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Everyone loves a good story. Telling stories has been an important and effective method of teaching used around the globe since the beginning of time. Today, the concept of using Bible stories to teach the Bible is called Bible storying. The concept is simple. Everyone wants to share a really, really good story, and there is no greater nor more powerful story than the story of the Bible. In fact, according to Guinness World Records, the Bible is the # 1 Best Selling Book of all time. The amazing thing about this book is the Truth it reveals and how it can change your life as you discover the reason people struggle in life and the Hope you have for an eternity with the loving God who created you. If you doubt the Bible's authenticity, consider this question: What if it's true? and check out this link coming soon. Check out the story below to see how you can use the ABC's to help you learn and share the Bible
from A Perfect Creation to Zion.
Click the BOLD PHRASES in the summaries for more information about the set.
A Perfect Creation
Bad Attitudes, a Big Boat, and Babbling Builders
God set His people apart
Hot and dusty 40 years
Into the Promised Land
Judges & Priests
Kings & the Kingdom Split
Listen to These Warnings
Make Yourself at Home
New Walls, New Temple, & reNewed Covenant
One Special Baby
Parables & Miracles
Questioned & Crucified
Resurrection Law & Prophets Fullfilled
Sent to Share
The Holy Spirit & The Church
Violence spreads the Gospel
Writings to Instruct
X Out the Old
You Have Hope
Zion - A New Heaven & A New Earth
A Perfect Creation
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," (Genesis 1:1) and "...the Word was with God, and the Word was God...""(John 1:1).
God created the sky, the land, and the seas, and filled His creation with the sun, the moon, and the stars, the winged animals, the land animals, and the sea creatures. Finally, He created man and woman and gave them dominion over the earth. God called His creation “very good” - a perfect creation - and took His place on the throne of His Kingdom.
It was indeed very good until Adam and Eve did did the one thing God told them not to do – eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God's word, they sinned. Because God is holy, meaning perfectly devoted to himself, they could no longer live in His presence. God promised the penalty for their sin would be death. Yet, God still loved them and promised to send One who would redeem them and the whole world from the power and penalty of their sin and provide access to His eternal Kingdom.
What follows is the account of God working out His plan to redeem a fallen world throughout the history of mankind. Follow The Bible from A to Z as we watch the plan of redemption unfold.
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Bad Attitudes, a Big Boat, and Babbling Builders
As Adam and Eve's family grew, so did the wickedness in their hearts. God saw there a came a point when their every thought was toward evil. In other words, they had very bad attitudes, and it grieved His heart.
God said He would destroy His entire creation, but He decided to spare Noah and his family. He told Noah to build a big boat called an ark, and He sent two of every kind of animal to Noah. Noah and his family along with those animals lived on the ark about one year while the flood waters came and receded. After the flood, Noah built an alter and worshiped God. God promised never to flood the earth again and told Noah and his family they could eat meat as well as plants.
He also told them to fill the earth. Instead, Noah's descendants decided to build a name for themselves and a tower to reach heaven...so they would not be scattered across the earth like God had told them. God caused the people to speak different languages so they could not understand each other. In essence, they became babbling builders who could not understand each other. As a result, they spread out across the earth like He told them.
The rest of scripture details God's calling and setting aside of one people through whom He would reveal Himself more fully to the rest of humanity.
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Covenant Established: Christ, Canaan, children, and blessings extravagant
God told a man named Abram to leave his homeland and go to a land He would show Him called
Canaan. God told him He would make him into a great nation
and He would bless him, make his name great, and bless all families of the earth through him (through
Abram took some of his family and his belongings and set out for the "Promised Land". He eventually reached Canaan and pitched his tent near Shechem at the oak of Moreh. He had to venture down to Egypt for a time because of a famine in the land, but he returned to Canaan. He and his nephew Lot were so prosperous they had to slit up, and Lot chose to live down in the valley with the people of the land. Abram and God both had to rescue at different times.
After Abram rescued Lot, God repeated His promises to Abram and made a covenant, like a legal agreement, with him, and promised to take the punishment for a broken Covenant. He also tells him his descendants will be slaves in a foreign land for 400 years before they take possession of Canaan. (This happens when Jacob's families move to Egypt with Joseph and eventually become the slaves Moses leads out in the Exodus.)
Although God continued to promise Abram many offspring, Abram remained childless. His wife, Sarai, eventually used a custom of the time and used her slave to conceive a child with Abram who would be theirs although this child was not the one God promised and through whom the promises from God would pass.
At the age of 99, God once again appeared to Abram, changed his name to Abraham, Sarai's name to Sarah, reminded him of the promise for a child, and established circumcision as a sign of the Covenant. God later told him he was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their sinful actions. At Abraham's request, God sends angels ahead of the destruction to remove Lot from Sodom, where he has settled, before the destruction. Lot leaves but does not flee to the mountains as told. Instead, he moves to another city in the valley, and eventually ends up in the mountains. His two unmarried daughters trick him into conceive children with them who become the fathers of the Moabites and Ammonites - enemies of the Israelites later in the Bible.
About one year later, when Abraham is 99 years old and Sarah is 90, she gives birth to their promised son and name him Isaac. Ishmael and his mother end up having to leave the family because Ishmael picks on Issac and upsets Sarah. Ironically, God tells Abraham to sacrifice Issac. Abraham obeys and gets to the point of binding Issac on the alter and raising his knife. God stops him, provides a ram in his place and repeats His Covenant with Abraham.
Sarah dies at the age of 127, and Abraham buys a cave and field in which to bury her. This is the only land he owns in the Promised Land at the time. Abraham, Rebekah and Joseph among others are later buried in the same cave.
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After Sarah's death, Abraham sent his servant back to his homeland to find a bride for Issac so he would not marry a Canaanite woman. When the servant
reached his destination, he sat down at the springs and asked God to let the young woman who offered to water his camels when he asked her for a drink
of water to be the right one. Before he finished praying, Rebekah walked up and offered to water his camels after he asked her for a drink of water.
She and her family agreed she should return with the servant and become Issac's wife.
