Ezra 1-12
Haggai 1-2
Zechariah 1-14
Nehemiah 1-13
Malachi 1-4
Psalm 85, 107, 126, 147


539-430 BC


Key Concepts (How to Read)

1.     Return from Exile but some Diaspora still
2.     Rebuilding
3.     Temple without God’s Presence
4.     David’s heir without a throne
5.     Exile over but restoration incomplete – Day of the Lord still coming


Key Sections (What it says)

539 – Cyrus the Great releases the Jews
520 – Haggai and Zechariah
516 – 2nd Temple Complete
486-465 (date uncertain) – Esther
458 – Ezra returns with more exiles
??? – Malachi?
445 – Nehemiah comes to Jerusalem for the first time
circa 433 – Nehemiah comes to Jerusalem for the second time

Ezra gives broad strokes of story – Read Ezra first!

Cyrus the Great – the Lord’s anointed – Isaiah 45:1

Zerubbabel: grandson of king Jehoiachin – Zechariah 4, Haggai 2:20-23

Joshua: the high priest – Zechariah 3

Ezra gives context for Haggai and Zechariah (Ezra 5)
Haggai 1
Zechariah 3:8, 4
Zechariah 9

Constant conflict with other peoples, persecutions in the land

Erza 6 – temple finished, Passover celebrated

Story of Esther – Diaspora Jews.  Why didn’t they return home?  Entire conflict of story revolves around Mordecai’s presence in Susa instead of Jerusalem. 

Esther is the only book of the Bible that never mentions or alludes to God.  Is this God using the unfaithful Jews for his purposes?

Ezra’s return, coinciding with intermarriage issues between the Jews and other peoples of the land (Ezra 9-10)

Nehemiah’s return (another Diaspora Jew), focus on rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 8 – Ezra and Nehemiah read the law to the people

Restoration of priesthood and levities, re-covenanting of people

Malachi – Day of the Lord, Elijah


Silent years (No Scripture) – 400 BC – 0 BC. 

What happens between Nehemiah and Jesus?  Some Highlights:

1.     Alexander the Great in 332 BC, overthrows the Persian Empire.  Alexander dies, his empire is divided into 4 quadrants; Jerusalem falls into the Seleucid Empire quadrant.
2.     Antiochus Epiphanies IV (175-164 BC), a Selecuid ruler, launches a religious persecution of the Jews.  Rebels lead by Judas Maccabeus retake the Temple, celebrating the first Hanukkah.  See 1 and 2 Maccabees
3.     Hasmonean Dynasty – 140-63 BC.  Descendants of the Maccabees.  Semi-autonomous from the Seleucids conquered by the Roman Republic in 63 BC.
4.     Herod the Great – from Edom, not a Jew.  Comes to power through support of Rome, 37-4 BC


Conversation: Discussion Questions

1.     Have you ever come home as an adult?  What was different when you did so?  What was still the same?

2.     Is the Jewish return from exile all that the people expected it would be?  In what ways might they have been disappointed with the return?

3.     Why is the rebuilding of the Temple so critical to Yahweh and to the Jews?

4.     How are the promises of God fulfilled in this season?  What are left unfulfilled?

5.     God is always faithful in his promises, but also seems to often leave key promises unfulfilled (at least longer than we would like).  Have you experienced this in your own life?

6.     God often uses non-believers (like Cyrus, and perhaps Esther) to accomplish his purposes.  Why is this?

If you have time, read the following passage: Malachi 4:1-6

7.     What does the prophet say about the Day of the Lord?  In what ways does this reference Jesus’ first coming?  His return?

8.     Who does Jesus say is the “Elijah who was to come” in the New Testament?  Hint – Matthew 11:14


Jeremiah 40-44, 52
Lamentations 1-5
Obadiah 1
Daniel 1-12
Ezekiel 1-24, 33-37, 40, 43, 47


586-539 BC

Key Concepts (How to Read)

      1.    Forging of Israel in exile and the end of Idolatry
      2.     Repentance and rescue
      3.     New model of faith – Israel as a people/faith but not a nation
      4.     Diaspora – new normal for the people that never changes
      5.     God still sovereign despite exile

Key Sections (What it says)


605 – First Exile (includes Daniel)
596 – Second Exile (includes Ezekiel)
586 – Final Exile and Destruction of the Temple and City of Jerusalem
539 – Cyrus the Great releases the Jews
516 – 2nd Temple Complete

2 Chronicles 36 (and 2 Kings 24-25) – 3 exiles.
“The remnant – 2 Chr 36:20”

Jeremiah 29:4-14
1-    prosperity of Babylon – new church/state relationship
2-    accept your condition for now – becomes a component of repentance – but linked to long term, unplanned diaspora.
3-    planned release-70 years
4-    False prophets
5-    God’s redemptive plan – the exile is a part of it

Jeremiah 31:31-34 - New covenant

Jeremiah remains behind after the final exile with the poorest of the poor.  Tragically, that non-exile remnant ignores the God's word through Jeremiah, travels to Egypt, and is lost.  See Jeremiah 42 and 43.

