Bible 100 Lenten Edition Summary 5
This Lent we are learning the Bible, Bible 100 style. In other words, we’re developing an overview of the entire collection of 66 books. Here’s a summary of what we covered this week. If any of this sparks your curiosity, I hope you will watch the short videos I recorded through Facebook Live. Of course, you can always turn to the Bible to learn even more!
- Biblical prophecy is not fortune telling or future forecasting as much as it is a call for present change.
- The “major prophets” are the longer books. The “minor prophets” are the shorter books. For example, Isaiah has 66 chapters while Obadiah is only twenty-one verses.
- Incidentally, there were no chapter OR verse numbers when the Bible was originally compiled. The chapter delineations were decided on in the 13th century CE (or AD, if you prefer). The verses were numbered for the first time in the mid-1500’s.
- During Isaiah’s time, Assyria attacked the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Isaiah often refers to the Northern Kingdom of Israel as Ephraim, the strongest tribe of the 10 tribes. Ephraim was one of Jacob’s grandsons, a son of Joseph (and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat). Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph in Genesis 48. Ephraim is where Bethel is located, one of the places where King Jeroboam set up a Golden Calf. (Lesson #18).
- Isaiah’s prophecy has to come true in his own historical framework because Moses said that the words of a prophet must be tested. (Deuteronomy 18)
- Isaiah prophesied that a “young woman” would bear a son named Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14) This prophecy was fulfilled in Isaiah’s time, but in the Gospel of Matthew it is understood to have foreshadowed an even later prophecy, the birth of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 1:20-23)
- Scholars tell us that Isaiah is probably a composite, written over several hundred years, probably in 3 or 4 stages, but we are meant to read it together.
- Isaiah is where we see monotheism established. In the books before Isaiah there is an understanding that our God is the supreme God. In Isaiah we begin to understand that our God is the only God.
- In Isaiah 49:6 and 49:22, God says the Jews are instrumental in bringing salvation (restoration of the relationship between God and humanity) to the world.
- Jeremiah lived in the North, after the time of the Assyrians. Jeremiah lived during the reign of King Josiah who was only a child when he became king, but nonetheless instituted a lot of religious reforms. We read about King Josiah’s 30+ year reign in 2 Kings 22-23 and 2 Chronicles 33-35.
- Jeremiah lived during the fall and destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar. (See e.g., Jeremiah 32:28)
- Jeremiah is 52 chapters long, which qualifies it as a book of “Major Prophecy.” The next book is Lamentations. It’s only 5 chapters, but it is included with the Major Prophets because Jeremiah wrote it.
- Lamentations is a collection of 5 poems that lament the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.
- Ezekiel lived in the southern kingdom of Judah. He was taken as one of the Babylonian captives during 597BCE(the first group the Babylonians deported). He was removed from Jerusalem before the destruction of the Temple in 586BCE. The book with his name recounts his prophecies from 593 to 573.
- Ezekiel doesn’t just hear God, he receives visions from God. (Ezekiel 1:1)
- Ezekiel doesn’t deliver his prophecies only with words, but he also draws pictures and acts things out. (Ezekiel 4:1-6,15)
- Ezekiel 37 is where we get the valley of dry bones. In a supernatural, paranormal experience, God transports Ezekiel into “the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.” God tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones. He does, and God restores them to life. God tells Ezekiel that Israel is like the dry bones.
- By the end, Ezekiel has a vision that Israel is restored. He spends about 8 chapters laying out a plan for a rebuilt/restored Temple. The book of Ezekiel ends saying the “name of the city [the restored Jerusalem] shall be The Lord is There.” (Ezekiel 48:35)
- Daniel, like Ezekiel, was taken in that first wave of captives. Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams for him, winning favor.
