Friday, April 10, 2009

The Story of the Bible, Part 5

Among those who were taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar were Ezekiel and Daniel. Daniel would serve in his court and in the courts of others, including Darius, whose command landed Daniel in the den of lions (Daniel 6).

As prophesied by Jeremiah, this "Babylonian captivity" was to last 70 years, and we read in Ezra and Nehemiah how the Jews returned to the land, and rebuilt the city of Jerusalem, its walls, and the Temple. The prophetic books of Haggai and Zechariah also speak of this. The book of Esther tells us how she became the queen of Ahasuerus and was used of God to spare her people from genocide at the hands of their enemies; the Jewish feast of Purim commemorates this event.

The books of the Old Testament up through Esther contain much of what we know about the history of Israel. The remaining books of the Old Testament tell us many other things.

The books from Job through Song of Solomon are poetic books. The story of Job is among the oldest biblical accounts and may be contemporaneous with Abraham. Psalms is the "hymnal" of the Jews; most of these songs were written by David. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon are attributed to Solomon. Most Americans today probably have no idea how many common phrases are in some way attributable to the book of Proverbs.

The remaining seventeen books of the Old Testament are prophetic books. These prophecies cover a wide range of events, but most can be classified as one of these:

  • Prophecies concerned with the immediate time frame. Jeremiah prophecied of the downfall of Jerusalem; Jonah prophecied of destruction for Nineveh; Daniel prophecied of impending madness for Nebuchadnezzar. All of them saw results (although in Jonah's case, it was repentance, not destruction, that occurred).
  • Prophecies concerning the histories of other nations. Ezekiel, Obadiah, and Nahum, among others, focus extensively on what would happen to nations other than their own. Daniel, however, is perhaps the most comprehensive, giving an accurate future chronology of the kingdoms extending from the 6th century Babylonian of his day all the way down to the Roman empire of Christ's day. The extensive prophecy of Daniel 11:2-34 was so accurately fulfilled over the course of four centuries that most skeptics dismiss it as being written after the fact.
  • Prophecies concerning the Messiah, Jesus Christ. We learn in Isaiah that "a virgin shall conceive" (Isa. 7:14) and that this son "shall be called Wonderful, Cousellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6). We learn in Micah that he will be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Isaiah 53 tells us about his suffering and death. Many passages speak of his yet-future rule over the entire earth.
  • Prophecies concerning the Last Days. Large portions of Daniel and Zechariah, in particular, speak about time yet future: A 7-year period of tribulation, followed by an unprecedented battle [Armageddon], followed by the rule and reign of Jesus Christ.
The chronologically-last figure we see in the Old Testament is the prophet Malachi, who lived about four hundred years before the birth of Christ. By this time, the spiritual revivals of Ezra and Nehemiah's days had faded and the people had become callous toward spiritual things. The Jewish people were not independent, but merely subjects of the Persian empire. From this point we have four centuries of biblical silence before the gospels appear on the scene....

The Story of the Bible, Part 7
The Story of the Bible, Part 6
The Story of the Bible, Part 4
The Story of the Bible, Part 3
The Story of the Bible, Part 2
The Story of the Bible, Part 1

1 comment:

Brenda Brough said...

What I remember learning in Bible classes in college that was so profound to me was how looking back over the entire Old Testament you see all of humanity looking for the perfect satisfaction of their needs. They needed redemption from the fall of man, they needed a perfect high priest, they needed a perfect leader/king, they needed a perfect judge, they needed perfect fulfillment of the prophecies. It's still the same for us. Until you turn over to the beginning of the New Testament. Then came our Savior....Jesus Christ. All things point to Him.