Category: Books of the Old Testament (A thorugh G)

The book of Esther is unique in several ways. One distinguishing characteristic is that it’s the only biblical book that does not mention God by name. This fact has caused some to question its place in the biblical canon, but, in reality, the absence of God’s name fits perfectly with the theme of the book.

Here are some reasons why God’s name may not have been referenced in Esther: first, one emphasis of Esther appears to be how God works behind the scenes. The book of Esther records no miracles and no direct intervention of God at all. In Esther’s story, the Lord redeems His people through the faith and courage of one strategically placed woman and her cousin. All the while, things are happening behind the scenes to bring about the final result.

Also, it is possible God is not mentioned directly in Esther because of the circumstances of its writing. Jewish tradition claims authorship by Mordecai. If Mordecai is the author, he wrote the book in Persia while serving under King Ahasuerus (or Xerxes). Instead of directly crediting God for the victory of the Jewish people, Mordecai may have written the book to better fit the polytheistic context of Susa. This would have kept him protected from harm by the king or other enemies while still communicating the account of God’s work through Queen Esther.

Another emphasis in Esther is the theme of fasting. There are six separate feasts throughout the book, and these stand in stark contrast to Esther’s choice to fast for three days before confronting the king with the matter of saving the Jewish people. She likewise asked other Jews to join her: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do” (Esther 4:16). It is understood that fasting is done before God and to request God’s help. So, even though God’s name is not directly mentioned, Esther is involved in a religious observance meant to supplicate God’s mercy.

Finally, the book of Esther may not mention God because the emphasis is on God’s providence. Mordecai states in Esther 4:14, “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” In his rhetorical question, Mordecai alludes to divine sovereignty without calling it such. The principle is that God places people in particular places at particular times to accomplish His particular plans.

The book of Esther may not directly mention God, yet it clearly reveals God at work. His name is not written in the book, but His fingerprints, as we say, are all over it. The coincidences, the amazing reversals, and the poetic justice that led to the deliverance of the Jews in Persia all proclaim the presence of God.

Book of Esther

The Book of Esther does not specifically name its author. The most popular  traditions are Mordecai (a major character in the Book of Esther), Ezra and  Nehemiah (who would have been familiar with Persian  customs).

Date of Writing: The Book of Esther was  likely written between 460 and 350 B.C.

Purpose of  Writing: The purpose of the Book of Esther is to display the providence  of God, especially in regard to His chosen people, Israel. The Book of Esther  records the institution of the Feast of Purim and the obligation of its  perpetual observation. The Book of Esther was read at the Feast of Purim to  commemorate the great deliverance of the Jewish nation brought about by God  through Esther. Jews today still read Esther during Purim.

Key  Verses: Esther 2:15 – Now when the time came for Esther to go to the king, she asked for nothing  other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem,  suggested.

Esther 4:14 – For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise from  another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but  that you have come to the royal position for such a time as this.

Esther 6:12 – Since  Mordecai, before whom your downfall has begun, is of Jewish origin, you cannot  stand against him – you will surely come to ruin!

Esther 7:3 – If I have found favor with you, O king, and  if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life – this is my petition, and the life  of my people – this is my request.

Brief Summary: The  Book of Esther can be divided into three main sections. Chapters 1:1-2:18 –  Esther replaces Vashti; 2:19-7:10 – Mordecai overcomes Haman; 8:1-10:3 – Israel  survives Haman’s attempt to destroy them. The noble Esther risked her own death  as she realized what was at stake. She willingly did what could have been a  deadly maneuver and took on the second-in-command of her husband‘s kingdom,  Haman. She proved a wise and most worthy opponent, all the while remaining  humble and respectful of the position of her husband-king.

Esther’s  story is much like the story of Joseph in Genesis 41. Both stories involve  foreign monarchs who control the destiny of the Jews. Both accounts show the  heroism of Israelite individuals who provide the means for the salvation of  their people and nation. The hand of God is evident, in that what appears to be  a bad situation is indeed very much under the control of the Almighty God, who  ultimately has the good of the people at heart. At the center of this story is  the ongoing division between the Jews and the Amalakites, which was recorded to  have begun in the Book of Exodus. Haman’s goal is the final effort recorded in  the Old Testament period of the complete eradication of the Jews. His plans  eventually end up with his own demise, and the elevation of his enemy Mordecai  to his own position, as well as the salvation of the Jews.