Isaac and Rebekah had twins named Esau and Jacob. The boys were very different from the start and “jostled each other within her.” God told her, “two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” Esau, the oldest, was "Daddy's Boy" while Jacob, the youngest, was "Mama's Boy".
Esau, sold his birthright to his younger brother, and Jacob stole the blessing of the oldest son from Esau by tricking his father with his mother's help. When Esau threatened Jacob, Jacob fled. On the way, he had a dream where he saw angels ascending and descending on a ladder to and from heaven. God repeated the Covenant to him and said He would be with Jacob. Jacob agreed to serve God and give him a tenth of all God gave him “if” God would give him food and clothes and allow him to return to his father in peace one day.
When Jacob reached his mother's homeland, he lived with his uncle. He fell in love with his uncle's youngest daughter, Rachel, and agreed to work for his for seven years to be able to marry her. His uncle tricked him on his wedding night and gave him his oldest daughter, Leah, instead. Jacob agreed to work seven more years to be able to marry Rachel as well.
Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. Nevertheless, Leah gave him four sons while Rachel was still childless. Eventually, Jacob has 12 sons and a daughter with Leah, Rachel, and their two servants. Rachel's firstborn was "Daddy's Boy", Jacob's favorite son.
Jacob continued to work for his uncle and worked out a deal to start his own herds of sheep and goats. Eventually, his uncle's sons got jealous, and Jacob and his family headed back to the Promised Land. On the way, Jacob spent one night wrestling with God, and God blessed him the next morning. When Jacob finally met Esau, he had also become a wealth man with a big family and welcomed his brother home with a hug.
A couple of accounts about Jacob's family include: A man from Shechem defiled Jacob's daughter and then wanted to marry her. Simeon and Levi killed all the men in the city because of the way the man from there treated their sister. God affirmed the Covenant with Jacob at Bethel and changed his name to Israel. Rachel died during childbirth with another son names Benjamin.
The Bible includes what seems to be a random account in the life of Judah as well. Judah's oldest son had married a woman named Tamar, but he died before they had children. As the Bible commanded, Judah's next oldest son married Tamar. Their first child would be considered the child of the oldest brother to perpetuate his name. This son died as well before the two had children. Judah promised his youngest son to Tamar, but he secretly never planned to let them marry for fear he too would die. When Tamar figured out Judah would not let them marry, she dressed as a temple prostitute and waited for....Judah. Judah ended up getting her pregnant. When he found out were together. Judah recognized his belongings and called Tamar "more righteous" them himself because she was willing to fulfill the law to have children for her first husband.
Jacob had a "daddy's boy" just like his father. He loved Joseph - the eldest of his favorite wife, Rachel - more than any of his other sons, even to the points of giving him special gifts. His other brothers did not like him very much, and, when Joseph brought bad reports about his older brother to Jacob, it only made it worse. In addtion, Joseph had muliple dreams in which he dreamed his brother bowed down to him. Joseph even dreamed his parent bowed to him. No one guessed the truth foreshadowed by these dreams meant Joseph would one day save his family from starvation, so the brothers planned to kill Joseph. In stead, they ened up selling him to a caravan of traders headed to Egypt. As Joseph headed to slavery in Egypt, none of the brothers dreamed their descendants would end up Egyptian themselves. Follow The Bible from A to Z as we see how Jacob's sons, the 12 Tribes of Israel, struggle to live out their part of the Covenant and God redeems them and us through His son.
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Potiphar, the captain of the guard in Egypt, bought Joseph after his brothers sold him to traders, so Joseph became an
Egyptian slave. Potiphar saw the Lord was with Joseph
and gave him success in all he did, so Potiphar put Joseph in charge of all he had. While Joseph was in charge,
the Lord blessed Potiphar's household and fields.
Eventually, Potiphar's wife tried to seduce on Joseph. When he refused her, she became very upset and accused him of attacking her. Potiphar put Joseph in the prison with the king's (Pharaoh) prisoners. Again, Joseph gained favor with his overseer, the prison keeper, who put in charge of all the prisoners. When Pharaoh's cupbearer and baker end up in prison, the captain of the guard placed Joseph over them as well.
One day, the two prisoners looked upset. When Joseph asked what was wrong, they said they had had dreams the night before but there was no one to interpret. Joseph told them interpretations belong to the Lord and asked them to tell him their dreams. Joseph told the cupbearer his dream meant Pharaoh would give him back his position in three day. He told the baker Pharaoh would have him put to death in three days. Both dreams came true, and Joseph asked the cupbearer to tell the pharaoh about him and get him out of prison.
The cupbearer forgot all about Joseph until Pharaoh had dream no one could interpret two years later. Joseph was able to tell the pharaoh God was going to send seven years of plenty then seven years of famine. When Pharaoh asked what should be done, Joseph told him to put someone in charge of gathering the extra during the years of plenty to provide during the years of famine. The pharaoh made Joseph that man becasue the Spirit of God was in him. Joseph managed the collection and storage of the extra grain during the seven years of plenty and the distibution of the grain during the seven years of famine.
When the famine hit, it was so severe and widespread, Jacob, Joseph's father, sent all Joseph's brothers except the youngest Benjamin, now Jacob's favorite, to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph recognized his brothers and tested them to see if they had changed. He even accused them of being spies and locked up one of the brothers until they could return with Benjamin. When they returned, Joseph threatened to keep Benjamin, but Judah offered to stay in his place. When Joseph heard this, he told his brothers who he was, asked about his father, and sent for all of their families to come live in Egypt where Joseph could provide for them. Pharaoh even gave Joseph's family the area of Goshen, "the best of the land".
Before Jacob died, he blessed each of his sons and Joseph's two sons, whom he claimed as his own. He told him sons to be sure to bury him back in his homeland. Ater he died, they took his body and buried him in the cave with Abraham, Sarah, Issac, Rebekah, and Leah.
After Jacob's death, the brothers admitted they were worried Joseph had only pretended to forgive them for his father's sake. This broke Joseph heart because he really loved and forgave his brothers. He told them God had used their evil actions to save them instead, and he would always provide for them and their families. He also asked his family to take his bones back to the Promised Land when they returned after he died because he believed the Covenant established with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would happen, and they would eventually return to the land God promised his father and grandfathers.
