I have found that many people, especially atheists, struggle with a comprehensive understanding of the Old Testament Bible books. In this post, I mention each of the 39 Old Testament books by name; I succinctly in one sentence or less sum up that particular book or authors argument; and I tie it all together in a flowing, historical narrative that reflects the chronology of when books were written. This is literally the product of years of study. I offer it to you free.
By the way, don’t listen to Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. They don’t know the Bible.
So, here we go…
In a world with much suffering and meaninglessness (Job & Ecclesiastes) and in a world where we have to be trained how to love and enjoy those closest to us because of sin, especially our spouses (Song of Solomon), God promised that a special Seed (Genesis) would come through Abraham, whose family evolved into a national race (Exodus) of Yahweh worshippers (Leviticus) who after a period of disobedience (Numbers) finally inhabit a distinct land (Deuteronomy) under Joshua’s leadership (Joshua), maintain control of the land under the leadership of the Judges (Judges), realize the curse associated with leaving the land (Ruth), and endeavor to rule the land with kings (1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles), the greatest of which was King David who was promised a Messianic heir to his throne (Psalms).
However, the people of Israel divided into two nations, Israel [10 tribes] and Judah [2 tribes – Judah and Benjamin] after the death of wise King Solomon despite his wisdom sayings (Proverbs) and were disobedient despite tearful prophetic warnings (Jeremiah) which were mixed with prophecies of eschatological judgment, immediate hope should they repent, and future Messianic hope regardless of what they may do at the present (Amos, Micah, Isaiah, Zephaniah, Joel) and a dramatic story of His faithful love for them (Hosea).
To keep God’s covenant people from being blinded by their Jewish nationalism in this period, God demonstrated his love for the entire world when He sent an Israeli prophet (Jonah) to preach repentance to the pagan nation of Assyria. Even though Assyria repented, they still took Israel into captivity in 722 BC from which few, if any Jew, ever returned to their Jewish homeland. As a result of this and other atrocities, Assyria was conquered by Babylon about 150 years later (Nahum) in 612 BC. Nevertheless, Judah refused to repent of her wrongdoing, and though it was hard to understand how God could use a pagan nation to discipline His people (Habakkuk) and having no neighbor to help them against their enemy (Obadiah), they were sadly taken into captivity by Babylon in 586 BC (Lamentations) where, despite visions of hope and encouragement of future religious and political restoration (Ezekiel, Daniel) their identity and existence was threatened by this pagan culture (Daniel), as well as the Medo-Persian culture (Esther).
Judah’s residents were finally able to return (Ezra, Nehemiah) to their land in 539 BC. Even though they delayed rebuilding their temple (Haggai) and even though they eventually lapsed into the same sins that sent them into captivity in the first place (Malachi), they were assured of final national victory and prosperity, accompanied by peace and justice under the coming Messiah’s reign (Malachi, Zechariah). They were ever mindful that “the Promise” would come from a virgin (Isa. 7:14) from within the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10) and the family of Jesse (Isa. 11) and David (2 Sam., 1 & 2 Chron.) and from the town of Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2) and in the lineage of Zerubbabel (Hag. 2:23); a righteous Branch (Jer. 23:5; Zech.3:8; 6:12,13), a tender twig (Ezek. 17:22-24), a King-Priest (Zech. 6:13), and He shall be a great ruler/judge for a Scepter shall rise out of Israel (Num. 24:17) as well as a Suffering Servant (Isa. 53) who will eventually implement an incredible kingdom on earth (Mic. 2:12-13; 4:1-8; 5:4-5).
So God has self-disclosed over the centuries, all the while, keeping the promise of the Messiah alive in each generation.
Then, there are 400 silent years, where no prophetic, written word is heard. Then, Jesus is born. In the OT, Messiah is coming. In the New Testament Gospels, he’s here. In the New Testament Epistles, he’s coming again.
Don’t waste your time with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. They don’t know the Bible.