Feasting is a  major theme of this book: there are ten recorded banquets, and many of the  events were planned, plotted, or exposed at these banquets. Although the name of  God is never mentioned in this book, it is apparent that the Jews of Susa sought  His intervention when they fasted and prayed for three days (Esther 4:16). In spite of the fact that the law allowing  their destruction was written according to the laws of the Medes and Persians,  rendering it unchangeable, the way was cleared for their prayers to be answered.  Esther risked her life by going not once uninvited before the king but twice,  (Esther  4:1-2; 8:3). She was  not content with the destruction of Haman; she was intent on saving her people.  The institution of the Feast of Purim is written and preserved for all to see  and is still observed today. God’s chosen people, without any direct mention of  His name, were granted a stay of execution through the wisdom and humility of  Esther.

Foreshadowings: In Esther, we are given a  behind-the-scenes look at the ongoing struggle of Satan against the purposes of  God and especially against His promised Messiah. The entrance of Christ into the  human race was predicated upon the existence of the Jewish race. Just as Haman  plotted against the Jews in order to destroy them, so has Satan set himself  against Christ and God’s people. Just as Haman is defeated on the gallows he  built for Mordecai, so does Christ use the very weapon that his enemy devised to  destroy Him and His spiritual seed. For the cross, by which Satan planned to  destroy the Messiah, was the very means through which Christ “having canceled  the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood  opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the  powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them  by the cross” (Colossians 2:14-15). Just as Haman was hanged on the  gallows he built for Mordecai, so the devil was crushed by the cross he erected  to destroy Christ.

Practical Application: The Book of  Esther shows the choice we make between seeing the hand of God in our  circumstances in life and seeing things as merely coincidence. God is the  sovereign Ruler of the universe and we can be assured that His plans will not be  moved by the actions of mere evil men. Although His name is not mentioned in the  book, His providential care for his people, both individuals and the nation, is  evident throughout. For instance, we cannot fail to see the Almighty exerting  influence over King Xerxes’s timely insomnia. Through the example of Mordecai  and Esther, the silent love language our Father often uses to communicate  directly to our spirits is shown in this book.

Esther proved to have a  godly and teachable spirit that also showed great strength and willing  obedience. Esther’s humility was markedly different from those around her, and  this caused her to be elevated into the position of queen. She shows us that  remaining respectful and humble, even in difficult if not humanly impossible  circumstances, often sets us up to be the vessel of untold blessing for both  ourselves and others. We would do well to emulate her godly attitudes in all  areas of life, but especially in trials. Not once is there a complaint or bad  attitude exposed in the writing. Many times we read she won the “favor” of those  around her. Such favor is what ultimately saved her people. We can be granted  such favor as we accept even unfair persecution and follow Esther’s example of  maintaining a positive attitude, coupled with humility and the determination to  lean on God. Who knows but that God put us in such a position, for just such a  time as this?

The Book of Ecclesiastes does not directly identify its author. There are quite  a few verses that imply Solomon wrote this book. There are some clues in the  context that may suggest a different person wrote the book after Solomon’s  death, possibly several hundred years later. Still, the conventional belief is  that the author is indeed Solomon.

Date of Writing: Solomon’s reign as king of Israel lasted from around 970 B.C. to around 930  B.C. The Book of Ecclesiastes was likely written towards the end of his reign,  approximately 935 B.C.

Purpose of Writing: Ecclesiastes  is a book of perspective. The narrative of “the Preacher” (KJV), or “the  Teacher” (NIV) reveals the depression that inevitably results from seeking  happiness in worldly things. This book gives Christians a chance to see the  world through the eyes of a person who, though very wise, is trying to find  meaning in temporary, human things. Most every form of worldly pleasure is  explored by the Preacher, and none of it gives him a sense of meaning.

In the end, the Preacher comes to accept that faith in God is the only way to  find personal meaning. He decides to accept the fact that life is brief and  ultimately worthless without God. The Preacher advises the reader to focus on an  eternal God instead of temporary pleasure.

Key Verses: Ecclesiastes 1:2, “’Vanity of vanities,’ says the  Preacher, ‘vanity of vanities, all is vanity’” (NKJV).

Ecclesiastes 1:18,  “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more  grief.”

Ecclesiastes 2:11, “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands  had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing  after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

Ecclesiastes 12:1,  “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble  come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in  them.'”

Ecclesiastes 12:13, “Now all has been heard; here is the  conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the  whole duty of man.”

Brief Summary: Two phrases are  repeated often in Ecclesiastes. The word translated as “vanity” in the KJV, and  “meaningless” in the NIV appears often, and is used to emphasize the temporary  nature of worldly things. In the end, even the most impressive human  achievements will be left behind. The phrase “under the sun” occurs 28 times,  and refers to the mortal world. When the Preacher refers to “all things under  the sun,” he is talking about earthly, temporary, human things.

