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The Bible and chronology (3)

If you've made it this far - congratulations!  However, this is where it gets a bit more challenging as the nice general chronological flow of Genesis through Joshua is set aside between Kings and Chronicles and never really quite picked up again until the first book of the New Testament (and then not for long).

7.  Crown  (Judges-1 Kings 11; 1 Chronicles 1-2 Chronicles 9; most of the Psalms and Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon)

Different (and colorful) judges lead Israel for a time, but as Samuel’s life draws to an end, the people ask for a king --- like the other nations (1 Samuel 8:4ff).  The people are warned about the disadvantages of a king but persist in their request.  God gives them kings who, with few exceptions, disaapoint them and promises them a King who will one day reign forever and be everything they hope for (2 Kings 7:13ff).

8.  Crisis  (1 Kings 12-2 Kings 16; 2 Chronicles 10-35; Isaiah; Hosea; Joel; Amos; Jonah; Micah)

After a little over a hundred years as a united monarchy, the twelve tribes disintegrate into a divided kingdom when Rehoboam promises harsher policies than his father Solomon.  Rehoboam rules the southern kingdom (usually referred to a Judah).  Jeroboam becomes king of the ten northern tribes (usually referred to as Israel).  Fearing that the people will return to Jerusalem in the southern kingdom to worship, Jeroboam immediately establishes centers of idol worship in Bethel and Dan (1 Kings 12:26ff). 

9.  Captivities  (2 Kings 17-25; 2 Chronicles 36; Jeremiah; Lamentations; Ezekiel; Daniel; Obadiah; Nahum; Habakkuk; Zephaniah)

Jesus’ statement, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand,” (Matthew 12:25), might have been given as a commentary on this section of Jewish history.  About two hundred years after the split, the northern kingdom is first invaded by the Assyrians under Tiglath-Pileser III  (733 BC), and later Shalmaneser V (722 BC).  A little over a century later, Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians invade the southern kingdom three times over the course of twenty years and take them into captivity (605-586 BC).  The writers of these histories make it clear that the captivities occur because the people have been unfaithful to God (2 Kings 17:7ff; 1 Chronicles 5:23ff; 2 Chronicles 36:15ff). 


10.  Construction  (Ezra-Nehemiah, Haggai-Malachi)

The ten tribes of the northern kingdom never return from their captivity as tribal entities, but Jeremiah had told Judah that a remnant of the southern kingdom would return after seventy years in Babylon (Jeremiah 25).  They make at least three trips back.  The first trip was approved by the Persian king, Cyrus, and led by Zerubbabel (Ezra 1). 

Haggai and Zechariah speak to this group and encourage them in their rebuilding of the temple.  A second group returns about fifty years later under Artaxerxes and is led by Ezra (Ezra 7).   The book of Esther fits in between the first and second trips as it deals with events under the reign of Xerxes, father of Artaxerxes.  Thirteen years after Ezra’s group returns, Nehemiah leads another group back (Nehemiah 2).  The prophet Malachi likely speaks some time after Nehemiah’s group returns and rebuilds the walls of Jerusalem.


11.  Coming  (Matthew-John)

About four hundred years of “silence” stand between the ministries of Malachi and the immerser named John.  John was spoken of by Malachi (Malachi 3:1,4:5-6 with Matthew 17:10-13).  He prepares the way for the One who is the central object of promise and prophesy. Jesus is the seed of woman who will crush the serpent (Genesis 3:15).  He is Immanuel – God with us.  He comes, is rejected and crucified.  But death cannot keep Him – God raises Him from the grave!


12.  Churches  (Acts)

Those who were close followers of Jesus take the good news of the risen Jesus everywhere and to everyone. They start in Jerusalem with the Jewish people (Acts 1:8), but soon their message has gone all over (Colossians 1:23).  Upon believing and being baptized, people become part of local communities of faith referred to as churches.

13.  Correspondence  (Romans-Revelation)

These fledgling communities require instruction on what it means to be a follower of Jesus and how they should live.  Some letters are written to a single church and deal with a very specific congregational context (both 1 & 2 Corinthians).  Other letters written to more than one church and deal with common issues (Galatians).  Some letters are written to individuals (Philemon & Titus).    


Of course, there's much more that can be said in each of these areas!   The Bible is profoundly deep and rich.  Hopefully this can provide a framework to help get you started mining its treasures.

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