For your reading pleasure, a summary of the 39 books in The Old Testament.
Genesis: God uses his word to speak all of creation into being. This creation is perfect until man sins by listening to Satan instead of trusting God and obeying his plan. This sin of Adam and Eve results in spiritual death and eventually leads to filling the world with hate, violence and disobedience. Finally sin prevails until God uses a flood to destroy mankind, except righteous Noah and his family. God creates man in his own image for fellowship with him. Man is created with a body, a soul, a spirit and a free will to make decisions for or against God. Though we sin, God will not give up on us or abandon us. In spite of our failures, God loves us and sees our value and worth. The Lord has a plan for every life and it includes salvation and total obedience to his word. God has the love and the power to protect and provide for us as we place our faith in him.
Key Words: “beginning”; “man”; “covenant”. Genesis accounts for the “beginning” of the heavens and earth, plant and animal life, “man” and woman, sin, and civilization and God’s work of redemption. god’s eternal plan of salvation for mankind is revealed through the “covenant” He establishes with Abraham.
Themes: God creates man in his own image for fellowship with Him. Man is created with a body, a soul, and a free will to make decisions for or against God. Though we sin, God will not give up on us or abandon us. In spite of our failures, God loves us and sees our value and worth. The Lord has a plan for every life and it includes salvation and total obedience to His Word. God has the love and the power to protect and provide for us as we place our faith in Him.
The story of creation 1:1 – 2:25
The beginning of sin and death 3:1 – 5:32
The story of Noah 6:1 – 10:32
The Tower of Babel 11:1 – 11:9
The life of Abraham 11:10 – 25:18
The life of Isaac 25:19 – 26:25
The life of Joseph 37:1 – 50:26
Exodus: Exodus begins with the descendants of Jacob living in slavery to the Egyptians. Moses is called and directed by God to lead the Israelites out of this bondage. Israel is finally permitted to leave Egypt after God directs Moses to pronounce a series of plagues upon Egypt and the Pharaoh. The Passover is instituted, emphasizing that blood redemption is always necessary (Chapter12), and the resulting covenant between God and the Israelites identifies them as God’s chosen people. God then delivers Israel miraculously through the Red Sea. At Mount Sinai, God gives the Ten Commandants, but later has to judge the people for their apostasy and worship of the golden calf (Chapter 32). A few months later, the tabernacle is constructed.
Key Words: “deliverance”; “redemption”; “Commandments”. The “deliverance” of the nation of Israel from their oppression as slaves is just one of many miraculous acts performed by God for the complete “redemption” of His chosen people. The Ten Commandants and other laws give people instructions needed to live as God desires.
Themes: God’s protection and provision are available to his children in times of need. Obedience to the Word of God brings prosperity and blessings; disobedience brings failure and punishment. Part of our covenant agreement with God is that we trust and obey him in return for his deliverance and salvation. God’s promises can be depended upon totally and uncompromisingly.
Israel’s bondage and Moses’ preparation 1:1 – 4:31
God’s redemption of Israel from Egypt 5:1 – 15:21
Israel’s wilderness journey to Mount Sinai 5:22 – 18:27
God’s covenant and the Ten Commandments 19:1 – 24:18
The tabernacle and related regulations 25:1 – 31:18
Israel’s apostasy 32:1 – 32:35
Renewal of God’s covenant 33:1 – 40:38
Leviticus: Leviticus sets down regulations to preserve the spiritual, moral and physical purity of the people. Instructions are provided on how to live holy lives through sacrifice and worship.
Key Words: “sanctified”; “holiness”. The Levites and more specifically, the priests are set aside for service or “sanctified” to live as examples of “holiness” before all the people I all that they do.
Themes: Sin is always detestable in God’s sight. God’s plan is that all sin must be atoned for by the offering of sacrificial blood (as fulfilled in Christ’s atonement). God is totally holy, and he requires our holiness and dedication. God is not the author of confusion, but of orderliness in worship. We keep God’s laws not to become acceptable to him, but as an expression of our love for and trust in him. Faithfulness to God’s Word allows his peace and presence to fill our lives.
Laws concerning offerings 1:1 – 7:38
Laws concerning the priesthood 8:1 – 10:20
Laws concerning personal purity 11:1 – 15:33
The Day of Atonement 16:1 – 16:34
Laws for sanctification of the people 17:1 – 20:27
Laws for sanctification of the priests 21:1 – 22:33
Laws concerning the Sabbath and other appointed feasts 23:1 – 25:55
Blessings versus curses set before the people 26:1 – 26:46
Laws concerning vows 27:1 – 27:34
Numbers: Numbers is the story of nearly 40 years that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, between the times of 2 separate censuses of the people. The first census is of the old generation, the generation that came up out of Egypt. It takes place at Mount Sinai in the second year of the exodus. The second census is of the new generation. It takes place on the plains of Moab, opposite Jericho, 38 years later just prior to the nation’s entering of Canaan. Even though the old generation (with the exception of Joshua and Caleb) is not allowed to enter the promise land, God still provides for and sustains the people through these wanderings.
Key Words: “wanderings”; “Census”. The emphasis of Numbers is on the “wanderings” of the Israelites in the wilderness during the time between the “census” taken of the old generation of Israelites and later the “census” of the new generation.
Themes: Our discipline from God is sometimes stern, but He ultimately rewards those who are obedient to his word. Believers will never have to live in the wilderness but we may have to walk through it. Just as God’s punishment of disobedience is sure, so is God’s pardon and restoration for repentance. We can progress as children of God only as we allow him to nurture our growth. Murmuring and complaining are offensive to the God we serve (Chapter 11).
The first census of the Israelites is taken 1:1 – 4:49
The old generation prepares to inherit the promise land 5:1 – 10:10
The old generation fails to inherit the promise land 10:11 – 21:35
Israel encounters the Moabites and Balaam 22:1 – 25:18
The second census of the Israelites is taken 26:1 – 26:65
The new generation prepares to inherit the promise land 27:1 – 36:13
Deuteronomy: A number of years have passed since the law was given at Mount Sinai to the parents of these Israelites. But that generation has seen died in the wilderness (except Caleb and Joshua), and this new generation needs to learn how to develop a proper relationship with God. Thus, 3 farewell sermons to Israel are given by the 120 year old Moses just prior to his death, and the appointment of Joshua as Moses’ successor takes place. These addresses challenges the people to,live their future in faith and obedience as they review their past. Moral and legal regulations are expanded upon, and the Ten Commandments are repeated.
Key Words: “remember”; “covenant”; “obedience”. Moses gives constant encouragement to the Israelites to “remember” their original “covenant” with the God of the patriarchs, who has freed them from Egyptian bondage and sustained them through the wilderness. The only proper response from such an undeserving people is “obedience” to God without reservation.
Themes: There is but one true God. Obedience brings blessings; disobedience brings punishment. Genuine love for God is evidenced by holy living and by love for others. God’s power and faithfulness can be depended on during our times of need. We must teach our children to fear The Lord and keep His commandments (Chapter 6).
