GENESIS The Bible begins by telling us how God created the world and everything in it. What is God up to?
- Dig deeper into the meaning of “glory” with NT Wright and Paul Tripp
- Watch the Bible Project’s “Image of God”
- Read J. Richard Middleton’s “The Ethical Challenge of the Image of God in the 21st Century—Human Rights and Beyond”
Unfortunately, sin enters the scene along with its consequences: separation from God and eventual death. The rest of the Bible is the story about how God did not abandon us. Scripture follows one family of believers from which God’s rescue will come: the Abraham-Isaac-Jacob family line that grows into the nation of Israel.
EXODUS-DEUTERONOMY The Israelites eventually end up in Egypt as slaves, but God calls Moses to lead them to the land he had promised to Abraham. It’s then that Moses meets the great “I am.” God miraculously parts the Red Sea for Israel to exit Egypt and reveals his laws to show them what it means to be in covenant relationship with him.
- Check out The John 10:10 Project’s “Exodus Explored” on YouTube—there are several clips available for you to choose on their channel
- Go to GJ Wiese YouTube channel’s playlist entitled, “The Weird Laws in the Bible”
- Dare to dive into Leviticus! The Bible Project’s video is the best overview ever produced (and it’s entertaining as well)
JOSHUA-2 SAMUEL As Israel entered the land God promised to them, some remained devoted to God while many others faltered. But there was always a faithful remnant who remained devoted to God. Included among the faithful was a remarkable woman named Ruth. This non-Israelite woman proved that not only is God merciful and kind—he is Lord over all peoples. In this critical period of Israel’s history, the people of God transformed from a loosely affiliated group of tribes into a unified nation under a form of government headed by a king. Apparently, God accomplishes his purposes with or without Israel’s cooperation.
PSALMS-ECCLESIASTES Written in beautiful poetry, these books reflect the hopes and struggles of the faithful remnant of Israel. The main message of the Wisdom Books is that a blessed life is one that attains wisdom from having a relationship with the Lord.
- Glean some wisdom from Jill Briscoe
JOB In the amazing life of Job, God silences us all by revealing how little we know about the vast cosmos he has created—which includes the spiritual realm of angels, demons, and Satan (our adversary). Life is far more complex than we could ever comprehend. Earth looks like a battlefield because it is a battlefield between good and evil.
Suffering is a mystery to us, but we humbly trust in our loving Savior. God is not against us. Moreover, we do not evaluate a person’s spirituality by what happens to them; instead we extend grace and tender mercy to friends who suffer and encourage them to love God no matter what.
- Find out more about Job’s monsters in Christopher Ash’s God’s Sovereignty over Leviathan and Behemoth
1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, Esther Like every nation’s history, Israel’s story includes a mix of triumph and tragedy. Some of Israel’s leaders led the people into revival, while others paved the way to their demise. When darkness is on the offense, attacking non-conformity, attacking God’s word, aiming to silence God’s people, Esther inspires us to be one of those unlikely, unremarkable people, who start fasting and praying for revival.
- Dr. Sandra Richter helps explain how revivals throughout church history were paradigmatic events based on the Old Testament
EARLY PROPHETS God sends prophets to Israel to speak to them about their waywardness, turn their hearts back to himself, and prepare them for the coming of the Messiah, the Savior of the world. He even calls one reluctant prophet named, Jonah, to go to Nineveh, the capital of Israel’s arch enemy!
God’s prophets stood strong when Jerusalem was about to be leveled by the Babylonians. The “day of the Lord” was drawing near.
- Enjoy Landon MacDonald’s brilliant presentation of Jeremiah in 9 Minutes
PROPHETS IN EXILE Ezekiel and Daniel were among those who survived. These two prophets were deported to Babylon (modern day Iraq) where they faced intense persecution for their faith.
- Daniel saw a vision of the Son of Man ascending to receive an everlasting kingdom (Daniel 7). Watch the Bible Project’s excellent explanation of the title, “Son of Man.”
EZRA, NEHEMIAH, LATER PROPHETS After seventy years in exile, the Lord graciously invited the Jews back to their land to prepare for the coming of the Messiah (which means “the Christ”).
- Watch the series on Ezekiel Unfiltered (GJ Wiese YouTube channel playlist)
INTERLUDE: TIME BETWEEN THE TESTAMENTS A lot happened in the 400 years between the Old and the New Testaments! Empires rose and fell, and Judaism emerged with several religious sects.