Lamentations is Jeremiah's lament over the fall of Jerusalem.

The tragedy of the exile is deeply felt.  See Psalm 137 for a perspective on the hearts of the exiles in Babylon.

Ezekiel, a prophet who serves in exile after the 596 deportation, has a vision of God's presence being removed from the Temple (Ezekiel 8) before the final events of 586.  After the last exile, Ezekiel has a new vision - of a future Temple where God's presence returns (Ezekiel 43).  Between, he has the famous vision of “the valley of dry bones” in Ezekiel 37 – a metaphor for the restoration of Israel.

Ezekiel and Jeremiah – challenges of prophetic ministry. 
-       Acting out the Word of God (Ezekiel 4:1-15, Jeremiah 27:2)
-       Personal suffering- (Ezekiel 24:15-24, Jeremiah 16:2, 38:6-13)

False Prophets – Jeremiah 28:10-17

Daniel, a prophet who serves in exile after the 605 deportation, serves under both Babylonian and Persian kings.  His ministry is a testimony to God's continued sovereignty over nations and rulers.  He also has a critical vision in Daniel 7 of "the son of man" - Jesus' self designation.

Obadiah – Judgment on Edom

The period of the Exile forms the Jews like nothing before; they begin to self-identify first as God's chosen people, and only second as a former nation-state.  This leads to dramatic changes in their relationship with God, mostly for the better.


Conversation: Discussion Questions

1.     Have you ever been in the minority in a group of people for an extended time?  The only person of your gender, race, class, faith, language, nationality, etc?  How did that experience impact you?

2.     The exile, while certainly terrible season of affliction for the Israelites, also forced them to make decisions about their identity in light of their new minority status.  Why might it have been easier to be faithful to God in Babylon than in Jerusalem? 

3.     Ezekiel has intense visions as part of his prophetic ministry, as well as some humiliating performances acting out God’s word.  His wife dies as a lesson to the Israelites and he is not allowed to shed tears.  Jeremiah suffers terribly, Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den, etc.  Why do you think the prophets meet with such incredible personal suffering?

4.     The purpose of Israel was that all nations on the earth might be blessed through them.  How does the exile advance this purpose?

5.     God places Daniel in an exalted political position within the nations of Babylon and Persia, where he works tirelessly for the benefit of the countries who have conquered his people.  Jeremiah instructs the exiles to “pray for the prosperity of the city” of Babylon.  In what ways are we called to pray and work for the prosperity of our nation, despite having a primarily allegiance to Christ?

If you have time, read the following passage: Daniel 7:1-14

6.     The four beasts represent four kingdoms – likely the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and Romans.  Who do the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man represent?

7.     Jesus calls himself the “son of man” in the New Testament.  He also quotes Daniel 7:14 to describe his future return to earth.  Why do you think this idea of a final kingdom to end other kingdoms so strongly resonates with Jesus’ self identity?



Next week we will conclude our class with the period of the second Temple.  See you then!


Kings (Southern Kingdom)

2 Chronicles 10-36
Isaiah 1-11, 29-32
Micah 1-7
Zephaniah 1-3
Jeremiah 1-7
Joel 1-3
Habakkuk 1-3
Nahum 1-3


930 – 586 BC


Key Concepts (How to Read)

1.     Cycles now rooted in Kings – power of a human king
2.     High Places – Compromise continues
3.     Tension between Spiritual and Political Authority
4.     Judgment (prophets) – delayed but coming – and our response
5.     Repentance
6.     Israel as curse instead of blessing

Key Sections (What it says)

Reminder – Solomon, Rehoboam

19 Kings of Judah
12 “did what was evil in the sight of the LORD”
7  “did what was right in the sight of the LORD”

Twin sins of Idolatry and Injustice continue under bad kings.

King Asa – 1 Kings 15:9-15 – Faithful to worship of Yahweh alone, but not effective at eliminating unregistered worship.

Tension between God’s authority/representatives and that of the King
      Joash and the priest Jehoiada in 2 Chronicles 24
      Uzziah and leprosy in 2 Chronicles 26:16-21

Micah – Prophesies the fall of Samaria and Jerusalem.

King Hezekiah – 715-686 BC – 2 Kings 18:1-7.  Destroys the high places!
- Seige of Jerusalem – 701 BC – 2 Kings 18:13-19:37.

Isaiah – prophesies for 40 years.  Arguably the most influential of the Biblical prophets for Christians.  Messianic language appears throughout.  Works to call the people back to a proper relationship with the Lord.  Serves under Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.