Moses’ first sermon: Review of Israel’s history 1:1 – 4:43
Moses’ second sermon: Review of the law 4:44 – 11:32
Application of the law 12:1 – 26:19
Blessings and curses 27:1 – 28:68
Moses’ third sermon: Renewal of Israel’s covenant 29:1 – 30:20
The appointment of Joshua as Moses’ successor 31:1 – 32:43
Moses’ final words and death 32:44 – 34:12
Joshua: The book of Joshua is primarily the history of his leadership of Israel. Under divine guidance, Joshua engages in 3 strategic, military operations using brilliant divide and conquer tactics, insuring victory over the enemy armies in Canaan. God’s miraculous interventions, including the crossing of the Jordan River and the conquest of Jericho, prove to Israel that God is aiding their efforts. The division of the promise land among the tribes of Israel and their subsequent settlement in the new land take place. Finally, Joshua exhorts the people before his death to renew their covenant and to devote themselves to serve and love God wholeheartedly.
Key Words: “choose” and “serve”. Joshua emphasizes that we must do both by his admonition to “choose you this day whom ye will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve The Lord.
Themes: Our greatest asset is not our physical ability or cleverness…it is our faith in God’s ability to overcome in our behalf. Victory comes through faith in God and obedience to his word. Sin must be dealt with at once because it brings severe consequences. God is always true to his promises. All things are possible if we have faith in Him who made all things. It is our responsibility to be obedient and faithful to the covenant of God. God punishes sinful nations as well as sinful individuals.
Israel’s preparation for the conquest of Canaan 1:1 – 5:15
The conquest of Canaan 6:1 – 12:24
The allotments of the land of Canaan by tribe 13:1 – 21:45
Joshua’s farewell and death 22:1 – 24:33
Judges: Because they have not completed the conquest and occupation of the promised land, the Israelites begin to adopt the sinful,ways of the surrounding nations. A tragic cycle develops: Israel falls into sin; God disciplines with foreign oppression; the people cry to God for his help; God raises up a deliverer (judge); peace is restored. This cycle of rebellion is repeated 7 times in the book, emphasizing God’s love and forgiveness and the penalty for lack of faith and obedience. The stories of 3 significant judges are discussed in detail: Deborah (chapter 4); Gideon (chapters 6-8); and Samson (chapters 13-16).
Key Words: “apostasy”; “judgement”; “repentance”; “mercy”. The Israelites continually fail to learn their lesson. Their “apostasy” means they will have to pay the price of “judgement” from God. But when they finally show “repentance”, God will then in His “mercy” raise up a judge to lead the people to restoration and rest.
Themes: There is always a price to be paid for our sins. The price for sin is destruction and death. We all need proper leadership in our lives (the most important leader and judge for us today is Jesus Christ). Without strong leaders, we are more inclined to be influenced by damaging circumstances or deceptive people. God in his mercy will deliver us when we repent wholeheartedly of our sins and obey Him. Doing right in our own eyes is not necessarily doing right in God’s eyes.
Israel’s failure to complete the conquest of Canaan 1:1 – 3:6
The cycle of apostasy and deliverances 3:7 – 16:31
Israel’s fall into idolatry, immorality and civil war 27:1 – 21:25
Ruth: A famine forces Elimelech and his wife Naomi from their Israelite home to the country of Moab. Elimelech dies and Naomi is left with her 2 sons, who soon marry 2 Moabite girls, Orpah and Ruth. Later both of the sons die, and Naomi is left alone Orpah and Ruth in a strange land. Orpah returns to her parents, but Ruth determines to stay with Naomi as they journey to Bethlehem. This is a beautiful story of love, commitment and devotion as Ruth tells Naomi “whither thou goest, I will go;and where thou lodgest, I will lodge” (1:16). Ruth eventually marries a wealthy man named Boaz, by whom she bears a son, Obed, who is the grandfather of David. Ruth’s proven devotion has been rewarded with a new husband, a son and a privileged position in the royal lineage of Jesus Christ.
Key Words: “kinsman-redeemer”; “ancestor”. Boaz graphically fulfills the role of “kinsman-redeemer”. As a relative, he willingly obtains the right to claim the land of Naomi and thus the right to marry Ruth, thereby fathering a son to keep the family line alive. This is only one of several relationships between “ancestors” in the story, which ends with the family tree listing Ruth and Boaz as the great-grandparents of King David.
Themes: Genuine love at times may require uncompromising sacrifice. Regardless of our lot in life, we can live according to the precepts of God. Genuine love and kindness will be rewarded. God abundantly blesses those who seek to,live obedient lives. Obedient living does not allow for accidents in the eternal plan of God. God extends mercy to the merciful.
Ruth determines to stay with Naomi 1:1 – 1:22
Ruth cares for Naomi and meets Boaz 2:1 – 2:23
Naomi plans for Boaz to redeem Ruth 3:1 – 3:18
Ruth is rewarded for her love 4:1 – 4:22
1 Samuel: The Israelites are insisting on a king like the heathen nations have; they no longer want God’s placement of a judge over them. 1 Samuel is the story of Israel’s last judge and first prophet (Samuel), her first King (Saul), and the early years of her anointed king elect (David). Saul lacks a heart for God, so God rejects him as king. Young David then enters the picture by slaying Goliath with a sling and a stone (chapter 17) and developing a strong friendship with Saul’s son, Jonathan (chapter 18). God selects David to replace Saul as King, but David has to flee to the wilderness to escape Saul’s raging jealousy. David lives in exile until Saul and his sons die in a battle at Mount Gilboa. The stage is now set for the golden age with David reigning as king of Israel.
Key Words: “jealousy”; “heart”. The book is full of “jealousy”: Israel for a king like her neighbors, and Saul for his successor David. Thus, God looks at the “heart”, and His selections are not always what are expected.
Themes: God is bigger than any problem we will ever have. With God’s help, our emotions can be kept under his control. Even God’s children can fail and fall into sin. Any life full of sin and defeat can have victory and accomplishment…if repentance and obedience are begun. Sin in our lives may encourage God to take away our blessings and give them to others. Our ultimate leadership should be of God, not man. Obedience is much more important to God than sacrifice. We, like David, should be men after God’s own heart (13:14).
The service of Eli as priest and judge 1:1 – 4:22
The ministry of Samuel, the last judge of Israel 5:1 – 7:17
The ministry of Saul, the first king of Israel 8:1 – 15:35
David and Saul 16:1 – 27:12
The decline and death of Saul 28:1 – 31:13
2 Samuel: The life of King David dominates the book of 2 Samuel. First, David rules over Judah for about 7years. Then his kingship, is recognized by a unified Israel over which he reigns for 33 years. During this transition, the capital is changed from Hebron to Jerusalem, where the ark of the covenant is located. David’s military victories expand the borders of the promised land as he triumphs brings the nation to the very zenith of her power. David’s triumphs quickly turn to tragedy in the middle of his reign, when his list toward Bathsheba ultimately leads to adultery and the murder of her husband, Uriah (chapter 11). The prophet Nathan rebukes David for his sins, and David earnestly repents and is restored to God. But the price of sin still has to be paid: his son Absalom’s revolt, civil war and unrest in the nation. Although the fame and glory of David has now diminished, never to be the same again, God still blesses…for to David and Bathsheba is born Solomon, who will succeed David as King and become part of the royal ancestry of Jesus Christ.