- To learn more about the so-called “lost gospels” of Gnosticism, check out Dr. Darrell Bock’s easy-to-understand summary
THE GOSPEL All four gospels accentuate how much Jesus’ remarkable life was deeply embedded in Israel’s history. In fact, Jesus and his disciples were all Jewish! Jesus is indeed the King, Israel’s long-awaited Messiah. In many ways, Jesus is like a “new Moses”: he is tempted in a desert for forty days; he gathers a small entourage of twelve disciples; he clarifies the true meaning of God’s laws; and he leads his people to the promised land of eternal life!
Jesus also came to usher in “the kingdom of God” so that we may live in it—that is, that we may live under God’s reign now and forevermore! We understand the coming of God’s kingdom as manifesting in two stages: 1) when Jesus came to die for our sin, and 2) in the future when Jesus returns with power and glory. So, we must train our heart and mind to think of the kingdom of God as “now but not yet” fully realized.
- Who was Jesus? What was he all about? What are the three things NT Wright points out?
- NT Wright also offers a fabulous (but lengthy) presentation about the kingdom of God
Eventually, the Jewish leaders handed Jesus over to the Roman authorities to be crucified on a cross—a slow, horrible death typically reserved for criminals. For mere mortals, death is the end of the story. But not for Jesus! He rose from the dead! Death could not hold him! If Jesus had remained dead, he would have been like every other human being. His resurrection proves that he is indeed the Son of God—and we need no longer fear death. Jesus has triumphed over it. Now that’s good news!
- How does Jesus address evil and suffering?
- Why are conspiracy theories about Jesus’s resurrection untenable?
ACTS & JAMES After Christ had risen from the dead, he taught for forty days and then ascended to heaven. Days later, he sent the Holy Spirit to continue his work on earth. This means that Jesus’ earthly ministry continues to this day, through his people in whom he dwells by the Spirit. Jesus’s disciples begin to explain the significance of his mission so Christians can understand what life in Christ is all about. These New Testament letters bring clarity and practicality to our faith journey.
- Examine the parallels between the book of James and Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount
PAUL’S EARLY EPISTLES Out of the 27 books in the New Testament, the apostle Paul wrote thirteen. In the epistles, we learn how Christians live in response to Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
- Engage in this two-part discovery about yourself
ROMANS It is remarkable that the early church grew amidst great suffering and persecution—including martyrdom. Jesus’ disciples not only preached the gospel to unbelievers; they deeply cared for the church.
- Take in Prayer and the Present Dilemma and let it inspire you to pray
PAUL’S PRISON EPISTLES Although we all have much to be grateful for, stress and busyness often drains us of peace and direction. Facing adverse circumstances themselves, Jesus’ disciples encourage us to find lasting joy and contentment in Christ. Through each life stage, God is ever faithful. He never abandons us and never gives up on us. Jesus helps us through his Spirit, strengthening, guiding, and transforming us into his likeness. The epistles call us to love well and live well in him knowing that Jesus is Lord of all.
- What was it like to live in Ephesus during the time of Paul? Encounter the fascinating archaeological evidence that’s available to us!
PAUL’S PASTORAL EPISTLES, 1-2 PETER, JUDE, HEBREWS, 1-3 JOHN After Paul was released from prison, he wrote the Pastoral Epistles to help leaders become transformational leaders– leaders (and workers) who are continually growing in God’s grace and leading others to do the same. Peter and Jude focus on the need to be faithful to Christ especially when faced with persecution.
- Tackle one or both of the following challenging topics: understanding Hebrews and/or Persecution 101 (GJ Wiese YouTube channel playlist)
REVELATION Isaiah foretold of a day when God would create an eternal new heavenly earth for us. Hundreds of years later, the risen Christ showed a vision of this new world to the apostle John.
The book of Revelation is the last book of the Bible. Revelation means “apocalypse” which infers an unveiling of something not yet fully known. Though it often uses symbolic language, Revelation promises a world where pain, tears, sin, and death will no longer exist. There is hope beyond our momentary trials and struggles. We look forward to the day when Jesus returns to earth in all his glory to resurrect our bodies and usher in his eternal kingdom!
- Ponder some scholarly insights into the book of Revelation: Dr. Richard Bauckham and Dr. Ben Witherington, Dr. Craig Keener, and Dr. Paul Gardner