(Continued from page 385)An accurate understanding of the Old Testament chronology is important!
When we come to the Bible and begin reading from Genesis in the Old Testament we may precede through the books and gain considerable understanding from the leading of the Holy Spirit. But we can find a problem in our remembrance of details and actually piecing together historical evidence in a sequence that is understandable to us and, equally important, to those to whom we hope to impart knowledge and understanding. Although we can rely on our Savior God to impart exactly what is required by Him when called on to give an account for our faith (1 Peter 3v15; Matt. 10v19-20; Mark 13v11; Luke 12v12 and 21v14-15) we find that a systematic approach to Old Testament chronology is paramount in our understanding of the truth contained in the 39 books which comprise the Old Testament. Many people, even Christians, quickly become bogged down in the Old Testament because of lack of knowledge of its structure and thus they neglect the study of these important books because of difficulty in grasping the sequence of events, the relationship to other major events, and the relationship of the books to each other. Far from being irrelevant to the study of the New Testament, the Old Testament will open our eyes to the truths revealed at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and, of course, our eyes are then opened to such important events as the prophecies of His coming and the many examples of "shadowing" and "types"(i.e., the revealing of Christ-like figures, e.g. Moses as a Shepherd chosen by God) revealed in the Old Testament.
There are many who fail to grasp the significance of the sacrifices for sin in what some have termed the "slaughterhouse" portrayed in Leviticus - where there is blood shed everywhere - and so fail to fully grasp the absolute necessity for the Perfect Lamb of God to come to earth and redeem us. Hebrews 9:12 tells us:
"...and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption" (cf. Heb 9:14-25; 10:4)1
This difference between the Old and New Testaments, or Covenants, between God and man, based on the death of something or someone, needs to be clearly understood. The Old Testament substitutionary sacrifice of an animal designated by God, depending on the reason and nature of the sin offering, contrasts dramatically and importantly with the New Covenant entered into by the Lord Jesus Christ based on His own blood. Accurate understanding of chronology will enable us to grasp the important contrasts between these covenants and thus enable us to better impart soul-saving truth into the lives we influence as disciples of Christ.
Many years ago I struggled to persuade a woman, who had been saved out of the Jehovah's Witnesses, that it was difficult to teach the truth (as she was attempting to do with an interested friend) about the gospel by starting from Genesis. Her intention was to carry on reading right through directly until she reached the New Testament! "Show her Jesus first!" was my encouragement, for it is not until we think rightly of Him that we see the absolute truth of all the rest. Many have tried this route from Genesis through the Historical Books until they reach Ruth and find that this takes place in the time of the Judges (Ruth 1v1: "Now it came about in the days when the judges governed...." NASB). Reading on through 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings they may recognize, at Chronicles, that they are in a previous period of history. Reading through Ezra and on to the Books of Poetry (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon) takes us back to the monarchic times of Solomon and David. Reading on to the Major (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel) and Minor (Hosea to Malachi, inclusive) prophets we are returned to those periods of history covered by the book of Kings. If we could overcome our natural tendency to stick with traditions with which we are fondly familiar, we might arrange the books as they developed chronologically, rather than remaining with the sequential Genesis to Malachi pattern which makes the Old Testament so difficult for the layman to follow.
We need to come to an understanding of chronology and not only have an insight into the sequence of events and their relationship to each other but also to the way they build up into a systematic theology as God's Word is revealed from the Old Testament through to the New Testament. It is a fact that the cults of the world develop from the private interpretations of individuals (2 Peter 1v20-21) who force their own interpretations into the Word because of a lack of systematic theology (e.g. the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses) caused by the leading of demons (1 Timothy 4:1).
It is important to know when the prophets lived and when invasions, dispersions, and major military battles took place because, without these, we will struggle to understand what many of the prophecies of the Old Testament really meant. This chronology also becomes a vitally important apologetic for the historical accuracy of the Old Testament. The effect of liberal theologians and other attacks of the last 100 years has been to condemn the Word of God at every turn and, as a result, Old Testament prophecy has been projected as history reported "after the fact" and not as the result of the sovereignty of the Almighty omnipotent God of the Bible bringing to pass future predictions which affect nations and individuals hundreds of years later! Thus we can see the importance of recognizing when words were spoken and recorded, and by whom, so that the significance of the time gap and the complete fulfilment of the prophecy itself adds testimony to the veracity of the Bible.
(Continued on page 387)