jesus from Isaiah 28:16, Psalms 118:22, Isaiah 8:14, and Isaiah 53:9. We should be loving, good, and honest like Jesus. We should not hate, gossip, or be jealous. We should be respectful, obey our government, and fear God. First Peter 2:24 is another reference to the baptism of the cross.
We should honor our spouses, parents, and children. By Psalms 34:12-16, we should control our tongues. By Isaiah 8:12, we can be confident. We must do good, not bad, and be ready to suffer for it. Christ suffered and "died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God" (1 Peter 3:18). Because of His resurrection, we can receive salvation and baptism (of which water is only a symbol) with a good conscience toward God. Life after death will either be torment forever in hell (for the unsaved) or paradise forever in heaven (for the saved) with Christ at God's right hand.
We must suffer, love, use our abilities, and persevere by Proverbs 11:31. The elderly should set examples for the young, and the young should follow the examples of their elders. Those who serve faithfully as shepherds of God's people and good examples to the flock will receive the crown of glory when Christ appears (1 Peter 5:2-4). We should be humble (Proverbs 3:34), self-controlled, alert, and not worrisome. We must watch out for Satan and remember that suffering is the road to Glory.
Peter also explains that salvation is by faith. We must work hard to be good. We should seek God and love man. To our faith, we should add: goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, Godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. Peter quotes Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:7, and Luke 9:35 to proclaim the deity of Christ. In 2 Peter 1:21, we're assured of the inspiration and the inerrancy of the Bible.
In 2 Peter 2:4-9, we have the account of the sinful angels being cast from heaven into hell. We must not live lives of sin (Proverbs 26:11).
In the "last days," people will scoff and they will be evil. God will destroy the earth by fire, and persecution will be ended (2 Peter 3:10). However, God delays this end in order that more will be saved. We must not sin. "With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years" (2 Peter 3:8). Second Peter 3:18 encourages us to grow in our understanding of God's Grace.
1 John 1-3John likens Jesus to a light in which we must walk in order to see. Yet, we never reach perfection (1 John 1:8-10). First John 1:9 says "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." This may be the most important verse in the Bible for believers. Confession of sin restores our temporal fellowship with God. We should not sin, yet we can have the assurance of salvation through the sincerity of God's Holy Spirit. We should love God and other Christians. We should be like Christ and do what is right. Christ is the only way to salvation. John also warns of the coming of the Antichrist.
At the Second Advent, believers will be transformed and become perfect like Christ. Until then, we must not sin habitually as Satan wants. Even though the world will hate us, we must obey God and love others. First John 3:15 reiterates the sixth commandment for the Church Age.
We're assured of salvation by the work of the Holy Spirit in our conscience. We must love others. We must test the spirits and beware of those that aren't loving and kind, and those that want to commit acts such as murder. It's the Holy Spirit that controls all thoughts in our conscience. First John 5:11-12 gives assurance to all who believe in Jesus. The only sin for which Christ didn't atone is the sin of unbelief. First John 5:13 says that the Bible and its truths give us assurance of salvation. First John 5:14-15 assures us that God will grant us anything we ask in his will. First John 5:16 says that there are sins "leading to death." These are probably sins, which represent such a rebellion against God that they cause God to end one's life on earth. First John 5:21 reiterates the second commandment for the Church Age.
We're to reject false prophets to the extent of not allowing anyone to enter our homes unless they "bring" the "teaching of Christ." We're to do what is right as a witness of our salvation. Second John is addressed to "the chosen lady," and 3 John to Gaius.
JudeJude addresses his letter to "those who have been called,” God's elect. This further emphasizes the doctrine of election. Jude assures the security of the believer. He urges us not to sin, but to be merciful, to wait patiently, and to persevere. He also refers to unbelievers (Jude 5), the fallen angels (Jude 6), hell (Jude 13), judgment (Jude 14-16), apostasy, and the end times. Jude 14 is believed by some to be a prophecy by Enoch of Jesus over 5000 years ago.
30 - The Revelation
Revelation 1:1-6Revelation addresses events that "must soon take place" (Revelation 1:1). The reader and the hearer of its truths receive a special blessing from God (Revelation 1:3). The letter is from John, while exiled and imprisoned for preaching, on the island of Patmos (probably in about 96 AD), and it was written to the seven churches in Asia (Turkey) (Revelation 1:4). It's a revelation from God, the Seven Spirits of God (Isaiah 11:2), and Jesus (Revelation 1:4-5).