The  first seven chapters of the book of Ecclesiastes describe all of the worldly  things “under the sun” that the Preacher tries to find fulfillment in. He tries  scientific discovery (1:10-11), wisdom and philosophy (1:13-18), mirth (2:1),  alcohol (2:3), architecture (2:4), property (2:7-8), and luxury (2:8). The  Preacher turned his mind towards different philosophies to find meaning, such as  materialism (2:19-20), and even moral codes (including chapters 8-9). He found  that everything was meaningless, a temporary diversion that, without God, had no  purpose or longevity.

Chapters 8-12 of Ecclesiastes describe the  Preacher’s suggestions and comments on how a life should be lived. He comes to  the conclusion that without God, there is no truth or meaning to life. He has  seen many evils and realized that even the best of man’s achievements are worth  nothing in the long run. So he advises the reader to acknowledge God from youth  (12:1) and to follow His will (12:13-14).

Foreshadowings:  For all of the vanities described in the Book of Ecclesiastes, the  answer is Christ. According to Ecclesiastes 3:17, God judges the righteous and the  wicked, and the righteous are only those who are in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).  God has placed the desire for eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and  has provided the Way to eternal life through Christ (John 3:16). We are reminded that striving after the  world’s wealth is not only vanity because it does not satisfy (Ecclesiastes 5:10),  but even if we could attain it, without Christ we would lose our souls and what  profit is there in that (Mark 8:36)?  Ultimately, every disappointment and vanity described in Ecclesiastes has its  remedy in Christ, the wisdom of God and the only true meaning to be found in  life.

Practical Application: Ecclesiastes offers the  Christian an opportunity to understand the emptiness and despair that those who  do not know God grapple with. Those who do not have a saving faith in Christ are  faced with a life that will ultimately end and become irrelevant. If there is no  salvation, and no God, then not only is there no point to life, but no purpose  or direction to it, either. The world “under the sun,” apart from God, is  frustrating, cruel, unfair, brief, and “utterly meaningless.” But with Christ,  life is but a shadow of the glories to come in a heaven that is only accessible  through Him.

The Prophet Ezekiel is the author of the Book (Ezekiel  1:3). He was a contemporary of both Jeremiah and Daniel.

Date  of Writing: The Book of Ezekiel was likely written between 593 and 565  B.C. during the Babylonian captivity of the Jews.

Purpose of  Writing: Ezekiel ministered to his generation who were both exceedingly  sinful and thoroughly hopeless. By means of his prophetic ministry he  attempted to bring them to immediate repentance and to confidence in the distant  future. He taught that: (1) God works through human messengers; (2)  Even in defeat and despair God’s people need to affirm God’s  sovereignty; (3) God’s Word never fails; (4) God is present and can be  worshiped anywhere; (5) People must obey God if they expect to receive  blessings; and (6) God’s Kingdom will come.

Key Verses: Ezekiel  2:3-6, “He said: ‘Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a  rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been  in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are  obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says.” And  whether they listen or fail to listen – for they are a rebellious house – they  will know that a prophet has been among them.'”

Ezekiel 18:4, “For every  living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son – both alike belong to  me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.”

Ezekiel 28:12-14, “‘You  were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in  Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and  emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your  settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were  prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You  were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.”

Ezekiel 33:11, “Say to  them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in  the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.  Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?'”

Ezekiel 48:35, “And the  name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS  THERE.”

Brief Summary: How can you cope with a world  gone astray? Ezekiel, destined to begin his life’s ministry as a priest at  age thirty, was uprooted from his homeland and marched off to Babylon at age of  twenty-five. For five years he languished in despair. At age thirty a  majestic vision of Yahweh’s glory captivated his being in Babylon. The  priest/prophet discovered God was not confined to the narrow strictures of  Ezekiel’s native land. Instead, He is a universal God who commands and  controls persons and nations. In Babylon, God imparted to Ezekiel His Word  for the people. His call experience transformed Ezekiel. He became avidly  devoted to God’s Word. He realized he had nothing personally to assist the  captives in their bitter situation, but he was convinced God’s Word spoke to  their condition and could give them victory in it. Ezekiel used various  methods to convey God’s Word to his people.  He used art in drawing a depiction  of Jerusalem, symbolic actions and unusual conduct to secure attention. He  cut his hair and beard to demonstrate what God would do to Jerusalem and its  inhabitants.

Ezekiel’s book can be divided into four sections:
Chapters 1-24: prophecies on the ruin of Jerusalem
Chapters 25-32:  prophecies of God’s judgment on nearby nations
Chapter 33: a last call for  repentance to Israel
Chapters 34-48: prophecies concerning the future  restoration of Israel

Foreshadowings: Ezekiel 34 is the  chapter wherein God denounces the leaders of Israel as false shepherds for their  poor care of His people. Instead of caring for the sheep of Israel, they cared  for themselves. They ate well, were well-clothed and well-cared for by the very  people they had been placed over (Ezekiel  34:1-3). By contrast, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for  the sheep and who protects them from the wolves who would destroy the flock (John 10:11-12). Verse 4 of  chapter 34 describes people whom the shepherds failed to minister to as weak,  sick, injured and lost. Jesus is the Great Physician who heals our spiritual  wounds (Isaiah 53:5)  by His death on the cross. He is the one who seeks and saves that which is lost  (Luke  19:10).

