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What is the Old Testament all about? [Part 4]

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Episode Synopsis

What brought about Israel’s division and God’s ultimate judgment upon His people? This episode helps us understand the Bible from Solomon to the birth of Christ.

Audio Transcript

Jani Ortlund: Hello, everyone. Thank you for listening in on this discipleship series. Here we are in May, I can’t believe how quickly the year has gone. You will want to think in your group how many more weeks you want to meet together. There’ll be three or four more lessons on discipleship throughout the month of May, so talk together about what dates you want to meet and when you want to have your final meeting.


Old Testament Timeline

Also, leaders, please make copies of our Old Testament timeline for your group members. If they don’t have them from last week. This is something that I recommend you keep folded in your Bible as you’re reading through the Old Testament. So you can look and see where a certain book fits into the Old Testament timeline. To whom was it written and why was it written that will help us as we read through the Bible. So make sure to have copies of the Old Testament timeline. You can find those in Episode 135, from last December 15, 2021. That episode is entitled, what the Old Testament is all about, and you’ll really want to have a copy of that in front of us I teach today.

Free Download: “Old Testament Timeline” (PDF)

From Abraham to Jesus, this timeline will help you see the history of Israel in the years before the Messiah.

Weekly Calendar

Now, if you plan to continue using weekly calendars to pray for one another, you’ll also want to make copies of those as well.

Free Download: “My Weekly Schedule” (PDF)

Download and fill out your "Weekly Schedule" as a new way to pray for one another in your group!

Teaching for Today: Old Testament Survey [Part 4]

We’re going to begin our meeting this week with our teaching. In our last episode, we looked at the United Monarchy. As we’re learning what the Old Testament is all about, this is our final lesson on it—our “Part 4” of that. Today, we will finish up our overview of the Old Testament. Please keep this timeline with you; as I said before, maybe even in your Bible as you finish reading the Old Testament over the summer. It will help you stay focused and ask the right questions as you’re reading.

I and II Kings

Before we go on to talk about the divided monarchy—you can see that on your timeline; last week we were in the United monarchy—but before we do that, I want to give you just a few words about First and Second Kings, which many of you have already read through possibly some of you are finishing up right now. The author of First and Second Kings is not trying to provide a connected account of the histories of the states of Judah and Israel. You’ll probably notice the author of First and Second Kings refers us to what he calls the “diaries” if we want to know more. Some of Israel’s kings did great things from the point of view of a secular historian, but the writer of Kings passes over these.

The author of First and Second Kings is writing a theological and editorial history. He’s trying to show the readers that God is sovereignly ruling over Israel and Judah’s history. He’s showing them that judgment came upon Israel and Judah because the king failed to be a true servant, and the people failed to keep the Mosaic law. And then finally, the author of first and second Kings is trying to show the reader that God’s grace delayed judgment because of the relative good of a few individual kings.

The Divided Monarchy

Now, we come to this very sad section of the Bible of the divided monarchy. This is when the nation of Israel is divided into two kingdoms. The northern kingdom is called Israel. Jeroboam is crowned the king Jeroboam was a servant of Solomon (I Kings 11:26-41). The Southern Kingdom is called Judah, and Rehoboam is crowned king (1 Kings 12:1-19). Rehoboam was Solomon’s son, and he refused to be meek and humble and put God first.

Israel Sins—Jeroboam is crowned king

Let’s all turn in our Bibles to I Kings 12:20. Listen as I read,

“And when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. There was none that followed the house of David but the tribe of Judah only.”

I Kings 12:20

How sad. Jeroboam is crowned king. They chose to worship golden calves. Because Jeroboam was afraid he would lose the people if they went to worship at the temple in Jerusalem. Look now as your Bibles are open to I Kings 12:27-28. Leaders, why don’t you pause the podcast and have someone in your group read I Kings 12:27-28.

If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the Lord at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.” So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”

Now, we see how the focus is drawn to Samaria. These are called the sins of Jeroboam.

Let’s turn over just a few pages in our Bible to I Kings 14:14-16:

“Moreover, the Lord will raise up for himself a king over Israel who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam today. And henceforth, the Lord will strike Israel as a reed is shaken in the water, and root up Israel out of this good land that he gave to their fathers and scatter them beyond the Euphrates,[a] because they have made their Asherim, provoking the Lord to anger. And he will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he sinned and made Israel to sin.”

I Kings 14:14-16

These are called the sins of Jeroboam.

Judah Sins

Now, Judah also sins, not just Israel. Turn the page in your Bible to 1 Kings 14:22-24. Listen to what happens in the southern kingdom, in Judah:

“And Judah did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins that they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. For they also built for themselves high places and pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, and there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations that the Lord drove out before the people of Israel.”

1 Kings 14:22-24

Oh my.

Israel in Captivity. Judah is alone.

Well, we come now to the period of time when the northern kingdom (Israel) is taken captive, and Judah—you will see on your Old Testament timeline—Judah is alone. Assyria menaces the northern kingdom for about 21 years from 743 BC until it falls in 722 BC.