The Seven Letters - Revelation 1:7-Revelation 3Everyone will see Jesus at His Second Advent (Revelation 1:7). God is the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8). John describes seven golden lamp stands and Jesus, a "son of man" (Revelation 1:13, Daniel 7:13). Jesus was wearing a robe and a gold band on His chest. He had white hair, eyes of flames, bronze feet, a voice of thunder, a double-bladed sword in his mouth, and a shining face. He held seven stars in His hand, which He said were the seven pastors of the seven churches (lamp stands). First Jesus gave John a message to the church at Ephesus. They were to repent of their sins or else they would lose their church. He warned the church at Smyrna to be faithful during its coming ten days of persecution, and He promised the crown of life to those who persevered. He also told the church at Pergamos to repent. He warned the church at Thyatira of its tolerance of the evil woman Jezebel, and He told them to repent of their sexual sins and to overcome their temptations. Their reward would be "authority over the nations" by Psalms 2:9.
He told the church at Sardis to "Wake up" (Revelation 3:2) and to conquer evil. He commended the church at Philadelphia for their obedience, and He promised them protection from the Great Tribulation. Some consider this to be a promise of a pre-tribulation rapture. He reprimanded the church at Laodecia for being "lukewarm," and He commanded enthusiasm. Revelation 3:20 is addressed to believers who are out of temporal fellowship with God. Jesus is always ready to restore that fellowship. These seven letters are considered by some to cover seven eras of the church from the apathetic first century church to the "lukewarm" twentieth century church.
Heaven - Revelation 4John is then taken to heaven where Jesus Christ reveals the future to him, particularly the coming tribulation period at the end of the age. Some believe that John's rapture here is a promise of the rapture of the church before the great tribulation. This will be the "first resurrection,” that of the dead and living believers of the church age.
John sees God on His throne in heaven. He also sees 24 elders on 24 thrones. These may be the twelve fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve disciples. John sees lightning and he hears thunder. He sees seven lamp stands (the seven Spirits of God), a crystal sea, and four living creatures (Isaiah 6:2), each with six wings and many eyes and resembling a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. These creatures never stopped worshiping God and repeating, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come" (Revelation 4:8). The 24 elders also worshiped God's omniscience and they cast their crowns before His throne. Revelation 4:11 reveals that our purpose (and the purpose of everything) is to please God.
The Seven Seals - Revelation 5-7God presented a scroll sealed with seven seals, and John wept because it appeared that nobody was worthy to open it. Then one of the elders announced that the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:9) was worthy. Then a slain lamb (Jesus) with seven horns and seven eyes took the scroll, and the elders worshiped Him.
The scroll would reveal the covenant promises to be executed upon the Gentiles and the Jews (not the church, which will have been raptured) during the seven-year tribulation.
The Lamb opened the first seal, which revealed a white horse whose rider held a bow and rode as a conqueror (Psalms 45:4). Biblical scholars are divided as to this man's identity. Some see him as Jesus, but others as Satan. The lamb opened the second seal which revealed a red horse whose rider carried a sword and caused war on the earth (Zechariah 1:8, 6:2). This could refer to wars such as WW I and WW II.
The third seal revealed a black horse whose rider carried a pair of scales and proclaimed famine and high-priced food (Zechariah 6:2). This could refer to famines such as in Ethiopia, and the high-priced food such as that which accompanied the 1300% inflation rate in Israel in the 1980's.
The fourth seal revealed a pale horse whose rider was named "Death,” and who was followed by "Hades" (Leviticus 26:22). They killed one fourth of the earth by war, famine, plague, and wild beasts.
The fifth seal revealed the souls of the martyrs who had been killed through persecution of their faith to God. They asked God how long He would delay avenging their deaths. He told them to wait until the other martyrs on earth were killed.
The sixth seal revealed an earthquake. The sun turned black, the moon turned blood red, the stars fell to the earth, and all mountains and islands were destroyed. Men hid in caves and asked the rocks to fall on them because they could not stand God's wrath (Isaiah 2:10, 21).
Then four angels were revealed, holding back the four winds of the earth until a seal was put on the foreheads of God’s servants. There were 144,000 evangelists and witnesses who were sealed, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve tribes listed include Joseph (including his sub-tribe of Ephraim) and Manasseh (the other sub-tribe of Joseph), but not Dan. Perhaps we can see this prophecy fulfilled today when scholars refer to the "lost tribe of Dan," meaning that there are no known descendants of this tribe remaining. Also revealed is the crowd in heaven wearing white robes that came out of the Great Tribulation, and are now assured of tranquility. Many Bible scholars agree that Revelation 8 marks the Midpoint of the seven-year tribulation, the beginning of the Great Tribulation.
The Seven Trumpets - Revelation 8Then the opening of the seventh seal caused silence in heaven for about a half-hour. Then seven angels were given seven trumpets, and one angel offered incense and prayer to God (Psalms 141:2).
The first angel sounded his trumpet and one third of the earth, grass, and trees were burnt up by hail, fire, and blood descending upon the earth (Isaiah 2:13).
The second angel sounded his trumpet and a burning mountain was cast into the sea causing one third of the sea to turn into blood, one third of the sea creatures to die, and one third of the ships to be destroyed.