King Manasseh – 696-642 BC – 2 Kings 21:1-18.  The Judgment of the Lord is certain.  Most evil king, but even he is capable of repentance – 2 Chronicles 33:12-13

King Josiah – 640-609 BC – 2 Kings 22-23
- Finds the Book of the Law – 22:10-13
- Covenant Renewal – 23:1-3
- Purging of other religions – 23:4-20, 24-25.
- Passover celebration – 23:21-23

Jeremiah – begins his ministry in 627, one year after Josiah’s reforms begin. 
-       suffering prophet
-       God’s judgment on Judah – proclaims that the people should surrender, not popular

Zephaniah – Also during Josiah’s reign – proclaims judgment and the “Day of the Lord.”

Nahum – Prophecy against Ninevah (capital of Assyria) – must be dated before 612 BC when Ninevah was destroyed.

After Josiah – decline and fall of Judah

Geopolitics – Egypt and Babylon, powerful nations with Judah in between.  Where will the kings place their trust, in allies or in God?

Joel – sometime before the Babylonian attacks.  Also proclaims the “Day of the Lord,” calls for repentance, focus on the locusts (like a new plague).

Habakkuk – sometime before the Babylonians.  A theodicy – a defense of the goodness of God – in conversation form between the prophet and God.

Major Babylonian Exiles by Nebuchadnezzar: 2 Chronicles 36

605 – first deportation, includes Daniel, King Jehoiakim
597 – second deportation, includes Ezekiel, King Jehoiachin
586 – final destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem, execution of King Zedekiah

Jeremiah’s prophecy of 70 years of exile followed by release – Jeremiah 25:11-12


Conversation: Discussion Questions

1.     Most of the “good” kings shared a common trait; a willingness to listen to godly voices and accept correction.  Do you have people in your life who can tell you that you are wrong? 

2.     When things were going well with King Asa, his reliance on God decreased and he began to make decisions from a secular, worldly perspective.  (relied on a Northern neighbor for protection and did not ask God to be healed).  When things are going well, do you have a tendency to overly rely on yourself?

3.     Which of these missteps resonate with you?

a.     Not seeking wise counsel from mature believers(Rehoboam)

b.     Trusting ourselves, secular solutions and worldly wisdom.  Consequently not turning to God for his provision (Asa)

c.     Not seeking the Lord’s guidance before making an important decision and making poor decisions because of an ungodly alliance/friendship/partnership (Jehoram’s marriage to Ahab’s daughter)

d.     Refusing humility.  Discontentment or striving to be more and consequentlyseeking to do something that you are neither called or qualified to do (Uzziah)

e.     Making a very bad decision because you are prideful and showing off your intelligence/power/position/money/etc.  (Hezekiah)

4.     Think back on Manasseh’s sins (2 Kings 21:1-18).  What is most appalling to you? 

5.     Josiah is an exceptionally good king, especially coming on the heels of Manasseh.  Why do you think he fails to “turn things around” in a permanent fashion?  What limits of spiritual leadership does he run into?

6.     As you learn about Jeremiah and the other minor prophets, what strikes you as similar about of them?  Why does every prophet proclaim the same theme of coming judgment?

7.     How do we, as a people and as individuals, do with the practice of repentance?  What kind of repentance might have changed God’s mind about the coming judgment?

8.     The destruction of the temple is an act of incalculable loss for the Israelites.  What do they loose?  Can you think of anything comparable for Christians today?

9.     God’s presence appears to be removed from the Israelites by the end of this story – the nation is gone, the temple destroyed, the ark disappeared.  What signs do we still have, however, that Yahweh isn’t done yet with his people?

If you have time, read the following passage: Jeremiah 31:31-34

10.  Which covenant did God make after the Exodus?  How does this “new covenant” sound similar, and different, from that covenant?

11.  What metaphor does God use to explain the experience of the broken covenant?

     12.  Obviously this new covenant anticipates Jesus.  What parts of these verses help you

            see how the covenant with Jesus is different that the old covenant with Moses?


Next week we will focus on the Exile in Babylon.  See you then!


Kings (Northern Kingdom)


1 Kings 1-11
Proverbs 1-3
1 Kings 12-22
2 Kings 1-17
Hosea 1-14
Amos 1-9
Jonah 104




930 - 722 BC


Key Concepts (How to Read)

1.  Temple and Division
2.  Rejection of God’s Kingship & Law
3.  Idolatry of the Kings of the Northern Kingdom
4.  God’s messengers – the Prophets – Speaking Truth to Power
5.  Twin Sins – Idolatry & Social Injustice
6.  Judgment and Protection of God (Day of the LORD)
7.  The First Exile

Key Sections (What it says)

Reign of Solomon – 1 Kings 1-11
 -  Wisdom – 1 Kings 3
 -  Creation of Temple – 1 Kings 8
 -  Wives and idolatry – 1 Kings 11

Ahijah the prophet calls Jeroboam – 1 Kings 11:26-40.  God’s promise to David kept, but the majority of the kingdom taken from Solomon’s son.

Rehoboam loses the north – 1 Kings 12:1-20. 