Practical Application: The Book of Ezekiel  calls us to join in a fresh and living encounter with the God of Abraham, Moses  and the prophets. We must be overcomers or we will be overcome. Ezekiel  challenged us to experience a life changing vision of God’s power, knowledge,  eternal presence and holiness; to let God direct us; to comprehend the depth of  and commitment to evil that lodges in each human heart; to recognize that God  holds His servants responsible for warning wicked men of their peril; to  experience a living relationship with Jesus Christ, who said that the new  covenant is to be found in His blood.

Author: The Book of Daniel identifies the Prophet Daniel as its author (Daniel 9:2; 10:2). Jesus  mentions Daniel as the author as well (Matthew  24:15).

Date of Writing: The Book of Daniel was  likely written between 540 and 530 B.C.

Purpose of  Writing: In 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon had conquered  Judah and deported many of its inhabitants to Babylon – Daniel included. Daniel  served in the royal court of Nebuchadnezzar and several rulers who followed  Nebuchadnezzar. The Book of Daniel records the actions, prophecies, and visions  of the Prophet Daniel.

Key Verses: Daniel 1:19-20, “The king  talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and  Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. In every matter of wisdom and  understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times  better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.”

Daniel 2:31, “You looked, O  king, and there before you stood a large statue – an enormous, dazzling statue,  awesome in appearance.”

Daniel  3:17-18, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is  able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even  if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or  worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Daniel  4:34-35, “His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from  generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing.  He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No  one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’”

Daniel 9:25-27, “Know and  understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem  until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and  sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times  of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and  will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city  and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the  end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for  one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and  offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that  causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on  him.”

Brief Summary: Chapter 1 describes the conquest  of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Along with many others, Daniel and his three  friends were deported to Babylon and because of their courage and the obvious  blessings of God upon them, they were “promoted” in the king’s service (Daniel 1:17-20).

Chapters 2-7 record Nebuchadnezzar having a dream that only Daniel could  correctly interpret. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a great statue represented the  kingdoms that would arise in the future. Nebuchadnezzar made a great statue of  himself and forced everyone to worship it. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego  refused and were miraculously spared by God despite being thrown into a fiery  furnace. Nebuchadnezzar is judged by God for his pride, but later restored once  he recognized and admitted God’s sovereignty.

Daniel chapter 5 records  Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar misusing the items taken from the Temple in  Jerusalem and receiving a message from God, written into the wall, in response.  Only Daniel could interpret the writing, a message of coming judgment from God.  Daniel is thrown into the lions’ den for refusing to pray to the emperor, but  was miraculously spared. God gave Daniel a vision of four beasts. The four  beasts represented the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and  Rome.

Chapters 8-12 contain a vision involving a ram, a goat, and  several horns – also referring to future kingdoms and their rulers. Daniel  chapter 9 records Daniel’s “seventy weeks” prophecy. God gave Daniel the precise  timeline of when the Messiah would come and be cut off. The prophecy also  mentions a future ruler who will make a seven-year covenant with Israel and  break it after three and a half years, followed shortly thereafter by the great  judgment and consummation of all things. Daniel is visited and strengthened by  an angel after this great vision, and the angel explains the vision to Daniel in  great detail.

Foreshadowings: We see in the stories of  the fiery furnace and Daniel in the lions’ den a foreshadowing of the salvation  provided by Christ. The three men declare that God is a saving God who can  provide a way of escape from the fire (Daniel  3:17). In the same way, by sending Jesus to die for our sins, God has  provided an escape from the fires of hell (1 Peter  3:18). In Daniel’s case, God provided an angel to shut the lions’ mouths and  saved Daniel from death. Jesus Christ is our provision from the dangers of the  sin that threatens to consume us.

Daniel’s vision of the end times  depicts Israel’s Messiah by whom many will be made pure and holy (Daniel 12:10). He is our  righteousness (1 Peter  5:21) by whom our sins, though blood-red, will be washed away and we will be  as white as snow (Isaiah  1:18).

Practical Application: Like Shadrach,  Meshach and Abednego, we should always stand for what we know is right. God is  greater than any punishment that could come upon us. Whether God chooses to  deliver us or not, He is always worthy of our trust. God knows what is best, and  He honors those who trust and obey Him.

