THE HISTORY OF THE BIBLE
Exodus to Judges
The last few Sunday mornings we have been engaged in the study of the history of the Bible that we might become better acquainted with the book that we love so dearly. Time-wise, it covers five historical periods, and according to Usher's chronology, extends from about 4000 B.C. To 70 A.D., some 4,000 years. This agrees very much with the present day calendar used by Jews all over the world. According to the Jewish Calendar which dates time back to the creation, the year 2005 is the 5765th year since the creation. Usher's Chronology in the old King James Version would date this present year as about 6009 since the creation. The two chronologies are very close together. I think they are best time estimates we have.
In this lesson we will study the third period of Bible history. The second period ended when Jacob took his family of 70 some people to Egypt where they remained as a slave race of people for the next 430 years. The account of the 430 year sojourn of Israel in Egypt is largely passed over in silence in the Biblical record, except for the story of Joseph's life and the severe captivity endured at the end of the 430 years.
This brings us to the beginning of the third period of Bible history which tells us of the nation of Israel taking their place among the self- governing nations of the world. This period lasted from about 1500 B.C. till about 1095 B.C., . extending some four hundred years. This was a unique period of Israelite history, for during this time they had no earthly king. God was their king, and their form of government was a Theocracy, a God-ruled form of government. During these four centuries Judges were appointed to take care of the affairs of the nation. Obviously, I cannot cover everything that happened during four centuries, but I would like to honor four very important people who lived during this time period: Moses, Joshua, Samuel and a woman named Hannah.
Let us begin with the greatest person who lived in this time period, and I speak of the man Moses. He reached the highest place to which any human being has attained, except Jesus Christ. He walked with God, spoke with God and spoke for God. He is one of the three or four of the greatest men who ever lived on planet earth. This short resume of his life does not do justice to the man. Moses was born of an obscure Hebrew family in the land of Egypt. His mother saved him from the cruel decree of Pharaoh who
decreed all male Hebrew babies were to be put to death. She put him in a small ark among the bullrushes of the Nile River. In the providence of God
Pharaoh's own daughter was touched by the crying of the infant and took him to be er adopted son. She gave him his name of Moses which
means, “drawn out.” She so- named him because she drew him out of the Nile river. For the first 40 years of his life, he was the son of an Egyptian princess, and he brought great honor to that princess. He was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and the Bible says he was mighty in word in deed. He was one of the most famous persons in Egypt.
At the time of his highest honor and greatness in f Egypt, he gave up the pleasures of the court of Egypt and took a stand with his fellow Israeliltes who were in the most cruel slavery.. To save his life, he fled to Midian where he tended the flocks of Jethro for the next forty years. As he approached eighty years of age, his attention was drawn to a bush that was on fire and yet was not consumed. It was near Mt. Sinai. He drew near and heard the voice of God out of the bush that directed his life from that day on. God commanded him to go to Egypt and bring His people out of Egypt, but Moses protested that he was not the man for such a job because of his poor speaking ability. But God said, “ Have I not made man's mouth? You go and I will be with your mouth and I will tell you what to say, and you will bring my people to this very mountain where you are standing.”
Moses went to Egypt, and now follows the story of the exodus from the land of Egypt, made possible by mighty miracles performed by Moses and great plagues brought on the land of Egypt. The tenth plague was the killing of all first-born sons in Egypt, and that was the thing that caused Pharaoh to let Israel go. Sad to say, important reforms seldom come until the shedding of innocent blood has aroused thought and stirred to action the forces that insure the progress of the race. So it was on this occasion. Pharaoh was humbled and allowed Israel to leave. Afterwards, he changed his mind and pursued the Israelites to the Red Sea. Their path blocked by the Red Sea in front and the Egyptian army behind them, they feared a massacre.
Then came the great miracle at the Red Sea. Moses lifted his rod and stretched his hand over the sea, dividing the waters, and two million people crossed over on dry ground. The Bible says that Israel was baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea. The Pillar of cloud covering them above, and waters on both sides of them was somewhat similar to an
immersion in water. This was their baptism. The Egyptian army pursued Israel into the Red Sea, but Moses caused the sea to return to its full depth, and the entire army perished in the sea.
Then Moses led Israel to Mt Sinai as commanded by God, where they remained one year. There Moses became the lawgiver as well as the liberator. The ten commandments which he was privileged to receive at Mt. Sinai, and gave to Israel, is the basis of law that has been the model and the standard for all nations of civilized peoples since that time. What civilized nation does not have it writen in their laws, “Thou shall not kill; thou shalt not steal.” He has influenced the laws of many nations. Millions of people live by his teachings to this day. He led one of the greatest armies the world has ever seen and directed them to victory. He is one of the world's greatest writers. In one sentence of ten words----“In the beginning God created the heaven and earth”-- Moses gives the only history of creation which has stood the test of time.