Jeroboam becomes the first king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and sets the stage for all the kings who follow him.
-       Fearing the people would return to Jerusalem to worship, he made golden calves and built altars at Dan and Bethel, setting up his own non-Levite priests.  1 Kings 12:25-33.
-       Jeroboam is rejected as king – 1 Kings 14:7-14.  Pattern begins of short-term dynasties in the North, each overthrown by someone raised up by a prophet.
-       The cycle in Judges is now external AND internal
-       There will be 19 kings in Israel, and ALL did evil in the eyes of God!

Worst King of Israel – Abab and his queen, Jezebel
-       Jezebel was the daughter of the King of the Sidonians in northern Phoenicia.
-       Together they devoted Israel to the worship of Baal – 1 Kings 16:29-33.
-       Theft of Naboth’s Vineyard – 1 Kings 21:1-26

The Prophets in the North

-       Note the distinction between prophets and judges.  Political power is now divorced from God’s voice. 
-       Elijah and Elisha
-       Hosea – Adultery of Israel – Hosea 1:2-3
-       Amos – Israel has no justice, takes bribes, and abuses the poor.  Religious obedience without justice is evil – Amos 5:21-24.  Day of the LORD – Amos 5:18
-       Jonah – Unwillingly goes to Ninevah, capital of Assyria, many repent and believe (unlike in Israel)

Elijah – represents the prophetic period, core message of repentance.
-       Key miracle – after stopping the rain for three years, Elijah challenges Ahab and the prophets of Baal to a divine showdown.  1 Kings 18
-       Raised the dead child of the widow of Zarephath – 1 Kings 17:17-24
-       Ascended to heaven without dying in a chariot of fire – 2 Kings 1-13.

Elisha – given the mantle of Elijah and a double portion of his spirit.
-       Incredible miracles!  Everything from raising the dead the dead (2 Kings 32-37) to  feeding multitudes (2 Kings 4:42-44). 
-       Seeing the spiritual world – 2 Kings 6:15-19.  What Israel is missing during this season!

The First Exile – Assyria – 2 Kings 17
Geopolitics – Egypt, Assyria, Babylon
Theopolitics – Rejecting the Law, Ignoring the Prophets, has Covenantal consequences


Conversation: Discussion Questions

1.     Why do you suppose the Bible so closely associates Solomon’s many wives of many nations and his descent into idolatry?  What lessons are there for us in this story?

2.     What parts of Elijah’s and Elisha’s stories remind you of Jesus?

3.     Our society’s worldview tends to divide the concerns of the prophets into categories – concern about religious purity (conservative), and concern about social injustice (liberal).  But the prophets make no such distinctions, and even suggest that one without the other is worthless.  How can we avoid this false dichotomy?

4.     God’s choice to challenge the people and kings of Israel through the prophets is an interesting one.  Despite the amazing miracles and accurate foreknowledge of the prophets, they usually seem like the underdog compared to the Kings they rebuke.  How are we in a similar situation in our world?  Where are we called to speak truth to power, trusting that “he who is in us is great than he who is in the world?”

5.     Why does God finally reject Israel and send them into exile? 

6.     In the Old Testament, God’s justice always comes in two forms – the immediate and the upcoming.  In the exile of Israel, we see both - God’s immediate justice, and the promised judgment that he had delayed for generations, in hopes that we would repent.  How do we reconcile God’s desire with justice, coupled with his delay for our repentance, in our lives today?

7.     Why do you think the people of Ninevah (the Assyrian capital) repented when Jonah came, but the people of Samaria (the Israelite capital) did not repent when prophets came to them?

8.     Hosea uses the language of adultery to describe Israel’s unfaithfulness to Yahweh.  How is this a helpful metaphor for our sin?  Does seeing God as the long-suffering husband change your view of him?  Of ourselves?


Next week we will focus on the Southern Kingdom of Judah.  See you then!


Sinai/Kings (United Kingdom)

Joshua 23-24
Judges 1-8, 17-21
Ruth 1-4
1-2 Samuel
1 Kings 1-11
Psalm 2-3
Proverbs 1-3


~1450 TO 930 BC


Key Concepts (How to Read)

1.  Incomplete Conquest - The root of Israel’s errors
2.  King Yahweh
3.  Cycle of Faith and Faithlessness
4.  Rejection of God’s Kingship
5.  A Personal Relationship
6.  Davidic Covenant
7.  Temple and Division


Key Sections (What it says)

Covenant renewal – Joshua 5, 8:30, 24

Why is this critical?  We must be reminded of the covenant.  This passage causes us to take a moment to “Remember.”

Root of Israel’s sorrows – failure to eliminate the Canaanites.  Joshua 23:6-13.  Danger of making accommodations with sin.

Tribal divisions in Joshua
High import of tribes – a confederacy after Joshua and Moses die.
Why doesn’t Joshua appoint a leader to follow him, as Moses did? 

Judges – concept of Yahweh as king

Problem – Conquest begins to unravel
Judges 1:19, 21, 27-35
Judges 2:1-5

We have a role in this kingdom – and we have failed.