The third angel sounded his trumpet and a star named "Wormwood" fell to the earth (possibly symbolizing the fall of Satan) and caused one third of the freshwater on earth to become bitter.
The fourth angel sounded his trumpet and one third of the sun, moon, and stars turned dark, causing one third of the day and night to be without light. Then an angel announced, "Woe, Woe, Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels" (Revelation 8:13).
Stinging Locusts - Revelation 9-11When the fifth angel sounded his trumpet, he unlocked the Abyss (hell), and smoke from it darkened the sky. Locusts (demons) came out of the smoke upon the earth and they were given the power of scorpions (2 Chronicles 10:11). They didn't harm any vegetation, but for five months, they tortured all the people who didn't have the seal of God on their forehead. They stung like scorpions but could not kill anyone, neither were their victims allowed success in committing suicide. The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle (Joel 2:4, Nahum 3:17). They appeared to wear crowns of gold and breastplates of iron, and to have human faces, women's hair, lion's teeth, and thundering wings. Their leader was named Abaddon or Apollyon (Destroyer). This was the first woe.
The sixth angel (Exodus 30:2) blew his trumpet and sparked the second woe, the release of the four angels bound at the great river Euphrates. They released an army numbering 200,000,000, and they would kill one third of the earth's population. They wore breastplates and rode horses. Their horses had heads resembling lions and they released fire, smoke, and sulfur from their mouths. It was these three plagues of fire, smoke, and sulfur which killed their enemies. The horses also inflicted injury with their snake like tails. Still, the survivors on earth wouldn't repent of their sins. This army must refer to China's 200,000,000-man army, which will move west across the Euphrates to attack Israel. The horses may be symbols of military (possibly nuclear) weaponry.
Then John saw more revelation but he was not allowed to record it (Psalms 29:3). He was told that the seventh trumpet would accomplish the mystery of God. He was told to eat a small scroll, which was sweet in his mouth, but bitter in his stomach (Jeremiah 15:16, Ezekiel 2:8, 3:3, and 3:7).
John was told to measure the Temple of God, except for the Gentiles' outer court. The Gentiles would "trample" Jerusalem for three and one-half years (Ezekiel 40:3, Zechariah 2:1, Ezekiel 40:17, and Daniel 8:10-11). God would empower two olive trees (lamp stands), which would be His witnesses for three and one-half years (Zechariah 4). They would defend themselves by fire from their mouths (Jeremiah 5:14). They would have power to cause drought and plagues. After three and one-half years, the beast from hell would kill them and he would publicly display their dead bodies (Daniel 7:20). Then, after three and one-half days, they would regain life and they would ascend into heaven. At that same hour, an earthquake would destroy one-tenth of Jerusalem, killing 7000 people. This would finally cause some of the survivors to turn to God.
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet and initiated the third woe. Heaven proclaimed the Kingdom of heaven on earth under the reign of Jesus Christ. The 24 elders worshiped God, the Ark of the Covenant was revealed in the Temple of heaven, and lightning, thunder, an earthquake, and hail plagued the earth.
The Dragon - Revelation 12Revelation 12 is thought by some to describe the midpoint of the tribulation period. A pregnant woman in labor, probably symbolizing Israel, appeared in heaven with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars, probably symbolizing the Twelve Tribes of Israel, on her head. A huge red dragon also appeared in heaven. It had seven heads and crowns, and ten horns (Daniel 7:7). His tail destroyed one-third of the stars. He wanted to devour the woman's child when it was born. The woman gave birth to a son who would rule all nations, Jesus (Psalms 2:9). God protected the child on His throne and He protected the woman in the desert for three and one-half years (Daniel 7:25). The enraged dragon fought and lost a war to Michael and his angels. The dragon (Satan) and his angels were cast out of heaven to the earth. This probably describes the fall of Satan before man's creation. Satan could not kill the woman, even with a flood, so he attacked all believers (during the last three and one-half years of the tribulation period).
The Beast - Revelation 13:1-10The Antichrist is revealed as a beast from the sea, with ten horns, seven heads, ten crowns on his horns, and a blasphemous name on each head. He resembles a leopard but he has feet like a bear and a mouth like a lion. He receives great power and authority from the dragon (Satan). One of his heads had received a fatal wound but it had been healed. The worldly people followed and worshiped the beast. He was given authority to make war against God's saints and to conquer them for three and one-half years (Daniel 7:20).
The False Prophet - Revelation 13:11-18The false prophet is revealed as another beast coming out of the earth, with two horns like a lamb, and speaking like a dragon. He used the power of the Antichrist and made everyone worship Satan, proclaiming him as deity because of the healing of his fatal wound. This fake healing could be hailed as faith-healing (Revelation 13:3, 12-15, Matthew 9:34, 2 Thessalonians 2:9). The false prophet deceived people through his miraculous powers. He forced everyone to be marked, "on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark" (Revelation 13:16-17). The mark was the "name of the beast or the number of his name." His number is 666 (man's number), and the Bible says that through wise insight, we can interpret this mystery.
