Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tuesday's Timeline: Let's Get Caught Up!

Four books will be highlighted today even though one of them has already been completed on the reading schedule.  (Sorry about that! But I hope all have kept up with their reading.)

Let's look at the Old Testament Timeline first. 

As we made our way into the book of Joshua we had just completed the Pentateuch which concluded the transfer of leadership to Joshua the son of Nun (descendant of Joseph through the tribe of Ephraim; see Numbers 13:8 and I Chronicles 7:22-27). I am always momentarily sad whenever I read of Moses' final good-by to the Children of Israel, his ascent up Mount Nebo, and his viewing of the Promised Land from the heights before his death, but the sadness gives way to thankfulness as I remember that God did not leave His people without a guide (even the name Joshua means "Jehovah saves"[1]) and that Moses' ascent went much higher than Mount Nebo that day as he was taken to the very presence of his friend, Jehovah. The impatient me grieves that Moses didn't get to go with this new nation into the land of Israel but the patient me that has 20/20 vision knows that Moses' feet did touch the Promised Land when he met with Jesus there on the Mount of Transfiguration.

With that in mind let's first survey Joshua. 

If you are still keeping a timeline, and I hope you are, the year would be approximately 1451 BC or about 2550 years after the world's creation on a strict, literal timeline based upon events and dates given by Moses in the first five books of the Old Testament.  Joshua died at the age of 110 (Joshua 24:29) which would have occurred in approximately 1424 BC[2].

With the exception of the passage that details Joshua's death, it is believed that Joshua was the author of this history. Actually, Joshua was probably the author of the last few chapters of Deuteronomy that dealt with the death of Moses as well. Someone like Samuel probably added the last few verses to the book of Joshua.

The history given in the book tells of the seven years of conquest with the resulting land division. The spiritual description tells us of the failures of the Israelites to rid the land of its idolatrous inhabitants. Bible readers know that this sets the stage for the book of Judges.

After the death of Joshua the people had no strong leader. This was meant to be a good thing as the LORD Himself intended them to follow Him and Him only. We are told that the people served the LORD during Joshua's lifetime and that of the elders that had experienced the miraculous events of the conquest (Joshua 24:31) but that once that generation had died their offspring did not follow the Lord but worshipped the idols of the people they had allowed to remain in the land (Judges 2:6-13). Thus began the cycle of sin, slavery, and salvation (or degradation, depression, and deliverance) for which the book is known. The people turned from God, He punished them, they repented, and He sent someone to deliver them from their predicament. Oh, how like these people I am!

As for our timeline, we can put the date of the events that transpired from about 1425 BC to at least 300+ years later (see Judges 11:26).  This all fits within the framework that Paul gave for the 450 years in Acts 13:20. I Kings 6:1 tells us that construction on Temple began 480 years after the Children of Israel left Egypt and in the fourth year of Solomon's reign.  Using the date of 1491 BC as the Exodus and 1451 as the entry into Canaan we can date Jephthah's war with the Ammonites at about 1152 BC. We also know that the Philistines ruled over the Israelites for 40 years (Judges 13:1).  Added to the years that Jephthah judged, which were six, we can add the 40 years to see that the judges listed in this book judged until about 1095 BC which would be about the time that Samuel anointed Saul to be king. Add the 40 years of Saul's reign plus the 40 years of David's reign with the 396 years from the Exodus to the coronation of Saul, which ended the period of the judges, you will arrive at 476 years. Add to that to the 4 years of Solomon's reign when he began Temple construction and you will arrive at 480 years. (See resource #2 for a discussion of the 450 year period of judges.)

The main narrative that is the skeleton of the timeline ends with the death of Samson in chapter 16. Since it is believed that Samuel was the author of Judges it would be likely that he was led of the Holy Spirit to add the story of Micah and the idolatry of the tribe of Dan in chapters 17 and 18 to explain Samson's way of life. Chapter 19 sets the stage for the introduction of the lineage of Saul from the tribe of Benjamin in I Samuel. Samuel himself was the judge that followed Samson. It isn't stated which generation in Saul's family tree had to capture his wife from the women of Jabesh-gilead or the daughters of Shiloh that came out to dance but it is for certain that one did (see I Sam. 9:1 for Saul's lineage back as far as Aphiah, Saul's 3rd great-grandfather).

But before we get ahead of ourselves - and our reading schedule - let's take a look at the story of Ruth.

Whereas King Saul's lineage merited the disgraceful last chapter of the book of Judges, King David's family history is told in the beautiful book of Ruth. This story also took place during the time of the judges. Boaz and Ruth were the great-grandparents of King David and this Boaz was the son of Nahshon and his wife, Rahab, the former harlot from Jericho.

Already it can be seen that this is a story of grace. Although David was of the tribe of Judah, his family tree included the former idolaters, Rahab the prostitute and Ruth the Moabitess. It's the story that explains to us the work of the kinsman-redeemer which would ultimately be fulfilled in their descendant Jesus (a word that means that same as Joshua: Jehovah saves).

The book of Judges might be labeled a tragedy. If Ruth were classical literature it would be labeled a comedy. After the depressing ending of the book of Judges, when every man did that which was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25) give thanks for the book of Ruth where we find that "blessed be the LORD, which hath not left [us] this day without a kinsman (which means "redeemer'), that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of they life, . . ." (Ruth 4:14,15

And finally, we will look at our New Testament book.

II Corinthians
This second letter to the church at Corinth was written while Paul was somewhere in the Macedonian region, possibly Philippi. It was not written much later than his first letter to them; perhaps about one year later. This would put the time of writing as approximately AD 56[3].

In his first letter Paul had used harsh words with the believers that made up the church at Corinth and in this second letter he rejoiced to hear that the notorious fornicator had repented. But he was sad to hear that the man was suffering much grief from his guilt. Paul encouraged them to welcome the man back with love and forgiveness.

Some of the other issues that Paul wrote about in this letter were false teachers who were trying to turn the people from their faith by insulting the character of Paul, collecting offerings for the poor at Jerusalem, defense of his apostleship, and the exhortation to avoid carnality. He stated his intention to come to see them again for the third time and warns them that he will not be gentle in his rebuke if they refuse to change from their wicked ways.


[1] The MacArthur Study Bible,  commentary by Dr. John MacArthur for the book of Joshua
[2] The Chronology of the Old Testament, by Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones, explanations for Chart 4
[3] The Open Bible, Thomas Nelson publishers, various commentators, notes for II Corinthians

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Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
Psalms 19:14 (KJV)