A Crash Course in Biblical Chronology

I realized on January 5 that the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan may not have been the best plan for those not familiar with the chronology of the Bible. Of the 4 readings, readings 1 and 2 start at the beginning of the old and new testaments – the beginning of the stories. Readings 3 and 4 start in the middle of these stories. So, if you are not familiar with the story of the Israelites troubled relationship with God, the 3rd reading starting in Ezra could be confusing. So here is a quick overview.

Synopsis of The Old Testament from Genesis to Chronicles

In the Beginning (Genesis)

God created humans, the devil didn’t like it and lied to Eve. She and Adam disobeyed God and were cursed and exiled from the garden. Cain became jealous of his brother Abel because God did not accept his inappropriate offering. He killed Abel and lied to God about it. He was cursed and exiled further.

Noah’s Ark (Genesis)

When Adam was 130 years old, he gave birth to Seth, a son in his own likeness and after his image. Eight generations later Noah was born. During the time between Adam and Noah, people became very corrupt and sinful so God decided to destroy all living being except for Noah, his wife, their three sons, their wives and pairs of all animals. He instructed Noah to build a big boat; then He caused it to rain, flooding the world and killing all living beings except for those in the boat.

Tower of Babel (Genesis)

Within 3 generations from Noah, humans began to once again rebel against God, and began building the Tower of Babel, so God created different languages so the people could not communicate nor finish the project. From there, they were scattered all around the earth.

Abraham, Isaac & Jacob (Genesis)

Abraham, the eighth great grandson of Noah, believed in the one true God and God entered into covenant with him to make him a great nation through whom all the families of the earth would be blessed and to give him a specific area of land—The Promised Land. He had a son named Isaac who had a son named Jacob. Jacob had two wives and two concubines who gave him 12 sons and one daughter. God changed his name from Jacob to Israel.

The Story of Joseph (Genesis)

Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph, was hated by his brothers and they sold him as a slave. He ended up in Egypt where he eventually became the second in power and prepared the country for the coming famine and was able to save his father’s family by bringing them to Egypt.

Moses, the Exodus, and the Wilderness (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)

After 430 years, God used Moses to bring the now huge company of descendants of Israel out of captivity. Once they reached the border to the Promised Land, they didn’t trust God, were cursed and wandered in the desert 40 years until all the adults who had left Egypt had died. 

Joshua, Jericho, and the Judges (Joshua, Judges)

After the death of Moses, Joshua became the leader of the people of Israel. He led them into their first victorious battle in the Promised Land at Jericho. Once all the land allocations had been made, God governed the people through a series of judges. Samson was one of the judges.

They Wanted a Different King (1 & 2 Samuel)

During the time of Samuel, the prophet, the people decided that having God as their king was not good enough and Saul was chosen as king. After young David killed the giant Goliath, he became famous, and Saul became jealous of him. Saul also disobeyed God by usurping the duties of the priest and performing sacrifices. He was eventually replaced by David.

King Soloman (1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles)

David’s son, Solomon, succeeded David. He was granted great wisdom from God and built the Temple of God in Jerusalem. But eventually he disobeyed by building pagan worship places for his pagan wives, displeasing God. God told him the kingdom would be divided after he died, but David would always have a man on the throne.

The Divided Kingdom (1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles)

Once Solomon died, the kingdom of Israel was split in two. The ten northern tribes were known as the Kingdom of Israel (sometimes as Ephraim) and the two southern tribes of Judah & Benjamin with the unlanded Levites were known as the Kingdom of Judah. The southern kingdom continued to have a king from the tribe of Judah from the line of David. The northern kingdom was not of the line of David. The kings of the north were almost all wicked in God’s eyes and were exiled and disbursed throughout the world. They are known as the Lost Tribes. The southern kingdom had several good and many bad kings, but eventually the kings became too corrupt and caused the people to sin so much that they were exiled to Babylon for 70 years.

The End of the Exile & Return to the Promised Land (Ezra & Nehemiah)

This is where the book of Ezra picks up the story. They are allowed by King Cyrus to return to Jerusalem in Judah to rebuild the Temple that Solomon had originally built, as well as rebuild the city walls (recounted in the book of Nehemiah). Now you have the general context for the second half of the story in the third set of daily readings.

Major and Minor Prophets (Isaiah – Malichai)

The major prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Elijah, Elisha, as well as the minor prophets such as Amos, Micha, Obadiah and others prophesied during the events documented in the books of 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles.


Synopsis of the Four Gospels of the New Testament

The fourth set of daily readings begin with book of The Acts of the Apostles. If you are not familiar with the Gospel story in the preceding 4 books (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), then Acts and the rest of the New Testament may be confusing. Acts is actually a sequel to the book of Luke. Luke tells the same story as Matthew and Mark which is why these three books are referred to as the synoptic gospels. John tells much of the same story, but the focus is a bit different.

The Birth of the Messiah

After Mary was betrothed to Joseph but before they were actually married the angel Gabriel came to her and told her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and she would bear the Son of God. Joseph was told in a dream not to fear marrying her because the Child was conceived of the Holy Spirit and that they were to name Him Yeshua. He was born in Bethlehem; His parents took Him to Egypt to flee the evil King Herod who wanted to kill Him. They later returned to Nazareth.

Life and Ministry of Jesus

Once Jesus reached the age of 30 (the age one could become a rabbi), He began His ministry. He began selecting disciples to learn under His teaching. His first miracle was turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. He eventually selected 12 disciples who became known as the apostles. He taught them and large crowds of followers in many towns in Judah. The Pharisees and Saducees did not like His teachings and plotted to kill Him.

Last Supper and Betrayal

Jesus had been warning His close group of 12 disciples that He must die, but they did not really understand. The night before His betrayal, He celebrated the Passover with them. One of His 12 apostles, Judas, who had conspired with those who wanted to kill Jesus left the meal early. Jesus and His disciples went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. This is when Judas and those wanting to kill Jesus showed up and Judas betrayed Him.

Crucifixion, Burial, Resurrection

Once arrested, He was tried by Pontius Pilate, humiliated, beaten, hung on the cross where He died. After His death, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took His body and buried it in Joseph’s never used tomb. On the first day of the week, the day of First Fruits, Jesus rose from the dead.

Mary Magdelene – First Witness

Mary and a couple of other women came to the tomb to anoint the body, but the stone door had already been rolled away. Jesus appeared to her and told her to go tell the others He had risen that that He would meet them in Galilee. She does but they don’t believe her and go to the tomb to see for themselves.

Emmaus Road and 40 Days of Fellowship

Prior to meeting with His 12 disciples, He meets up with some other of his followers and talks with them as they walk to Emmaus, but they did not know who He was until He sat down with them for a meal. At the moment He broke the bread, they recognized Him, and He disappeared. Over the next 40 days He appeared to His 12 disciples several times, as well as to many others. He even made breakfast for them on the beach.

Ascension and Pentecost

The book of Acts picks up the story here. At the end of the 40 days, He tells them to stay in Jerusalem because the feast of Pentecost will be in just 10 short days. This is when they will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Read the Bible Challenge -M’Cheyne Plan

Now you should be able to understand the third and fourth daily readings in the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan since they pick up where this synopsis ends.


Feature Image photo by kevron2001 via Canva Pro

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