Key Words: “anointed”; “David”. The entire book revolves around the “anointed” life of David. His victories and his failures are given in light of his position, which coukd only have been given to him by God.
Themes: God can accomplish extraordinary things through the lives of ordinary people. Our total trust should be only in God…not in men. Though forgiven, we still must pay the consequences of our sins. God is ready to forgive us and use us, if only we will repent and place our faith in Him. There is no sin so great that God will not forgive us if we sincerely forsake the sin and turn to him. Obedience brings victory…disobedience brings defeat. As a ruler thrives, so thrives the nation…as a ruler stumbles, so stumbles the nation.
David’s reign over Judah begins 1:1 – 4:12
David’s reign extends over Israel 5:1 – 10:19
David sins 11:1 – 11:27
Troubles result for David’s house 12:1 – 18:33
David is restored as King 19:1 – 20:26
Commentary on David’s latter years 21:1 – 24:25
1 Kings: 1 Kings describes Solomon’s reign, wealth and wisdom. The golden age of Solomon is highlighted with construction of the temple. After his death, there is division in the kingdom with his son Rehoboam ruling over Judah (southern kingdom) and Jeroboam ruling over Israel (northern kingdom). The capital of Judah at this time is Jerusalem, and the capital of Israel is Samaria. This divided situation continues for over 300 years with each nation having its own king. The book ends recounting the miracles and ministry if the prophet Elijah, especially in contrast to Israel’s most wicked king, Ahab.
Key Words: “wisdom”; “division”. Solomon’s rise is directly attributable to the fact that he seeks “wisdom” from God instead if fame and fortune. But unhealthy influences from foreign wives lead to his divided heart…which in turn, leads to “division” in the nation.
Themes: God uses history to set before us examples of successful and defeated lives. We must follow godly leadership and be godly leaders for others. God is more concerned that we have wisdom and a heart for him than in our personal accomplishments. The consistent company we keep in family and friends can affect us positively or negatively.
Reign of Solomon 1:1 – 11:43
Divisions of Rehoboam and Jeroboam 12:1 – 14:31
Reigns of Judah’s kings 15:1 – 15:24
Reigns of Israel’s kings 15:25 – 16:34
Elijah and Ahab 17:1 – 22:53
2 Kings: 2 Kings depicts the downfall of the divided kingdom. Prophets continue to warn the people that the judgement of God is at hand, but they will not repent. The kingdom of Israel is repeatedly ruled by wicked kings, and even though a few of Judah’s kings are good, the majority are bad. These few good rulers, along with Elisha and other prophets, cannot stop the nation’s decline. The northern kingdom of Israel is eventually destroyed by the Assyrians, and about 136 years later, the southern kingdom of Judah is destroyed by the Babylonians. Though the people of God are in captivity, God stays true to his covenant, preserving a remnant for himself.
Key Words: “appraisal”; “captivity”. The general idea of 2 Kings is to give an “appraisal” of each king, especially in his relationship to God and the covenant. The majority are appraised as evil,in God’s sight, which leads Israel and Judah into separate “captivity”.
Themes: God hates sin and He will not allow it to continue indefinitely. God may at times use heathen to bring correction to his people. God loves us so much that he sometimes has to discipline us. God gives us warning before delivering his judgement. We can have total confidence that God will never leave us or forsake us.
Elijah’s replacement by Elisha 1:1 – 8:15
Israel’s decline and fall 8:16 – 17:6
Israel’s exile to Assyria because of sin 17:7 – 17:41
Judah’s survival 18:1 – 23:30
Judah’s exile to Babylonia 23:31 – 25:30
1 Chronicles: There are 2 distinct sections of this book. First, the royal lineage from Adam to David is given. Then, the righteous reign of David is discussed. Chronicles evaluates David’s achievements and his religious guidance of the nation as he seeks God’s leadership. David’s trial s, sins and failures are de-emphasized in Chronicles since the covenant relationship between God and the people is the focus. 1 Chronicles ends with the death of David and the succession of his son Solomon to the throne.
Key Words: “royal”; “chosen”. Chronicles recounts the royal line of David (which eventually leads to the absolute royalty of Jesus Christ). David is “chosen” by God to rule over Israel; and his son Solomon is “chosen” to rule after him and to build a house for The Lord (chapter 28).
Themes: God will never forsake his people, His promises or His covenant. We must fulfill our covenant with God to be totally obedient to His word. In order to do a great work for God…we must first have a great heart for God. God is always working in our lives, even when we don’t understand His ways or see His hand. God never fails. God blesses obedience and punishes disobedience.
Genealogies from Adam to David 1:1 – 9:44
Anointing of David as king over Israel 10:1 – 12:40
Bringing the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem 13:1 – 17:27
Battle victories of David 18:1 – 20:8
Census of Israel 21:1 – 27:34
Plans for the temple 28:1 – 29:9
Final words and deeds of David 29:10 – 29:30
2 Chronicles: 2 Chronicles records the history of the southern kingdom of Judah, from the reign of Solomon to the conclusion of the Babylonian exile. The decline of Judah is disappointing but emphasis is given to the spiritual reformers who zealously seek to turn the people back to God. Little is said about the bad kings or the failures of good kings; only goodness is stressed. Since Chronicles takes a priestly perspective, the northern kingdom of Israel is rarely mentioned because of her false worship and refusal to acknowledge the temple in Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles concludes with the final destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.
Key Words: “temple”; “revival”. The “temple” of God is repeatedly emphasized: it’s construction, consecration (chapter 7); service, worship; destruction; and finally, Cyrus’s edict to rebuild it. Great “revivals” take place under the direction of Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah and Josiah.
Themes: Obedience is victory and disobedience is defeat. God desires to forgive and heal those who will humbly pray and repent. A nation’s leaders are a reflection of a nation’s people. No worthy project can be completed right without the help of Almighty God. God hates sin and will not tolerate it. Our personal efforts are worthless if done outside the will of God.
The reign of Solomon 1:1 – 1:17
Solomon’s building of the temple 2:1 – 7:22
Latter years of Solomon’s reign 8:1 – 9:31
The reigns of the kings of Judah 10:1 – 36:14
The fall of Jerusalem 36:15 – 36:23
Ezra: After Cyrus edict, Zerubbabel leads the first return of God’s people to rebuild the ruins of Jerusalem and the temple that have been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. The work is repeatedly hampered by shortages of resources and external opposition. These discouragements bring all work to a halt until God sends the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the people, who then enthusiastically rebuild the altar and the temple of God. Some years later, Ezra leads a return of priests from captivity to Jerusalem. Ezra’s effective ministry includes: teaching the Word of God, initiating reforms, restoring worship and leading spiritual revival in Jerusalem.
Key Words: “return”; “rededicate”. From bondage, God’s people are now ready to “return” to their land, their worship and their God. They have to “rededicate” themselves to rebuilding all they have lost: the altar, the temple, and their faith in God and His Word.
Themes: God’s sovereignty looks over and protects His children. God always keeps His promises. When God’s people receive punishment for sin, it shows that pure love includes correction. In return for God’s enduring love, we ought to obey His Word. No problem is too big to stop a plan made in the will of God. Our goals should be worthy in God’s eyes as well as our own. Our sorrows of yesterday can be our successes of today.
