A guide for those just beginning a study of the Scripture to present a synopsis of its contents and purpose.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and all that was in them in six days. God saw that all that He had made and it was very good. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished and all the host of them.
God planted a beautiful garden eastward in Eden. It contained all the vegetation that was pleasant for sight and good for food. Here He put the first man, a living soul, to dress and to keep it. But man was alone so God gave Adam a helper and he called her name Eve.
God loved the man whom He had created but they were not without purpose. They were to honor and reverence His Holy Name and obey His commandments which are not grievous.
Satan also roamed about the garden to tempt man to do evil and forsake the Creator. This the Creator allows for when man resists evil it gives God the glory.
Thus after a while, Eve yielded and ate of the forbidden fruit and gave also to her husband.
God hates sin and it will not go unpunished. In pain Eve will bear children and as long as childbirth continues on this earth, that first sin will not be forgotten. For Adam, he will no longer enjoy the produce in the beautiful garden but with toil and perspiration grow herbs among thorns and thistles.
Consequently, man was driven from the garden.
Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. Satan’s influence continues for Cain rose up in the field and slew his brother for envy’s sake.
The Devil’s presence is everywhere. Some 1,500 years later we read that God saw that the wickedness of man was great and that every imagination of his thoughts was only evil continually. The Lord is long suffering but there is an end to His patience.
There was a man, Noah, who pleased God. He was instructed to build an ark. He and his three sons—Shem, Ham and Japheth—worked 100 years. This was not a ship as we would know it, but like a large floating box, three stories high, the length and a half of a football field. This was to contain all the animals to be preserved and the food for them as well as Noah, his wife, his 3 sons and their wives. Noah was 600 years old.
They entered the ark as the rains began. This word for rain is a violent deluge, not used elsewhere. It had not rained upon the earth until this day. The waters rose until all the mountains were covered 15 cubits above, 40 days and nights. All flesh that breathed air perished except Noah and his family who remained in the ark for one year and 17 days.
At last the waters receded and dry land appeared. Then God gave a sign, a beautiful rainbow in the sky, as a promise that He would never again destroy the earth by water.
Noah died when he was 950 years. The oldest recorded man at this time was Methuselah who lived to be 969 and he died before the flood.
People again began to multiply upon the face of the earth. Even before Noah died, a conspiracy arose to build a tower that would reach to heaven. This did not please God so He confused their languages causing them to scatter abroad. Thus they forsook building the tower called Babel, which means ‘confusion’ and from which we get the word babbling.
A man called Abram found favor in God’s sight. He was instructed to leave the home of his birth to a new land where the Lord would bless him and make his name great. Abram was 75 years of age when he left with his wife Sarai, who was also his half-sister. She was 65 and they had no children.
On their arrival, a famine forced them to travel to Egypt. Because Sarai was a very beautiful woman, Abram told her to say she was his sister, a half-truth, to save his life. God plagued Pharaoh for taking her into his house, thus they were sent away back to the land of promise.
Abram was very rich in cattle, silver and gold as also his nephew, Lot, who traveled with him. The land could not accommodate both their flocks and herds so it was decided to separate. Lot was given the choice and chose the well-watered plain of Jordan.
Lot pitched his tent near Sodom but the men who lived there were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.
Since Abram still had no children, Sarai gave her maid, Hagar, to him thus children born this way would be hers as was the custom. A son Ishmael, was born and Abram was 96 years old.
In the heat of the day as Abram sat in the opening of his tent, three men, who were angels unaware, appeared before him. Being hospitable, Abraham washed their feet and set food before them, bread, butter, milk and a young calf prepared and he stood by the tree while they ate.
Again the prophesy repeated about a son to be born. Sarah, who was in the tent, laughed within herself as she was 90 years old and well past the age of childbearing. But a child would be born and his name shall be called Isaac, which means laughter.
One angel tells Abraham the fate awaiting Sodom and the cities of the plain. The other two continue their journey to rescue Lot, his wife and two daughters who now live within the city. On arrival, they enjoyed the hospitality of Lot. Lot tried to calm the wicked men of the city who were now trying to break down the door. The angels pulled him back in again and smote the men with blindness, who now wearied themselves to find the doorway.
When morning came and Lot lingered, the angels took him and his wife and two daughters by the hand, bringing them forth without the city. With haste they were to flee to the mountain. They were told, do not even look back. But Lot’s wife disobeyed and was turned into a pillar of salt.
Abraham rose early and looking afar, behold all the cities of the plain went up as the smoke of a furnace.