God has a plan, and His plan is  down to the intricate detail. God knows and is in control of the future.  Everything that God has predicted has come true exactly as He predicted.  Therefore, we should believe and trust that the things He has predicted for the  future will one day occur exactly as God has declared.

Amos 1:1 identifies the author  of the Book of Amos as the Prophet Amos.

Date of Writing:  The Book of Amos was likely written between 760 and 753  B.C.

Purpose of Writing: Amos is a shepherd and a fruit  picker from the Judean village of Tekoa when God calls him, even though he lacks  an education or a priestly background. Amos’ mission is directed to his  neighbor to the north, Israel. His messages of impending doom and captivity  for the nation because of her sins are largely unpopular and unheeded, however,  because not since the days of Solomon have times been so good in  Israel. Amos’ ministry takes place while Jeroboam II reigns over Israel,  and Uzziah reigns over Judah.

Key Verses: Amos 2:4, “This is what the LORD says: ‘For three sins of  Judah, even for four, I will not turn back [my wrath]. Because they have  rejected the law of the LORD and have not kept his decrees, because they have  been led astray by false gods, the gods their ancestors followed.”

Amos 3:7, “Surely the Sovereign  LORD does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the  prophets.”

Amos 9:14, “I  will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and  live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make  gardens and eat their fruit.”

Brief Summary: 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  judgment upon all the surrounding nations, then upon his own nation of Judah,  and finally the harshest judgment is given to Israel. His visions from God  reveal the same emphatic message: judgment is near. The book ends with  God’s promise to Amos of future restoration of the  remnant.

Foreshadowings: The Book of Amos ends with a  glorious promise for the future. “’I will plant Israel in their own land, never  again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,’ says the LORD your God”  (9:15). The ultimate fulfillment of God’s land promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:7; 15:7; 17:8) will occur during Christ’s millennial reign on  earth (see Joel 2:26,27). Revelation 20 describes  the thousand-year reign of Christ on the earth, a time of peace and joy under  the perfect government of the Savior Himself. At that time, believing Israel and  the Gentile Christians will be combined in the Church and will live and reign  with Christ.

Practical Application: Sometimes we think  we are a “just-a”! We are just-a salesman, farmer or housewife. Amos  would be considered a “just-a.” He wasn’t a prophet or priest or the son of  either. He was just a shepherd, a small businessman in Judah. Who  would listen to him? But instead of making excuses, Amos obeyed and became  God’s powerful voice for change.

God has used “just-a’s” such as  shepherds, carpenters, and fishermen all through the Bible. Whatever you  are in this life, God can use you.  Amos wasn’t much. He was a “just-a.”   “Just-a” servant for God. It is good to be God’s “just-a.”

Book of Genesis

Author: The author of the Book of Genesis is not identified.  Traditionally, the author has always assumed to have been Moses. There is no  conclusive reason to deny the Mosaic authorship of Genesis.

Date  of Writing: The Book of Genesis does not state when it was written.  The date of authorship is likely between 1440 and 1400 B.C., between the time  Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and his death.

Purpose of  Writing: The Book of Genesis has sometimes been called the “seed-plot”  of the entire Bible. Most of the major doctrines in the Bible are introduced in  “seed” form in the Book of Genesis. Along with the fall of man, God’s promise of  salvation or redemption is recorded (Genesis  3:15). The doctrines of creation, imputation of sin, justification,  atonement, depravity, wrath, grace, sovereignty, responsibility, and many more  are all addressed in this book of origins called Genesis.

Many of the  great questions of life are answered in Genesis. (1) Where did I come from? (God  created us – Genesis 1:1)  (2) Why am I here? (we are here to have a relationship with God – Genesis 15:6) (3) Where am  I going? (we have a destination after death – Genesis  25:8). Genesis appeals to the scientist, the historian, the theologian, the  housewife, the farmer, the traveler, and the man or woman of God. It is a  fitting beginning for God’s story of His plan for mankind, the  Bible.

Key Verses: Genesis 1:1,  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Genesis 3:15, “And I will  put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he  will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Genesis 12:2-3, “I will  make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great,  and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses  you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through  you.”

Genesis  50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish  what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Brief Summary:  The Book of Genesis can be divided into two sections: Primitive  History and Patriarchal History. Primitive history records (1) Creation (Genesis  chapters 1-2); (2) the Fall of man (Genesis chapters 3-5); (3) the Flood  (Genesis chapters 6-9); and (4) the dispersion (Genesis chapters 10-11).  Patriarchal history records the lives of four great men: (1) Abraham (Genesis  12-25:8); (2) Isaac (Genesis  21:1-35-29); (3) Jacob (Genesis  25:21-50:14); and (4) Joseph (Genesis  30:22-50:26).