Cycle of faith and faithlessness begins - Judges 2:10-23

Judges:  Major and Minor
Major Judges – Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson
Minor Judges – Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon

Why is idolatry such a reoccurringissue?  Seductively simple, mainstream, intuitive.

Why Ruth?  Faithfulness of the non-Israelite.  Ruth is from Moab.

Final Judge – 1 Samuel – Philistine enemies

God’s departure/displeasure with Israel – 1 Samuel 4-5. It is God who wins battles; it is not the Ark.  Nor can God be manipulated by use of the Ark.  Even orthodoxy can devolve to idolatry if it’s not personal.

Rejection of God as King – 1 Samuel 8

Selection of the first King of Israel, Saul – 1 Samuel 9

Saul was Selected by God, but unfaithful.  Model of what the people wanted, not what God wanted.  Reigns for unspecified amount of time (estimated 40 years).

Selection of David as King.  -  1 Samuel 16.  David was not the typical looking King. Rather than having the right look, he had the right character (see 16:7, 13:14). Thus, David was known as a man after God’s own heart.

Personal Relationship with God. - Psalm 51

New concept!  Critical shift in thinking from a mediated covenant to a direct line.

Conflict simmers and grows between Saul and David, becomes a small war.  Eventually, Saul and his son Jonathan die fighting Philistines.  David refuses to raise a hand against Saul.

David reigns in Judah 7 years, then Jerusalem for 33.

God’s covenant with David – 1 Samuel 7

Like that with Abraham – it was unconditional.  Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of this covenant. 

David’s sin – Bathsheba – 2 Samuel 11

Family brokenness in David’s life after Bathsheba – the family never recovers.

Reign of Solomon – 1 Kings. 

1.  Wisdom – 1 Kings 3
2.   Creation of Temple – 1 Kings 8
3.   Wives and idolatry – 1 Kings 11


Conversation: Discussion Questions

1.     The conquest, absent God’s explicit command, seems simply like genocide.  How do we reconcile this event with the God of mercy we’ve been discussing each week?

2.     Why does covenant renewal happen primarily with Joshua and the unified tribes?  What is the connection between covenant renewal and conquest?

3.     The Israelites fail to keep up their end of the covenant – they do not drive out the other peoples.  This leads to the root of most of their problems for hundreds of years.  Do we make this mistake with sin in our lives?  How often do we try to accommodate, compromise, or willfully ignore those things in our lives that keep us from a relationship with Jesus?

4.     Does the cycle of faith/failure of the Israelites sound familiar?  Where do you see this in the modern church?  Where do you see this in your own life?

5.     The Israelites fail to keep up their end of the covenant – they do not drive out the other peoples.  This leads to the root of most of their problems for hundreds of years.  Do we make this mistake with sin in our lives?  How often do we try to accommodate, compromise, or willfully ignore those things in our lives that keep us from a relationship with Jesus?

6.     Does the cycle of faith/failure of the Israelites sound familiar?  Where do you see this in the modern church?  Where do you see this in your own life?

7.     Yahweh is supposed to be king, as well as God, for Israel.  What changes might we expect for the Israelites now that they have human kings?  What are the positive and negative aspects of this change?

8.     The Israelites constantly relied upon armies and kings to bring them salvation, instead of trusting in the LORD.  What “alternatives” do we rely upon, other than Jesus, for our salvation?  (note that salvation doesn’t need to mean “eternal” – we just need to be saved in the moment).

9.     David’s approach to a relationship with God in the Psalms is radical; it is the very model of a “personal relationship” that we preach today.  In your mind, what is the difference between believing in God and obeying his laws, and having a relationship with him?

10.  Despite his great love for Yahweh, David makes some colossal errors (the murder of Uriah and adultery with Bathsheba being two of the worst).  Why do you suppose that these stories are recorded in Scripture about such an important spiritual leader?  Do we learn from David even in his sin?  Is this disappointing or encouraging to you, and why?

11.  Why do you suppose the Bible so closely associates Solomon’s many wives of many nations and his descent into idolatry?  What lessons are there for us in this story?

Next week we will focus on the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  See you then!


Exodus 1-29, 32-34, 40
Leviticus 1-10, 16-23, 25-26
Numbers 1-3, 9-17, 22-25
Deuteronomy 1-13, 17-18, 20-21, 25, 27-32, 34
Joshua 1-8




~1450 BC


Key Concepts (How to Read)

1.  Pattern of Salvation - God acts, we react – Salvation precedes Law.
2.  Covenant – The Old Covenant/Testament, now a conditional promise.
3.  Law as a gift, sharing life with Yahweh (and, how to safely live with His presence).
4.  Blessing to the nations: bringing God’s presence to the world, interceding for the nations
5.  Shift from Slaves to Conquerors
6.  Conquest, Promise fulfillment, and the importance of memory


Key Sections (What it says)

Exodus 1 - New problem for God’s plan.
Pharaoh commands all males being born to be killed immediately. Despite Pharaoh’s plan, Moses survives and is found by Pharaoh’s daughter.