Some years after Isaac was born, in a test of Abraham’s faith, God tells him to take his son to a certain place and offer him for a burnt offering. Telling no one, he rose up early and followed directions exactly but at the moment he stretched out his arm to slay his son, an angel stayed his hand. When Abraham looked, a ram was caught in a thicket by his horns. This was offered in the stead of his son, Isaac.
Sarah died when she was 127 years old. Abraham purchased a cave of Machpelah, which is at the end of a field near Hebron. Here also Abraham will be buried, as well as Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah. It is there unto this day.
When Isaac was nearly 40 years old, Abraham sent his eldest, most trusted servant back to the land of his birth to select a wife for his son. In Mesopotamia at a well, he met Rebekah. According to preset signs, he knew she was the Lord’s choice. This met with the family’s approval. Isaac and Rebekah were married and he was comforted after his mother’s death.
Abraham took another wife whose name was Keturah and she bore him six sons.
He died at the age of 175 and his sons; Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah.
Rebekah conceived and delivered twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Isaac was 60 years old.
Now Esau was a cunning hunter and Isaac’s favorite. Jacob was a plainsman dwelling in tents and Rebekah loved him. There was a famine in the land and Esau, coming home faint, sold his birthright to Jacob for a pot of beans and some bread.
As Isaac was dying, Rebekah and Jacob conspired to obtain the blessing belonging to the eldest son. As a twin, Esau was only a few minutes older, but still the eldest. Therefore, Esau hated his brother and sought a chance to slay him.
Jacob fled to the land of the people of the East. Here he found Laban his mother’s brother and agreed to serve him seven years for Rachel, his youngest daughter. And it seemed but a few days for the love he had for her.
Conspiracy this time was against Jacob, for at the marriage feast, Leah, who was veiled, was given him instead of Rachel. It was the custom to marry the oldest daughter first but after one week, he also was given Rachel but agreed to work seven more years.
While Jacob dwelt in this land, his wives and two concubines, Zilpah and Bilpah, bore him 11 sons and a daughter. God was with him and he prospered in all that he did.
He had been away from the land of Canaan twenty years and it was determined to return. Near Bethlehem, Rachel went into hard labor. She delivered Benjamin, Jacob’s twelfth son but she died in childbirth. She was buried near this place.
The anger between the 2 brothers was appeased. Esau dwelt south in Mount Seir, which is Edom. Jacob dwelt in Canaan, the land of his father, Isaac and his grandfather, Abraham.
Rachel’s first son, Joseph, was 17 and greatly favored by his father who gave him a beautiful coat of many colors.
At an opportune time, for envy, the older brothers sold Joseph to a band of Midianite merchantmen for twenty pieces of silver. They dipped his coat into the blood of a young goat that their father would believe he had been slain by wild beasts.
But Joseph was taken to Egypt and sold to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard.
Everything that Joseph did prospered and he found grace in his master’s sight who made him overseer in all that he had. It came to pass that Potiphar’s wife made false accusations against Joseph so that he was committed to prison. The Lord was with him always so that he was made keeper of the prison and his life was a bit better.
After a time, 2 of Pharaoh’s officers, who had offended him, were cast into prison. One night they dreamed each a dream and Joseph was able to interpret its meaning. Sometime later, Pharaoh also had a dream and Joseph’s skill was recalled. It was a prophesy of what was to come, seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh was pleased and set Joseph over all the land of Egypt, giving him, Asenath, for a wife.
Joseph stored corn during the seven plenteous years to keep them during the famine. The famine was wide spread and soon Joseph’s brothers journeyed to Egypt to buy grain. Eventually the whole family, now numbering 70 souls, moved to Egypt that Joseph could sustain them in their need.
This generation died in time and another Pharaoh rose to power who was not sympathetic to these herdsmen. He saw that they increased abundantly and were mighty men, numbering near three million by this time. He feared that in battle they might join Egypt’s enemies. Enslaved now, they were forced to build treasure cities, Pythom and Raamses. Their lives were made bitter in hard labor with, rigor. Midwives were told to kill all male children at birth.
At that time a Levite woman bore a son and hid him for three months. He was a beautiful child and the Princess, who found him floating in the Nile, brought him into the palace and he was raised as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. She called him Moses. Though he lived in luxury, he cared for the fate of his brethren. Because he killed an Egyptian who was lashing an Israelite, he fled for fear that it was known. He was 40 years old.
His journey brought him to a well in the land of Midian. Here he met seven daughters who cared for the sheep of their father Jethro. Moses would dwell here for the next 40 years married to Zipporah, the eldest daughter. They had two sons—Gershom and Eliezer.
While Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law on the backside of Mt Horeb or Sinai, he saw a bush that burned but was not consumed and heard the voice of God. With his brother, Aaron, they will go back to Egypt and after a series of 10 terrible plagues, lead the children of Israel back to the Promised Land. As they left Egypt they would cross the Red Sea on dry ground. Moses is now 80 years old.