The 144,000 - Revelation 14Then the scene changes to Jerusalem where Jesus is seen with His 144,000 followers. One angel preaches the gospel, another announces the fall of Babylon, and another commands perseverance against the beast. Then a "son of man" (Daniel 7:13) is seen with a sickle and He is commanded to reap the harvest (the "grapes") of the earth. As God's wrath killed the ungodly people on earth (in a "wine press"), blood flowed at the depth of the horses' bridles for 180 miles.
The Seven Bowls of Wrath - Revelation 15-16The last three and one-half years of Great Tribulation are ushered in by seven angels with seven bowls of wrath in order to finish God's wrath upon the earth. The Holy Temple was smoke-filled and off-limits until His wrath was complete.
The first angel poured his bowl of wrath on the earth, which produced ugly and painful sores on the people having the mark of the beast. The second angel poured his bowl on the sea, causing it to turn to blood, and all sea creatures died. The third bowl caused all the freshwater to turn to blood, in order to avenge the martyrs' blood. The fourth bowl caused the sun to scorch men with intense heat. Still they didn't repent but they cursed God. The fifth bowl was poured on the beast's throne and his kingdom became dark. The sixth bowl caused the great river Euphrates to be dried up, allowing its westward crossing by the "Kings of the East" (probably the Chinese army). Then three evil spirits resembling frogs came out of the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. These spirits performed miracles and gathered all the kings of the earth for a war against Israel at Armageddon. The seventh bowl was poured into the air, completing God's wrath with lightning, thunder, the worst earthquake of all time, and 100-pound hailstones.
Babylon Revelation 17-18John then saw a woman (a prostitute) dressed in purple and scarlet (Jeremiah 51:7) sitting on a scarlet beast on many waters. She symbolized the great false universal religious system of the day, similar to ancient Babylon. The beast had seven heads and ten horns. An angel announced that this beast had once been killed, but that it would rise from hell and then be destroyed. His return after death would attract the praise of all unbelievers. This is how the Antichrist will rise to instant dictatorship of the world. Imagine the effect on society if Adolf Hitler were to reappear today.
The seven heads of the beast are explained as being the seven hills on which Rome is built, symbolizing seven kings. These are the eras of the world empires, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, and the coming revived Roman Empire. The beast is one of the seven, and he will be the eighth king, but he will be destroyed. The ten horns are ten coming kings who will unite with the beast, but only for "one hour." They will fight and lose the battle of Armageddon against Jesus Himself. The water is a multitude of people. The beast and the ten horns will wage war against the woman, the city "that rules over the kings of the earth" (Revelation 17:18).
Then the commercial religious system of that day will be destroyed and an angel will announce that Babylon has fallen. Her followers will mourn (Ezekiel 26:16, Jeremiah 50:46). She will fall in one hour (Isaiah 21:9). Sea captains and sailors will mourn and praise her (Ezekiel 27:30). She was judged by God (Jeremiah 51:48). Her destruction is like a boulder thrown into the sea (Jeremiah 51:64). She is dead forever (Isaiah 24:8, Jeremiah 7:24). She was punished for her sins and judged for her shedding of the martyrs' blood. Heaven celebrated her punishment, and then a wedding feast for Jesus (the lamb) was prepared.
The Millennium - Revelation 19-20Then John saw a white horse with a rider named Faithful and True. Revelation 19:13 seems to prove that John 1:1 refers to Jesus Christ. At the end of the tribulation period, He and his army defeated the dragon at the Battle of Armageddon (Psalms 21:9), He judged the live unbelievers, and He cast the Antichrist and the false prophet into the lake of fire. An angel bound Satan in the Abyss for 1000 years (the millennium) where he could no longer deceive men. After the 1000 years, he would be released for a short while.
Judges thrones were revealed. The faithful martyrs of the tribulation period came to life and reigned with Christ on earth for 1000 years (the millennial kingdom, the Age of the Kingdom). This resurrection is called the first resurrection. After 1000 years, Satan will be released and he will try to gather nations for war, but he will be thrown into the lake of fire with the Antichrist and the false prophet forever.
Then the dead unbelievers will be judged (the second resurrection) before the Great White Throne of God (Daniel 7:10). They will be judged according to their deeds recorded in books. They will be thrown into the lake of fire (the second death) because their names were not recorded in the book of life. It isn't until this description of the millennium that it becomes clear that this is what the Old Testament prophets were referencing in many of their prophecies.
It should be noted that some believe that Revelation 20 does not follow Revelation 19 chronologically, and that the millennium is simply symbolic of the Church Age. They believe that this millennium isn't a literal thousand years, and that Satan is currently bound in the Church Age, using Matthew 16:18 to support this viewpoint.
