Summary: A history of the Old Testament leading up to a study of Nehemiah.

Title- Old Testament History 101

I. Israel’s History

II. Nehemiah’s History

III. Guiding Theological Principles

I. Israel’s History

As many of you know, I spent a few years teaching out at WCS high school. One of the subjects that I was asked to teach was history. I’ll be honest; history was not one of my favorite subjects. It was a lot better than math, but it still just seemed like a bunch of boring dates and events that I had to memorize.

So when I was faced with the challenge of teaching history, I really didn’t want to force the kids to have to memorize a bunch of dates and names of dead people. The value of history lies not in the details, but in the big picture.

The real importance of history is that it gives us a sense of context. It answers some important “why” questions about the present. And it gives us some clues as to what the future might hold.

For example, understanding family history can answer a lot of questions as to why you are the way you are, and give you some clues to what the future might hold. My father died of colon cancer when he was in his mid 40’s. Having that in my family history means I need to be screened for colon cancer a lot earlier than most people- yeah!

Understanding American history can also be helpful. When you understand how the economy and the government have gone through periods of growth and decline, we can take comfort that the current economic downturn won’t last forever.

Understanding world history gives us a context to better understand things like the current conflicts in the Middle East, the development of certain religions, and the differences between world-views.

Understanding church history gives us a context for understanding the development of Christianity, and helps us avoid old mistakes. It also helps us understand why we are here and how we can better reach out to the world around us.

I say all this because my main objective today is to offer a mini history lesson of early OT events. This is information that will cost you $300 a credit in seminary, but I’m going to give it to you for half that price today.

Today we are going to begin a study of the book of Nehemiah.

So far I’ve done most of my preaching from the NT. But there is incredible value in studying the OT. It isn’t merely Jewish history, it is the story of God working with His people. Without a proper understanding of the OT, many of the NT events won’t make a whole lot of sense.

I want us all to have a solid understanding of the OT so that we will be drawn into a deeper and closer walk with God.

Nehemiah is a particularly relevant book for us to study today. It is the story of a nation struggling with political problems, economic difficulties, external threats, internal strife, discouragement, and the need for spiritual revival. Do any of those things sound like problems this nation struggles with today?

Before we really dig into the book of Nehemiah, it is important that we understand a little OT history. I know a lot of this will be review for many of you, but it will help get things in perspective.

OK, I want you to start by opening your Bible to that page close to the very beginning where it gives you the list of all the books of the Bible. Every Bible has that section. It will say “contents” or something like that. Find that because it will help you follow along.

Really, Nehemiah is the last book of the OT. I know that Malachi comes last in your Bible, but that’s because the OT is split up into three sections. Up on the screen is a visual representation of what I’m talking about.

The first seventeen books of the OT are historical books. When we think about the history of Israel and the Jewish people all that historical stuff is contained within those books. Nehemiah being the last one chronologically. Esther is placed after Nehemiah, but that story actually took place during the time of Ezra. So really, Nehemiah is the final chapter in the OT.

Next are the poetic books. Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes. These books were all written at various points within the timeline of the historic books. For example, the poetical books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon were all written during the time of 2 Kings.

You see what I’m saying? These aren’t continuing history, but a different genre of writing during that period of history. That’s also true with the prophetic writings. These aren’t continuing history, but they are warnings and cautions from God during different periods in OT history. Malachi is the final book listen in our OT, but he was actually a contemporary of Nehemiah. He prophesied during the time Nehemiah was doing his thing.

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