Overview of the Bible – Step #4


Memorizing the Story of the Bible


Introduction

We come now to Step #4 in our Overview of the Bible course. This is perhaps the most important (and most difficult) step of the course.

In this step we begin to memorize a 15-20 minute narrative of the entire Bible story.

If you have completed Step #3 of our overview of the Bible course, the memorization of the Bible story chapters, then this task should be a little easier.

Some Hints Before You Begin

The following advice will be useful as you begin to memorize the story of the Bible:

  • Take your time and be patient with yourself. This is the foundational piece of the whole Bible course. Get this, and you’ll hit the jackpot.
  • Try to learn the narrative more or less as it appears in the text below. Each chapter contains many important details.
  • Think of the chapter headings to prompt you for the next part of the story
  • Pay attention to the transitions. Quite often, they provide a clue as to the next chapter of the Bible story
  • Recite this story to another person when you have built up enough knowledge. Your recitation of it will cement it further into your mind.
  • Have fun!

You have my word that if you put in a good effort, you will be able to recite this biblical narrative in exactly the same way you are reading it now. (And when you do finally recite it correctly, please write to let me know. It’s an important milestone!!)

NOTE: Click on the link below to experience an audio / video version of this story:

Chapter 1 — Creation

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and he created human beings in his image.

God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and to multiply and to have dominion over the earth. But before they could carry out God’s commands they sinned in disobedience to God’s word.

Because of the disobedience of one man, sin entered the world: both humanity and all of creation fell under God’s judgment and curse.

Transition—From this point forward, God set in motion a plan to redeem both humanity and the world from the curse of sin. It is this plan, the history of salvation, which is the content for the rest of the Bible.

Chapter 2 — Patriarchs

God chose a man, Abraham, by whom his plan to redeem humanity and creation would begin its fulfillment.

God made a covenant with Abraham and promised him many things:

God promised to make Abraham into a great nation; God promised to give Abraham a land as an inheritance; and finally God promised that all of the families of the earth would be blessed through Abraham.

The rest of the Old Testament is a direct fulfillment of God’s first two promises to Abraham, “I will make you a great nation and I will give you a land as an inheritance.”

The entire New Testament is the fulfillment of God’s final promise to Abraham because through Jesus Christ all of the families of the earth are blessed.

Transition—Abraham had a son, Isaac, Isaac had a son Jacob and Jacob had a son Joseph. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and became part of Pharaoh’s household in Egypt. Over time, he became second in command to Pharaoh. Because of Joseph the people of God came to settle in Egypt.

Chapter 3 — Exodus

Soon, a new Pharaoh ruled over Egypt and the people of God became slaves. They cried out to God for salvation, and the Lord raised up a leader for his people, Moses.

Through Moses, God delivered his people from slavery in Egypt and he brought them to the foot of Mount Sinai.

At Mount Sinai God gave his people commandments by which to live, a constitution if you will.

At Mount Sinai the people of God became the nation of God. So began to be fulfilled one of the promises, which God had made to Abraham, which was, “I will make you a great nation.”

The nation of Israel traveled to the foot of the Promised Land, but because of a lack of faith, they refused to enter, thinking that they were too small to confront the inhabitants of the land. “We are like grasshoppers!” they cried.

But Joshua and Caleb exhorted the people saying, “God will give us this land!” Alas, God judged the nation, which had come out of Egypt for their lack of faith, and he made them wander in the desert for forty years. He did this so that every male who was twenty years or older who had come out of Egypt would perish in the desert except for Caleb, Joshua and Moses.

Transition—After forty years, the nation of Israel came to the foot of the Promised Land once again. Because this was a new generation, they renewed their covenant with God, which he had earlier made with them at Mount Sinai.

Chapter 4 — Conquest

With Joshua as the commander of the Lord’s army, Israel entered the Promised Land and defeated the kings and the peoples of Canaan.

They divided the land of Canaan (and portions to the East) among the twelve tribes of Israel and began to live in the land, which the Lord had given them.

This then was the second promise to Abraham which the Lord fulfilled saying, “I will give you a land as your inheritance.” We will see that throughout Israel’s history in the Old Testament, the land is an important element in their covenant with God.

Transition—One generation after Joshua’s death, the people of God fell into sin by committing great acts of idolatry.

Chapter 5 — Period of Judges

Thus began a cycle of sin, judgment and peace, which continually plagued the nation of Israel throughout the time of the judges.

First the nation would commit great acts of idolatry. God would send a foreign nation to punish his people. The people of God would repent and cry out for mercy. God would send a judge to liberate his people. The people of God would enjoy a time of purity, peace and prosperity until the death of the judge.

After the death of their judge, Israel would once again fall into idolatry and begin the vicious cycle once more. The Book of Judges records this repetitive cycle of sin numerous times.

Transition—Samuel the prophet was born. Samuel was the last of the judges of Israel and as such is the connecting link between the period of the judges and the period of the Israelite kingdom. It is Samuel who anoints the first king of Israel.

