3,000 mile view (5 minute overview)
In the beginning, the Lord created the earth and everything in it, including the first humans, Adam and Eve. This world the Lord created was perfect, without any death or disease. Adam and Eve broke the only rule God gave them, which was the first sin. This first sin brought disease and death into the world. The world then fell more and more into sin and depravity over the next 1,000 years until the Lord decided to destroy all land dwelling animals and humans with a worldwide flood, killing all except Noah and his family in the ark.
After the flood, the Lord told the people to disperse and populate the earth, but they disobeyed and started to build the Tower of Babel. The Lord confused their languages, forcing them to disperse and populate the earth. Then, 11 generations from Noah was born Abram, whose name was later changed to Abraham by the Lord. Abraham had a son, Isaac. Isaac had a son, Jacob, whose name was later changed to Israel by the Lord. Jacob had 12 sons, who were the basis for the 12 tribes of Israel. Out of jealousy, one of Jacob’s sons, Joseph, was sold into slavery by the other 11 sons and wound up in Egypt. Joseph was faithful and eventually rose to second in command of Egypt. His vision saved Egypt and many nations from a horrible famine, and the small Israelite nation of about 40 joined Joseph in Egypt.
Many years later, the Israelites had grown to over a million people, and were forced into slavery by the Egyptians. To prevent them from increasing in numbers and power, all their baby boys were killed, but a baby boy named Moses was saved by his mother and was actually raised in Pharoah’s household as a prince. Moses eventually killed an Egyptian guard and was forced to flee Egypt and became a shepherd. God eventually called him back to Egypt to free all of the Israelites from their slavery. God brought many plagues on the Egyptians, until Pharoah finally let the Israelites go. Moses led the people out of Egypt and to the land promised to them by God. The Israelites did not trust God, and were too afraid to fight the inhabitants, so were forced to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Joshua took over as their leader after Moses died. Joshua led the Israelite army to many victories in battle, eventually bringing them into the promised land.
Once in the promised land, the Israelite nation kept falling away from God, only to be delivered by many different prophets (judges) sent by God. This happened many times over the next couple of centuries until the people requested a king during the last judge, Samuel. Saul was appointed Israel’s first king, and started out well, but eventually fell away from the Lord. Samuel anointed a shepherd boy, David as Israel’s next king. Many of the Psalms (songs) were written by David during this time. David was a mighty king, and a man after God’s own heart, but he made many mistakes that caused much strife in his family. His son, Solomon succeeded him on the throne, and built the amazing Temple for the Lord. While Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, and even wrote the book of Proverbs on wisdom, he he was led away from the Lord by his many wives and concubines, and after his death the kingdom of Israel was divided into two parts, Judah and Israel.
Over the next three centuries, Israel and Judah had many wicked kings, and fell away from the Lord. There were many prophets who brought God’s message, but eventually both nations fell further and further from the Lord. Many of these prophets, such as Isaiah and Jeremiah, warned the nations to repent and return to the Lord, but the nations basically ignored them. The northern kingdom, Israel, was conquered by Assyria, and then a hundred years later the southern kingdom, Judah, was conquered and taken into captivity by Babylon. There were a few prophets who prophesied during the captivity, such as Daniel, who stayed faithful in Babylon, serving three separate kings during his lifetime. Jeremiah had prophesied before the captivity that it would only last 70 years, and that is exactly how long it was. 150 years before Cyrus was even born, Isaiah had prophesied that Cyrus would release them from Babylon, and that is exactly who let them go back to rebuild the temple, Many years later, king Artaxerxes of Babylon let Nehemiah return to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem that had been destroyed. Many prophets including Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah prophesied very clearly and specifically about a coming savior, (Messiah) who would be in the line of David and would save everyone from their sins. There were no prophets, and therefore Bible is then silent for 400 years before the birth of this promised Messiah.
There are over 300 prophesies about the Messiah in the Old Testament, ranging from his birth, to what he would do, to what would be done to him, to how he would die. Jesus Christ fulfilled every single one of these prophesies, leaving no doubt that He was the promised Messiah.
One of the prophecies was that Jesus would be born to a virgin. An angel of the Lord appeared to a girl named Mary, telling her that she would bear a child, conceived of the Holy Spirit, and she was to name him Jesus. He was to be the Messiah, the Savior. Jesus was then born in Bethlehem, to Mary and her husband Joseph, both of whom are in the line of David. The ruling King at that time, King Herod, also knew about this prophecy and tried to have him killed, so Mary and Joseph went to Egypt to escape, and when they returned they settled in Nazareth. The Bible is mostly silent about the rest of Jesus’ childhood, other than a remarkable incident in the temple at age 12, and saying He grew up healthy and strong, being filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on Him.
One of the prophesies about the Messiah was that there would be a prophet who would prepare the way for Him, and that prophet was John the Baptist. John eventually baptized Jesus and identified Him as the promised Messiah, beginning his public ministry when Jesus was around 30 years old. Jesus identified 12 apostles, many of them leaving well paying positions to follow Him. He performed numerous miracles and acts of healing to validate that He was the Messiah. One of these 12 apostles, Judas Iscariot, betrayed Jesus, turning him over to the Jewish leaders. The Jewish leaders pleaded with the Roman leader, Pontius Pilate, to have him executed.
Jesus was executed, as predicted by the prophet Isaiah 700 years earlier, by being crucified on a cross. Jesus had predicted he would die and would rise from death as the ultimate proof He was the Messiah. He was buried in a tomb, and rose from death 3 days later. He appeared to over 500 people, and multiple times to his apostles before ascending into Heaven 40 days later.
After His ascension into Heaven, his apostles boldly proclaimed the good news (gospel) of being saved by believing in Jesus. They performed many miracles and acts of healing, spreading Christianity throughout the Roman empire, even in the face of heavy persecution. One of the chief persecutors of Christians was a man named Saul. On one of his trips to find Christians, Jesus appeared to Saul (whose Roman name is Paul), and Paul turns from a killer of Christians to a follower of Christ himself. Paul was an incredible apostle and witness for Jesus Christ.
Paul makes 3 missionary journeys over the next 10 years to proclaim the message of Jesus, start new churches, and encourage believers throughout the Roman empire. During these journeys of hundreds of miles, he was put in jail, beaten many times and persecuted heavily for his faith. It was also during these trips that he wrote many letters to the churches and believers, both for correction and encouragement, and these letters make up many books of the Bible.
According to church writings, all of the apostles except for one were eventually killed for their faith. Only the apostle John was spared, but he was still persecuted and even exiled to a remote and barren island called Patmos. During this exile, Jesus appeared to him and gave him revelations of how Jesus would return again and how the end of the world would come about.
The end summary of this is that Jesus is the Messiah and we are accountable to Him. He desires to be your Savior and the Lord of your life, and to have a personal relationship with you. We pray that if you have not already, you will accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and that you will get plugged into a good, Bible believing church and will study the scriptures to know Him better.