- Fiery Furnace: Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were also taken as captives from Israel when Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered the former Assyrian territories. You may know them by their Babylonian names, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. (Daniel 1:7) Nebuchadnezzar creates a huge statue of himself and tells everyone to worship at it. Daniel’s friends, faithful to the one true God, refuse. Nebuchadnezzar has them thrown into a fiery furnace, but they are joined by an angel and not harmed. Nebuchadnezzar praises God. (Daniel 3-4)
- Lions Den: In chapter 6, Daniel is thrown into a den of lions for violating a law prohibiting prayer to anyone except King Darius. The king doesn’t want to punish Daniel, but politically he has no choice. He says to Daniel, “May your God, whom you faithfully serve, deliver you!” (Daniel 6:16) The next morning, Daniel is unharmed. Daniel says, “My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless.” (Daniel 6:22) The king ordered that Daniel’s accusers be thrown into the den of lions. Before they reached the bottom of the den the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.” (Daniel 6:23-24)
- Handwriting on the Wall: Between the Fiery Furnace and the Lions’ Den we have a story about “reading the handwriting on the wall.” King Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s son, used “the vessels of gold and silver that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem” as dishes at a party. (Daniel 5:3) “Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and began writing on the plaster of the wall of the royal palace, next to the lampstand.” The king “turned pale, and his thoughts terrified him. His limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together.” (Daniel 5:5-6) Daniel was called in to interpret the writing on the wall. It says “God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end.” (Daniel 5:26)
- King Darius takes over and he’s the one who is forced to throw Daniel into the Lions’ den.
- Daniel ends with five chapters of apocalyptic visions. In chapter 12, the last chapter, Daniel offers us the Bible’s first clear reference to a resurrection, final judgment, and afterlife. Daniel ends with an angel of the Lord telling Daniel, “you shall rise for your reward at the end of the days.” (Daniel 12:13)
- The Minor Prophets overlap each other; they are not sequential.
- Altogether, these 12 books have 67 chapters. (Compare this with Isaiah alone which has 66.)
- Hosea is the longest of the 12. It has 14 chapters (which is more chapters than Daniel), but some of Hosea’s chapters are quite short.
- Hosea: Prophesies before the Assyrians invade and conquer the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He lives during the time of King Jeroboam, king of the North immediately after Solomon. Hosea comes in at the end of Jeroboam’s reign, but before Sennacherib comes through.
- God tells Hosea to marry a prostitute as a metaphor for the unfaithfulness of Israel. Hosea’s children are named God Sows, Not Loved Not Pitied, and Not My People.
- Hosea warns that God is not pleased with Israel’s betrayal and abandonment. He lists Israel’s offenses and they include a lack of “faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land. Swearing, lying, and murder, and stealing and adultery break out; bloodshed follows bloodshed.” (Hosea 4:2) It’s so bad that “the land mourns, and all who live in it languish; together with the wild animals and the birds of the air, even the fish of the sea are perishing.” (Hosea 4:3) God, through Hosea, blames the religious leaders.
- God says he will heal the disloyalty of Israel, “I will love them freely” he says, “for my anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily.” (Hosea 14:4)
- Amos calls us to consider true justice, social justice. Amos begins as the book before it, Joel, ends:
Joel 3:16 – “The Lord roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and earth shake.”
Amos 1:2 – “The Lord roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds wither and the top of Carmel dried up.”
- Obadiah, the fourth book of “minor” prophecy, is the shortest book in the Old Testament. Obadiah is one of only five books that is only a single chapter long, but the other 4 are all in the New Testament (2 John, 3 John, Philemon, & Jude).
- Obadiah’s writings mainly concern the people outside of Israel, the people of Edom. This takes us back to Lesson #6. Jacob’s twin brother was Esau, ancestor of the Edomites.
- Obadiah lived in the southern kingdom of Judah. The northern kingdom, Israel, had already been destroyed 150 years earlier. Obadiah lives in Jerusalem when the Babylonians attack. The Psalmist tells us Edom wanted Jerusalem destroyed, razed “to its very foundation.” (Psalm 137:7) Obadiah tells us that’s Jerusalem has been destroyed, but the Edomites will get theirs too.
- Jonah is about a prophet refusing to do what God has called him to do, and then being forced to make a prophecy that doesn’t even come true. Of course, there’s also a whale in there. In the book of Nahum we find that Nineveh is destroyed as Jonah prophesied, but Jonah was long gone by then.