Chapter 6 — United Kingdom

The people of God began to clamor to the Lord for a king to be placed over them. Their desire was to be like the other nations around them.

God permitted this request saying to Samuel, “They have rejected me as their king.”

God chose Saul as their first king to rule over them. Afterward, he chose David to rule over his people followed by Solomon who built a magnificent temple for the Lord. Saul, David and Solomon, ruled over the united kingdom in Israel.

Transition—Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord when he took foreign wives to himself. These wives turned Solomon’s heart away from God. It has been said that a divided heart will lead to a divided nation.

Chapter 7 — Divided Kingdom

After Solomon’s death, the kingdom of Israel split into two kingdoms.

In the northern kingdom, called Israel, there were ten (10) tribes. In the southern kingdom, called Judah, there were only two (2) tribes, Benjamin and Judah.

Of the twenty (20) kings who reigned in the northern kingdom, twenty (20) did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Of the twenty 20 kings who reigned in the southern kingdom, twelve (12) did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.

Transition—During the period of the divided kingdom, the prophets of God began to appear, begging the two nations to repent of their wicked ways, to return to their covenant with God and to avoid the judgment of God that was awaiting them.

Chapter 8 — Exile

Alas, neither kingdom would heed the voice of the prophets.

Thus in 722 BC, God sent the Kingdom of Assyria to wipe out the northern kingdom and to take the inhabitants into exile.

Because of God’s love for David, he allowed the southern kingdom to last for a while longer; however in 586 BC the Kingdom of Babylon overran Jerusalem and took the inhabitants of the southern kingdom captive into Babylonia.

Daniel, of the lion’s den fame, was one of the inhabitants who was carried away into captivity.

The nation of Israel wept bitterly when they reflected on their tragic misfortune. Their sin had come back to judge them and instead of living in the promised land they had been carried away into exile, to foreign lands, as slaves for another kingdom.

Transition—God had mercy on his people and placed a limit on their time in exile.

Chapter 9 — Return from Exile

After seventy (70) years of captivity, God brought his people back from exile.

Zerubbabel, Nehemiah and Ezra lead different groups of captives back to Jerusalem in order to help rebuild the temple, rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and reestablish the worship service and festivals of the nation of Israel.

God continued to warn his people to avoid the sins and the idolatry that had previously lead to their destruction.

Chapter 10 — Silence and Transition

After the exile, the nation of Israel continued to serve God even though it eventually came under Greek rule and then Roman domination.

During this period Israel also continued to write books about their history, but none of these books were accepted into the Protestant Bible as inspired by God.

The orderly society of the Roman Empire (known as the pax Romana), the system of roads for Rome’s armies and the Greek language (in which the New Testament was written) all paved the way for the advancement of the gospel.

Transition—When Jesus was finally born, the tiny state of Israel was a non-essential piece of land in a vast Roman Empire. God had not spoken to his people in 425 years; no prophets had been sent to Israel until John the Baptist appeared, announcing the coming Messiah.

Chapter 11 — Jesus Christ

Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem as the long awaited Jewish Messiah.

He grew up in Galilee and ministered in the surrounding Galilean countryside for three years.

At age 33 he was crucified in Jerusalem, buried in a borrowed tomb, and after three days he rose again.

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ stands as the most important act of history for it means that all of humanity and creation can now be redeemed and made right with God once again.

By faith in Christ, all men are now invited into God’s presence. Those who believe in Jesus have eternal life, but those who do not believe in Jesus are condemned forever.

Transition—After his resurrection, Jesus gave his disciples the Great Commission: Go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Chapter 12 — Christian Church

On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples of Jesus Christ and the Christian church was born.

Responding to the Great Commission, the church in Jerusalem began to preach the good news that Jesus Christ came to save first the Jews and then the Gentiles.

The church also began to spread out and plant other churches throughout the Roman Empire. The Book of Acts singles out Peter and Paul as notable missionaries to Jews and Gentiles, respectively.

It is during this period that the recollections of the life of Jesus Christ were written down into various “gospels” and that various apostles and disciples of Jesus wrote letters to churches and individuals in order to instruct them about life and faith in Jesus Christ. These were eventually gathered to become the New Testament.

Transition—Every church that exists today is the result of the mission of that first church in Jerusalem. Currently, the Christian church continues to carry out God’s mandate to make disciples of all nations. This means that we too play an important part in God’s salvation history, albeit, nearing the end of that story.

Chapter 13 — Return of Jesus

Jesus Christ has promised to come again to gather up all those who belong to him.

When he comes he will judge all of humanity, some to everlasting life, others to everlasting punishment.

God will recreate the heavens and the earth and those who have placed their faith in God’s Son, will live together with the triune God and his angels forever in a new heavens and a new earth.

The history of salvation will have been completed from man’s fall in the garden, through the creation of the nation of Israel to the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who ultimately redeems all of mankind and the world.

Congratulations! You have just completed the one, unified and continuous narrative that is told throughout the Bible.

Give yourself a cold one (a Häagen-Dazs ice cream, that is!) 🙂

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