Because of their lack of faith, God would cause the people to wander for 40 years in desert places until all 20 years of age and older died. Two exceptions, Calib and Joshua, who remained faithful servants honoring all that God told them to do.
During this time, a tabernacle was built, to house the presence of God and a central place of worship. Once a year a perfect lamb, without spot or blemish, was offered on the brazen alter for the sins of the people.
Conquering the Promised Land was to be as simple as crossing the Jordan River and again on dry ground. All the cities and harvest was to be theirs. The walls of Jericho fell with a shout on the 7th day. For fear they did not follow the Divine plan and many battles ensued and lives were lost.
For 400 years there were fourteen judges, who with God’s blessings, led the people through difficult times. One of these was Samson, well known for his great strength but the women in his life proved to be a weakness causing him to disobey God’s laws. He was eventually blinded, taken to prison and committed suicide.
During this time, a Moabite woman, who was the daughter-in-law of Naomi, found favor in God’s sight. She was married to a man named Boaz. They had a son whose name was Obed, who was the father of Jesse, who was the father of David the king.
The last judge was Samuel. He was born to faithful parents. As a child, he was taken to serve Eli, the high priest at the tabernacle. At this time, the Israelites desired a king to rule over them like the other nations about them. But God said, I give you a king in my anger and will take him away in my wrath. It was this Samuel who will anoint Saul to be their first king.
Saul was a weak and disobedient king. After him, David, described as a man after God’s own heart. This was not because he was perfect but because he was humble and repentant after some shameful sins. His son, Solomon, reigned after him and is on record as the wisest man that ever lived on this earth. During his reign, the beautiful temple was built in Jerusalem to replace the tabernacle. These three reigned 40 years each.
Idolatry is a weakness that plagued God’s people from the very beginning. It divided the nation. The Northern Kingdom, Israel, had 19 kings, 10 tribes and lasted 212 years. It is taken into captivity in 721 b.c. by Assyria. The Southern Kingdom, Judah, had 11 kings and one queen. They lasted 350 years and finally conquered by Babylon in 586 b.c. The beautiful temple was destroyed and its wealth was plundered as well as Jerusalem and burnt with fire.
Some, including Daniel and his three friends remained faithful in this foreign land and God saved them from the fiery furnace and the den of lions. Esther, a young Jewish girl, found favor with Xerxes, who ruled from India unto Ethiopia, 127 provinces. She became queen and by her influence, thousands of Jews living in this strange land were saved from annihilation.
This exile lasted 70 years. Thus God’s anger was appeased. Isaiah had prophesied that Cyrus, a king of Persia, would be born yet 200 years into the future. Under his direction, the Jews would return to their homeland. Jerusalem would be rebuilt as well as the temple. Zerubbabel was the governor and leader of the first 50,000 colony of captives to return. Many problems plagued the reconstruction but were completed in about 70 years.
About 400 years passed between the Old and the New Testament. Throughout this time God’s people awaited a Savior that would come and, as prophesied, restore the kingdom back to them. They looked for a leader like David to rid them of Roman domination but the prophecy was of a spiritual nature.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, fulfilling all Scripture to establish his kingdom, the church. He lived some 33 years, teaching obedience to God’s will and love for your neighbor. He performed many miracles having power over disease, nature, raising the dead and casting out demons.
Toward the close of His walk on this earth, our Heavenly Father gave Him to be offered up as a sacrifice for our sins. He was the perfect Lamb of God without blemish. Only this could satisfy God’s anger for our sins.
His death was to be remembered on the first day of the week. Christians gather together every Lord’s day to partake of the broken bread representing His body and the fruit of the vine, symbolic of the blood shed on the cross.
The life of Christ is recorded in the first four books, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The rest of the New Testament are letters written by inspired men to Christians addressing various problems and questions that arose in local congregations, baptizing believers, adding them to the church.
The majority was written by the apostle, Paul, who was himself a persecutor of faithful Christians. After his conversion he spent the remainder of his life preaching salvation to both Jew and Gentile. It was not an easy task for he endured physical problems as well as harassment, beatings, torture, imprisonment, shipwrecks and untold misery from those who opposed the truth.
The last book, Revelation, by the apostle John, was a farewell letter to encourage Christians everywhere and for all time. It closes: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book and out of the holy city and from the things which are written in this book… Even so, come Lord Jesus, Amen.” (Revelation 22:18, 19, 20b)
Research and preparation by Dody Gibson
May this short review, create a desire to begin a lifelong study of this most wonderful Book of Books. Eternity will be worth it all.
Millstadt, IL 62260
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