Exodus 3:1-15 - Burning Bush
God calls Moses to free God’s people from the mighty hand of the Egyptians.  God reveals His name/s and the calling he has placed on Moses.  Exodus shows that God calls the unworthy to partner with Him in accomplishing His will here on earth.


Exodus 7-11 - 10 Plagues. 
In this section of Scripture, God uses plagues to intentionally highlight and demonstrate His triumphant power over the “gods” of Egypt. The purpose of these plagues was to display God’s wonders to Israel AND Egypt.  Through trials and oppression God calls all of His followers to love their enemies.

Exodus 12 – Passover
This passage displays the first salvation moment for Israel and defines the people forever.  This passage can be paralleled with the stories and life of Jesus Christ.

Exodus 14-15 – Red Sea
The happenings and events of the Red Sea are seen as the second salvation moment for Israel.  The Red Sea displayed God’s visible presence and interaction with His people. 

Exodus 16-18 – Journey to Sinai
Theme of Ingratitude.

Exodus 19-20, 24 – Giving of the Law
The giving of the Law implemented a new “conditional” Covenant with Israel. But Law comes only AFTER both the Passover and the Exodus.  The conditional covenant is really an invitation.  Think pedagogically; the covenant with Abraham is like the adoption of a child, while the covenant with Israel is a marriage.

The 10 Commandments were given to Moses as a summary of the law; however, there were also 613 individual commandments in the Torah.  The 2 Tablets were then summarized by Jesus using other commandments.

Exodus 33 – Golden Calf

Rest of Exodus, beginning of Leviticus – Tabernacle and Priests and Sacrifices
Think of God’s presence like electricity – it is enormously valuable but must be handled with care or it is potentially deadly.  This is system to describe how God’s presence can safely abide with sinful mortals.  Sacrifice mirrors Passover, substitutionary atonement.  Priests are seen as intercessors.  The tabernacle was seen as a place that protected us from too much access to God.

Leviticus – Law
The Law has a critical role – it gives us the privilege of knowing how to honor and obey Yahweh, and a pathway to being in his presence.  There are several critical components of the law:  1.  No distinction between sacred and secular.  2.  No distinction between ritual and moral.  3.  No area of our lives not affected by a relationship with God.

Numbers and Deuteronomy
These books discuss the journey to Canaan, The rejection of the people, 38 years wandering, and the return of Moses and His death.

Numbers 13:26-33
The scouts, failure to enter, and 38.5 years in the desert.
Formation of a new people who don’t see themselves as slaves – This is God’s purpose.
In this passage, Moses' and Aaron's leadership is affirmed.

Numbers 21 - Conquest of Transjordan –
Sihon and Og
Transjordan tribes who stay on the east side of the Jordan River.

Deuteronomy - Final Sermon of Moses and his death
Moses sees the promised land but does not enter it.

Joshua – Conquest of Canaan
The second group of scouts is sent in, the second parting of the sea occurs, etc.
There are several moral implications of the conquest – Joshua 6:17, 21
The victory displays many different meanings but overall it is linked to holiness/faithfulness.

Covenant renewal – Joshua 5, 8:30, 24
Why is this critical?  We must be reminded of the covenant.  This passage causes us to take a moment to “Remember.” Our failures of memory are the root of much of our unfaithfulness.

Conversation: Discussion Questions

1.     The story of the Exodus begins with the murder of the Israelite children by Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and ends with the death of the Egyptian first-born (not necessarily children) and the entire Egyptian army.  How do we see the mercy of God in the midst of so much suffering?

2.     Why is it so important that God’s salvation leads the Israelites to respond to him with obedience to the Law?  How does our perception of God, and our relationship with God, change when we invert this order and imagine that our obedience leads to our salvation?

3.     As a group, see if you can name all 10 commandments.  Look at Exodus chapter 20 to get any you’ve missed.  Which of these seem most, or least, relevant to your spiritual life?

4.     As Christians today, we typically do not handle the LORD’s presence with caution.  What would change if we saw God-with-us as both an amazing gift, and a great danger?  Does, and should, our knowledge of Jesus change this perception for us?

5.     Today we do not typically think about the food we eat as a spiritual decision, nor the clothes we wear, nor the amount we work during a week.  We have falsely created a divide between the sacred and the secular.  How can we begin to think of our food, our clothes, our work week, our holidays, etc, as spiritual decisions?

6.     Why do you think the Israelites have such a difficult time trusting Yahweh in the desert, when he tells them to go up and conquer Canaan?  This is the generation that lived in slavery, but also the generation that saw God’s wonders.  Do we sometimes struggle to trust God, despite seeing his wonders in our lives and in Scripture?  Why?

7.     We spoke before about how faith is trusting God’s promises when we only get a glimpse of them.  This week, we read that Moses died before entering the promised land, after leading the people for 40 years.  Why is it significant that Moses never steps foot in Canaan? 

8.     The conquest, absent God’s explicit command, seems simply like genocide.  How do we reconcile this event with the God of mercy we’ve been discussing each week?

