Our text begins, not surprisingly, on page 1 of your Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). That is where the story line of a particular history begins. The Bible is not only a book of wise religious counsel and theological propositions, though it has both. It is a story, a real story set in real history. It is a historical saga—an epic. And the story in the Old Testament is amazing!Dever has a New Testament volume as well, The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept. These would be two great resources for any Bible student or teacher.
In this very first verse, the story begins with the greatest event in world history. You have nothing, and then all of a sudden you have something.
But keep reading; there is more!
You have inanimate creation, and then all of a sudden you have life.
You have creatures, and then you have man made in God’s image.
You have the Garden of Eden, and then you have the Fall.
And all this occurs in the first three chapters of the Bible. Some people have called the third chapter of Genesis, where Adam and Eve sin in the Garden, the most important chapter for understanding the whole Bible. Cut out Genesis 3, and the rest of the Bible would be meaningless.
After Adam and Eve’s sin, Cain kills his brother Abel. Humankind further degenerates for a number of generations. And God finally judges the world with a flood, saving just one righteous man—Noah—and his family. The generations following Noah fare no better. Humankind rebels at the Tower of Babel; this time God disperses everyone over the face of the earth. A new beginning is then promised as God shows his faithfulness to another particular person, Abraham, and his family. After a brief period of prosperity, Abraham’s descendents, now called Israel, fall into slavery in Egypt. Then the Exodus occurs, in which Moses leads the people out of Egypt. God gives Israel the law. The people enter the Promised Land. They are ruled by a series of judges for a short time. A kingdom is established, with kings David and David’s son Solomon representing the pinnacle. Solomon builds the temple, which houses the ark of the covenant and functions as the center of Israel’s worship of Yahweh. Shortly after Solomon’s death, the kingdom divides between Israel and Judah—the northern and southern kingdoms. Idolatry grows in Israel until the Assyrians destroy the northern kingdom. Judah then deteriorates until it is destroyed by Babylon. Survivors are carried off to exile in Babylon, where they remain for seventy years. A remnant then returns to Jerusalem and rebuilds the temple, yet Israel never regains the glory it knew under David and Solomon. And that is the whole history of the Old Testament!