The exiles return to Jerusalem 1:1 – 2:70
The temple of a God is rebuilt 3:1 – 6:22
Ezra comes to Jerusalem and reforms the people 7:1 – 10:44
Nehemiah: Nehemiah is given permission by the King of Persia to return to Jerusalem, where he rebuilds the walls of the city and is made governor. The people, inspired by Nehemiah, gives tithes of much money, supplies and manpower to complete the wall in a remarkable 52 days–despite much opposition. This united effort is short lived because Jerusalem falls back into apostasy when Nehemiah leaves for a while. But he then returns to reestablish true worship through prayer and by encouraging the people to revival by reading and adhering to the Word of God.
Key Words: “goal”; “rebuild”. We all need goals–goals that reflect vision, goals that really matter, goals that include God. Nehemiah’s “goal” is to “rebuild” the walls of Jerusalem. Nothing less than total completion will be satisfactory.
Themes: Each of us ought to have genuine compassion for others who have spiritual or physical hurts. To feel compassion, yet do nothing to help, is unfounded biblically. At times we may have to give up our own comfort in order to minister properly to others. We must totally believe in a cause before we will give our time or money to it with a right heart. When we allow God to minister through us, even unbelievers will know it is God’s work.
Nehemiah rebuilds Jerusalem’s walls 1:1 – 6:19
Ezra ministers the law to,the people 7:1 – 10:39
Laws and reforms are obeyed 11:1 – 13:31
Esther: Esther, whose Jewish heritage has been kept secret, is chosen queen to King Ahasuerus of Persia after Vashti is demoted from the same position. Haman, an evil advisor to the king, plans to exterminate the Jewish people (chapter 3). But Esther has the faith and courage to carry out the plan of her wise cousin, Mordecai, and risks her very life, which results in the deliverance of the Jewish people. The Feast of Purim is instituted to remind the people of God’s deliverance (chapter 9). Even to this day, there is public reading of the book of Esther during this celebration.
Key Words: “beauty”; “providence”. God has blessed Esther with much outward physical “beauty”, but it is the “beauty” of her heart that sets her apart for the “providence” of a God to be shown. It is not by chance that this Jewish girl rises from total obscurity to become the queen of the most powerful empire of the world. The name of God does not appear once in the book of Esther, but God’s providential care and leading are not to be denied.
Themes: God may have bigger plans for our lives than we have for ourselves. God may put us into positions of leadership or influence so that we can more thoroughly accomplish His purposes. God answers prayer and fasting by enabling us to over come our human obstacles. God providentially provides for His own. God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things for Him. God at times may have to discipline us but He will never abandon us.
Esther becomes queen 1:1 – 2:18
Haman plots to destroy the Jews 2:19 – 5:14
Mordecai is honored at Haman’s expense 6:1 – 8:2
The Jews triumph 8:3 – 10:3
Job: Why do the righteous suffer? This is the question raised after Job loses his family, his wealth and his health. Job’s 3 friends–Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, come to comfort him and to discuss his crushing series of tragedies. They insist his sufferings is punishment for sin in his life. Job remains devoted to God through all of this and contends that his life has not been one of sin. A fourth man, Elihu, tells Job he needs to humble himself and submit to God’s use of trials to purify his life. Finally Job questions God and learns valuable lessons about the sovereignty of God and his need to totally trust in The Lord. Job is then restored to health, happiness and prosperity…even beyond his earlier state.
Key Words: “trails”; “suffering”; “comfort”. To live a life of faith requires perseverance. Despite torment and “trials”, Job was steadfast in his belief in God, for as he told his wife, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God and shall we not receive evil? (2:10) Christians today are not exempt from broken hearts or “suffering”, but through it all we, like Job, can rest in the fact that God is fair, omnipotent, omniscient and sovereign. He will “comfort” us if we turn to Him.
Themes: Satan cannot bring financial physical destruction upon us unless it is God’s permissive will and God will set the limits. It is beyond our human ability to understand the “why’s” behind all the sufferings in the world. Rest assured, the wicked will receive their just dues. We cannot blame all suffering on the sin in a sufferer’s life. Suffering may sometimes be allowed in our life’s to, purify, to test, to teach or strengthen the soul by showing us that when we have lost all, and only God remains, God is enough. God deserves and requests our love and praise regardless of our lot in life. God will deliver all suffering believers either in this life or in that which is to come.
Job’s background and assaults from Satan 1:1 – 2:13
Job’s debates with his 3 friends 3:1 – 31:40
Elihu’s speaking out for God’s fairness 32:1 – 37:24
God’s intervention 38:1 – 41:34
Job’s restoration 42:1 – 42:17
Psalms: Psalms is the longest book in the Bible. The book of Psalms is used as the temple hymn book during the kingdom period for both public and private worship. The 5 divisions or books of Psalms correspond in order and in though to the 5 Books of Moses. By virtue of several authors contributing to this collection over an extended period of time, the psalms cover almost every area of human experience and emotion: fear vs confidence; anger vs compassion;, sorrow vs joy; and prayer and praises for the psalmist’s majestic God. David writes the majority of his psalms while fleeing from Saul and his army. Several psalms refer to,the Messiah of God, Jesus Christ: His coming, His death and his resurrection.
Key Words: “praise”; “trust”. These 150 psalms abound in praise to God for all that He is, all that He has done and all that He will do. God’s people are continually commended to “trust” God for His protection, love and deliverance.
Themes: Sin is always rebellion against God. Sin will always be punished. A life of consecrated righteousness hates sin. God loves each of us and is concerned for every area of our lives. We can approach God just as we are, with all our concerns. A life of praise is a life of victory. God can be trusted during our times of sorrow as well as our times of joy.
Book I The Genesis Book concerning Man Psalms 1 to Psalms 41
Book II The Exodus Book concerning Israel as a Nation Psalms 42 to Psalms 72
Book III The Leviticus Book concerning the Sanctuary Psalms 73 to Psalms 89
Book IV The Numbers Book concerning Israel and The Nation Psalms 90 to Psalms 106
Book V The Deuteronomy Book concerning God and His Word Psalms 107 to Psalms 150
Proverbs: Proverbs is an assortment of wise sayings relating spiritual truths and common sense. These proverbs give instruction concerning every conceivable area of human life, often contrasting the ungodly view of the fool versus the godly perspective of the wise. These truths give counsel which helps both to prevent and to correct ungodly lifestyles. Proverbs are practical, timeless and ideal for memorizing. The book ends with a close look at the qualities of a godly woman in relation to her husband, her children and her neighbors (chapter 31).
Key Words: “wisdom”; “folly”. The ability to live with practical righteous is scrutinized. This “wisdom” helps us to discern between good and evil, truth and error, and divine and human perspectives. “The fear of The Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (9:10), “but the folly of fools is deceit” (14:8).
Themes: True wisdom cannot be gained apart from God. God is concerned that we submit even seemingly insignificant areas of our lives to His Lordship. We should not rely on our own understanding, but on the truths that God teaches us. God will direct our paths. Godly success in life comes from obedience to the Word and ways of God. God desires for us to be happy. God has made happiness available to us if we will fear, trust and obey him.