9.     Why does covenant renewal happen primarily with Joshua and the unified tribes?  What is the connection between covenant renewal and conquest?


Next week we will focus on the end of Joshua, the period of the Judges, the book of Ruth, and the beginning of the United Monarchy.  See you then!




Genesis 12-50
Job 1-4, 23-24, 29-32, 38-42


Class Notes from Abraham
Genesis 12-50
~2100 BC

Key Concepts (How to Read)

1.  Pattern of Salvation - God saves/calls/acts, we respond.  Acceptance always precedes repentance and transformation.
2.  Covenant - God's self-limiting promises to us, especially at this point Noah and Abraham.
3.  Election - God's choice of who receives the promises, without regard to outward appearances, morality, etc.
4.  Faith = Trust.  As God accepts us and then calls us to change, so too we trust his promises BEFORE receiving them.  Faith is not believing in the existence of God, but believing that his promises are true and acting upon that belief.

Key Sections (What it says)

Genesis 12:1-7 - God’s call to Abram
Yahweh makes a 7-fold promise in Genesis 12:1-4, plus the promise of land in Genesis 12:7.  This is critical for several reasons.  First, Abram is not likely a monotheist when he is called, and he certainly doesn't have a perfect character.  Thus we see God calling and saving us before are worthy, through his sovereign election.  Second, we see in Abram's response, "So Abram went," our response to God's call.  We also see a dramatic demonstration of faith as trust that proceeds the fulfillment of any of God's promises.  Third, we see in God’s covenant with Abram a plan to bless every nation on the earth.  This is not just about the Jews; this is the beginning of God's solution to the problem of sin and human/divine separation.

Genesis 15 - God's Covenant with Abram
God reaffirms his promise to Abram, and we are told that Abram believed the Lord and it was credited to him as righteousness.  This again affirms the Faith = Trust concept.
In this section, we first have the word covenant used in reference to God's promise to Abram.  Note that it is God who puts his own integrity on the line; it is Yahweh who passes through the sacrifices, not Abram.

Genesis 17 - Circumcision and covenant
God prepares to give Abram, now Abraham, a glimpse of the completed promises in the birth of Isaac.  The decision to trace the blessing and covenant through Sarah, and not through Ishmael, has great significance.  We see here the theme of election - it is through Sarah, not Hagar; Isaac, not Ishmael, that the promises will be continued.

Genesis 18 - Negotiation for Sodom and Gomorrah
Here we see a glimpse of the promise relating to Abraham being a blessing to all the nations, as he intercedes with Yahweh for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.  This is an archetype for Jesus himself, who is our intercessor with God.  Like Abraham with the people of these cities, Jesus intercedes for us while we are still sinners.

Broader topics:
The Land – Why does God promise this land to Abraham's descendants?  Part of this is strategic; every major empire for 2,000 years will pass through this space.  

Isaac and Jacob - God chooses Isaac, and then Jacob, as those through whom the promise and covenant would be continued and reaffirmed.  God to this day is known by the promises he made to them, and in Scripture God even names himself by his relationship with these Patriarchs - "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."  (Exodus 3:6).  Like Yahweh, we too are who we promise to be.

Jacob - Jacob is renamed Israel - "He who wrestles with God" - and has 12 sons who will soon become the ancestors of the 12 tribes.  In the book of Genesis, the most important of these brothers is Joseph.

Egypt - This section ends with the family of Abraham in Egypt, where they will remain for 400 years.  

Conversation: Discussion Questions for this Blog
If you have time, read the following passage: Genesis 18:16-33
    1.  This is the beginning of the story about Sodom and Gomorrah, which ends with the cities
            being destroyed with burning sulfur.  What strikes you as interesting about this interaction
            between Yahweh and Abraham?
    2.  God’s covenant with Abraham (affirmed a third time in the previous chapter) gives Abraham a special status in the LORD’s eyes.  Abraham becomes an intercessor for non-Jews.  We have a special status in God’s eyes because of Jesus’ covenant with us.  How are we called to use that status to intercede with God for non-believers, and to be a blessing to all the nations?


Here's the recording from our first class.  We had some technical difficulties, so you will hear our bell choir practicing in the background - hopefully we can eliminate that for next week.

Suggested Reading for this week:  

Genesis 1-11


Class notes from Creation
Genesis 1-11

Key Concepts

  • Genre of Prehistory - focused not on HOW but WHY

1.  The self-revealing of God
2.  The theme of God's presence with us
3.  The twin tracks of blessings and curses/sin
4.  Problem of sin

Key Sections

Genesis 1 - 6 days of creation - God as Creator

God speaks everything into existence, and fills his world with life.  But on day six, he creates humans in his image and likeness, and gives us a commandment - "Be fruitful and multiply.  Fill the earth."  In so doing, God engages us in the work of creation, and also makes himself vulnerable; the project of creation that has been "good" now depends partly on our participation as co-creators.