- Malachi, rhymes with “I like that guy.” Malachi is only four chapters long. In chapter 3:1, God says, “Look, I will send my messenger who will prepare the way before me, before God. The Lord you are seeking will come to the temple. The messenger who you desire will come.” We end the Hebrew Scriptures waiting for the Lord to come.
The New Testament is comprised of seven sections.
- Gospels (4)
- Letters (9) from Paul to churches, organized by length from longest to shortest and named for the recipient.
- Letters (4) from Paul to individuals, organized by length from longest to shortest and named for the recipient.
- Hebrews (unknown author)
- Letters (7) by other people. Named for the author, not the recipient.
Matthew begins with a genealogy of Jesus. (Matthew 1:1-16) Once we know the stories of the Old Testament, reading this genealogy is like turning the pages of a family scrapbook.
- To read about the life, earthly ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus, read the Gospels.
- Jesus’ earthly ministry had three elements—teaching (often using parables), preaching and healing.
- A disciple is one who follows an apostle is one who is appointed or sent. Jesus appointed 12 disciples to be men apostles. (Matthew 10:1-4, Mark 3:13-19, and Luke 6:12-16)
- We know from the gospel of John that Jesus’ public ministry lasted for about three years because Jesus participates in three Passovers. (John 2:13, 6:4, 13:1)
The Pilgrimage Festivals:
- Passover. In Exodus 12 the 10th plague caused the death of the firstborn children in Egypt. The Israelites painted the blood of a lamb on their door so that death would pass over their homes and spare the life of their first born. Christians connect Passover to Easter. The last supper that Jesus had with his disciples was a Passover meal. Jesus is then crucified, died, and buried and on the third day he rose again.
- Pentecost. 50 days after Passover, it commemorates Moses receiving the law at Sinai. For Christians today, Pentecost remembers the Holy Spirit being sent.
- Tabernacles commemorates the 40 years the Israelites spent in the wilderness with Moses.
- Gospel, from the word Godspell which is from the word evanggelion, refers to the good news of the entire Christian message. It also refers to the first four books of the New Testament.
- Each Gospel is written in Greek, by a different person, for a different audience, with a different purpose, but the Gospels all tell us about the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- Only Matthew and John were apostles of Jesus.
The Gospel of Matthew
- Written for a Jewish audience. He connects Jesus to the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants as well as the Jewish Messianic prophecies.
- The only two times Jesus talks about “the church” are in Matthew 16:17-19 and Matthew 18:15-20.
- The Golden Rule is found in Matthew 7:12.
- In Matthew, Jesus dies as the Messiah of Israel. He has fulfilled prophecies establishing that he is the one to save his people from their sin.
The Gospel of Mark
- Written for a gentile (non-Jewish) audience.
- Mark has been called “Peter’s interpreter,” referring to the Apostle Peter.
- Mark’s Gospel is fast-paced and often uses the phrase “and immediately.”
- In Mark, Jesus gives his life as a ransom for many, demonstrating how we should each live in a sacrificial way.
The Gospel of Luke
- The longest book in the New Testament, is written for an audience of Greek gentiles. Luke was a Christian convert probably twenty years after the crucifixion.
- The theme of Luke’s Gospel is summed up in Luke 19:9-10 when Jesus says to Zacchaeus: “Today salvation has come to this house … [f]or the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”
- In Luke, Jesus dies as a noble martyr, a victim of injustice who will overcome death in a way that foreshadows the end of all oppression.
The Gospel of John
- Written for an audience of early Christians. This Gospel was written last.
- Jesus is simultaneously the Logos Word of God, and human. Jesus gets tired in John 4, thirsty in John 19 and weeps in grief in John 11.
- The word “love” appears over 50 times in the Gospel of John.
- In John, Jesus dies triumphantly as one who is glorified and exalted in the ultimate expression of God’s love.
Want to sum up this week’s lessons in just a handful of verses? Try these:
- Isaiah 49:6, 22 (Israel is a light to the world.))
- Malachi 3:1 (Waiting for Messiah)
- Luke 2:8-16 (Jesus is born)
- John 14:6-7 (Jesus is the way)
- Mark 15:37-39 (Jesus dies)
- Luke 24:5-7 (Jesus is risen)
- Luke 24:50-51 (Jesus ascends to heaven)