Purpose and theme of Proverbs 1:1 – 1:6
Wisdom and folly 1:7 – 9:18
Proverbs of Solomon 10:1 – 24:34
Proverbs of Solomon collected by King Hezekiah’s men 25:1 – 29:27
Sayings of Agur 30:1 – 30:33
Sayings of Kibg Lemuel 31:1 – 31:31
Ecclesiastes: Ecclesiastes begins with the author sharing his reasons for viewing life as meaningless, futile and full of vanity. His thoughts contend that despite man’s labor, attainments, popularity or possessions, death awaits all. He realizes that there is a time and a season for all things (chapter 3), but does not know how man can fully understand when these times are relevant. This confession of pessimism eventually gives way to the truth that there is no joy for man apart from his Creator. The author realizes and enthusiastically proclaims the answer: satisfaction, meaning and happiness do not come from the attainments of life but from The Lord of life.
Key Words: “vanity”; “labor”. Without God, there is no sense to be made out of our lives. All is “vanity” emptiness and hopelessness. Our earthly “labor” will continually frustrate and disappoint us if we seek it as an end to itself.
Themes: Earthly goals apart from God, will not bring us happiness. Money, fame, power accomplishments or human wisdom will not bring us happiness. A life that is totally submissive and devoted to God will bring happiness. A youthful life obedient to God will bring joy to our latter years. A youthful life disobedient to God will bring sorrow in our latter years. We ought to enjoy life even through times of trouble. The closer we walk with God, the more aware we become of His blessings in our lives. Today could be our last on this earth…we should view it as a precious gift from God.
All is vanity 1:1 – 2:26
A time for everything 3:1 – 3:22
Disappointments and inequalities of life 4:1 – 8:17
A common destiny for all 9:1 – 12:8
Conclusion: Fear God and keep His commandments 12:9 – 12:14
Songs of Solomon: The Song of Solomon is a celebration of love between a man (Solomon) and a woman (the Shulamite shepherd girl). The collection of poems, in the form of songs, portrays the deep and pure love of two who are now looking back over memories of their relationship. The poor Shulamite girl had worked in the country in a vineyard owned by King Solomon. Upon visiting the vineyard, Solomon and the Shulamite fell in love, and he took her to his palace in Jerusalem to be his wife. The lyrics following cover almost every area of their mutual feelings: admiration for each other’s physical attributes, their marriage, sexuality, desires and joys. The problems of separation and jealousy arise but are quickly resolved by emphasizing their original true love.
Key Words: “love”; “marriage”. The Song of Solomon beautifully portrays the qualities of a pure “love” and ingredients for a successful “marriage”. To develop a relationship of this kind, requires total honesty, unselfishness and unconditional support.
Themes: Sex and marriage are ordained by God and are good in His sight when combined. God’s love for Israel (and Christ’s love for the church), His bride) is much greater than any human love. Although a person may be poverty-stricken financially, he can be rich spiritually by loving God and knowing that God unconditionally loves him. An ideal marriage will be tender and affectionate, yet strong during times of trials.
Solomon and the Shulamite girl fall in love 1:1 – 3:5
The two are united in marriage 3:6 – 5:1
The bride and groom face painful struggles 5:2 – 7:9
The bride and groom reunite and grow in their love 7:10 – 8:14
Isaiah: while Judah is spiritually destitute, Israel is even more corrupt. After Isaiah prophesies the destruction of Israel by Assyria, which indeed takes place shortly thereafter, he turns his attention to Judah. His message to Judah and the surrounding nations is that the judgement of a God will come upon them also. If they do not turn from their evil ways, they will be led into captivity by the Babylonians. All is not gloom, however, as Isaiah assures the people: those in captivity will be allowed to return to Jerusalem under Cyrus’s edict; a “suffering servant” will be born of a virgin as the child of a God to be the Messiah and bring salvation to the world; and the restoration of Jerusalem will take place and bring abundant blessings to the new Zion. Isaiah’s prophecies concerning Jesus Christ are crystal clear, thorough and probably more detailed than in any other Old Testament book.
Key Words: “judgement”; “salvation”. Isaiah’s 66 chapters can be likened to a miniature Bible. The first 39 chapters correspond to the 39 books of the 9old Testament by emphasizing God’s “judgement” upon those who refuse to repent and turn to Him, in faith. The final 27 chapters parallel the 27 books of the New Testament by focusing on the Messiah, who is our “salvation”.
Themes: God is our eternal Comforter, a Redeemer and Savior. God will pardon us of our sins if we will forsake our past and turn to Him. The fleeting pleasure of sin in our lives will never be worth the extreme price we must pay for it (judgement from God). God is holy and will not tarry while unholiness persists in a His covenant people. Deliverance is of a God, not of man. The greatest success in the world is being obedient to the will of God.
Isaiah’s commission to proclaim judgement 1:1 – 6:13
Destruction of Israel by Assyria 7:1 – 10:4
Destruction of Assyria by God 10:5 – 12:6
Prophecies concerning other heathen nations 13:1 – 23:18
Israel’s judgement and deliverance 24:1 – 27:13
Zion’s restoration 28:1 – 35:10
Delay of judgement for Jerusalem through Hezekiah’s prayers 36:1 – 39:8
Prophecy if Israel’s deliverance and Deliverer 40:1 – 57:21
The final kingdom and its glory 58:1 – 66:24
Jeremiah: Jeremiah boldly undertakes the unenviable task of proclaiming God’s judgement upon an unrepentant nation. Persecution becomes his lot when false prophets of the land, such as Hananiah, tell the people what they desire to heR rather than the truth of God. Jeremiah’s unpopular message brings him sorrows of opposition, imprisionment, excommunication from the temple and beatings (chapters 20 and 38). Nothing can stop Jeremiah. Yet even as he prophesies destruction, Jeremiah promises a coming time of blessing, restoration and a new covenant. After Judah’s exile to Babylon, he remains with the remnant in Jerusalem. But when Gedaliah, the governor placed over Jerusalem, is murdered, Jeremiah is taken as a hostage to Egypt, where he continues his prophetic ministry.
Key words: “sin”; “weeping”. It is the responsibility of Jeremiah to proclaim Judah’s coming judgement for her continuance in “sin”, for the people’s wickedness is too great. Jeremiah is “weeping”, not only for his own persecutions, but also for his nation’s bitter affliction.
Themes: God is patient and loving. God’s love for us may require divine discipline for our own good. It grieves the heart of God to have to discipline His children. Nations which reject God will pay the price for their disobedience. The time to repent and turn to God is now. God may have to rebuke sin in our lives, but He will never abandon or forsake us.