God created a universe that was good and free from  sin. God created humanity to have a personal relationship with Him. Adam and Eve  sinned and thereby brought evil and death into the world. Evil increased  steadily in the world until there was only one family in which God found  anything good. God sent the Flood to wipe out evil, but delivered Noah and his  family along with the animals in the Ark. After the Flood, humanity began again  to multiply and spread throughout the world.

God chose Abraham, through  whom He would create a chosen people and eventually the promised Messiah. The  chosen line was passed on to Abraham’s son Isaac, and then to Isaac’s son Jacob.  God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, and his twelve sons became the ancestors of  the twelve tribes of Israel. In His sovereignty, God had Jacob’s son Joseph sent  to Egypt by the despicable actions of Joseph’s brothers. This act, intended for  evil by the brothers, was intended for good by God and eventually resulted in  Jacob and his family being saved from a devastating famine by Joseph, who had  risen to great power in Egypt.

Foreshadowings: Many New  Testament themes have their roots in Genesis. Jesus Christ is the Seed of the  woman who will destroy Satan’s power (Gen. 3:15). As  with Joseph, God’s plan for the good of mankind through the sacrifice of His Son  was intended for good, even though those who crucified Jesus intended it for  evil. Noah and his family are the first of many remnants pictured in the Bible.  Despite overwhelming odds and difficult circumstances, God always preserves a  remnant of the faithful for Himself. The remnant of Israelites returned to  Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity; God preserved a remnant through all  the persecutions described in Isaiah and Jeremiah; a remnant of 7000 priests  were hidden from the wrath of Jezebel; God promises that a remnant of Jews will  one day embrace their true Messiah (Romans 11). The faith displayed by Abraham  would be the gift of God and the basis of salvation for both Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews  11).

Practical Application: The overriding theme of  Genesis is God’s eternal existence and His creation of the world. There is no  effort on the part of the author to defend the existence of God; he simply  states that God is, always was, and always will be, almighty over all. In the  same way, we have confidence in the truths of Genesis, despite the claims of  those who would deny them. All people, regardless of culture, nationality or  language, are accountable to the Creator. But because of sin, introduced into  the world at the Fall, we are separated from Him. But through one small nation,  Israel, God’s redemptive plan for mankind was revealed and made available to  all. We rejoice in that plan.

God created the universe, the earth, and  every living being. We can trust Him to handle the concerns in our lives. God  can take a hopeless situation, e.g. Abraham and Sarah being childless, and do  amazing things if we will simply trust and obey. Terrible and unjust things may  happen in our lives, as with Joseph, but God will always bring about a greater  good if we have faith in Him and His sovereign plan. “And we know that all  things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called  according to his purpose” (Romans  8:28).

Author: The Book of Ezra does not specifically name its  author. The tradition is that the prophet Ezra wrote the Book of Ezra. It is  interesting to note that once Ezra appears on the scene in chapter 7, the author  of the Book of Ezra switches from writing in the third person to first person.  This would also lend credibility to Ezra being the author.

Date  of Writing: The Book of Ezra was likely written between 460 and 440  B.C.

Purpose of Writing: The Book of Ezra is devoted to  events occurring in the land of Israel at the time of the return from the  Babylonian captivity and subsequent years, covering a period of approximately  one century, beginning in 538 B.C. The emphasis in Ezra is on the rebuilding of  the Temple. The book contains extensive genealogical records, principally for  the purpose of establishing the claims to the priesthood on the part of the  descendants of Aaron.

Key Verses: Ezra 3:11 “With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the  LORD: ‘He is good; his love to Israel endures forever.’ And all the people gave  a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the  LORD was laid.”

Ezra 7:6,  “…this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of  Moses, which the LORD, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him  everything he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on  him.”

Brief Summary: The book may be divided as  follows: Chapters 1-6—The First Return under Zerubbabel, and the Building of the  Second Temple. Chapters 7-10—The Ministry of Ezra. Since well over half a  century elapsed between chapters 6 and 7, the characters of the first part of  the book had died by the time Ezra began his ministry in Jerusalem. Ezra is the  one person who is prominent in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Both books end  with prayers of confession (Ezra 9; Nehemiah 9) and a subsequent separation of  the people from the sinful practices into which they had fallen. Some concept of  the nature of the encouraging messages of Haggai and Zechariah, who are  introduced in this narrative (Ezra 5:1), may  be seen in the prophetic books that bear their names.

The Book of Ezra  covers the return from captivity to rebuild the Temple up to the decree of  Artaxerxes, the event covered at the beginning of the Book of Nehemiah. Haggai  was the main prophet in the day of Ezra, and Zechariah was the prophet in the  day of Nehemiah.

