But these books can be difficult to read because they are, after all, history. The people, places, customs, and events are unfamiliar to us. And sometimes God does things that are hard to accept.
Even so, we must not neglect these books. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Not many of us enjoyed studying history in school. But how many of us appreciate its lasting value now that we’re older?
Joshua – Esther preserve our heritage as the people of God. They teach us how He rewards obedience and punishes disobedience. Most importantly, they reassure us that He always remains faithful to His people:
Joshua leads Israel into the Promised Land. He conquers the kings of Canaan and divides their land among Israel’s tribes. He renews Israel’s covenant with God. These events take place from 1400-1350 B.C.
Judges & Ruth
Israel fails to drive out all the Canaanites. When they worship other gods, God allows the Canaanites to oppress them. When they repent, He raises up tribal leaders (“judges”) to deliver them. Ruth is a young foreigner who earns her place among His people. These events take place from 1350-1050 B.C.
1 & 2 Samuel
Samuel is Israel’s final judge. He anoints Saul to be Israel’s first king. When Saul disobeys God, Samuel anoints David to be king in his place. David conquers Israel’s enemies and expands their kingdom. These events take place from 1050-970 B.C.
1 & 2 Kings
Solomon builds a temple for God and makes Israel prosperous. However, it divides into two rival kingdoms (Israel & Judah) under the reign of his son. The northern kings are wicked and lead Israel astray. Most of the southern kings are wicked as well. Both kingdoms are conquered and taken into captivity. These events take place from 970-600 B.C.
1 & 2 Chronicles
1 & 2 Chronicles retell the story of 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings. But whereas Kings records the history of Israel & Judah, Chronicles only records the history of Judah. It gives a more religious account of the southern kingdom. These events take place from 1050-600 B.C.
Ezra & Nehemiah
The Jews return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. Ezra is a priest who teaches them God’s law. Nehemiah is the governor who leads them to rebuild its walls. The covenant is renewed and Jerusalem is resettled. These events take place from 530-450 B.C.
Esther is a Jew living in Persia. She becomes queen and thwarts an attempt to destroy the Jewish people. These events take place during the reign of Xerxes from 486-465 B.C.
What do you think? Is it important for Christians to read Old Testament history? Why or why not?
(I will write more about the Bible’s major sections over the next few months. Follow my blog to automatically receive new posts!)