Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bird's Eye View of the Bible p3 - The United and Divided Kingdoms

We continue today with our journey through the Bible's major themes.  In this "bird's-eye" overview we come to that period of time wherein Israel the nation went from being administrated by Judges to that of Kings.  It is also during this time that God raises up prophets, beginning with Samuel and increasingly brings His prophetic word to bear upon the nation.  Historically, this period of time in the Bible begins in 1 Samuel and ends with Nehemiah.  This time-frame includes all of the poetical books (written mostly by Kings David and Solomon) and also all 17 prophetic books (Isaiah through Malachi). 
For the Christian believer, observing the period of the Kings teaches us valuable lessons on how God deals with us, matters of the heart, the need for Godly character and the triumph and tragedies involved in our responses to God's word. 
More importantly, we see the establishment of the offices of prophet and king, both of which foreshadow the person and work of Jesus Christ.  He as our Prophet is God in human flesh revealing God at work on humanity's behalf.  As The King, Christ rules over His church and will be returning soon in bodily form to set up His Kingdom.  Below are summaries of the two themes comprising this crucial period of the biblical record - The United and Divided Kingdoms.

Theme Seven: United Kingdom
After refusing to acknowledge God as their true king, God in His permissive will grants the people’s request for a human king.  In the books of Samuel and the first part of 1 Kings God focuses our attention upon 3 kings: Saul, David and Solomon.  Among them David ranks as the first in importance.  Whenever you see this theme, you know that we will be focusing upon one or all three of these Kings.
Theme Eight: Divided Kingdom
Following the death of Solomon, Israel become divided into two kingdoms: Israel to the North and Judah to the South.  The Northern Kingdom has 19 kings, spanning a period of 208 years.  Sadly, not one example of a godly king is found in the Northern Kingdom of Samaria (sometimes also called Ephraim or Israel).  The Northern Kingdom became a rival center of worship and spirituality, picturing for us example after example of the battle that the Christian wages against the self and the world.
The Southern Kingdom (sometimes called Judah) ends up having 20 kings, 8 of which were godly and 3 of those being of exceptional godly character.  It would be through this kingline that God would eventually bring about Christ.  The kingdom of Judah spanned from 930 b.c to 722 b.c, ending in it's captivity into Babylon.  Even though it looked like God was done with that people, He kept sending prophets like Daniel and within 70 years brought the nation back to Jerusalem.  Men such as Ezra, Nehemiah and Malachi were raised up to ministry to these people.  God shows once again that His faithfulness to His promises exceeds the sin and faithlessness of his people.  No other period of time in the Old Testament marks such extremes of spiritual revival and marked rebellion as this period of the Divided Kingdom. 
Tomorrow we will look at two final themes of the Old Testament - Exile and Anticipation.  Understand, dear reader, that God's plan for history provides a pattern for His particular plan for you.  Romans 15:4 gives you the value for studying scriptures such as the ones we just surveyed:  "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

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