Old Testament: Part 2
The Book of Joshua picks up right after Moses dies and shows how God had been faithful to the covenant he made with Abraham by bringing them into the land. It recounts the battles and barriers the Israelites experience in entering of the Promised Land. God is faithful, and while not all the territory is conquered, the Israelites have safely settled in the land promised to Abraham. Near the end of the book, Joshua calls on Israel to remember the covenant it made with God. Like with Moses in Deuteronomy, Israel is reminded of the choice it must make – be faithful and obey leading to life and blessing or prove unfaithful leading to all the judgments that befell the Canaanites.
The book of Judges tells the story of Israel's total failure after the death of Joshua. Judges were tribal chieftains, and their story can be quite disturbing. It serves as a tragic tale of how Israel's leaders became increasingly corrupt and no better than the Canaanite tribes they had overthrown. Though sad, this is also a story of hope for the future.
This is not simply a love story. It's a story about God and how he restores those who look to him with hope. It's about God's covenant faithfulness and it contributes to the overall covenant storyline that unifies the entire Bible. The author has gone to great care to honor Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz through the development of their characters in the story. They are character studies of how God works in mundane, everyday events in the lives of his people (and what human covenant faithfulness looks like in return).
Samuel is an exciting Book in the Bible. It's split into two parts due to its large size. The Book of 1 Samuel focuses on the characters Samuel, Saul, and David and their roles in shaping God's growing nation Israel. When reading 1 Samuel, note the realistic depictions of real people in history. Each one has their own strengths, weaknesses, and goals just like we do. Take special note of the recurring themes of pride and humility throughout its chapters, starting with Hannah's story in Chapters 1-2. In Chapter 2, she sings a song about God opposing the proud and giving grace to the humble, which is exactly what happens in the matters of Saul and David. Their story reminds us of humility and trusting God with our own lives.
The Book of 2 Samuel picks up where 1 Samuel left off, the themes of humility and pride continue as David mourns for the loss of Saul and Jonathan. His faithfulness to God ushers in a united Israel that finally defeats the surrounding Philistines and establishes a kingdom in the land. David captures Jerusalem and claims the city as its capital. Peace is achieved around all of its borders. Instead of hiding in caves, David can finally rest in a cedar palace. And yet, all he thinks about is building a house for his God, so he expresses his desire to do that for Him. Touched by his faith, God makes a covenant with David in return: Jesus Christ, the Messiah, will Himself come from David's house of descendants. And, despite David's failures, God ensures that promise remains even after his death.
1 & 2 Kings
Known as Kings 1 and 2 in English Bibles, The Book of Kings is originally a single book that recounts the rule of Israel's kings from David's son Solomon up until the time of Israel's exile, the final result of Israel's disobedience. Note how the book's perspective gives the reader a bird's-eye view of the nation as a whole compared to the interpersonal focus of key individuals in the Book of Samuel. Some notable people in Kings, like Elijah and Jezebel, will also become symbolic representatives for certain themes in the New Testament.
1st & 2nd Chronicles
Chronicles is the last Book in the Hebrew Bible as it summarizes the continued relationship between God and Israel through the Blessing of Abraham. The arrangement of the content in Chronicles invites the reader to explore the stories of each section and reveal interesting details about David, Solomon, God's temple, the kings of Judah, and how they work together. Chronicles is also an excellent historical reference for those studying specific facts in the Scriptures. Time to pull up your sleeves and embark on a treasure hunt to dig up the "gems" in God's Word!
Here we see that the author chose a fascinating literary choice - never once is God mentioned in the entire Book. This behind-the-scenes take of God at work is brilliantly displayed throughout Esther's chapters through "coincidences" and "happen chances" that help to save the Jews from Haman's wicked plot to destroy them. Even today Jewish people celebrate Purim each year by reading Esther, enjoying fun traditions, and giving gifts as described in Esther Chapter 9:20-32. Christians, too, can benefit from reading Esther as it reminds us that even though it appears God is absent, He is still at work in our lives and will not abandon His promises while we are living in a murky and ambiguous world.