Judges through Esther continues Israel’s history from where it left off in the book of Joshua. After the death of Joshua, Israel was ruled by a series of Judges. This time in Israel’s history is characterized as a downward spiral of disobedience towards God. The children of Israel continue to be influenced by the various Pagan cultures in the land and eventually they cry out to God for a human king to rule them. God grants them this wish even though they were essentially rejecting God as their king. The first king is a failure but the second and third kings of Israel – David and Solomon – see the most prosperous times in the history of Israel’s kingdom, including the building of God’s temple in Jerusalem.
Following the death of Solomon, the kingdom of Israel is divided into two kingdoms – the Northern and Southern kingdoms. From here the story of Israel is mostly charactized by sin against God until both kingdoms are conquered by other kingdoms and the people are taken into exile. But the story does not end there, God is not done with His people and he remains faithful to the covenant even though the children of Israel have not. The latter books in this section tell the story of God’s faithfulness in exile and the raising up of leaders who lead the people back to the land God promised.
Why We Study Hebrew History
This lesson reviews the History of Israel in the first seventeen books of the Bible. It also answers the question, "Why should you study the history of this one little nation of Israel?" Israel's history books are not just history, however. They are prophetic interpretations that reveal God in action, disclose the theology of sin and salvation, pave the historical road to Jesus, and give us many examples to follow and warnings to take along the way.
To learn more, check out the below corresponding Audio Lesson: "Why We Study Hebrew History"
The Agonies of Apostasy
This lesson reviews the tumultuous History of Israel during the first few centuries after the death of Joshua. These are dark days that cycle between “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD,” and “Every Man did what was right in his own eyes.” Apostasy leads to oppression. Oppression leads to awakening and the emergence of a Prophetic Judge who brings deliverance. Deliverance leads to peace and blessing. Blessing then leads again to apathy and apostasy.
To learn more, check out the below corresponding Audio Lesson: "The Agonies of Apostasy"
Extraordinary Things Through Ordinary People
This lesson gives a quick overview of the seven cycles of apostasy in the Book of Judges and then tells the stories of several ordinary people through whom God did extraordinary things because they were willing to risk through faith. Othniel is lead by the Holy Spirit. Ehud’s handicap becomes and instrument for God’s glory. Deborah, Barak and Jael each do their part to bring down the armies of their Canaanite oppressors, and turn to praise song to champion God’s miraculous work through them.
To learn more, check out the below corresponding Audio Lesson: "Extraordinary Things Through Ordinary People"
Every Man in His Place: The Story of Gideon
This lesson continues considering the extraordinary things that God does through ordinary people in the Book of Judges. Here, we meet the weak and afraid Gideon who becomes a general over a smaller and smaller army in his deliverance of Israel from the massive armies of the Midianites. We also meet the damaged Jephthah who is used by God to deliver Israel from the Ephraimites, but falls prey in the end to his own selfish and wounded heart. These illustrate how God’s power is perfected in human weakness. To God alone goes the glory.
To learn more, check out the below corresponding Audio Lesson: "Every Man in His Place"
Hope in the Darkness: The Story of Naomi
This lesson sets the stage for Naomi's redemption in the Book of Ruth by reviewing not only the true depth of her personal darkness and despair, but also laying out the signs of hope swirling around her even when her heart is incapable of seeing it. God is working in Naomi's life, even when Naomi feels that God has abandoned her.
To learn more, check out the below corresponding Audio Lesson: "The Romance of Redemption"
The Romance of Redemption: The Story of Ruth and Boaz
This lesson picks up the story of Naomi and Ruth in the second chapter when Ruth goes out to glean in a random field to get food for both women. God is working through happenstance, however, and directs Ruth's path into the fields of Boaz, Naomi's kinsman redeemer. God also orders the steps of Boaz so that he encounters Ruth there. Through this romance, Naomi is redeemed, Ruth is redeemed, Israel get's their most Iconic king and the lineage of Jesus Christ is established.
To learn more, check out the below corresponding Audio Lesson: "Love at First Sight"
The Kingdom of God: A Survey of 1 & 2 Samuel
This lesson addresses the question, "What is the Kingdom of God?" In the Old Testament, God’s kingdom is conceived as a geographical area where God's sovereignty is embraced—Israel. God is sovereign over all as the one holy creator, but people often resist His rule over their lives. Even in Israel, many reject his reign. In the Book of Samuel, Israel's chief citizens reject God as king and ask Samuel for human kings to rule them. God allows this, but warns about tragic consequences. This event provides insight into the Kingdom of God throughout Scripture, including the New Testament.
To learn more, check out the below corresponding Audio Lesson: "The Kingdom of God"
Samuel, Saul, and David
This lesson gives an overview of I Samuel and its three main characters, Samuel, Saul and David. Each character takes center stage in one of the three phases of the book. In Phase #1, we have the rise and rule of Samuel. In Phase #2, we have the transition of power to Saul, who fails as King over God's people. In Phase #3, we have the struggle between David and Saul, as David rises to replace Saul by God’s election, and Saul tries to prevent the purposes of God.
To learn more, check out the below corresponding Audio Lesson: "Heard of God"
A Man After God's Own Heart
This lesson gives an overview of the rise of David. It considers the answer to the important question, "What made the difference between David's leadership and Saul's. Though both were talented in many respects, David was a man after God's own heart. This serves David well, as Saul's musician, in his fight with Goliath, in his years as Saul's military leader, as Jonathan’s friend, and while on the run from Saul.
