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Bible Overview Series: Exodus


Exodus by Joseph Novak


Barefoot on the hot sand, he stares into the flame and haggles with a god whose name he cannot say.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)


Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Exodus

The book of Exodus is the story of God rescuing the children of Israel from Egypt and making them His people. Exodus is the second book of the Pentateuch (the five books of Moses), and it’s where we find the stories of the Ten Plagues, the first Passover, the parting of the Red Sea, and the Ten Commandments.

Exodus picks up where Genesis leaves off: the young nation of Israel is in Egypt (they were invited by Joseph, the one with the famous coat). A new Pharaoh notices the Israelites multiplying, and enslaves them. Afraid of an uprising, he orders that all Hebrew sons should be cast into the Nile at birth. But one son escapes this decree.

Moses is hidden in a basket and set afloat in the Nile—where Pharaoh’s daughter discovers him. Moses is grows up as her son. When an adult Moses sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, he kills the Egyptian and leaves the country to escape capital punishment.

Forty years later, God appears to Moses as a burning bush and sends him to deliver Israel from the hand of Pharaoh. Moses, with the help of his brother Aaron, confronts Pharaoh on God’s behalf: “Let My people go” (Ex 5:1). Pharaoh refuses, and so God sends 10 plagues upon the Egyptians:

  1. Water turns to blood.
  2. Swarms of frogs cover the land.
  3. Gnats infest the land.
  4. Swarms of flies fill the air.
  5. Egyptian cattle die.
  6. Boils break out on Egyptians.
  7. Hail and fire rain down.
  8. Locusts consume Egyptian crops.
  9. Darkness covers the land.
  10. Every firstborn dies.

When the last plague kills Pharaoh’s son, he finally allows Israel to leave.

The sons of Israel leave Egypt and make their way to Mount Sinai, where God gives His laws to Moses. God makes a covenant with the nation of Israel and the generations to come: because He rescued them from Egypt, Israel is to observe His rules. God speaks the Ten Commandments directly to the whole nation of Israel, and He relays specific ordinances to Moses on the mountain.

God does not stop with a list of rules, however. He gives Moses instructions for a tabernacle, a special tent of worship.

The book of Exodus ends with the glory of the LORD filling the tabernacle: God is now dwelling among His chosen people, Israel. The book of Leviticus goes on to document the laws God gives His people at Mount Sinai.

Theme verse of Exodus

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Ex 20:2)

Exodus’s role in the Bible

Exodus is a starburst of Old and New Testament theology. God is faithful, and keeps His promise to Abraham (Gn 15:13–21) by judging the Egyptians and liberating Israel. The Lord also gives Israel the first iteration of the Law, and begins to dwell among His people in the tabernacle. God’s liberation of Israel from slavery foreshadows His work to redeem the nations (Ro 6:17–18), just as His judgment on His people serves as an example for Christians now (1 Co 10:6–13). Exodus is also where God reveals His memorial name: YHWH, or LORD (Ex 3:146:3).

Quick outline of Exodus



Bible Overview Series: Genesis


Genesis by Joseph Novak

Genesis: Under numberless stars an old man stands amazed; his wife cries out in the pain of childbirth, laughing.
(Ben Myers #CanonFodder Summary)

Book Summary Videos via The Bible Project:

Overview of Genesis by Jeffrey Kranz

The book of Genesis answers the question, “Where did all this come from?” Genesis is the first book of the Bible, and the first of the Penteteuch (the five books of Moses). Genesis is the story of how Israel began as a nation, but the author tells this story as a series of beginnings—starting with the creation of the universe (Gn 1:1) and narrowing down to one family: Israel’s.

Genesis opens with God creating the heavens and the earth, the stars, the plants, the animals, and humans: Adam and Eve. God places Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, but they rebel against God, introducing a curse of sin and death to the world.

Adam and Eve have children (including Cain and Abel), and those children have children. Eventually the human race becomes so violent that God sends a great flood to destroy the world, but He spares the only righteous man, Noah. Noah builds his famous ark to escape the floodwaters with his family (and many animals). After the waters recede, God promises to never again destroy the earth with a flood.

Hundreds of years later, God calls Noah’s descendant, Abram, to leave his family and journey to the land of Canaan. God promises to bless Abram with many descendants, and to bless all the nations of the world through him. Abram believes God’s promise, even though he is old and childless. God considers him to be righteous, and changes his name from Abram to Abraham. Later, Abraham has a son, Isaac.

Isaac dwells in the land of Canaan and has twin sons: Jacob and Esau.

Jacob grows up, tricks Esau into giving away his blessing, and then leaves town to live with his uncle Laban. He marries, has children, and lives with Laban for 20 years before God calls him back to Canaan. As Jacob returns to the land of Abraham and Isaac, his name is changed to Israel (35:9–12).