Keep reading your Bible and follow The Bible from A to Z to see how God's people become Egyptian slaves and how God rescued them and led them to the Promised Land... 400 years later just as He had promised Abraham the night He walked between the animal halves to ratify the Covenant (Set C.)
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Four Hundred Years Later
The Israelites grew in number in Egypt until they became so many the new pharaoh, who did not remember Joseph, was scared they may join an enemy
attack and escape. Although he forced them to work extremely hard and told their midwives to kill any baby boys, the Israelites kept growing in number
until the pharaoh commanded every baby boy be thrown into the Nile River.
When a Levite family had a baby boy, they hid him as long as they could. Once they could hide him no longer, they put in him a basket in the Nile River. Pharaoh's daughter found the baby, named him Moses, asked his mother care for him, then brought him to the palace, and raised him as a son of pharaoh. When Moses of 40 years old, he fled from Egypt after killing an Egyptian for beating an Israelite.
The Isrealites, now slaves, cried out for help - four hundred years after God told Abraham his family would possess the Promised Land. God sent Moses back to Egypt after living as a shepherd in the desert for 40 years. Through a series of 10 plagues which culminated in the death of all the firstborn on the Egyptians, God proved himself more powerful than the most powerful nation on the earth at the time. The Israelites escaped the final plague because they had painted the blood of a lamb on their doorposts and over their doors as God had commanded. They still celebrate Passover to commemorate the night the death angel passed over their homes on that dreadful night.
The pharaoh who had refused God's command to let His people go through the course of the 10 plagues that ravaged his people finally relented and told them to leave. As they left, the Egyptians gave them gold, silver, clothing and more, so they plundered them as God had said would happen. Nevertheless, the pharaoh changed his mind and set out to bring the Israelites back. Once again, God proved Himself more powerful as he protected His people by splitting the waters of the Red Sea and allowing His people to walk through on dry land. When Pharaoh's army followed, the waters returned to their place and drowned the whole army.
The people praised God and set out on a journey to worship Him at the very same mountain from God which had called Moses to rescue them. Keep reading your Bible and follow The Bible from A to Z as God leads his people into the wilderness to teach them His ways and prepare them to enter the Promised Land...
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God gave His Law
God's people complained about their situation even though He had just freed them from slavery. He miraculously provided food, in the form of manna,
and water for His people the entire time they were in the desert. God gave His law,
the 10 Commandments and instructions for daily living, the Feasts, and the Tabernacle, for His people to Moses at Mt. Sinai.
God set His people apart with the Law
as a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation" to represet Him to the nations of the earth.
While God was giving Moses the Law on Mt. Sinai, the people made and worshiped a golden calf - the first of many times and years God's people would turn from Him to worship other gods and break the Covenant.
After Moses received the Law, he oversaw the construction of the Tabernacle to be sure it was built as God had commanded. When the people finished the Tabernacle, the pillar of cloud and fire leading them through the desert rested above it, and God's presence filled it.
God's presence continued to lead His people through the desert preparing them to enter Promised Land just ahead. The people praised God and set out on a journey to worship Him at the very same mountain from God which had called Moses to rescue them. Keep reading your Bible and follow The Bible from A to Z as God leads his people into the wilderness to teach them His ways and prepare them to enter the Promised Land...
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Hot and dusty 40 years
After Israel dedicated the Tabernacle, they began to prepare to conquer the Promised Land when they left Mt. Sinai. They counted their warriors,
arranged their camp, assigned duties when moving the Tabernacle and camp, and gave out some initial instructions to maintain godliness and the Law.
They celebrated their first Passover, or anniversary and remembrance of their rescue from Egypt, as God had commanded exactly one year after
the night they left Egypt. The next month, the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, and the people set out from Mt. Sinai for the land promised
to their forefathers - moving when the cloud of God's presence moved and staying when the cloud did not move.
The people began to complain about having nothing but manna to eat. Moses was so discouraged and upset he said he'd rather die then keep leading them (Numbers 11:10-15). God gave him some other men to help him then sent quail to the camp. The people acted so greedy over the quail, God punished them with a great plague. Miriam and Aaron even complained against Moses's about his wife and his special position of leadership and fellowship with God. As a result, Miriam contracted leprosy and had to stay outside the camp a week before God healed her. Then the people moved camp again.
God told Moses to send 12 spies, one from each tribe, to spy out the Promised Land (Number 13). The spies returned saying the land was just as God has promised - "flowing with milk and honey". But....ten of the spies said it was inhabited with people Israel could not conquer, people so big it made them look like grasshoppers. Only two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, believed God could give them victory over the people. The people started complaining again and tried to stone those who said the Lord was with them and would give them victory over the land.
As a result, God sent the people back into the wilderness for 40 years - hot and dusty 40 yearas - and said none of the people over 20 years old would enter the Promised Land except Joshua and Caleb. When they tried to enter the Promised Land on their own, they were defeated and retreated back into the desert.
Over the next 40 years, God continued to teach and train His people how to live set apart and wholly devoted to Him. They saw the seriousness of God's law when punished those who broke the Law and told them punish someone who broke the Law such as when He told them to stone someone who had broken the Sabbath. They saw the ground open and swallow entire families (Numbers 16) when their leaders were jealous of the position of others despite their own positions of leadership or were jealous when encouraged by other leaders to seek such positions. The people complained, so God showed them He had chosen the tribe of Levi to be His priest and proceed to give instructions for their work.
The people also complained about a lack of water at Meribah, and when Moses struck the rock instead of talking to the rock, God said Moses would not enter the Promised Land either. Israel had to deal with their relatives, the Edomites, refusing to allow them passage through their land. They dealt with the death of Aaron, one of their leaders. When they became impatient, tired of life in the desert, and complained again, God sent serpents to bite the people. God told Moses to make serpent on a pole the people could look to to be healed.
As God eventually set His people back on a path to the Promised Land, they defeated the nations before them. God's power was so strong among them even the sorcerer Balaam hired again them could not speak a curse upon them. Nevertheless, when Balaam encourage the local women to seduce the the men of Israel and entice them to worship their gods, some of the men turned from God. One even brought a non-Israelite into his tent in the sight of everyone. Phinehas, a priest, killed both of them in his zeal for the Lord.