A New Heaven and a New Earth - Revelation 21:1-9Then John saw a new heaven and a new earth replacing the old ones (Ezekiel 48). Jesus "married" the city of Jerusalem and reigned forever with God's Holy people (Leviticus 26:11). There was no more death, mourning, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4). Everything was new. It all belongs to those who overcome evil, while the cowardly, unbelieving, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, magicians, idolaters, and liars all burn in hell, forever.
The New Jerusalem - Revelation 21:10-22:2The eternal Holy city of Jerusalem is described as having the brilliance of Jasper and the clarity of crystal. It had high walls with twelve gates, three on each side, bearing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. The wall had twelve foundations, bearing the names of the twelve apostles of Jesus. The city was 1500 miles long, wide, and high, either a cube or a pyramid. Its wall was 200 feet high. The wall was made of jasper and the city of pure gold, as clear as glass. The foundations of the walls were composed of twelve kinds of precious stones listed in Revelation 21:19-20. The twelve gates were twelve huge pearls.
Although there will be no night in the city, there is no sun or moon (or temple) because God and Jesus provide the light (Isaiah 60:19). Its gates will never be shut. Nothing impure will ever enter it. The only reason that any human can ever enter heaven is that belief in Jesus allows us to claim
His perfect righteousness and cancel our past imperfections. Heaven's only inhabitants are those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. They serve Jesus forever. The city included a great river of life (Genesis 2:10, Ezekiel 47:1).
Jesus Christ's Return - Revelation 22:3-21Revelation 22:6, 7, 16 assure the authority of the Bible, and the promise that Jesus's Second Advent will occur quickly. This Revelation is to be made known to all because the time is near (Revelation 22:10, Daniel 8:26, 12:4, 9). Revelation 22:13 assures that Jesus is man's omniscient and just judge. Those who are saved by Jesus may enter the city, eat of the tree of life, and live forever in paradise. Others cannot. His gift of salvation is free (Revelation 22:17). Revelation 22:15 condemns magic, witchcraft, and the occult.
Revelation 22:18-19 seems to verify that this Revelation completes the closed Canon of scripture, that no more scripture will be revealed before Jesus returns, and that none is to be deleted. Our only concern and hope is Jesus's promise in Revelation 22:30, "Yes, I am coming soon."
31 - Summary of Events, Applications, and ExpectationsGod created man in His own image and for His own purpose. God is sovereign, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. He is all wisdom and truth, and He exercises perfect justice throughout the universe. In His perfect righteousness, He judges man and provides all his needs. Man's only duty is to obey and please God, his creator. Man separated himself from God when he disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. This act caused man to lose his promise from God of paradise forever. This was a just decision from the sovereign God.
God is all-loving. His love for His fallen creation, man, caused Him to establish a plan by which man could be redeemed and regain his union with God, but not without a cost. Man is the culprit, he is at God's mercy, and he must contend with God's decision as to what that cost will be. Fortunately for man, God, in His love for man, masterminded a plan of grace (Romans 6:14) to restore His union with man, although His decision included the necessity of the shedding of the blood of man as the cost of restoring this relationship.
His plan was initiated at the point of man's fall in the Garden of Eden, and God used His choice of particular men to fulfill His plan. He used Noah during the Age of the Gentiles in order to purify the world of excessive evil. He began the Age of the Jews by calling Abraham to father His Chosen People. Through Moses, He commanded the Jews to obey His laws. These laws included animal sacrifices to restore temporal fellowship with God and to remind the Jews that the cost of regaining an everlasting relationship with God was going to require the shedding of man's blood.
God provided this everlasting sacrifice when He sent His son, Jesus (from the Jewish descent of King David), to shed His blood and to be killed by crucifixion. All the sins of man were atoned by the death of Jesus. God's further decision, which is emphasized throughout the Bible, is that each individual must believe (repent in their mind or change their mind) by faith that this sacrifice of Jesus is the truth. We must trust God's Grace in sending Jesus as our eternal sacrifice. Everyone who does will enjoy eternal paradise in heaven forever after their death on earth. Those who fail to believe this truth will suffer eternal torment in hell forever after they die (Isaiah 66:24).
The importance of this decision cannot be overemphasized. Because it's an eternal decision, the Bible says that this is our primary concern while on earth, to secure eternal salvation from God's wrath, which our sin provoked. This individual decision is made by everyone during their life on this earth, yet it determines our everlasting destiny.
This decision is reached during the Age of Grace through developing an understanding of and a respect for God by learning Bible truths (John 20:30-31, Colossians 1:9). If we acknowledge and believe God and His plan, we will love Him for it (1 John 5:13). Once we're assured of our eternal destiny through justification, our love for Him will produce righteousness in us during the remainder of our lives on earth. We should be good, but we will not be perfect until we're transformed at the end of the Age of the Church. Until we die, our gratitude for His Grace makes believers want to please Him through sanctification. The Bible is our daily guide, which teaches us how to please Him. When we succeed, God is glorified, and when we fail, Jesus has atoned.