Israel has 12 sons, and young Joseph is his favorite. Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery, and he becomes a prisoner in Egypt. His God-given ability to interpret dreams becomes valuable to the Pharaoh, however, and so Joseph is released from prison and made second in command of all Egypt. Joseph warns Pharaoh that a terrible famine is coming, and stockpiles food for the coming years.

Joseph’s predictions are correct: the famine reaches Canaan, and his brothers come to Egypt to buy food. The brothers reconcile, and Joseph provides for all the children of Israel to move to Egypt until the famine is over. The book of Genesis ends with the death of Joseph, whose last prediction is that God will bring the children of Israel back to the promised land. God begins fulfilling this in the next movement of the story: the book of Exodus.

Theme verse in Genesis

“I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.” —God to Abraham, Gn 17:7

Genesis’ role in the Bible

The stories in Genesis set the backdrop for vital theological principles in the rest of the Bible. In Genesis, we see how sin began, how God judges sin, and the beginnings of His work to redeem mankind.

Genesis also introduces Abraham, the ancestor of Israel through whom the whole world will be blessed. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are the three chief patriarchs of the nation Israel (which gets its name from Jacob). Jacob’s sons and grandsons have their own families, which eventually become the 12 tribes of Israel.

Abraham believes God’s promises to him, and Abraham’s faith is reckoned to be righteousness (Gn 15:6)—that is, it satisfies God. The concept of righteousness by faith is repeated in the New Testament (Ro 10:10), and Paul states that all who share Abraham’s faith are the spiritual children on Abraham (Ga 3:6–9).

Genesis also sets forth several biblical themes that weave across the rest of the Bible:

  • God’s authority. God is the maker of all things, and He is sovereign over nature and humanity. We see His creative work in the first two chapters of Genesis, but we also see His sovereignty in choosing Abraham, blessing the Hebrews, and protecting Egypt from famine.
  • Man’s rebellion. Adam and Eve disobeyed God in Eden, but that’s only the beginning. Cain presents an unacceptable sacrifice, the world becomes violent in the days of Noah, people construct the tower of Babel, and so on and so forth.
  • God’s judgment. God evicts Adam and Eve, He sends a flood to destroy the earth, and He rains fire on Sodom and Gomorrah (Gn 19). God is holy, and sin must be punished.
  • God’s preservation of life. God promises a descendant to Eve (Gn 3:15), He saves Noah’s family in an ark, He delivers Jacob from Esau’s wrath, and He allows Egypt to survive a harsh famine through Joseph’s wisdom.
  • Blood sacrifice. God skins animals to cover Adam and Eve after they sin (Gn 3:21), and He provides a ram for Abraham to take Isaac’s place (Gn 22). The blood sacrifice motif becomes far more prominent in the book of Leviticus.

It’s a grand book with many of the Bible’s most well-known stories, but it’s only the beginning.

Quick outline of Genesis

  1. The beginnings of all mankind (Gn 1:1–11:32)
  2. The beginnings of Israel (Gn 12–50)

Key terms in the book of Genesis

  • Covenant, promise, swear
  • Blessing
  • These are the records of . . .
  • Descendants
  • Land (especially the land of Canaan)
  • Sin, evil, wickedness

Key characters in the book of Genesis


Bible Overview Series: Psalms


by Joseph Novak

The invention of antiphony: when my heart broke in two, I taught both parts to sing.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)


Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Psalms

Psalms is a collection of 150 poems written over hundreds of years. Many were originally put to music, and used in the Jewish temples to praise the Lord. It all begins with an invitation:

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night. (Ps 1:1–2)

The man who meditates on the Law of the Lord will be blessed, and by contrast, the wicked will perish (Ps 1:6). Why? Because God is King, and His Messiah will one day rule1.

Psalms has it all.

History, poetry, prayer, song, chant, prophecy—Psalms runs the gamut when it comes to the kind of content covered in the Bible. In Psalms, you’ll find every major event from the Old Testament:

  • God’s creation
  • His covenant with Abraham, Issac, and Jacob
  • The exodus from Egypt
  • The Law of Moses
  • The conquest of the promised land
  • God’s covenant with David
  • The temple in Jerusalem
  • The Babylonian captivity
  • The return to Jerusalem

Psalms is an anthology of poems written by a host of authors, and many psalms are still not attributed to any authors today. Half of Psalms was written by King David at various points in his life—and not all of them were good times. David’s psalms show how a man of God prays during times of hardship, loss, joy, and guilt.