Moses then took a census of the new generation - those under 20 the first time they approached the Promised Land. God appointed Joshua to take Moses position of leadership as the people entered the Promised Land and reviewed the offerings the people were to bring to Go and Feasts they were to celebrate. God told Moses to go to battle against the Midianites, distribute the plunder, and then he would die. God also told Moses how to divide up the Promised Land among the tribes. He allowed the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh to stay on the east side of the Jordan, but their men must go with into battle with the rest of the people before they could return to the land and settle down.
Before Moses died to be with the Lord, he gave final instructions to the people of Israel. The book of Deuteronomy is basically his farewell sermons to the people as their reminder of what had happened over the last 40 years and how it should impact the way they live in the Promised Land. He told them they must obey God to take possession of Promised Land before them and reminded them how their God is unlike any other god. After repeating the Ten Commandments, Moses summed it all up by telling them to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Deuteronomy 6:5) and teach "them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up" (Deuteronomy 6:7). He reminded Israel God chose them, and they are to keep the Covenant and worship only Him if they want success across the Jordan. If they ever wonder how they should proceed, he told them to remember all God has done over the past 40 years despite what they and their parents had done.
Moses reminded the people of the Law they received at Mt. Sinai - the Law they should live by in their new land - laws concerning worship, tithing, keeping the Feasts, their leaders, staying clean and pure, valuing life and property, marriage, and more. Moses gave instructions for the day they entered the Promised Land. There were to offer sacrifices God, build an alter, and write the Law upon the alter. He told them to divide the camp in two with half on Mount Ebal to recite the curses for breaking the Covenant and the other half on Mount Gerizim to recite the blessings of keeping Covenant. Then Moses and the people renewed the same Covenant their parents made with God at Mount Sinai, and Moses reminded them to return to God when they had broken the Covenant, and He would remain faithful to His part of the Covenant. He told them God had set "life and good, death and evil" before them (Deuteronomy 30:15), and they should choose life by choosing to obey Him.
Moses them commissioned Joshua and wrote out the Law for the priest for them to read every seven years at the Feast of Booths so they could teach the Law to the coming generations. Moses told the people he knew what was coming - he knew they would rebel and provoke the Lord. he taught them a song to remind them their coming troubles were because of their unfaithfulness and NOT God's. God had been faithful and would always be faithful. God said the song would be a witness against them when troubles came. Moses gave a final blessing to people and to each tribe and then went up to Mount Nebo where God showed Him the Promised Land. God buried him there, and the people mourned for 30 days.
Joshua took command of the people of Israel and prepared to conquer the land promised to their forefathers.
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Into the Promised Land
After Moses's death, God commissioned Joshua and told him to cross over the Jordan with the people into the Promised Land. God promised He
would be with Joshua just as He had been with Moses and told him every where he would walk in the new land was already given to them,
only be "strong and courageous."
Joshua commanded the people to get ready and sent two spies into the first city across the Jordan from them - Jericho. A prostitute named Rahab hid the spies from the kings men and told the men how terrified her people were of the people of Israel because they had heard all about what their God had done for them - bringing them out of Egypt and defeating other nations for them on their way to the Promised Land. Rahab also asked them to spare her family when they came into the city. The spies promised to protect everyone in her house that day, climbed out the window, hid three days as Rahab suggested, and then reported all she told them to Joshua.
Joshua told the people to get ready to cross the Jordan and follow the men carrying the Ark of the Covenant. When the men's feet touched the waters of the Jordan River, the waters "backed up in a heap very far away," and the people crossed over the Jordan. Each tribe brought a stone out of the middle of the Jordan to build a memorial to help their children remember God's provision and therefore fear Him in reverence all their lives. When the surrounding nations heard what happened, they were all terrified, and "their hearts melted" in fear. After Israel crossed the Jordan, they circumcised the males then celebrated the annual Passover. The next day, they ate the food grown in the Promised Land, and the manna stopped.
Before Israel took Jericho, Joshua saw a man standing before him with his sword drawn. When Joshua asked if he was for or against them, the man replied, "Neither. I am the commander of the Lord's army." Joshua worshiped him, and the man told him to take off his sandals just as Moses had been commanded. Then God gave Joshua his battle plan for attacking Jericho: The soldiers were to march around the city once a day for six days following the priests carrying the Ark of Covenant They were to march around seven times on the seventh day, and then all the people were to shout when they hear the trumpets. Then the walls of Jericho would fall.
That is exactly what they did, and that is exactly what happened. The people marched over the walls into the city and took it - dedicating everything to the Lord and saving nothing but Rahab and the people in her home. The capture of the next city did not go as well because one man, Achan, took plunder. As a result, some Israelites died in the first attempt, and Achan and his whole family were stoned.
After Israel repented and successfully took Ai, Joshua and the people built an alter to God on Mt. Ebal and made sacrifices to Him. Joshua wrote the law of Moses on the stones and read the whole Book of the Law as they renewed the Covenant as Moses had commanded them - with half of them on Mt. Ebal and half on Mt. Gerizim calling out the blessings and curses of Covenant.
Gibeon, one of the nearby nations, sent a delegation to Joshua pretending to be from a far off nation and wanting to establish a treaty with Israel. Israel accepted their terms without praying about it before they discovered their scheme. Israel kept their word not to harm the people but made them wood cutters and water carries for the Tabernacle.
The king of Jerusalem called other nations together to attack to Gibeon less they joined Israel and attacked them. Gibeon called for Joshua's help, a term of their treaty. God told him to go, and threw the opposing armies into a panic before Israel and sent hailstones down on them killing more than the soldiers killed. Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and it did until Israel completely won the battle.
Israel continued their conquest of the Promised Land in the south and then the north as God directed. However, they did not completely remove the Canaanite people as God commanded. As a result, the people of the land continued to fight against them and eventually lead them astray from worshiping God. Joshua divided up the Promised Land among the tribes, established Cities of Refuge, and gave cities and pastures to the Levites throughout the whole Land so the could be among all the people and teach them the Law. The tribes that settled east of the Jordan returned home and committed to always serve God.
