Why We Study Hebrew History
We could say that the first seventeen books of the Old Testament are history books. So why should we study so much history of this one little nation of Israel? One reason is to look for examples and warnings. When the Hebrew people obeyed the Word of God, God blessed them, and they are examples for us. When they did not obey, they lived under the curse of God, and their lives are warnings for you and me.
The Agonies of Apostasy
The book of Judges covers the 400 years after the conquest of the Promised Land and after the Israelites said, "We will serve the Lord our God and obey him." Yet in this period of Hebrew history "every man did what was right in his own eyes." Have you ever promised to put God first in your life, only to fall away from that vow later? The Israelites did after they settled in Canaan, not once, but seven times!
Extraordinary Things Through Ordinary People
The book of Judges shows us God delights in doing extraordinary things through very ordinary people like you and me. The character studies of these judges give us insight and hope for those times we feel unworthy or inadequate to face life's difficult challenges. Through apostasy and its terrible consequences God shows us some wonderful truths about how He honors faithfulness and fulfills His purposes for His people.
Every Man in His Place
Even though Gideon was hiding and afraid, God demonstrated through Gideon He delights in taking the least, the weakest, and the most ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary supernatural miracles, when such people are available and committed to doing what God tells them to do. It is important when God calls you to do a work for Him that you go into that work knowing that God has sent you and that God is with you.
The Romance of Redemption
The book of Ruth is a beautiful love story that mirrors salvation and our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Old and New Testament Scriptures tell us we are betrothed to Him as a bride to her bridegroom. In Ruth this relationship as a "Romance of Redemption" and the law of the kinsman redeemer echo the message of the grace God has for all mankind.
Love at First Sight
The book of Ruth is a profound allegory illustrating redemption. To redeem means "to buy back" and "to bring back." Boaz redeemed Ruth; first he bought her back when he paid all her debts, then he established a relationship with her that brought her back into the family of God. Learn how in the same way we must decide we want Jesus to be our redeemer, to buy us back and to bring us back into the family of God.
The Kingdom of God
What is the Kingdom of God? In the Old Testament, God's kingdom was a literal, historical and geographical realm over which God was sovereign, with God Himself wanting to be the only ruler. The people, however, rejected God as their king and asked for human kings, which they got. The result was often tragic. This gives us insight into the concept of the Kingdom of God and how it relates to the New Testament and our lives.
Heard of God
The books of Samuel communicate God's truth to us in the form of short biographies, focusing on three people in particular. According to the scriptures, Samuel, Saul and David and all the things that happened to them are for our warning and for our example. David is the best king Israel ever had, and judging from the amount of space the Holy Spirit gave to his story, he is one of the most important characters in the Bible.
Saul, Israel's first king, was disobedient and caused the Lord to cast him away. The dominating characteristic of David's life was obedience, he would do all God's will. Real success is usually best discovered in the private places of our hearts. Israel's greatest king, David, was a shepherd, a musician, a warrior, a leader, and a friend. Most important of all, he is described as a man after God's own heart.
How to Fail Successfully
Through the life of King David we can learn to succeed through failure. For much of his life, David was a shining example. But in one season of David's life, he committed the sins of adultery and murder; for a whole year, he tried to cover up his sin. His sins show us even godly people may give in to temptation if they are not careful. David's life teaches us the important thing is how we respond when we fail.
The Blessedness of Forgiveness
God restored King David's soul and kingdom even though he had failed morally and spiritually. But the blessing of experiencing God's forgiveness and restoration only came after David walked in the paths of righteousness by confessing his sin, repenting of it, and committing himself to follow the Lord's way. Like David, we all have a guilt problem. God's solution to our guilt problem is His forgiveness.
Three Facts of Sin and Three Facts of Salvation
We learn much from the power of sin in King David's life. Like black velvet against which a jeweler displays his diamonds, sin's dark penalty, power, and price make the three facts of salvation shine brighter. First, Jesus Christ has removed the penalty of sin. Second, the Holy Spirit is more powerful than the power of sin. The third fact of salvation is that in the sight of God the stains of sin are washed away by forgiveness.
Kings and Prophets
The history books of Kings and Chronicles tell us about what resulted from Israel not wanting God to be their king. In these books, we will find awesome warnings in the lives of the wicked kings, and we find great examples in the lives of godly prophets like Elijah and Elisha. In 1 Kings, we learn about the division of that human kingdom. In 2 Kings, we learn the details of their sad captivities and God's grace and patience.
The Rise and Fall of the Kingdom
We will learn valuable lessons from Israel's history that will give hope and encourage endurance, especially when encountering spiritual failures. In spite of the nation's idolatry, God was very patient with His people. Every time the work of God ran into an obstacle, God raised up a prophet. Being God's instrument to remove obstacles that blocked the work of God was a chief role or function of the prophets.
The books of Chronicles cover the same period of history that the books of Samuel and Kings cover. Chronicles means "Things Omitted." The books spotlight God's divine perspective on Hebrew history and the kings who were instrumental in bringing about revival, restoration, and reformation. The key to understanding the Chronicles is this: God's ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.
The Synoptic Gospels of the Old Testament
The first return from the Babylonian captivity was to rebuild the temple under Ezra's leadership. Ezra is a great example of godly leadership and this lesson explains how and why God uses a man like Ezra. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah, along with Esther, are known as the post-captivity history books. Ezra and Nehemiah are very similar books. They both teach principles of leadership and of doing God's work in God's way.
The Work of God and Forces Opposing God's Work
The book of Ezra teaches us that many times adversities are the sign of approval that the work of God is being carried out. But Ezra's message is not about being defeated or distracted by opposition. There are many principles we learn from Ezra, and they can be summed up: It is the Plan of God to use the Power of God in the People of God to accomplish the Purposes of God according to the Plan of God.
The Profile of a Leader
The book of Nehemiah shows us seven practical principles of leadership to do God's work. Nehemiah demonstrated great strength, commitment, understanding, focus, courage, perseverance and complete dedication to doing God's work God's way. These principles from the life of Nehemiah show us how to be available for God's use, because it is the Plan of God to use the Power of God in the People of God to accomplish the Purposes of God according to the Plan of God.
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
See God through the life of Esther, the story of a Hebrew woman who married a Gentile and saved the Jewish people from genocide, preserving the ancestry of the Messiah. One of the most important themes of Esther is God's sovereign care over the lives of His people, even when our circumstances are painful or difficult and how He causes all things to work for the good for those called according to His purposes.