To learn more, check out the below corresponding Audio Lesson: "Anointed Obedience"
How to Fail Successfully
This lesson explores the life of David as king in 2 Samuel by considering David's greatest failure and the way he responds to their failure as a man after God's own heart. David falls into a dark place in his heart, rapes Bathsheba the family member of dear friends, and has her husband, his good friend killed to cover up his crime. When publicly exposed through prophetic injunction, however, David repents fully. Though he cannot outrun the real world consequences of his sin, he is restored to God and has some of his brightest days as king after his restoration.
To learn more, check out the below corresponding Audio Lesson: "How to Fail Successfully"
The Blessedness of Forgiveness
This lesson explores David as the Great Psalmist of Israel and how David's songs express the richness of finding forgiveness in the face of sincere repentance. God restored King David’s soul and his kingdom, even though David had failed morally and spiritually. But the blessing of experiencing God’s forgiveness and restoration only came after David walked in the paths of righteousness by confessing his sin, repenting of it, and committing himself to follow the Lord’s way. Like David, we all have a guilt problem. God’s solution to our guilt problem is His forgiveness.
To learn more, check out the below corresponding Audio Lesson: "The Blessedness of Forgiveness"
Godly Character on Display
This lesson explores several of the stories involving David that put his godly character on display. He was an imperfect man, which Scripture does not ignore, but on the whole, his behavior puts all other kings of his day, especially his predecessor, Saul, to shame. He trusts God with his life and waits for God's timing, even refusing revenge against Saul for his many sins against him. He strives to remain humble in the right exercise of his authority, restraining his hand in the face of insult even though his pride is sorely provoked.
To learn more, check out the below corresponding Audio Lesson: "Three Facts of Sin and Three Facts of Salvation"
Why We Study Hebrew History
This lesson gives an overview of the prophetic interpretation of Israel's history as recorded in the Books of 1 and 2 Kings. It covers the death of David, the division of Israel into two nations, the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah, and the centuries leading up to the exile of Israel into Assyria, and Judah. In these books, we find fearsome warnings in the lives of the wicked kings, and we find great examples in the lives of a few righteous kings, and several godly prophets like Elijah, Elisha, and Micah.
To learn more, check out the below corresponding Audio Lesson: "Kings and Prophets"
Examples and Warnings from Kings
This lesson draws from individual stories in the Books of 1 and 2 Kings to consider some of the examples and warnings put there for the reader by the inspired prophetic interpreters of Israel’s history. In spite of Israel's choice of certain succession with oppression under kings rather than uncertain succession under divinely called prophetic leaders, God does not abandon them. From the time of Saul straight through to the Babylonian exile of Judah, The Book of Kings shows God working in and through His people to bring about His purposes in the world.
To learn more, check out the below corresponding Audio Lesson: "The Rise and Fall of the Kingdom"
Another Inspired Perspective
This lesson considers the importance of the Books of 1 and 2 Chronicles as an alternate inspired interpretation of the Period of the Kings. These books are believed to have been written by Ezra the Priest and Scribe. Given the amount of overlap in subject matter, it is important to keep track of what Ezra adds, deletes, and alters in his Prophetic perspective on these days... part of which is his disinterest in the Northern Kingdom and his focus on temple and worship in the Kings of Judah, whether for good or ill.
To learn more, check out the below corresponding Audio Lesson: "Things Omitted"
This lesson introduces the last three history books of the Bible, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. These books represent Israel's post exile history among those who return to the Promised Land and among some who don't. God does not abandon either when they put their trust in Him. The first return from the Babylonian captivity is to rebuild the temple under Ezra’s leadership. This lesson focuses on the reasons for Ezra’s success in God's work among those returning from exile.
To learn more, check out the below corresponding Audio Lesson: "The Synoptic Gospels of the Old Testament"
Opposition to God's Work
This lesson reveals the various tricks of Satan in his opposition to God's work and God's people. Satan often tempts us away from God's best with something good. Satan sends us false friends to help us. Satan uses both good and wicked people to persecute us, burning up our time and wasting our resources. The good news is that God will supply our needs and will do His work through His people with His power.
To learn more, check out the below corresponding Audio Lesson: "The Work of God and Forces Opposing God's Work"
Characteristics of a Godly Leader
This lesson considers the godly example of Nehemiah as a leader. Nehemiah proves to be a highly practical type of leader. Through his writing we learn about fifteen characteristics of godly leaders that we can use as an example for our own ministry leadership today. He or she needs burden, scriptural foundations, commitment, vision, an ability to inspire followers, a prayer life, a servant leadership model, righteous anger, discipline, focus, courageous convictions, organization, humility, and complete dependence on God.
To learn more, check out the below corresponding Audio Lesson: "The Profile of a Leader"
The Providence of God in the Story of Esther
This lesson considers how the Book of Esther reveals the Providence of God. God works in the life of Esther and Mordecai, her uncle, to undo the purposes of evil men, long before those men have even conceived that evil. God uses Esther and Mordecai and even the pagan king Xerxes to bring about the salvation of the Jews who remained in Persia after the return from exile had begun.
To learn more, check out the below corresponding Audio Lesson: "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"