Before Joshua died, he called Israel's leaders together and told them to remain faithful to God and His commands. The people renewed the Covenant again at Shechem and promised to follow God. Joshua died at 110 years old, and the people continued to serve God as long as the elders who knew what God had done for them led them.
What happened to the next generations totally depended upon their own commitment to the Lord.
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Judges, Prophets, and Kings
Sadly, their commitment did not last past the death of those who
lived in the desert for the 40 years. Even they did not fully obey God's command to completely remove the inhabitances of the land and their alters.
Neither did they teach their children about God. As a result, God said the people they left would always be a "thorn in their sides".
Although the period of the judges, the time from when they entered the Promised Land until King Saul, includes many famous "Sunday School heroes", it actually shows a people spiraling deeper and deeper into sin. The Bible repeats the cycle over and over: Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, they were oppressed by foreigners, they called out to God, God raised up a judge to deliver them, the land had rest, Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord...
The judges included Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson. The same time period also inclued stories of people hiring "personal priests", a Levite having a concubine and givng her up to be raped, all the tribes attaching one tribe then allowing that tribe to kidnap their daugters for brides.
Eventually, Israel asked for a king so they could be like the nations around them. God gave them Saul who eventually stoped obeying Him. As a result, he lost the kingdom to a young man named David although he tried for years to kill him before he died. Even the reign of King David, the most famous and loved king of Israel was tainted with sin and bloodhshed - even among the members of his own family.
The people did not remain faithful to God alone. Neither did many of the kings who led them. Neverthess, God continues to uphold His side of the Coventant....for now....
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Kings & the Kingdom Split
1 Samuel 8-31 -
2 Samuel - ESV - KJV - NIV
1 Kings - ESV - KJV - NIV
1 Chronicles - ESV - KJV - NIV
2 Chronicles 1-12 - ESV - KJV - NIV
Psalms - ESV - KJV - NIV
Proverbs - ESV - KJV - NIV
Ecclesiastes - ESV - KJV - NIV
Song of Solomon - ESV - KJV - NIV
Despite the warnings, Israel still wanted to be like the surrounding nations. So God gave them what they wanted: an earthly king.
The first king was Saul from the tribe of Benjamin. He did not fully carryout the command to "blot out the memory of Amalek" from Deuteronomy 25:17-19, so God rejected his kingship and had David anointed in his place.
The transfer of power was not a smooth. Young David became more popular than Saul after he killed Goliath, and an evil spirit tormented Saul after God rejected him. As a result, Saul tried on numerous times over several years to kill David even though David was best friends with his on Jonathan and even gave up a perfect opportunity to kill Saul and end the chase. David even had to hide in the desert and the mountains from Saul. Nevertheless, God used this time to build the framework for David's kingdom.
God described David as a "man after my own heart" (1 Samuel 13) and made a covenant with him to "establish the throne of his kingdom forever" (2 Samuel 7). In other words, God promised David, among other things, he would always have an heir on the throne of Israel. After Saul's death, David became the greatest and most loved king of Israel.
His regin was not without trouble though. David had an affair and arranged the murder of his lover's husband. His sons from his different wives did not get along. One raped his half-sister. Another brother killed him when David did not punish him then tried to take over the kingdom. Nevertheless, David always remained faithful to God. David wanted to build a temple for God, but God said his son Solomon would build it.
After Solomon became king, God asked him what one this he wanted. Solomon asked for wisdom to rule the kingdom, so God made him the wisest man to ever live. Solomon built a great temple for God, but only after he finished building an even larger, grander "government complex" and a house for wife from Egypt - the kings of Israel were not to marry foreign women because they could be swayed by their wife's false religion. In fact, Solomon has hundreds of wives and concubines and eventually did not remain faithful to God as his father had done.
As a result, God took over half the kingdom from Solomon's son Rehoboam. When Rehoboam took the advice of his friends over the advise of the wise men and decided to rule Israel with a stronger hand than is father, all the tribes except Judah rebelled and followed Jeroboam as their king instead.
Jeroboam set up two golden calves in Dan and Bethel so the people could "worship God" in the Northern Kingdom and not return to Jerusalem to worhsip for fear they would reunite under Rehoboam and kill him. He made high places to worship and appointed priest who were not Levites. Therefore, the people began to turn away from truly worshiping God and slowly began to worship other gods.
Nevertheless, God continued to uphold His side of the Covenant....for now....
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Listen to These Warnings
2 Kings - ESV - KJV - NIV
2 Chronicles 13-36 - ESV - KJV - NIV
Amos - ESV - KJV - NIV
Jonah - ESV - KJV - NIV
Hosea - ESV - KJV - NIV
Micah - ESV - KJV - NIV
Isaiah - ESV - KJV - NIV
Nahum - ESV - KJV - NIV
Zephaniah - ESV - KJV - NIV
Habakkuk - ESV - KJV - NIV
Jeremiah - ESV - KJV - NIV
Ezekiel 1-33 - ESV - KJV - NIV
Despite the people and the king's failure to uphold their part of the Covenant, God continued to uphold His part. He also sent
prophet after prophet to remind the people about the consequences of not remaining faithful to Him.
God sent Elijah and Elisha to the kings of Israel in the 800's BC - less than 100 years after King David died and about 100 years before the fall of the kingdom to Assyria. Between Elijah and Elisha, they called down fire from Heaven to kill the priest of the queen's false god, healed people, raised people from the dead, and more. Nevertheless, the kings often ignored their advice and warnings. (One of the worst kings did repent near the end of his life after Elijah told him God was going to bring disaster upon him.)
Eventually, Jeroboam II, one of the kings of Israel, regained control of the land once ruled by Solomon (2 Kings 14:25) because Assyria, their rival to the north experienced trouble on their other borders, leaving Israel to expand northward again. During this time, God sent the prophet Jonah to the enemy offering to relent on their destruction if they repented (Jonah). Jonah did not want to go, and their repentance greatly upset him.