The call of Jeremiah 1:1 – 1:19
Prophecies against Judah 2:1 – 29:32
The future restoration of Israel 30:1 – 33:26
The fall of Jerusalem and her flight to Egypt 34:1 – 45:5
Prophecies against the foreign nations 46:1 – 51:64
The capture and destruction of Jerusalem 52:1 – 52:34
Lamentations: Nebuchadnezzar brings to pass that which Jeremiah has been prophesying for 40 years. Jerusalem is destroyed, as is the temple, and the people are exiled to Babylon. Now Jeremiah sits among the ashes and weeps. His anguish is not only for himself, but for the exiles and those left behind destitute. “Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people” (2:11). These 5 poems make up a funeral song for the death of Jerusalem. But even during this barren hour, in Jeremiah’s contrite heart he has a glimmer of hope. He begins again to pray for mercy on his people. Jeremiah praises God for His power, His fairness and His faithfulness. He looks to God for the future restoration of Jerusalem.
Key Words: “wrath”; “lament”. The “wrath” of God has crushed Jerusalem and vindicated His righteousness and justice. All Jeremiah can do now is “lament” over what was once his proud and glorious city.
Themes: The suffering we experience may at times be a direct result of the sin in our lives. Suffering may be allowed in our lives as a means of helping us to repent. A forgiven sin may still have consequences with which we must deal. During our darkest hours God will strengthen and comfort us if we will only let him. If we have ever experienced sorrow, we are great candidates to console another who is hurting now. Even as Jeremiah mourned, our Father mourns (when we refuse to take the message of His Son to heart). The judgement of God is certain, the time it will arrive is not.
Destruction and desolation of Jerusalem 1:1 – 1:22
God’s anger with Jerusalem 2:1 – 2:22
Prayer for God’s mercy on Jerusalem 3:1 – 3:66
Repentance of Jerusalem 4:1 – 4:22
Prayer for God’s restoration of Jerusalem 5:1 – 5:22
Ezekiel: Ezekiel’s ministry begins in Babylon with condemnation and judgement of the nation Judah. But after the destruction of Jerusalem takes place, Ezekiel’s perspective changes. The past is gone, but there is a glimmer of hope shining through for the future. Ezekiel, who wants to help the people learn from their failures, announces impending judgement upon the nations that surround Judah and reestablishes hope for the restoration of Israel. His vision of the valley of dry bones pictures new life being breathed into the nation (chapter 37). Ezekiel concludes with his return to Jerusalem in a vision to receive details on the new temple, the new Jerusalem and the new land. Israel and Judah will once again be restored to unity from the ends of the earth, as God’s glory also returns.
Key Words: “visions”; “watchman”. Ezekiel receives a variety of beautiful and unusual “visions” concerning the immediate and long-term plans of God. These help to establish Ezekiel as God’s “watchman” to warn and encourage the people. “Son of man, I have made Thea watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me” 3:17; 33:7).
Themes: God always has and always will hate sin. The ways of God contrast with the ways of the world. We are each responsible for our own sins. We are together accountable for the sins of our nation. As will any loving father, God will discipline us for our disobedience. God’s promises of restoration for His people will undeniably be fulfilled.
Call and commission of Ezekiel 1-1 – 3:27
Judgement on sinful Judah 4:1 – 24:27
Judgement on the Gentiles 25:1 – 32:32
Promised restoration of Israel 33:1 – 39:29
The new temple 40:1 – 48:35
Daniel: Daniel and his 3 friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, are ordered to compromise their faith by eating the King’s food instead of what God has ordained. They are blessed for not compromising. But later, after Daniel has risen in prominence by identifying and interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, more persecution arises. Eventually Daniel’s friends are thrown into a fiery furnace for not bowing down to false gods, but God protects them. Daniel’s power rises when he is able to interpret the handwriting which Belshazzar sees on the wall (chapter 5), but shortly thereafter Daniel is thrown into a lions’s den for the offense of praying to his God (chapter 6). Once again God protects as Daniel’s ministry continues with these visions: the 4 beasts, correlating to the kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome (chapter 7); the ram and the goat (chapter 8); the 70 “sevens” (chapter 9); and finally the emergence of the righteous and eternal kingdom of God.
Key Words: “courage”; “preservation”. The book of Daniel has several memorable stories illustrating the “courage” and commitment of men who placed their faith in God. The “preservation” of God’s people is assured for all who rely on Him.
Daniel’s training in Babylon 1:1 – 1:21
Daniel and his friends during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign 2:1 – 4:37
The writing on the wall 5:1 – 5:31
Daniel’s faith is tested in the lions’ den 6:2 – 6:28
Daniel’s dream, visions and prayer 7:1 – 9:27
Daniel’s revelation of Israel’s future 10:1 – 12:13
Hosea: Hosea’s personal life graphically illustrates his prophetic message. At the command of God, the prophet Hosea marries Gomer the prostitute. But instead of being faithful to her forgiving and loving husband, Gomer returns to her previous lovers. Hosea, though, is diligent as he compassionately seeks her out and is able to bring her back. Hosea’s message is also revealed through the meaning of the names he gives his 3 children: Jezreel, “God scatters”; Lo-Ruhamah, “not pitied”, and LoAmmi, “not my people” (chapter 1). Like Gomer, wanton Israel is running after other “loves” instead of being faithful in her “marriage” to God. However, Israel’s rebellion, apostasy and fornication eventually give way to God’s love. Finally, Hosea outlines Israel’s restoration and new marriage covenant.
Key Words: “marriage”; “forgiveness”. Just as Hosea marries Gomer, so God’s covenant relationship with Israel represents their “marriage”. And just as Hosea reaches out in “forgiveness” to buy back his adulterous wife from a slave market (chapter 3), so God in “forgiveness” continues to seek His own.
Themes: The love of a God is unconditional, eternal and transforming. God loves us enough to chasten us for our sins. God hates physical and spiritual adultery. There is absolutely nothing we can do which will separate us from God’s compassion and love. God’s concern for our entire being includes the success of our marriage. Unrequited love in our personal lives may help us understand better the heartache God experiences when mankind rejects His love.
Hosea is married to Gomer 1:1 – 3:5
Israel commits spiritual adultery 4:1 – 6:3
Israel is judged for refusing to repent 6:4 – 10:5
God’s love for Israel promises restoration 11:1 – 14:9
Joel: A terrible locust plague is followed by a severe famine throughout the land. Joel uses these happenings as the catalyst to send words of warning to Judah that unless the people repent quickly and completely, enemy armies will devour the land as did the natural elements. Joel appeals to all the people and the priests of the land to fast and humble themselves as they seek God’s forgiveness. If they will but respond, there will be renewed material and spiritual blessings for the nation. But the day of the Lord is coming. At this time, the dreaded locusts will seem as gnats in comparison, as all nations receive their judgement. Finally, Joel gives an account of Jerusalem’s ultimate restoration and prosperity.
Key Words: “locusts”; “Spirit”. The book of Joel is highlighted by 2 major events. One is the invasion of “locusts”, which devastates the land of rebellious Judah. The other is God pouring out his “Spirit” upon all flesh, which will result in sons and daughters prophesying, old men dreaming dreams and young men seeing visions (2:28). The initial fulfillment of this is quoted by Peter in Acts as having taken place at Pentecost.
Themes: Without repentance, judgement will be harsh, thorough and certain. Our trust should not be in our possessions, which can be taken from us, but in The Lord, our God. God at times may use nature, sorrow or other common occurrences to draw us closer to Him. God’s covenant with His people will endure forever.
