The Historical Books of the Bible – The Second Old Testament Section
The second section of the Old Testament is known as the Historical Books of the Bible. After 40 years of wandering in the desert and the death of Moses, God began to move the Israelites across the Jordan River. Under the leadership of Joshua and Caleb into the Promised Land, these books tell of their journey to and life in the land of Canaan. It was not easy as they lived encompassed by antagonistic nations with superstitious, blasphemous practices, and cruel customs. The Israelites were sucked in to a life of spiritual decline.
The Historical Books are comprised of 12 books. Joshua, Judges, and Ruth tell the earliest history of the Jews; 1 and 2 Samuel with 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles cover about five hundred years reporting the fall of Judah to Babylon. The next three books, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther are about their life in captivity, release from it, and the restoration of Jerusalem.
The Historical Books of the Bible – Their Messages
The message of Joshua is one of his tremendous faith in God that provided him the courage and fortitude to lead the Hebrew nation into the Promised Land. The first half of his book tells of their cycles of battles and difficulties to reach and settle the land. The second half of Joshua gives account of the lands designated by God to the various tribes of Judah.
The book of Judges spans 325 years and shows that the judgment of God against iniquities will be enacted, but His forgiveness and possibility for reconciliation is there for those who repent. Canaan had been inhabited by several blasphemous and evil nations who worshipped many false gods and idols. The Israelites again compromised and allowed the influence of those practices to infiltrate and corrupt them.
Ruth’s theme confirms that even in dark times, if people live to please God and not themselves, they will experience God’s love and protection. Ruth, her mother-in-law Naomi, and marriage to Boaz demonstrate the importance of relationships and faithfulness.
The next six books, 1 Samuel through 2 Chronicles, cover a 500-year period.
The Historical Books of the Bible – Release and Restoration
Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther complete the section of Old Testament history. Originally, Ezra and Nehemiah were considered to be one book. Having been taken into Babylon as slaves, things look dim, but favor is given as the book of Ezra begins.
Cyrus, king of Persia, declared that the Lord laid it on his heart to release some of the Hebrew captives and let them return to the land of Judah. The others soon followed. Ezra and Nehemiah give accounts of their return, rebuilding, and revival of God’s people, restoring them in their faithfulness to God.
Though the Bible places Esther after the book of Nehemiah, the events in Esther are said to have occurred about 30 years before those in Nehemiah. The story includes intrigue, romance, and a demonstration of God’s powerful sovereignty. As the search for a queen ensued, Esther’s beauty got the attention and great love of the Persian King Xerxes. Not knowing she was Jewish, the king chose her as his new queen. Through the discovery of an assassination plan, Mordecai (Esther’s cousin) informed Esther and she saved the king. In turn, through Esther’s and Mordecai’s courage, the king gave favor to the Jewish people, therefore saving the nation.
The historical books illustrate the roller-coaster rise and fall of sin, restoration, miracles, rejection, and judgment. Throughout the centuries, we see the Jewish nation providing many lessons that still apply to lives today. God chose the Jewish people to be a witness and bring salvation to every other nation on earth. Before the revealing of the Messiah, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and the initiation of Christianity, these books displayed the principles of Christian love for enemies, forgiveness, and God’s grace and mercy.
Though the Jewish people experienced spiritual decline, the opportunity for restoration to God through repentance is and always was available. Many of them struggled to remain true and faithful, their survival and dedication serves as an excellent example.
Though there are many more, some notable verses from these books are:
1 Samuel 15:22-23 says, “…To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”
2 Chronicles 7:14 reads, “…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 30:9 says, “If you return to the LORD, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”