Foreshadowings: We see in the Book of  Ezra a continuation of the biblical theme of the remnant. Whenever disaster or  judgment falls, God always saves a tiny remnant for Himself—Noah and his family  from the destruction of the flood; Lot’s family from Sodom and Gomorrah; the  7000 prophets reserved in Israel despite the persecution of Ahab and Jezebel.  When the Israelites were taken into captivity in Egypt, God delivered His  remnant and took them to the Promised Land. Some fifty thousand people return to  the land of Judea in Ezra  2:64-67, and yet, as they compare themselves with the numbers in Israel  during its prosperous days under King David, their comment is, “We are left this  day as a remnant.” The remnant theme is carried into the New Testament where  Paul tells us that “at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace” (Romans 11:5). Although most  people of Jesus’ day rejected Him, there remained a set of people whom God had  reserved and preserved in his Son, and in the covenant of His grace. Throughout  all generations since Christ, there is the remnant of the faithful whose feet  are on the narrow road that leads to eternal life (Matthew  7:13-14). This remnant will be preserved through the power of the Holy  Spirit who has sealed them and who will deliver them safely at the last day (2  Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians  4:30).

Practical Application: The Book of Ezra is a  chronicle of hope and restoration. For the Christian whose life is scarred by  sin and rebellion against God, there is great hope that ours is a God of  forgiveness, a God who will not turn His back on us when we seek Him in  repentance and brokenness (1 John 1:9).  The return of the Israelites to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple are  repeated in the life of every Christian who returns from the captivity of sin  and rebellion against God and finds in Him a loving welcome home. No matter how  long we have been away, He is ready to forgive us and receive us back into His  family. He is willing to show us how to rebuild our lives and resurrect our  hearts, wherein is the temple of the Holy Spirit. As with the rebuilding of the  temple in Jerusalem, God superintends the work of renovating and rededicating  our lives to His service.

The opposition of the adversaries of God to  the rebuilding of the temple displays a pattern that is typical of that of the  enemy of our souls. Satan uses those who would appear to be in sync with God’s  purposes to deceive us and attempt to thwart God’s plans. Ezra 4:2 describes the deceptive speech of those who  claim to worship Christ but whose real intent is to tear down, not to build up.  We are to be on guard against such deceivers, respond to them as the Israelites  did, and refuse to be fooled by their smooth words and false professions of  faith.

Author: The Book of 1 Chronicles does not specifically name  its author. The tradition is that 1 and 2 Chronicles were written by  Ezra.

Date of Writing: The Book of 1 Chronicles was  likely written between 450 and 425 B.C.

Purpose of  Writing: The Books of 1 & 2 Chronicles cover mostly the same  information as 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings. 1 & 2 Chronicles focus  more on the priestly aspect of the time period. The Book of 1 Chronicles was  written after the exile to help those returning to Israel understand how to  worship God. The history focused on the Southern Kingdom, the tribes of  Judah, Benjamin and Levi. These tribes tended to be more faithful to  God.

Key Verses: 1  Chronicles 11:1-2, “All Israel came together to David at Hebron and said,  ‘We are your own flesh and blood.  In the past, even while Saul was king, you  were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns.  And the Lord said to  you, “You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their  ruler.”‘”

1  Chronicles 21:13, “David said to Gad, ‘I am in deep distress.  Let me fall  into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall  into the hands of men.'”

1  Chronicles 29:11, “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the  glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is  yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over  all.”

Brief Summary: The first 9 chapters of 1  Chronicles are dedicated to lists and genealogies. Further lists and genealogies  are scattered throughout the rest of 1 Chronicles. In between, the Book of 1  Chronicles records David’s ascension to the throne and his actions thereafter.  The book concludes with David’s son Solomon becoming King of Israel. Briefly  outlined, the Book of 1 Chronicles is as follows: Chapters 1:1-9:23 – Selective  Genealogies; Chapters 9:24-12:40 – David’s ascent; Chapters 13:1-20:30 -David’s  reign.

Foreshadowings: In David’s song of thanksgiving  to God in 1  Chronicles 16:33, he refers to the time when God will come “to judge the  earth.” This foreshadows Matthew 25, in which Jesus describes the time when He  will come to judge the earth. Through the parables of the ten virgins and the  talents, He warns that those who are found without the blood of Christ covering  their sins will be cast into “outer darkness.” He encourages His people to be  ready because when He comes, He will separate the sheep from the goats in  judgment.

Part of the Davidic Covenant which God reiterates in chapter  17 refers to the future Messiah who would be a descendant of David. Verses 13-14  describe the Son who will be established in God’s house and whose throne will be  established forever. This can only refer to Jesus  Christ.

