Lesson 1: Bible Chronology

Hello. Welcome to our first Bible lesson in our online Bible study program at Scope Bible School.  We intend to post lessons every week, studying book by book in an expositional style, different from the topical study style. We shall be studying using the Salvation History Timeline, a model developed by Pr. Asaph Afuga of Rest Assured Fellowship, Jinja, Uganda. Our first lesson shall be an introductory one and shall focus on the Chronological Bible Study, which is a method used to examine this timeline keenly.  At the end of the day, you will be able to tackle almost all topics needed by your congregation or your Bible study cluster. Enjoy your study!

 

In this lesson, we’re going to explore a Bible-reading technique that might be different from what you’ve read in the Bible before. We’ll be talking about the chronological reading of the Bible—a way of reading the Bible that helps us see it as one cohesive and interesting story. Imagine reading your Bible like an intriguing story, where every event unfolds naturally from the first to the last, revealing God’s grand design for salvation.  It’s like reading a storybook, where everything makes sense from start to finish.

Let’s dive in!

You might wonder why this matters. Well, the Bible, as you may know, isn’t written in chronological order. But if we want to understand it as a complete story—with a beginning, middle, and end—we need to rearrange its books to follow its events chronologically as they happen and fit them together. This allows us to connect the dots and see and understand the whole story and its flow, hence appreciating God’s plan in a way that’s both simple and profound.

For instance, the book Daniel comes after Ezekiel, but we know that the events in Daniel come right after the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar, and that happened in the book of 2 Chronicles. So we rearrange and reposition the book of Daniel to come right after 2 Chronicles, so that the story flows. Now that is just one example, but there are dozens of others.

Therefore, chronological reading of the Bible means reading it in the order in which the events occurred. This approach helps us see how each event leads to another, painting a vivid picture of God’s salvation plan for humanity. So basically, the task here is to rearrange the books chronologically, and this makes the Salvation History Timeline make more sense.

So you might be wondering, that is one big task! Well, there is no need to worry about that.

There are specialized Bibles available on the market that arrange the Scriptures chronologically, making it easier for us to read them in this manner. We would specifically recommend that you get a copy of the One Year Chronological Bible NIV, the One Year Chronological Bible NLT, or the NKJV Chronological Bible.

Our lesson emphasizes the essence of seeing the Bible as one continuous and unified story with a clear beginning and end. It begins with God’s creation, unveils the fall of humanity, and beautifully culminates in the salvation of Jesus Christ. This holistic perspective helps us appreciate the Bible’s depth. This story is all about God’s salvation plan after the fall of man in the Garden of Eden fulfilled through Jesus Christ.

 

Salvation History Timeline:

In chronologically studying the Bible, we follow the salvation history timeline. This timeline is a layout of events across time in the Bible that, when woven together, show the salvation plan of God.

This plan involves a genealogical line of key individuals who inherited the seed of salvation that was sown into Seth (third born to Adam and Eve) by God and comes down to Jesus Christ. These select individuals are called the Remnants of Salvation, and they play pivotal roles in preserving the seed of salvation down to the savior himself. We will define them properly.

After the unfortunate events in Gen. 3, God needed to sow a new seed of righteousness (Jesus Himself) into mankind to deal with the seed of sin that had been sown by Satan in the Garden of Eden.

 

Remnants of Salvation

The “remnants of salvation” refer to select individuals in the genealogical (bloodline) line who played crucial roles in carrying the seed of salvation from one generation to the next. Simply stated, these are the direct ancestors of Jesus who formed the earthly family into which he was born. Most times, these individuals had encounters with God and received small pieces of information about what God was creating for humanity. Though they could not put these pieces together to see what God was doing with and through man, we are fortunate enough today to do this, and so the whole thing makes more sense to us than it did to them.

The genealogy of Christ, beginning with Seth, goes through key figures like Noah, Abraham, and King David and ultimately leads to Jesus Christ, who is the fulfillment of God’s salvation plan. But let’s break it down a bit from the summaries in the books of Matthew and Luke, though it is built from Genesis down to all the books as the bigger story unfolds:

Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Arphaxad, Cainan, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah (and his brothers that form the twelve tribes of Israel; another lesson on this shall be coming in the future), Perez, Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David the king; and this line of kings and princes run to Joseph and Mary, who are Jesus earthly family.

There are several differences between the genealogy accounts of Matthew and Luke, but that will be a lesson in the future too.

 

Chronological Reading Plan of the Old Testament:

When reading the Old Testament chronologically in a manageable way, it’s helpful to categorize its books into four sections and read each book following the other without skipping even a line or chapter.

 

  1. Law Books/Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.

These books lay the foundation for, but also project, the need for salvation, the choice of a sample nation by God, the promise to the founder of this nation, the relationship of other nations with this nation, and at length the history of the relationship of God with this nation. Simply put, they show how God’s salvation plan or project kicked off.

  1. Judges Books: Joshua, Judges, Ruth.

These books cover the early history of Israel after Egyptian slavery and the time when Israel was ruled by judges. It also portrays the division and settlement in the promised land of Canaan.

 

  1. Kings Books: 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles.

These books narrate the fulfillment of part of The Promise, the history of the kings of Israel when it was one nation or kingdom and after it got divided into two, and how their poor relationship with God landed them in captivity.

 

  1. Captivity and Return Books: Daniel, Ezra, Esther, Nehemiah.

These books narrate the return of the captives from captivity and point at notable figures who spearheaded the process.

Notably, the book of Esther falls between Ezra chapters 6 and 7, covering a span of 58 years during the reign of King Xerxes (husband to Esther) in the Medo-Persian Empire.

The book of Daniel, in its later part, projects and reveals more clearly the salvation plan of God and prophecies of what should happen after this salvation is fulfilled, through the visions and prophecies as revealed to Daniel. The visions and prophecies are clear (though the details are mind-blowing, difficult to comprehend, and mysterious) about times, events, and special figures that shall participate at every stage of the fulfillment process.

 

The rest of the books of the Old Testament narrate events that happened simultaneously during the events that are narrated in those books above (major events that form the salvation timeline) but are not so important to the salvation timeline.  To make it more clear, we shall call the rest of the books support books and the four listed above major books. So the support books fall into the major books. This does not mean that they are less important in Christian life. They are so important. But for the salvation timeline, they act as support for the major narrative.

Some of these are prophetic books that fall in periods of reigns of kings when such prophets had special and specific prophecies for specific kings in Israel or Judah or both (e.g Isaiah, Jeremiah, Habbakuk, etc.) or for Gentile nations and kings like Nineveh, Syria, Tyre (e.g Jonah, etc).

Some are wisdom and poetic books written during the reigns of kings (e.g., Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Soloman, etc.), and some are books that narrate events that happened at the same time when events in the Major Books were happening either in Israel or far lands—Gentile nations—but are not as important to the Salvation History Timeline (e.g., Job).

And some others serve all the above purposes (including as both major and supporting books), but in different time seasons (e.g., Ezekiel).

 

As we prepare for our next lesson next week let’s keep this lesson in mind:  by approaching the Bible chronologically, we gain profound insights into God’s intricate plan of salvation.

Understanding the context, the characters, and the interconnected events enhances our scriptural interpretation, topical studies, devotion, and prayer, and also enriches our comprehension of God’s plan, connecting historical events and people in a meaningful way. Needless to say, we discover new depths.

As you study our next episodes, remember that every story, and every character, is a part of God’s grand narrative of love, redemption, and salvation, leading to the ultimate message of hope found in Jesus Christ

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