God sent Amos to Israel during Jeroboam II's reign. Amos warned both kingdoms their current state of prosperity was not God's stamp of approval upon them and their worship of the Baals. Instead, he told them they would experience the "day of the Lord" or the judgment they expected to come to their enemies rather than their enemies if they did not turn back to God. He reminded them if they did turn back to Him, God would forgive them and bless them as the Covenant promised. God later sent Nahum in the 600's to warn Nineveh of their coming judgment and destruction which happened exactly as God said it would happen.
Hosea also went to Jeroboam as well as Israel's final six kings - one king after another who ruled over a span of about 30 years amid conspiracy, rebellion, assassinations, and paying of tribute. He reminded the people of their marriage or union with God and pointed out how their worship of the false gods resembled the actions of a wayward wife leaving her husband for another. He also reminded them God would take them back as a loving husband if they would only return whole heatedly to Him.
The kings and the people did not turn back to God. As a result, Israel fell to the Assyrian empire in 722 B.C. The Assyrians carried them off into captivity and settled their portion of the Promised Land with other captured peoples who did not know or fear God. God sent lions to attack the people, and they requested a priest of the "god of the land" to come teach them about the god where they now lived. The Assyrian king sent a priest back to Bethel to teach the people, but they only added the "worship" of God to the worship of their gods - 2 Kings 17:24-41.
Although Judah did not turn away from God as quick, they still followed Israels example and eventually became even more wicked then the northern kingdom. God sent prophets to them as well including Isaiah and Jeremiah. Isaiah pointed out the people's unwillingness to repent and God's purpose for the coming judgment. He reminded the people God is Holy and would uphold His Covenant with a remnant of people faithful to Him. Jeremiah recorded the troubled times of Judah and God's warnings to the kings and people of the time and the hope of a new Covenant in the future (which was fulfilled in Christ).
God also sent other prophets. Micah pointed out the people's sins in the early 700's yet also reminded them of God's faithfulness, steadfast love, and compassion just as He always has been. Zephaniah prophesied during the reign of the evil, child-sacrificing Manasseh pointing out the "day of Lord" will be a day of judgment for sinners but blessing for God's children and that God will be right, or just, in how He deals with both groups. Habakkuk questioned God's coming judgment on Judah by a foreign, wicked nation but rested in knowing God's just and merciful plan always leads to the eventual punishment of the evil and blessing of the righteous who live by faith in Him.
God warned His people over and over to remain faithfull to the Him and reminded them of the consequences of breaking of their Covenant. Nevertheless, they did not listen and followed the example of the northern Kingdom into judgement.
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Make Yourself at Home
Despite God's warning to remain faithful to the Him, Judah did not listen and suffered the consequences of breaking the Covenant just as like the
In 597 B.C., Babylon besieged Jerusalem and carried King Jehoacahin, his family, the treasuries of the temple, and 10,000 captives (mighty men of valor and craftsmen leaving only the poorest in the land) back to Babylon (2 Kings 24:1-18). In 586 B.C, Babylon destroyed the walls of Jerusalem and the temple. They killed King Zedekiah's sons, put out his eyes, and took him captive along with others back to Babylon (2 Kings 25:1-21). Babylon took more captives in 582 B.C. (Jeremiah 52:28-30).
Ezekiel knew this was happening and reminded the people this was the consequences of breaking the Covenant. He also reminded them God is faithful and would keep His promises - even if they did not understand how that could happen after the fall of Jerusalem. Ezekiel even saw the temple of the New Heaven as a promise of what is to come.
Jeremiah described and lamented the destruction of Jerusalem in Lamentations. He held fast to faith in God's mercy and faithfulness to fulfill the Covenant by asking for His forgiveness and seeking to restore the Covenant relationship with God. Jeremiah also sent letters to the captives before he became an exile himself and reminded the people that God was in control. Through Jeremiah, God told the captives to "build houses...plant gardens...have children....pray for their new city...do not listen to the false prophets...I will bring you home in 70 years" (Jeremiah 29:4-14 ). Isaiah even prophesied King Cyrus who would be the one to release the people of Judah to return home to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple (Isaiah 44:28).
When Babylon carried off the captives, they taught the brightest of them to be wisemen - probably hoping to harness the power of their god for Babylon. Daniel and his friends were some of these captives serving in the king's palace. Daniel and his friends served the King yet never wavered in their faithfulness to God even when threatened with the furnace and the lion's den. God blessed them as a result - just as He promised in the Covenant with His people. God gave Daniel the ability to interpret dreams and gave him visions of the future including the coming of the Messiah. Daniel foretold events to come with amazing accuracy.
Esther tells the story of a young lady who became the queen of Persia "for such a time as this" to save her people from annihilation.
Through the midst of Israels' exile, God warned other nations they would be judged and suffer the consequences of their treatment toward His people. He told Edom, the descendants of Esau, through Obadiah they would be judged for not helping God's people and instead rejoicing over their destruction and actually helping the enemy.
Although God's people were in a foreign land, God still reigned. He continued the work to redeem this fall world through the seed of Adam and Eve, Abraham, and David.
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New Walls and Temple, a reNewed Covenant
God continued the work to redeem this fallen world even while His chosen people were in captivity in a foreign land and kept His promise to bring
them home in 70 years.
Around 538 B.C., God told Cyrus, the king of Persia, to build Him "a house at Jerusalem" (Ezra 1:2). Cyrus said anyone among God's people who wanted to return to Jerusalem could return and rebuild the temple. He even sent the vessels taken from the temple back with the exiles to Jerusalem and told the other people of the kingdom to help them.
God "stirred up" the spirit of over 40,000 of His people to return to Jerusalem after Cyrus's edict. The exiles first repaired the alter so they could celebrate the appointed feasts and offer the regular sacrifices required by the Law. Two years later, they appointed Levites to supervise the rebuilding of the temple. The people had a great celebration after they finished the foundation. Some people shouted for joy while others wept when they saw the foundation because it did not compare to the former foundation.
The people living in the land asked to help rebuild the temple because they said they worshiped God too and had been offering Him sacrifices. When the leaders told them no, the people in the land began to cause problems for the people of Judah - discouraging them and trying to scare them. They even wrote letters to the king telling him the people of Judah would rebel against him when they finished the temple. The ploy worked, and construction on the temple stopped for about 10 years.