Genesis 2-3 - Adam and Eve in the Garden - God is Relational; God is Merciful

Even more clearly in this passage, we see God as investing relationally in his creatures, especially humans.  We also see the effect of sin; not that God flees from us, but that we flee from him.  Although sin is very serious to the LORD, he still choose to return and walk with Adam and Eve after their sin; it is they who chose not to hide from him.  The curse and the effects of sin constitute the problem that the rest of the Bible will attempt to resolve - how to restore God's presence to his people.

Genesis 4 - Cain and Able and Cain's bloodline - Sin increases

Again we notice that despite the fratricide of Cain, God shows mercy to him, and even speaks with him before and after the murder.  In the genealogy of Cain, we see the increase of sin in the world.

Genesis 5 - Seth's bloodline - Blessings increase

Adam and Eve have another child, Seth, and his bloodline reveals the blessing of God - both the continued obedience to "be fruitful and multiply", and also a clear reliance on a relationship with God.  This leads through Enoch, and culminates with Noah.

Genesis 6-9 - Noah - God is Sovereign and Holy

The problem of sin, and the increase of sin on the earth, reaches an apex in Genesis 6.  We are told that every inclination of the human heart was to evil, all the time, and that the LORD was grieved that he made mankind.  The flood is the correction of this evil, demonstrating that God is both sovereign over his creation, and also that he is holy and cannot abide our sin.  At the same time, this story again highlights the mercy of God - Noah and his family are rescued from the impending destruction.  After the flood, we are told that the condition of the human heart is unchanged, but God's heart has changed.  He makes a covenant with Noah and all his descendants to never again destroy the earth, and places the rainbow in the heavens to remind himself about this promise.  The use of our human language to describe God's character clearly runs into limitations in this passage; however, the story as a whole is designed to foreshadow God's work with Abraham and Israel.  Again, Abraham and his family will be rescued for the purpose of blessing the earth; again, God will continue the advance of the track of blessings through a single family.

Genesis 11 - Tower of Babel and Shem - God is sufficient; we are not

The final story of this pre-history section is the account of the Tower of Babel.  The people in the story have two goals: to make a name for themselves, becoming stable and permanent, and to reach up into the heavens, and by implication to reach God's presence on their own.  These two goals are really one and the same.  God confuses their attempt to be self-sufficient because he is sufficient for us; we will never be sufficient for ourselves.  We cannot create stability and fame for ourselves without the LORD, and neither can we reach his presence by our effort.  Independence is a chimera; we are called to be God-dependant.

The hope of this section lies with the final genealogy, which begins with Shem and ends with Abram.  God has a plan to advance the track of blessings in this world, to reveal himself more fully, and to restore his presence to humanity.  That plan will revolve around a new covenant with Abram.

Conversation - Discussion Questions for this Blog

I'd love for you to comment on this class in any way; however, I've included a few discussion questions here in case you'd like to respond to them specifically.

1.  Where do you see the track of blessings continuing in our world today?  Alternatively, what aspects of today's world do you think "grieve God's heart"?

2.  How can we slip into the attempt to be self-sufficient?  What do we do to avoid that pitfall?

Welcome to the C.A.S.K.E.T. Old Testament Survey!

Course Objectives:

1.     Equip participants with an overall framework for understanding God’s story and mission with ancient Israel as the essential precursor for the Messiah
2.     Equip participants with tools to apply the Scriptures of the Old Testament to their own lives in a coherent and theologically consistent manner
3.     Establish new and meaningful relationships between participants in the class


Typical Format:

30-40 minutes of teaching
20-30 minutes of discussion (in small discussion groups)


Course Outline:

C.A.S.K.E.T. is an acronym for Creation, Abraham, Sinai, Kings, Exile, and Temple.[1]  This will give structure to our overall class.  Weeks will be delineated as follows:

April 6    – C – Creation
April 13   – A – Abraham
April 20  – S – Sinai
April 27  – K– Kings: United Monarchy
May 4     – K – Kings: The Northern Kingdom
May 11     – K – Kings: The Southern Kingdom
May 18  – E – Exile
May 27    – T – Temple


Blog Use and Participation:

We will have a blog for the class, accessible through the church’s website.  Each week after class, a class summary will be posted, along with a question for thought.  Use this if you miss a class to keep up with the notes; you may also post your comments, questions, or responses to the question for thought, if you wish!



DON’T:  Don’t be intimidated by the scope of the class.  No prior knowledge needed!

DO:  Do attend as regularly as possible; do follow on the blog when you miss a class.

DO:  Consider doing some of the reading on the C.A.S.K.E.T. bookmarks – this is not necessary for the class, but will be very helpful for you!


[1] C.A.S.K.E.T. is an acronym and curriculum designed by Dr. Carol Kaminski, professor at Gordon-Conwell Seminary.  We will use her outline and reference her book occasionally.  You do not need a copy; but if you’d like to purchase one, or her fantastic outline, you can do so at http://www.casketempty.com/store/