Invasion of locusts 1:1 – 2:11
God’s mercy on the repentant 2:12 – 2:27
Final judgement and triumph of God 2:28 – 3:21
Amos: Amos can see that beneath Israel’s external prosperity and power, internally the nation is corrupt to the core. The sins for which Amos chastens the people are extensive: neglect of God’s Word, idolatry, pagan worship, greed, corrupted leadership and oppression of the poor. Amos begins by pronouncing a judgement upon all the surrounding nations, then upon his own nation of Judah, and finally the harshest judgement is given to Israel. His vision from God reveal the same emphatic message: judgement is near. The book ends with God’s promise to Amos of future restoration of the remnant.
Key Words: “plumbline”; “hope”. God’s vision to Amos reveals the “plumbline” (standard) by which the people will be tested and judged (chapter 7). God’s nature shines through by the “hope” He offers in His restoration of the land and of the people.
Themes: Because God is eternally righteous, He demands that we be satisfied with nothing less than His righteous in our lives. God hates sin. The cost fir having sin in our lives is expensive. God often selects individuals to do His work whom the world would reject. God holds those, to whom more has been given, accountable for more. God’s judgement is certain. God-fearing people receive blessings from God both now and for all eternity.
God judges Israel’s neighbors 1:1 – 2:5
God judges Israel 2:6 – 6:14
Amos has 5 visions 7:2 – 9:10
Israel is promised restoration 9:12 – 9:15
Obadiah: Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament and is only 21 verses long. Obadiah’s message is final and it’s sure: the kingdom of Edom will be destroyed completely. Edom has been arrogant–gloating over Israel’s misfortunes and when enemy armies attack Israel and the Israelites ask for help, the Edomites refuse and choose to fight against them, not for them (verses 10-14). These sins of pride can be overlooked no longer. The book ends with the promise of the fulfillment and deliverance of Zion in the last days when the land will be restored to God’s people as He rules over them.
Key Words: “pride”; “brother”. The Edomites’ security (living in a fortified city in Mount Seir) causes an evil “pride” to develop. Their “brother” descendants are thus treated with treachery and abandonment. The only kind of “pride” which is good, and will cause man to treat his “brother” with compassion and love, is that which is placed in The Lord.
Themes: God will overcome in our behalf if we will stay true to Him. Unlike Edom, we must be willing to help,others in times of need. Like a loving father, God may at times need to punish His children. Pride is sin. (We have nothing to be proud of except Jesus Christ and what He has done for us.) Loving all mankind can be easy, but we may need God’s help to love the man next door.
Prophecy of Edom’s judgement 1:1 – 1:9
The sins of Edom 1:10 – 1:14
God’s vengeance on Edom 1:15 – 1:18
The possession of Edom by Israel 1:19 – 1:21
Jonah: Jonah’s fear and pride cause him to run from God. He does not wish to go to Nineveh to preach repentance to the people, as God has commanded, because he feels they are his enemy, and he is convinced that God will not carry out his threat to destroy the city. Instead he boards a ship for Tarshish, which is in the opposite direction. Soon a raging storm causes the crew to cast lots to determine that Jonah is the problem. They throw him overboard, and he is swallowed by a great fish. In its belly for 3 days and 3 nights (1:17), Jonah repents of his sin to God, and the fish vomits him up on dry land. Jonah then makes the 500 mile trip to Nineveh and leads the city in a great revival (chapter 3). But the prophet is displeased instead of thankful when Nineveh repents. Jonah learns his lesson, however, when God uses a wind, a gourd and a worm to teach him that God is merciful.
Key Words: “fish”; “revival”. Jonah is not merely swallowed by a great “fish”; this event represents God extending His helping hand to save the prophet. It gives Jonah a unique opportunity to seek a unique deliverance as he repents during this equally unique retreat. Many classify the “revival” which Jonah brings to Nineveh as one of the greatest evangelistic efforts of all time.
Themes: we can never successfully hide from God. He sees our every move. God many times does His greatest works through the least likely candidates. What we may consider as impossible, God may consider as a great opportunity given to us. Regardless of our patriotism, we must never put our country ahead of our God. Regardless of our reputation, nationality or race, God loves us. Rejoicing in the salvation of others is an experience God wants us to share with Him. God at times may use nature, animals, the weather or any other part of His creation to bring us to a closer union with Him.
Jonah flees from the Lord 1:1 – 1:17
Jonah is delivered from the fish 2:1 – 2:10
Jonah obeys God and goes to Nineveh 3:1 – 3:10
Jonah is angered at God’s mercy 4:1 – 4:11
Micah: Micah’s message is directed against the sins of the people in Jerusalem and Samaria, the capitals of Judah and Israel. The corrupt rulers, false prophets, ungodly priests and cheating merchants are the main reasons for God’s judgement coming against the nations. But in the midst of their destruction, Micah prophesies the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem (5:2); 700 years before Jesus Christ is born. This once insignificant village now gains eternal prominence. God also reveals through Micah these promises: a remnant will remain; He will gather His own from all the ends of the earth; and Zion will be restored.
Key Words: “justice”; “mercy”; “humility”. Micah’s repeated and emphatic cry is for the people of God to show “justice”in all their dealings, to love “mercy” by showing the same to others, and to walk in “humility” with their God (6:8).
Themes: God gives warnings so we will not have to suffer His wrath. Judgement is certain if God’s warnings are not heeded. God disciplines us because He loves us. God knows that sin destroys, and He wants us to be whole. God’s promise of restoration awaits those who remain true to Him.
Micah’s vision of judgement against Samaria and Jerusalem 1:1 – 1:16
Judgement of leaders and prophets 2:1 – 3:13
The coming King and His restoration 4:1 – 5:9
God’s punishment and subsequent blessings for Israel 5:10 – 7:20
Nahum: Assyria has progressively conquered nation after nation. The Assyrians are a brutal people; cruel, defiant and immoral; and their sins against God’s people bring the judgement of God upon themselves. Nahum predicts the desolation of Nineveh, which takes place some years later when a flood of the Tigris River destroys part of her previously invincible city wall. Forces from Babylon then enter the city to fulfill Nahum’s words. Nineveh’s destruction will be final; whereas, Judah at her destruction will leave behind a remnant.
Key Words: “wrath”; “comfort”. By all human standards, Nineveh has might and power. The city is surrounded by a great wall 100 feet high, that reportedly could hold 6 chariots riding abreast, as well as, a great moat 60 feet in depth. 200 towers ascend another 100 feet above the wall. Despite this formidable opposition, Nineveh will not escape God’s “wrath”. Nahum has constant words of “comfort” for his people: The Lord “will not at all acquit the wicked” (1:3).
Themes: God is patient and slow to anger. The praise from our lips and the works of our hands together enable us to worship God. One plus God is a majority. God’s promises are sure; whether for blessings or for punishment. We should lean not on own might; but on our Mighty One. Vengeance is a right reserved for God alone.