God sent the prophet Haggai to point out the hypocrisy of the people living in "paneled" or nice houses while God's house still laid in ruin. He told them to consider their current situation and consider if it was not due to their disobedience. They planted and worked hard, but the harvests were small. God told them He was still with them and stirred up Zerubbabel, Joshua and the people to work on the temple. He told them that, despite the fact this temple would not be as grand as the former, He was still with them and promised to bless them.
Zechariah also prophesied to the Jews. The people were back in the Promised Land, but they were still oppressed and waiting on the Messiah. Even though the prophets had said things would be better, it seemed nothing had changed in their situation since before captivity. Zechariah pointed out nothing had changed in their hearts either and that was the most important change. He reminded them if God was faithful to carry out the curses of the Covenant, He would surely carry out the blessings as well - in His time and in His way.
The people began to rebuild the temple in 520 B.C. and, once again, faced opposition. The governor of the area wrote a letter to the king. When Darius the king searched the records and found Cyrus's decree to rebuild, he actually ordered the area "Beyond the River" be taxed to help rebuild the temple and said he would provide the material for the sacrifices as long as the people promised to pray for "the life of the king and his sons" (Ezra 6:8-10). The people finished the temple in the last months of 515. They celebrated Passover in the first month of 516 B.C. - 70 years from the beginning of the exile in 586 B.C. just as God had promised (Jeremiah 25:11).
Fifty-seven years later, in 458 B.C., the king of Persia, Artaxerxes, sent Ezra back to Jerusalem with more exiles and with silver and gold offerings from the king and more offerings from the people for the "God who dwells in Jerusalem". He even ordered the rulers of the land to give Ezra whatever he needed. The king also gave orders for Ezra to establish the Mosaic law in the land, set up judges, and teach the Law to anyone who did not know it. (Ezra 7) When Ezra arrived, he realized God's people had once again intermarried with the people of the land. He begged God's forgiveness and called the people to repentance.
About 10 years later, in 446 B.C., Nehemiah, the king's cup bearer, heard the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, the gates burned, and the people in trouble. At his request, the king sent him back with protection and provisions to rebuild the wall. After surveying the situation, Nehemiah rallied the people to start rebuilding the wall. They instantly face opposition from the surrounding peoples who feared the strength of the city and its people if the walls were rebuilt. Despite the opposition and conspiracy, the people continued to work, tools in one hand and weapons in the other. They complete the wall in 52 days.
The people gathered to celebrate, and Ezra read the Law. As the people wept at hearing God's word (Nehemiah 8:9), Nehemiah told them not to weep or mourn but to celebrate because "the joy of the LORD is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10). The heads of the father's houses returned the following day to "study the words of the Law" (Nehemiah 8:13) and discovered it was time to celebrate the Feast of Booths. They feasted seven days and gathered again on the eighth day according as directed in the Law.
They read from the Law for half of the day, confessed and worshiped (Nehemiah 9:3). Then they began to bless God as they recounted his faithfulness and all His blessings to His chosen people throughout the years. They also recounted the people's unfaithfulness to God. The people renewed the Covenant and promised "to walk in God's Law" (Nehemiah 10:29). The people also organized themselves to continue the work of the temple and repopulate their land.
Nevertheless, the people still sinned - corruption among the priest, intermarriage, abusing the disadvantaged, and not giving their tithes - and they suffered the consequences - ruled by another nation, small territory, small in number, oppressed by their neighbors, drought, pestilence, etc., and, most important, the lack of God's glory in the temple.
About 100 years after Cyrus's decree, God sent Malachi to point out these sins and call the people to repentance as they awaited the coming Messiah.
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One Special Baby
God's people longed for a Messiah to rescue them from their oppression as God had promised. At the perfect time in history, God sent the long awaited King,
His son, into the world - though not like the people expected.
From the birth of John the Baptist, Jesus's forerunner, to His virgin mother, Jesus's birth in Bethlehem fulfilled every single prophecy concerning His birth. An angel told both his mother Mary and John's father Zechariah they would each have a son with special a purpose. Zechariah did not believe the angel at first and therefore could not talk until his son was born. John grew up telling people to repent for the Kingdom was at hand.
Mary did believe the angel, and an angel told Joseph, her fiance, to marry her because her child was from God. When it was almost time for Mary to give birth, Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem, Joseph's home town, to be counted in a census. Jesus was born there in a stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.
Angels announced His birth to shepherds in the fields nearby. They visited Him that very night, and then told everyone the saw about the new-born Messiah.
Eight days later, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple to be dedicated as commanded. A man and woman at the temple, Simeon and Anna, recognized Jesus as the Messiah and worshiped Him.
At some point, wise men from the East also visited Jesus and gave Him gifts. When Herod found out they were looking for a new born king, he had all boys in Jerusalem under two years old killed to keep the child from taking his throne. An angel had warned Joseph before, and he had taken Mary and Jesus to Egypt. After Herod died, Joseph and his family returned to Israel and lived in Nazareth.
When Jesus was 12 years old, he stayed behind in Jerusalem when His family headed home after Passover. His parents found him three days later talking with the leaders.
The Bible tells us Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.
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Parables & Miracles
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life - John 3:16.
Matthew 3- 15 - ESV - KJV - NIV
Mark 1-9 - ESV - KJV - NIV
Luke 2:21 - Luke 21- ESV - KJV - NIV
John 1:18 - John 11 - ESV - KJV - NIV
When Jesus was about 30 years old, He was baptized by John the Baptist. He then went into the desert to fast for 40 days. After the 40 days, the devil
tempted Jesus with food and power, but Jesus overcame each temptation with correct references from Scritpure. After the temptation, Jesus called 12 men
to be his closest disciples as he began to teach and perform miracles.
Jesus loved the people. Although he did not always condone their actions, Jesus had compassion on the people. He healed many, made evil spirits leave them, raised people from the dead, ate with sinners, touched lepers - people no one would touch for fear of contamination - and more.