We're to know, believe, please, and glorify God. We're to glorify God by being good, just, and humble. We should pray to God, seek wisdom from the Bible, and share what we learn with our fellow man so that all will be convinced of His truths, and His eternal paradise will spread to include all of those whom He has predestined to eternal life in heaven. We're to seek things in this life that will honor God here and in the next life of glorification, not necessarily things that will make this life more pleasurable for us now. Our obedience to God in this life will determine our rewards in heaven. We're to study God's Word in order to gird ourselves with the required weaponry against Satan's attacks in the demonic/angelic warfare, and to further glorify God.
The Bible tells us about the coming end of the Church Age. The truths of the Bible aren't difficult to believe by faith. The Old Testament prophets, including Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and others, have already accurately predicted:
- The ancient world empires of Persia, Greece, and Rome
- The formation of the nation of Israel
- Israel's destruction, captivity, return, and scattering
- The coming of the Messiah, God's eternal sacrifice
These prophets, together with New Testament apostles such as Paul, Peter, and John, taught that before the end of the age, Israel would be restored as a nation once again. This occurred in 1948, and the Bible teaches that its restoration will be completed with the return of even more Jews to Israel, and a successful, secure, and Utopian society there.
In the near future, Jesus Christ will descend from a cloud, and the dead bodies of believers whose souls are in heaven will rise and be transformed to perfection to join their souls. The living believers of that day will then be transformed and join Christ in heaven. The rest of the earth, the unbelievers, will suffer seven years of tribulation under the world domination of a satanic individual known as the Antichrist. He will lead the entire world toward total destruction at the climactic battle against Israel at Armageddon. Then Christ will return to earth (the Second Advent). He will personally defeat Satan and the Antichrist. He will cast the Antichrist into hell, bind Satan in Hades, and physically establish a 1000-year (millennial) kingdom with His believers, on the earth. He will reign from Jerusalem for 1000 years, then He will cast Satan and all unbelievers into hell (The Lake of Fire) forever, while Jesus and His believers reign in paradise in a new and perfect heaven forever.
According to other prophecies and the condition of the earth that the Bible describes for the time immediately preceding the rapture, all this could occur at any time now. God’s entire plan has been miraculously set in place during the 6000-year period since the fall of man. If in Daniel 12, "time" denotes the 2000-year Age of the Gentiles, and "times" denotes the 2000-year Age of the Jews and the 2000-year Age of the Church, then we're within just a few years of the rapture and the final "half a time" of the 1000-year earthly millennial kingdom.
This would seem to result in the perfect number of millenniums, seven. Certainly, the increase in travel and knowledge referenced in Daniel 12 is descriptive of the twentieth century. If in Matthew 24, "this generation" refers to the generation living at the time of the rebirth of Israel in 1948, then the end of the age is very near, since about 40 years of that generation have already passed. If Gog in Ezekiel 38 and 39 is a prophecy of Russia in the twentieth century, then recent Russian and Soviet allies' strategies in Europe, Asia, and Africa certainly fulfill this prophecy of Israel. Furthermore, the 1980's accurately fulfill in detail the graphic description of the earth just before the end time, described in 2 Timothy 3.
We're surely seeing the fulfillment of Isaiah 11, which predicted that Israel would be scattered throughout the world, and then reunited in Israel. Isaiah 65 predicted that a country would be born in a day, as Israel was "born" on May 14, 1948. What other nation has remained intact and been reborn after centuries of complete disbursement? We have seen the fulfillment of Micah's prophecies of the Jews rejecting the Messiah. We're seeing the fulfillment of Amos's prophecies of the Jews returning to Israel. We have also seen the fulfillment of Hosea's prophecies of Israel being without a leader or a temple for a long period of time. All these should further impress upon us the great truth that Christ will soon return.
Never has our decision about justification for eternal life been so critical as at this point in history. Never has our sanctification of a Godly life been so influential. Never have we been so close to the glorification of God.
Unfortunately, a complete chronology of mankind isn't available in the Bible or any other known single source. All chronological charts are based on certain assumptions. The assumptions used in the following charts are explained here. The entries for the year column in Chart 1 (through the time that Joshua became the leader of Israel) are very objective according to explicit chronological references in the Bible, primarily in Genesis 5 and Genesis 11.
The first assumption made here, in Chart 4, is that the 430 years of Israel's captivity in Egypt began when Jacob entered Egypt. This is consistent with the Biblical genealogies of the tribes of Levi and Judah, but it may be inconsistent with Galatians 3:17.