King Hezekiah

Assyria also invades the southern kingdom of Judah and Benjamin. They’re invaded in 720 and 711 and again in 701. But 701 BC marks a major catastrophe in Judah. We see this in 2 Kings 18:5-6. Judah’s greatest king, Hezekiah, is on the throne, and in these two chapters in 2 Kings 18 and 19 Sennacherib is threatening Jerusalem. Look at chapter 19, verses 32 through 35. In the middle of the night 185,000 are slaughtered. Listen, as I read II Kings 19:32-35:

Therefore, Thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, he shall not come into this city, he’s speaking of Jerusalem, or shoot an arrow there or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it, by the way that he came, by the same, he shall return, and he shall not come into the city to Claire’s the Lord. For I will defend the city to save it for my own sake, and for the sake of my servant, David. And that night, the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.

II Kings 19:32-35

Oh my goodness, 185,000 slaughtered by the angel of the Lord in the middle of the night. This is one of the greatest miracles of the Bible, and it’s supported by extra-biblical evidence in Herodotus.

Hezekiah’s son, however, Manasseh succeeds him, and he was really bad for 47 years. It gets so bad that the opportunity for forgiveness passes. Look at II Kings 21:2-6, and this tells the sad story of Manasseh:

And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. 3 For he rebuilt the high places that Hezekiah his father had destroyed, and he erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah, as Ahab king of Israel had done, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. 4 And he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem will I put my name.” 5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. 6 And he burned his son as an offering[a] and used fortune-telling and omens and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger.

Oh my…Manasseh filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, including burning his own son in the fire. God is just and he will not overlook sin forever.

King Josiah

Josiah becomes the last good king of Judah. It may be because of the preaching of His cousin Zephaniah. Assyria begins to decline in these days and in 609 BC, Assyria is wiped out by Babylonia.

Judah in Exile

Now on your timeline, look at that period of time where it says “Judah in Exile.” The Southern Kingdom is now taken over by Babylon, and there are three separate deportations. One of them is in Daniel 1:1-6. Nebuchadnezzar overpowers Jerusalem, and he takes choice hostages in 605 BC. Daniel is one of them. Then there’s a second deportation in 598 BC. We see this in Ezekiel 1, and II Kings 24.

Finally, in the last chapter of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 52:1-16, we see the final deportation. We read in Jeremiah 52:3,

“For because of the anger of the Lord it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that he cast them out from his presence.”

Jeremiah 52:3

Oh, the temple was destroyed, and all the great houses and the walls of Jerusalem were torn down, and the rest of the people were carried away. This is 586 BC (you can see it on your timeline). They were carried to Babylon. The Southern Kingdom is destroyed, and the people are exiled for 70 years.

The Restoration

In 539, BC, Cyrus, who was a Persian king, he gave a decree for the Jews to be released of all things. Ezra is our main source for this, and we learn that in 538 BC, there was the first return of some Jews to the promised land, and in 520 BC they began rebuilding the temple. In 516, the temple was rebuilt, never to its former glory, though. In 458 BC, revival came under Ezra, you see that on your chart. See where Ezra is there, it’s under “Judah in Exile” but it’s beginning to be the restoration. And then in 444 BC, there’s a great revival during the time of Nehemiah, you’ll read that.

The restoration of Israel is always under pagan rule. Judaism is now a religion, not a nation. First and Second Chronicles, which some of you are reading right now, review the history of Israel, to show the post-exilic community. It’s written in the 400s showing them its link with the past, and to inspire them to carry on the program. Well, this message was very well received; it was so well received, that they became very separistic. and in Jesus’ days, they were known as the Pharisees.

So we have this 400 years of silence, you’ll see between the Restoration of some of the Israelites to Israel, and the Pharisees developing, and then Christ’s birth, which you see there, at the end of your Old Testament timeline.

Now, let me advise you this: when you’re reading the Old Testament, when you come to a book, ask yourself—look up in a Bible Commentary—1) “When was this book written?” We’ll look on our timeline; I’ve tried to list as many of the books of the Old Testament as we could fit in here. When was this book written? “To whom was it written?” Was it pre-exile or post exile? Then ask yourself as you read this book, “What can I learn about God?” and, “How can I apply this to my life.”

This brings us to the conclusion of our Old Testament survey. I hope that you found this helpful as you read through the Old Testament.

Wrapping Up

Leaders, I’d like you now to stop the podcast and go over your assignment from last week, see how your group is doing. And then take a break and come back on.

Now leaders, I’d like you to have another member share from her biography.

Finally, in your time together, make sure you incorporate sharing and prayer. Leaders, you know how to lead your group in this right now, I’m not going to give you specific instructions, you just go ahead and lead the ladies that God has brought to you. And then I want you to give your group and appropriate assignment make sure to include the spiritual discipline you all have been developing through the year together, of reading the Bible, having a quiet time praying for each other meditating, memorizing Scripture. And then leaders close your group after you’re sharing and prayer and giving the assignment by singing or saying over each other the Aaronic blessing from Numbers 6:24-26. And may the Lord, our Mighty God, bless you and keep you all as he restores your soul.

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. This podcast is generously funded through Renewal Ministries. If you would like to discover more about Jani and Ray’s ministry or make a donation, visit their website at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

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About The Podcast

He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

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