Bible Series Week 2: Understanding the Old Testament Timeline

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THE OLD TESTAMENT TIMELINE

For those of you feeling like there’s no way you can ever make sense of the Bible, I challenge you to look at it with a new perspective. For this lesson, don’t try to figure it all out. And for those of you who have read these stories time and time again, don’t think you can’t discover more. Be a student learning about a new topic for the first time so that you can see the pages with fresh eyes. Before you tackle anything new, it helps to get organized.

So where do we start?

There is a disclaimer: the books of the Bible aren’t presented in chronological order.

They’re sorted by genre rather than historical order. These groups are based on law books, history, poetry, prophecy, gospels, and letters.

Look at the Bible as a collection of connected documents that tell the same stories in a different way. Some stories are told as poetry (Psalms), others as circumstantial rules (Leviticus), while others repeat the same story from different viewpoints (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).

PRINT YOUR OLD TESTAMENT TIMELINE

Using Seamless by Angie Smith, She Reads Truth Bible studies and The Story, I compiled a simple printable to organize the order of events in the Old Testament timeline.

OLD TESTAMENT TIMELINE TIPS:

  • No one is exactly sure when Job was written, but most agree it was probably before the exodus from Egypt.
  • Exodus through Deuteronomy are all books during Moses’ life
  • The story of Ruth occurred during the time of the judges
  • 1 and 2 Chronicles mirrors a lot of what is written in 1 and 2 Kings, but it also covers the details of the Kingdom split into Israel and Judah
  • The Israelites in both kingdoms were eventually captured by Assyrians, then the Babylonians, and then allowed to return home when they were taken over by the Persians.
  • After the exile, Jerusalem was restored and then there were 400 more years of silence before the New Testament began.
CLICK IMAGE TO PRINT YOUR OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT TIMELINES

FEELING OVERWHELMED?

That’s ok! You were just presented a LOT of information in one tiny chart. Print it, study it, and refer to it when studying your Bible. It takes practice to learn anything! The Bible is no different.

God doesn’t require perfection of us, he requires relationship. One in which we are learning more about who He is each day. What better way to learn about His character than through His Word!

So where do you want to start?

Instead of reading it cover to cover, you might want to learn more about the details of the kingdom split and its relation to the rest of the world history you learned in school.

Or you may relate to David and feel distant from God right now and want to read how he coped with his feelings of love, anger, fear, and desperation toward the God who still called him “a man after God’s own heart”.

You may want to skip the Psalms and head to the Proverbs of the wisest man who ever lived, David’s son, King Solomon.

Or maybe the Old Testament timeline is finally coming into focus and you want to dive straight into the New Testament with this new viewpoint.

There is no wrong way to start–what’s important is that you simply start.

So keep reading, and keep learning with me.

MORE RESOURCES

For further study, check out some of my favorite Bible research tools:

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Now that you’ve printed your Old Testament Timeline, read the rest of the posts in my Study Your Bible series:

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Keep learning, friend! You’ve got this! 

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