The next event, which is subject to question, is the tenure of Joshua's leadership in Chart 5, since it isn't explicitly given in the Bible. We do know that Joshua died at age 110, and these charts simply assume that Joshua and Caleb were the same age, and that their spy mission occurred during the first year of freedom from Egypt. With these assumptions, together with chronological information on Caleb, a 30-year term of office for Joshua is deduced. It's obvious that his term of office had to be somewhere between 8 and 50 years, so this assumption of 30 years is reasonable.
The next point of subjectivity, in Chart 6, is the correlation of 1 Kings 6:1 which specifies that 480 years had passed between the Exodus and the beginning of the construction of Solomon's temple. A study of the chronology of the Judges and early Kings quickly discounts the possibility of these 480 years as covering all the time between the Exodus and the beginning of the Temple construction, because this totals more than 480 years, no matter what assumptions are made for uncertainties.
The traditional explanation of these 480 years is that it does not mean 480 years (although that is what it says), but that it means 12 generations at approximately 40 to 60 years per generation. The assumptions made in the charts here include the following:
- That the 40-year period of Philistine dominance overlapped with Samson's 20-year tenure as judge
- A 25-year rule for Samuel
- A 42-year reign for Saul
With these assumptions, the total time between the Exodus and the beginning of Temple construction is 631 years. Now, by subtracting the 151 total years during which God forsook Israel (indicated by an asterisk in Charts 4, 5, 6, and 9), the conclusion is drawn that the 480 years referenced in 1 Kings 6:1 refers to the total amount of time during these 631 years during which God looked upon Israel as His Chosen People.
Certain assumptions also had to be made for a few of the reigns of the Kings of Israel and Judah in Charts 7 and 8, but again, the margin of error is small. Chart 9 assumes that the sixty-nine sevens described in Daniel 9 substantiates a period of 483 years between the first decree to return to Jerusalem, and the Crucifixion of Jesus. All of the dates before Christ in all of the charts were simply derived from the year column, using the traditional date of 4 B.C. for the birth of Christ.
The primary differences between these charts and traditional ones are as follows:
1) The fall of man is set here as 4241 B.C., but traditionally, it's often set at 4004 B.C. Interestingly enough, 4241 B.C. is also commonly cited as the earliest recorded date in human history, according to the ancient Egyptian calendar.
2) These charts suggest a very early date for the Exodus, 1573 B.C., but traditionally, the date varies between 1200 B.C. and 1500 B.C., and it's often set at about 1453 B.C.
3) The above explanation of the 480 years between the Exodus and the beginning of Temple construction, noted in 1 Kings 6:1
4) The 430 years that Israel spent in Egypt is explained as beginning with Jacob's move into Egypt, but often it's explained as beginning with Abram's call. The interpretation here assumes that the "fourth generation" in Genesis 15 refers to the fourth generation after freedom.
Chart 1 - Adam to the Flood
Year B. C. Date Event
0 4241 Creation of Adam
130 4111 Birth of Seth
235 4006 Birth of Enosh
325 3916 Birth of Kenan
395 3846 Birth of Mahalel
460 3781 Birth of Jared
622 3619 Birth of Enoch
687 3554 Birth of Methusaleh
874 3367 Birth of Lamech
930 3311 Death of Adam
987 3254 God "took" Enoch
1056 3185 Birth of Noah
1140 3101 Death of Enosh
1235 3006 Death of Kenan
1290 2951 Death of Mahalel
1422 2819 Death of Jared
1556 2685 Birth of Ham, Shem, and Japheth
1651 2590 Death of Lamech
1656 2585 Death of Methusaleh
1656 2585 The Flood
Chart 2 - The Flood to the Call of Abram
Year B. C. Date Event
1656 2585 The Flood
1658 2583 Birth of Arphaxad
1693 2548 Birth of Shelah
1723 2518 Birth of Eber
1757 2484 Birth of Peleg
1787 2454 Birth of Reu
1819 2422 Birth of Serug
1849 2392 Birth of Nahor