He was eighty years old when he led Israel out of Egypt. He spent the last forty years of his life leading Israel during their Wilderness Wanderings, and those were trying and difficult years for him. At the end of his life he stood 120 years old, his physical strength unabated and with the same good eyes that gazed into the eye of Pharaoh forty years before. Somewhere in the land of Moab, near Mt. Nebo across the Jordan in southern Palestine, Moses folded up the tent of his body, and it returned to the dust from whence it came. His soul returned to God who gave it. God Himself buried him in some lonely spot, unmarked and , unknown, that his tomb might never be desecrated or turned into a place of idolatry. If Jews and the world knew where his burial place was, it would be the most hallowed place on earth; and millions every year would visit that hallowed spot. Let it be said that Moses was a leader beyond comparison and a lawgiver without a peer.
There was another great man who lived in the third period of Biblical history who deserves to be mentioned and remembered. It was the great military leader, Joshua. Joshua and Jesus have the same name. Both names mean “Jehovah saves.” Joshua was one of the commission sent by Moses to spy out Canaan when Israel came near to the promised land. When they returned, ten of the spies said it would be an impossible to conquer the land of Canaan. The land is full of giants, they said, and compared to them we thought themselves as grasshoppers. However, Joshua and Caleb favored an immediate invasion of the land and were confident that with God's help they could conquer the land. The nation rebelled, refused to invade the land, criticized Jehovah for exposing them to such danger, and voted to return to Egypt. For that rebellion God sent them back into the Wilderness to wander for the next forty years until all that rebellious
generation had died. Of all the men who were twenty years and older when they left Egypt, only two of them were allowed to enter the promised land, Joshua and Caleb.
Upon the death of Moses, Joshua took the lead and conducted the people across the Jordan river, whose waters were parted by Joshua as were those of the Red Sea. Another great miracle was performed under the leadership of Joshua. The first city to be conquered was Jericho, a well fortified city with walls so high it appeared impossible that Israel could ever break into the city. At the command of God, Joshua ordered the attack to follows in a precise way. Seven priests were to lead the army blowing their seven trumpets. Behind them were priests carrying the ark of the covenant and following the ark was the army of Israel. They were to march around the city once a day for six successive days. On the seventh day they were to march around the city seven times Then a long blast was to be made with a Ram's horn and then all the people were to shout. When they shouted the walls of Jericho fell down, and the army went in and destroyed the city. There are a lot of learned people in the world today who cannot believe a story like this, but they weren't there. Joshua was an eye witness to this battle..
When I studied the Bible at Indiana University, the teacher said, “ I don't believe the walls of Jericho fell down like that.” I raised my voice and said, “If you don't believe it happened like the Bible says, then how did it happen.” He said, “ I don't know.” If God cannot work a miracle when He wants to, He would not be God. The greatest reason why our learned friends cannot believe the Bible is that they do not believe in miracles. It is as simple as that. Suffice it to say that Joshua conquered the land and divided the land among the tribes.
We have two more important people to consider in this period. They are Samuel and his mother Hannah, and they will be studied together. .After the death of Joshua, God ordered 15 Judges to rule over Israel, according to the demands of the hour. The period of the judges was one of the worst periods in Jewish history, Samuel was the last of the Judges. and should be considered as the first of the prophets of Israel. He was born as the result of a woman's prayer. Her name was Hannah. It was the desire of her heart to bring a man-child into the world that she might consecrate him to the service of Jehovah. . The only problem was she could not have children, and she was advanced in age. She was one of two wives, and the other wife had children. She felt badly about this.. Her
husband tried to comfort her by saying, “Why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” However, the best of husbands cannot take the place of a son or a daughter. A mother's heart is large enough to love both husband and child, but it is through the child that she most influences the ages. The suffering she undergoes to win motherhood gives her a title to her offspring that lasts as long as she lives and as long as they live.. She invests her life in her children, and where her treasure is, there is her heart also. But even that was not the most important reason she wanted a son. She had the desire that one of her offspring would be brought up in God's service. One day she went to the tabernacle and offered the prayer to God that if He would grant her a son she would give him to the Lord all the days of his life. God gave her a son, and she named him Samuel which means “heard of God, ” a most appropriate name indeed.
She kept him till he was weaned then brought him to the Tabernacle and left him there for the rest of his life. Hannah is an example of a multitude of mothers in whose lives religion has been the controlling factor and have led their sons and daughters to God, and who has from their birth impressed upon them the importance of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. From the day she took him to the tabernacle to live with Eli the High Priest of Israel., he grew stronger in the Lord's service and became one of the greatest judges and one of the greatest prophets of Israel.
One of the important things that should be remembered from the life of Samuel is the importance of religion in the life of young people. He went as a child into the house of Eli the High Priest who was growing old, and there Samuel served the Lord. Samuel became an inspired man. God talked to Samuel, and he became God's spokesman. He held the most exalted position known to his time.
As I think of Samuel and the giving of his life to God's service so early in life, I am reminded of the attitude of many young people today who are interested in doing their own thing, and oftentimes serving God is not a part of that thing. . It is not uncommon for grown people to excuse the sins of youth with the remark, “Young men must sow their wild oats,” and many young women are quite involved in this philosophy of life. There is no reason for young people to pass through a dangerous time of waywardness, disobedience and sinful living before they settle down to make something of lives. Jesus told the story of a Prodigal son who left home to sow his wild oats and almost ruined his life. He finally came to himself, returned home, received forgiveness and made something of his life. Sad to say, many who get involved in that way of life never come to themselves and never find their way to God.