I preached this morning at Valley Heights Community Church and I opened up a sermon on Zechariah 1:7-17 by laying out the mass context behind the prophecy of Zechariah (The sermon is here if anyone is interested). I ended up actually taking 15 minutes and walking through the entire Old Testament and it was well received enough that I’ve decided to post the notes of my outline on here for anyone else who often struggles seeing the forest for the trees in the Old Testament.
I remember being in high school, committing to reading through the entire Old Testament, and getting bogged down somewhere in Ezekiel amidst the oracles against Tyre or something like that. That happened 3 times, and I wish I would have had a simple outline of the OT to help me keep things in perspective. Here’s my actual notes from this morning and I hope this blesses you as much as it did my fellow believers at Valley Heights!
– Overview of the Old Testament setting up the book of Zechariah:
- Genesis 1-11= The creation, the 1,000+ years where humanity populates the earth, the global judgment against mankind’s rampant sin in the flood.
- The book of Job occurs sometime between Genesis 11 and 12.
- In Genesis 12-25 God chooses Abraham and promises him a son, innumerable descendants that would become a nation, everlasting possession of the land of Canaan, protection and blessing.
- Genesis 25-50 records the lives of the next 3 generations of Abraham’s offspring and closes with the descendants of Abraham moving to Egypt to escape a famine.
– Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy:
- Exodus opens 430 years later with Abraham’s descendants grown from dozens to millions.
- Exodus 1-12 covers the calling of Moses and the liberating of Abraham’s descendants (Israelites) from slavery in Egypt.
- Exodus 13 through Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomycover the time between when Israel left Egypt and when Israel conquered the land God promised to Abraham; the land of Canaan.
- It includes Israel’s 40 year wanderings in the wilderness, the receiving of the law from God, and the death of Moses on the border of Canaan.
- Records Israel’s conquest of the land promised in Genesis.
- Records Israel’s 300+ year downward spiral into idolatry and the book ends with Israel becoming as wicked as Sodom and Gomorrah
- The book of Ruth takes place sometime around the end of Judges.
– 1 & 2 Samuel:
- Records the 50+ year transition from the period of the judges to the period of the kings and contains the 80+years where Saul and David reigned.
– Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes were written/compiled during the reign of David or Solomon, during the time of 1 & 2 Samuel.
– 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles:
- Records the splitting of the kingdom in the time of Solomon.
– The northern kingdom of Israel was comprised of the other 10 tribes.
- 1 Kings 12:25-33 tells how Jeroboam, the first king of the divided monarchy of Israel, instigated the worship of 2 golden calves in Bethel and Ai to keep the people from remembering the Lord
- This continued on in the Northern Kingdom of Israel through the reigns of 20 kings and over 200+ years of time, and 2 Kings 17 records how the 10 northern tribes went into captivity under Assyria and were lost in history.
- 2Kings 17:7-18 – Assyrian captivity = Punishment for idolatry.
– The southern kingdom of Judah was comprised of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
- This also continued on in the Southern Kingdom of Judah through the reign of 20 kings and over 350+ years of time, and 2 Kings 21:1-18 contains the long list of the sins of Manasseh and the divine condemnation of Judah, along with the promise of coming judgment.
- 2 Kings 24 – 25 record the fulfillment of the promises of judgment, and Babylon came and took Judah into 70 years of captivity.
– All the prophets were active during the period of the kings; before, during, or after the Babylonian captivity:
- The Pre-Exilic Prophets = Isaiah, Obadiah, Joel, Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Nahum and Zephaniah prophesied before the Babylonian captivity and warned Israel of what was a’comin.
- The Exilic Prophets = Habakkuk, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel prophesied during the Babylonian captivity and gave direction for and explanation of the captivity, and Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations in response to the siege of Jerusalem.
- The Post Exilic Prophets = Malachi, Haggai and Zechariah prophesied after the Babylonian captivity and reminded the returned captives of the need for continued faithfulness to the Lord.
- The events of Ezra and Nehemiah occurred immediately at the end of the Babylonian captivity, and the events of Esther occurred around 50 years after Judah’s return from the Babylonian captivity.
- After the 70 year Babylonian captivity, 2 Chron. 36:22 records how God stirred up the heart of Cyrus to fulfill that prophecy by Jeremiah and Ezra 1 records how in 538 BC Cyrus let the Israelites return to their land and rebuild their city and their temple.
– Nehemiah and Ezra tell us that the returning captives faced tremendous persecution.
- Ezra 3 tells us that they rebuilt the altar, laid the foundation of the temple, started working on the temple walls and had re-instituted the sacrificial, but Ezra 4:4-5tells us that the temple rebuilding was stopped:
- “Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build 5 and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia”.
- This discouragement lasted 18 years!
– Though the southern tribes went into captivity and returned, they were overcome by fear and wondered if God’s blessing was lost forever.
– The prophets Haggai and Zechariah appear in Israel in Ezra 5:1.
- Haggai informed the nation that they Lord wanted the work to resume, and Zechariah brought encouragement to continue the work.
- Zechariah is a book of blessings; a book full of prophesies that are meant to comfort and encourage the Israelites who are facing opposition back in their land.
I hope that gives a bit of a bird’s eye view to everything and removes some of the mystery of the Old Testament. I’ll post more stuff as I preach more sermons and have more to glean from. Original blog material is not coming anytime soon as I’m completely swamped with work, church and family. Either way, HAPPY CANADA DAY!
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “Yes I know, I didn’t say anything to explain Malachi!” Unger