Nahum’s vision of God’s power and the deliverance of Judah 1:1 – 1:14
Destruction of Nineveh 1:15 – 2:13
Reasons for the fall of Nineveh 3:1 – 3:19
Habakkuk: Habakkuk, witnessing Judah’s apostasy, bribery and oppression, enters into a dialogue with God. He wants to know why God is allowing these people to prosper and escape judgement. God’s reply is that He is sending the Babylonians as His chastening rod upon the nation of Judah. This bothers Habakkuk even more: why would a just God bring judgement upon a wicked Judah with an even more wicked Babylon? God then gives Habakkuk a new understanding and insight into the very nature of God. God is good, fair and wise, and man’s responsibility is to confidently place faith in Him. God let’s Habakkuk know that future judgement of Babylon will bring sure and thorough destruction. Habakkuk has learned his lesson: to trust God and praise Him always.
Key Words: “faith”; “woe”. A predominant lesson to be learned from this book is our need to have total “faith” in God, for “the just shall live by his faith” (2:4). We may not always understand why God does everything He does, but we can be assured that God loves us and that His ultimate plans consistently include His judgement of the wicked. “Woe” to those who set themselves high by evil means (2:9) and bloodshed (2:12). “Woe” to those who put their trust in idols (2:18, 19).
Themes: It is a timeless truth that God hates sin and is unwilling to compromise with it. No matter what our circumstances may be, we can still trust The Lord and praise His holy name. A life lived by faith will also be a life full of God’s joy. We can talk to God about anything; even our doubts and fear. If we will get to know our Creator better, we will better understand His plans for His creation.
Habakkuk complains against injustice 1:1 – 1:4
The Lord answers 1:5 – 1:11
Habakkuk complains that the wicked prevail 1:13 – 2:1
The Lord answers again 2:2 – 2:20
Habakkuk praises God in prayer 3:1 – 3:19
Zephaniah: The book of Zephaniah is a message of judgement. The prophet graphically uses the 53 verses of this book to describe the wrath which will come upon Judah, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Ethiopia and Assyria. The sins and subsequent destruction of Jerusalem are given special attention. Future blessings, though, are available to all God’s people, Jew and Gentile alike, if they will obediently turn to Him. The promised remnant of Israel will be restored, and there will be worldwide rejoicing (chapter 3).
Key Words: “Great Day of the Lord”; “Remnant”. Zephaniah emphatically announces that God’s vengeance and holiness will lead Him to judge all nations for their sins in the coming “great day of the Lord” (chapter 1). But God has promised to exalt a “remnant”, which will be regathered from the ends of the earth to live with the comfort and joy of the Lord.
Themes: God is not prejudiced. He hates sin and love obedience universally. God wants us to have pure hearts, not hypocritical, outward shows of piety. The coming day of the Lord will bring judgement far greater than anything the world has ever known. Renewed fellowship with God is available to all who have genuinely repentant hearts.
God’s judgement of Judah 1:1 – 2:3
God’s judgement of Judah’s neighbors 2:4 – 3:8
God’s restoration of Judah 3:9 – 3:20
Haggai: The elderly Haggai exhorts the people to get excited and committed to the work of rebuilding the temple, which has ceased. The best way possible for Haggai to do this is to give them a glimpse of what they have lost; that blessings come to those who put God first in their lives, and the vision of God’s glory filling the new temple when it is completed. But even his message of hope is not lacking a rebuke and judgement of the people for their sins. Zerubbabel and Joshua are commissioned to let The Lord’s presence guide their leadership of the people. Finally, the establishment of God’s eternal kingdom is foretold, where Zerubbabel will be honored for his part in helping complete the temple.
Key Words: “consider your ways”; “glory”. Before the reconstruction of the temple can be completed, first the hearts of the people need to be renewed as The Lord tells them, “Consider your ways” (1:7). Haggai encourages the people to seek proper priorities, which will result in God’s “glory” filling the new temple (2:7).
Themes: In order for a project to be completed, it first must be started. A job half done is a job not done. If we commit our ways to God, He will guide and bless our walk. We should avoid compromising situations. Sometimes, we settle for good, when we could have the best. Prosperity and other standards of success hold no lasting contentment when we place our concerns ahead of God’s.
Outline: Haggai’s proclamation of God’s message to rebuild His temple. 1:1 – 1:15
The glory of the new temple 2:1 – 2:9
The promise of blessings 2:10 – 2:19
God’s triumph and Zerubbabel’s recognition 2:20 – 2:23
Zechariah: Zechariah’s message begins with a series of night visions, which offer both comfort to the people of God in rebuilding the temple and judgement of the disobedient people and nations. Zechariah joins the older Haggai in exhorting the people to finish construction of the temple (which they accomplish in about 4 years time) and encouraging a closer walk in obedience to God. The people’s devotion to the task increases when they are finally made to realize that the glory of God cannot return to the temple, if the temple does not exist. Zechariah’s prophecies concerning the Messiah include: the righteous Branch (chapter 6); the Triumphal Entry on the colt of a donkey (chapter 9); and the betrayal for 30 pieces of silver (chapter 11). The book closes with the day of The Lord and the restoration of Israel.
Key Words: “obedience”; “Messiah”. Zechariah let’s the nation know that future blessings are contingent upon the people’s “obedience” to God and His Word. The coming of the “Messiah” is central to the book: His power, betrayal and kingdom.
Themes: God’s ways are not just best for God, they’re also best for us. We need to fear no obstacle when we are on the side of God. God desires pure actions, but even more, He desires pure motives for our actions. A person in love with The Lord will also have love and compassion for others. God’s plan of redemption (through Jesus Christ) was established from the time sin first entered the world.
Zechariah gives God’s call to repentance 1:1 – 1:6
Zechariah has 8 visions from The Lord 1:7 – 6:8
Joshua is crowned 6:9 – 6:15
God seeks obedience, not hypocrisy 7:1 – 7:14
The Lord promises blessings for Israel 8:1 – 8:23
Israel’s enemies are judged 9:1 – 9:8
The coming of the Messiah and His reign 9:9 – 14:21
Malachi: The prophet Malachi brings a message of judgment upon the people because they have not learned from their past sins. In a dialogue with God, the sins and apathy of the people are rebuked. Malachi is distinguished as being the only prophetic book which ends not in deliverance, but judgement. Mankind has made little progress spiritually through the years, and thus, the Old Testament ends with the word “curse”. However, this word is contained in a promise that Elijah will come to restore the hearts of the fathers. This is fulfilled with the coming of John the Baptist who prepares the way for Jesus Christ, 400 years after Malachi’s message.
Key Words: “tithe”; “prepare”, When the people do not “tithe”, they are actually robbing from God what is rightfully His (3:8, 9). But the people owe to God more than just their money, they owe their time, talents and praises as well. Part of Malachi’s ministry is to “prepare” the hearts of God’s people and the way for John the Baptist, who will then “prepare” the way for the Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Themes: Remembering God’s past victories will help during our times of need today. Giving to God and His work is a privilege, not a punishment. Try as we may, we can never outgive The Lord. There is no overlooking the issue of sin. God has a plan that includes all of history.
God’s love for Israel 1:1 – 1:5
Israel’s defiled sacrifices 1:6 – 1:14
God’s admonition for the priests 2;1 – 2:9
Israel’s sins shown offensive to God 2:10 – 3:15
Promises and rewards for those who fear God 3:16 – 4:6
Source material from KJV Rainbow Study Bible