Jesus also taught the people how the Law really dealt to their hearts, how He was the Son of God and came to fulfill the Law, and what that meant in their lives. He often used parables to teach the people important truths such as forgiveness and repentance in a way they could understand. People often asked Jesus questions about what they should and should not do, but they not always understand His answers. One day, a man asked Jesus what the most important commandment was. Jesus told the man the two most important things to do were to love God and to love other people.
Although some people questioned Jesus and rejected Him, many people loved Him and followed Him. The Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - give us many specific examples of what Jesus did during His ministry and what He taught so we can understand the Bible and God's plan more fully, become His disciples and teach others how to be disciples.
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Questioned & Crucified
Although many people loved and followed Jesus, not everyone did. The religious leaders did not like Jesus because His teachings often
contradicted their own teachings. The leaders often questioned Him in an attempt to catch Him saying something against the Law or against their
interpretation of the Law. Jesus answered their questions by pointing people to what was in their hearts, telling them He was God's son, and showing how
His life would fulfill the teachings of the Law and the Prophets - even foretelling His death and resurrection.
Callings Himself God's son infuriated the religious leaders, and they began to plot to have Him killed. Jesus came into Jerusalem at the beginning of the Passover week like a Roman general entering Rome with a Triumph after victory in battle. The people waved palm branches and laid out branches and their cloaks as a path for His donkey to walk over.
Later that week, one of Jesus's own disciples betrayed Him to the religious leaders one night. The leaders arrested Him and convicted Him. He was crucified the next morning between two criminals. Jesus asked God to forgive the people even while He hung on the cross.
Some of Jesus's followers put His body in a tomb and waited until they could prepare His body for burial...
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Resurrection Law & Prophets Fulfilled
Some of Jesus's followers put His body in a borrowed tomb and waited until they could prepare His body for burial after the Sabbath.
When they arrived Sunday morning, they found the stone rolled away, the guards in a daze, and the tomb empty. An angel was there instead and told them Jesus was not there. He is alive!
At first, Jesus's followers found it hard to believe, but Jesus came to them and talked with them. He explained how his life and the events of the last few days fulfilled many prophesies and promises in the Old Testament.
Although the religious leaders tired to cover up the story, Jesus's followers would not keep quite; their Savior was about to send them on a mission that would change the whole world!
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Sent to Share
Jesus told His disciples to go and make disciples teaching them all He had taught them. He told they to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.
After He gave them this command or commission, He told them to wait for the Helper He promised to send. Then He ascended into Heaven. Angels told those who were watching that He would return.
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Tongues of Fire
Jesus's followers waited together in Jerusalem like Jesus told them to wait. They were all together on Pentecost when something like
tongues of fire came upon them. They were filled with the Holy Spirit began to speak in other languages and share the Gospel.
Three thousand people believed that day.
The followers continued to spread the Good News and were devoted to a life of prayer. They shared all they had with each other, and God continued to work though them and added to their number every day.
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Unexpected Recipients Follow the Way
Not everyone followed The Way. May Jews still did not believe Jesus was the Messiah and persecuted the Jews who followed The Way. Nevertheless,
the followers of Jesus were bold and continued to tell others about the Messiah.
One day, Jesus appeared to a man named Saul who was persecuting followers of Jesus. He believed and became one of the first missionaries. His name was changed to Paul, and he wrote many of the books in the New Testament.
Peter, one of Jesus's 12 disciples, had a vision one day of God telling him to eat unclean animals. God told Peter not to call what He created unclean. After the vision, Peter went to the home of Cornelius, a Gentile, and told him and his family about the Jesus. Cornelius and his family believed and received the Holy Spirit. When the Jewish followers of Jesus realized the Gospel was for Gentiles too, they glorified God!
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Violence Spreads the Gospel
Peter, one of Jesus's 12 disciples, had a vision one day of God telling him to eat unclean animals. God told Peter not to call what He created unclean.
After the vision, Peter went to the home of Cornelius, a Gentile, and told him and his family about the Jesus. Cornelius and his family believed and
received the Holy Spirit. When the Jewish followers of Jesus realized the Gospel was for Gentiles too, they glorified God!
The disciples and other believers contintued to spread the Gospel amist persecution. Paul, along with other believers, traveled around the Roman world preaching the truth about Jesus, how to live as a follower of Jesus, and encouraging followers as they faced false teachers, uncertanties and hard times. These missionaries and others started churches in many of the cities they visited while the leaders back in Jerusalem made sure the message of the Gospel stayed true to the teachings of Jesus and the Old Testament.
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Writings to Instruct
Paul wrote letters to many of the churches he started and believers in those cities. The other disciples also wrote letters to believers scattered around
the Roman world. These letters provided instructions on how followers of Jesus were to live. They also helped the new believers discern between
true doctrine according to Jesus's teachings and the Old Testament. Many of the letters also encouraged the believers as they struggled to live
in a pagan world.
The recipients of the letters often passed on the letters to other believers and churches so they could read them and learn as well. The New Testament consist of many of these letters.
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X Out the Old
Followers of Jesus were called to give up their old ways and live like Jesus. They were to be "reborn" and live their lives totally devoted to God
and worship God alone.
Paul and other disciples wrote letters to help believers know how to live in a world that did not understand and often did not accept the way they were called to live.
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You Have Hope
Our only Hope in the "already but not yet" is knowing Jesus is coming again!
1 & 2 Peter ESV - KJV - NIV
Hebrews- ESV - KJV - NIV
2 Timothy - ESV - KJV - NIV
Jude- ESV - KJV - NIV
1 ,2 & 3 John - ESV - KJV - NIV
The Roman world required its citizens to give their worship to the Roman Emperor who called himself god and the myriad of other patron gods in their cities. It was often hard for new believers. Christians leaders and teachers such as Paul, Timothy, and John wrote letters to the believers to encourage them to remain faithful and keep their hope in truth of Christ and His return. They remained the believers that although Jesus had defeated satan and death, He suffered while on this earth. Christians are often called to suffer as we strive to become more like Jesus each day.
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Zion - A New Heaven and a New Earth
God gave John a vision of the End of Times when He will return, remove satan from this earth, and set up His eternal Kingdom. Those who love God will live with Him in a New Heaven and a New Earth. Those who do not love God will be judged and sent to eternal tourment.