Practical Application: Genealogies such as the  ones in 1 Chronicles may seem dry to us, but they remind us that God knows each  of His children personally, even down to the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30). We can  take comfort in the fact that who we are and what we do is written forever in  God’s mind. If we belong to Christ, our names are written forever in the Lamb’s  book of Life (Revelation  13:8).

God is faithful to His people and keeps His promises. In the  Book of 1 Chronicles, we see the fulfillment of God’s promise to David when he  is made king over all Israel (1  Chronicles 11:1-3). We can be sure that His promises to us will be fulfilled  as well. He has promised blessings to those who follow Him, who come to Christ  in repentance, and who obey His Word.

Obedience brings blessing;  disobedience brings judgment. The Book of 1 Chronicles, as well as 1 & 2  Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings, is a chronicle of the pattern of sin, repentance,  forgiveness, and restoration of the nation of Israel. In the same way, God is  patient with us and forgives our sin when we come to Him in true repentance (1 John 1:9). We can take  comfort in the fact that He hears our prayer of sorrow, forgives our sin,  restores us to fellowship with Him, and sets us on the path to joy.

Author: The Book of 2 Chronicles does not specifically name  its author. The tradition is that 1 and 2 Chronicles were written by  Ezra.

Date of Writing: The Book of 2 Chronicles was  likely written between 450 and 425 B.C.

Purpose of  Writing: The Books of 1 & 2 Chronicles cover mostly the same  information as 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings. The Books of 1 & 2  Chronicles focus more on the priestly aspect of the time period. The Book of 2  Chronicles is essentially an evaluation of the nation’s religious  history.

Key Verses: 2  Chronicles 2:1, “Solomon gave orders to build a temple for the Name of the  LORD and a royal palace for himself.”

2  Chronicles 29:1-3, “Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king,  and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah  daughter of Zechariah. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as  his father David had done. In the first month of the first year of his reign, he  opened the doors of the temple of the LORD and repaired them.”

2 Chronicles 36:14,  “Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more  unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling  the temple of the LORD, which he had consecrated in Jerusalem.”

2 Chronicles 36:23,  “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given  me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for  him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you—may the LORD his God  be with him, and let him go up.'”

Brief Summary: The  Book of 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 of the failures of good kings; only goodness is stressed. Since 2  Chronicles takes a priestly perspective, the Northern Kingdom of Israel is  rarely mentioned because of her false worship and refusal to acknowledge the  Temple of Jerusalem. Second Chronicles concludes with the final destruction of  Jerusalem and the Temple.

Foreshadowings: As with all  references to kings and temples in the Old Testament, we see in them a  reflection of the true King of Kings—Jesus Christ—and of the temple of the Holy  Spirit—His people. Even the best of the kings of Israel had the faults of all  sinful men and led the people imperfectly. But when the King of Kings comes to  live and reign on the earth in the millennium, he  will establish Himself on the throne of all the earth as the rightful heir of  David. Only then will we have a perfect King who will reign in righteousness and  holiness, something the best of Israel’s kings could only dream of.

Similarly, the great temple built by Solomon was not designed to last forever.  Just 150 years later, it was in need of repair from decay and defacing by future  generations who turned back to idolatry (2 Kings 12). But the temple of the Holy  Spirit—those who belong to Christ—will live forever. We who belong to Jesus are  that temple, made not by hands but by the will of God (John 1:12-13). The Spirit  who lives within us will never depart from us and will deliver us safely into  the hands of God one day (Ephesians  1:13; 4:30). No  earthly temple contains that promise.

Practical Application:  The reader of the Chronicles is invited to evaluate each generation  from the past and discern why each was blessed for their obedience or punished  for their wickedness. But we are also to compare the plight of these generations  to our own, both corporately and individually. If we or our nation or our church  is experiencing hardships, it is to our benefit to compare our beliefs and how  we act upon those beliefs with the experiences of the Israelites under the  various kings. God hates sin and will not tolerate it. But if the Chronicles  teach us anything, it is that God desires to forgive and heal those who will  humbly pray and repent (1 John 1:9).

If you could have anything you wished from God, what would you ask for?  Fabulous wealth? Perfect health for you and your loved ones? The power over life  and death? Amazing to think about it, isn’t it? But more amazing is that God  made such an offer to Solomon and he chose none of these things. What he asked  for was wisdom and knowledge to complete the task God had assigned to him and to  do it well. The lesson for us is that God has given each of us a commission to  fulfill and the greatest blessing we can seek from God is the ability to carry  out His will for our lives. For that, we need the “wisdom from above” (James 3:17) to discern His will, as well as the  understanding and intimate knowledge of Him in order to motivate us to  Christlikeness in both deed and attitude (James  3:13).