1878 2363 Birth of Terah
1948 2293 Birth of Abram
1958 2283 Birth of Sara
1996 2245 Death of Peleg
1997 2244 Death of Nahor
2006 2235 Death of Noah
2023 2218 Call of Abram
Chart 3 - The Call of Abram to Joseph
Year B. C. Date Event
2023 2218 Call of Abram
2026 2215 Death of Reu
2034 2207 Birth of Ishmael
2047 2194 Abram promised a son
2048 2193 Birth of Isaac
2049 2192 Death of Serug
2083 2158 Death of Terah
2085 2156 Death of Sarah
2088 2153 Isaac married Rebekah
2096 2145 Death of Arphaxad
2108 2133 Birth of Jacob and Esau
2123 2118 Death of Abraham
2126 2115 Death of Shelah
2148 2093 Esau married Hittites
2158 2083 Death of Shem
2171 2070 Death of Ishmael
2187 2054 Death of Eber
2199 2042 Birth of Joseph
Chart 4 - Joseph to Joshua
Year B. C. Date Event
2216 2025 Joseph sold into slavery
2228 2013 Death of Isaac
2229 2012 Joseph became a leader in Egypt
2238 2003 Jacob moved to Egypt
2255 1986 Death of Jacob
2309 1932 Death of Joseph
2585 1656 Birth of Aaron
2588 1653 Birth of Moses
2628 1613 Moses fled to Midian
2628 1613 Birth of Caleb and Joshua
2668 1573 The Exodus
2668 1573 *Forty years in the wilderness
2708 1533 Death of Aaron
2708 1533 Death of Moses
2708 1533 Leadership of Joshua
* God forsook Israel
Chart 5 - Joshua to Philistine Rule
Years B.C. Dates Events
2708-2738 1533-1503 Joshua's leadership
2738-2746 1503-1495 *Syrian Rule
2746-2786 1495-1455 Othniel judges
2786-2804 1455-1437 *Moab Rule
2804-2884 1437-1357 Ehud judges
2884-2904 1357-1337 *King Jabin Rule
2904-2944 1337-1297 Deborah judges with Barak
2944-2951 1297-1290 *Midian Rule
1951-2991 1290-1250 Gideon judges
2991-2994 1250-1247 *Abimelech judges
2994-3017 1247-1224 Tola judges
3017-3039 1224-1202 Jair judges
3039-3057 1202-1184 *Philistine Rule
* God forsook Israel
Chart 6 - Philistine Rule to the Split Kingdom
Years B.C. Dates Events
3039-3057 1202-1184 *Philistine Rule
3057-3063 1184-1178 Jephthah judges
3063-3070 1178-1171 Ibzan judges
3070-3080 1171-1161 Elon judges
3080-3088 1161-1153 Abdon judges
3088-3128 1153-1113 *Philistine Rule
3128-3148 1113-1093 Samson judges
3148-3188 1093-1053 Eli judges
3188-3213 1053-1028 Samuel and sons judge
3213-3255 1028-986 Reign of King Saul
3255-3295 986-946 Reign of King David
3295-3335 946-906 Reign of King Solomon
3299 942 Begin Temple Construction
3335 906 Kingdom Split
* God forsook Israel
Chart 7 - Jereboam to Jehu
Years B.C. King Years B.C. King
3335-3357 906-884 Jereboam 3335-3352 906-889 Rheoboam
3352-3355 889-886 Abijam
3355-3396 886-845 Asa
3357-3359 884-882 Nadab
3359-3383 882-858 Baasha
3383-3385 858-856 Elah
3385-3385 856-856 Zimri
3385-3388 856-853 Omri/Tibni
3388-3394 853-847 Omri
3394-3416 847-825 Ahab
3396-3421 845-820 Jehoshaphat
2416-3418 825-823 Ahaziah
3418-3429 823-812 Jehoram
3421-3429 820-812 Jehoram
3429-3459 812-782 Jehu
Chart 8 - Jehu to Assyrian Exile
Years B.C. King Years B.C. King
3429-3459 812-782 Jehu
3429-3430 812-811 Ahaziah
3430-3436 811-805 Queen Athaliah
3436-3477 805-764 Joash
3459-3475 782-766 Jehoahaz
3475-3492 766-749 Jehoash
3477-3505 764-736 Amaziah (Amos)
3492-3533 749-708 Jereboam II
3505-3557 736-684 Azariah
3533-3544 708-796 Zechariah (Micah)
3544-3544 697-697 Shallum (Hosea)
3544-3554 697-687 Menahem (Isaiah)
3554-3556 687-685 Pekahiah
3556-3576 685-665 Pekah
3557-3573 684-668 Jotham
3573-3589 668-562 Ahaz
3576-3585 665-656 Hoshea (Isaiah 6, 7)
3585 656 Assyrian Exile
Chart 9 - Kings of Judah through the New Testament
Years B.C. /A.D. Event
3589-3618 652-623 Hezekiah (Isaiah 36-40)
3618-3673 623-568 Manasseh
3673-3675 568-566 Amon
3675-3706 566-535 Josiah (Jeremiah, Zephaniah)
3706-3706 535-535 Jehoahaz (Jeremiah)
3706-3717 535-524 Jehoiakim (Jeremiah)
3717 524 Exile to Babylon
3717-3728 524-513 Zedekiah appointed King (Jeremiah)
3728 513 Zedekiah rebels against Nebuchadnezzar
3728 513 Gedaliah appointed governor
3717-3787 524-454 *Daniel (Persia, Darius, Cyrus)
3787 454 Return to Jerusalem under Cyrus
4237 4 BC Birth of Jesus
4241 0 BC/AD Calendar year zero
4270 29 AD Crucifixion of Jesus
4270-4337 29-96 AD Early Church, Peter, Paul, John...
4337 96 AD Revelation, John, Canon
* God forsook Israel