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This topic is adapted from the PursueGOD Video YouTube channel.

[Related: The Structure of the Old Testament]

The Old Testament (OT) describes human history from the beginning of time until Jesus’s arrival on earth. Here are some of the major points you will encounter as you study the OT.

God Created the Universe Out of Nothing

The Bible teaches that God is eternal, but everything else is created. At some point, God began creating everything by the power of his word.

Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

In one moment there was nothing but God, and then in the next moment things began to exist. Creation demonstrates to us the power and glory of God. And this also teaches us that the universe is not random, but was created by a personal God for a specific purpose. This purpose is explained to us in the next point.

Sin Changed Humanity’s Relationship with God

God made humans to be connected to him and connected to each other. God made us in his own image – a unique distinction that only human beings have.

Genesis 1:27-28 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 Then God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.’

Humans were put on earth to take care of God’s creation and reflect his image. Sin changed everything. The first humans, Adam and Eve, sinned and wrecked the perfect relationship that humanity experienced with God. Thankfully, God wasn’t done with humanity. Many years later God called a man named Abraham to begin his plan to rescue the world.

[Related: What is Means that Sin Brings Death]

[Related: The Human Identity | Bible Basics for New Believers #4]

[Related: Humanity Under Sin | Bible Basics for New Believers #5]

God Gave Abraham Three Promises

In Genesis 12, we find one of the most important passages in the entire Bible. In these verses, God begins to explain to Abraham (and us) how he will save the world.

Genesis 12:1-3 The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation…. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.’

God was going to save the world through the line of this man Abraham. And as the OT unfolds, we see how God begins to fulfill this three-fold promise. He turns Abraham’s descendants into a mighty nation called Israel and gives them their own land where they can dwell.

[Related: How Abraham’s Covenant Includes Us]

Israel Began Sinning

Despite God’s miraculous deliverance of Israel out of Egyptian slavery into the promised land, the people did not follow God’s law and honor him. Instead, they went into a period of spiritual decline, called “the Judges Period,” that repeated itself in every generation. This is narrated in the Book of Judges

Judges 2:12 They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the Lord.

As a nation, Israel wasn’t going to be able to save the world. Sin was too big of a problem in the human heart. Humanity needed a savior, and fortunately, this was always part of God’s plan.

God Promised a Chosen Deliverer

Remember the third part of the promise to Abraham? God promised a future blessing. He would save the whole world through a descendant of Abraham. As the centuries passed God explained that this savior would also be an eternal king. Unfortunately, Israel continued in their sin and were taken away in exile from their homeland into the nations of Assyria and Babylon. When some of the Israelites finally returned to their homeland, God reminded them of his promise of a coming savior-king, the “anointed one” of God called “messiah.”

[Related: Bible Themes: An Explanation of the Messiah]

Written content for this topic by Scott Creps and Daniel Martin.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. Read Genesis 1:1. What does this verse teach us about our universe? Explain.
  4. Read Genesis 1:27-28. What do these verses teach us about our purpose here on the earth? What does it mean to be made in the image of God?
  5. What were the three promises that God made to Abraham? How did God begin to fulfill these promises in the OT?
  6. Describe a time when you tried to overcome some sort of personal weakness or sin on your own and failed. What caused your failure?
  7. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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