Psalms is really five smaller books in one. And since each of these smaller books is an anthology, there’s really not a single narrative to follow throughout the book; however, there are a few things we can learn from the book’s structure:

  • Book One (Ps 1–41) is mostly written by David, and focuses on God’s ability to deliver those who fear Him. We see David pour out his heart to God, beg for protection, and ask for help against his enemies. Of all the books, this is the most personal, and has the feel of a one-on-one interaction with God. In Book One, we see the Lord beside us during times of trouble.
  • Book Two (Ps 42–72) focuses on God as the mighty Judge and King. He is the powerful worker of justice on all nations, and the rescuer of those who delight in Him. In Book Two, we see the Lord go before us to execute justice on His enemies.
  • Book Three (Ps 73–89) is mostly written by the sons of Asaph, a family devoted to leading the people in worship to God in His temple (1 Ch 25:1). This book focuses more on God’s relationship with the whole nation of Israel, not just the psalmist. It emphasizes God’s faithfulness—a faithfulness that spans generations. In Book Three, we see the Lord around us, remaining faithful to His people through the generations.
  • Book Four (Ps 90–106) directs our eyes to the Lord who rules over all the earth. Several of these psalms begin with simply, “The Lord reigns,” or “Praise the Lord!” This part of Psalms shows the Lord above us, the kind and righteous God who deserves our worship and praise.
  • And in Book Five (Ps 107–150), we are called to thank Him. He’s the Savior, deliverer, and God of all. In Book Five, we see God among us, in His temple with his people.

Psalms takes us through the spectrum of human experience, and shows us that no matter what we go through, there is a God who listens to those who call on Him. He walks beside us, goes before us, encamps around us, reigns above us, and dwells among us.

He is God, and we should praise Him.

Theme verses in Psalms

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night. (Ps 1:2)

Psalm’s role in the Bible

Psalms is the second book of poetry in the Bible. While the poetic books of Job,Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon read as whole pieces, Psalms is a collection of 150 small units in one book—someone like today’s hymnals.

Which brings up an interesting point: Psalms is the only book of the Bible that doesn’t have chapters. Most books of the Bible were divvied up by chapters around 1227 A.D., but Psalms is (mostly) divided according to their original divisions. Most of the psalms have titles designating their composers, and some even include a little historical backdrop (example: Ps 51). Since Psalms is naturally divided by poem, you don’t find a “Psalms chapter 23,” instead, you’ll just find “Psalm 23″ or “the twenty-third Psalm.”

And don’t let the psalm count fool you. Although there are 150 psalms, Psalms is not the longest book of the Bible—that’s Jeremiah.

Psalms has more authors than any other book of the Bible, by far. Psalms credits five individual authors and two families (who wrote psalms over the centuries). Here’s the spread:

  • David: 73 psalms (though the Septuagint and Latin Vulgate credit a few more to him2
  • Asaph (the family): 12 psalms. This family was ordained by David to lead the people in worship, and was recommissioned when Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem (1 Ch 25:1;Neh 7:4412:46–47).
  • The sons of Korah: 11 psalms. Back in the book of Numbers, a man named Korah rebelled against Moses and Aaron—and God caused the earth to swallow him up. His sons survived, though (Nu 26:11), and continued to serve in the house of the Lord. They share one psalm (Ps 88) with the wise man Heman.
  • Solomon: two psalms. Solomon is better known for his work in Proverbs,Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon, but he also contributes a few lines to Psalms.
  • Moses: one psalm. In addition to writing GenesisExodusLeviticusNumbers, andDeuteronomy, Moses also wrote the ninetieth psalm (Ps 90).
  • Ethan the Ezrahite: one psalm. We don’t know much about Ethan, except that he was very wise, and Solomon was wiser (1 Ki 4:31). Sorry, Ethan.
  • The remaining 50 psalms aren’t credited to any one author.

But here’s my favorite thing about Psalms: while most of the Law and Prophets deal with God’s messages to men, the Psalms give us examples of how we can respond to God. While every other book of the Bible is written to people, the Psalms are directed to God.

They’re still inspired by God (2 Ti 3:16), but they feel incredibly human. Through the Psalms, we see how godly people spoke to a holy God in all kinds of circumstances.

Quick outline of Psalms

  • Overview: the righteous, the wicked, and the Messiah (Ps 1–2)
  • Book One: the Lord delivers me (Ps 3–41)
  • Book Two: the Lord is a mighty judge (Ps 42–72)
  • Book Three: the Lord’s everlasting relationship with Israel (Ps 73–89)
  • Book Four: praise for the Creator, for the Lord reigns (Ps 90–106)
  • Book Five: thanks and praise to the Lord! (Ps 107–150)

Bible Overview Series: Job


by Joseph Novak


He scrapes himself with broken pots, cursing his mother’s womb. In the distance, Leviathan circles silently in the deep.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)


Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Job

Nobody has it better than Job:

  • He’s righteous
  • He’s rich
  • He has a big, happy family

But things abruptly change. In one day, his children die when a building collapses, his employees are slaughtered, and his cattle are stolen. Then, painful boils break out on his skin. Job loses everything, and is left wondering why.

The answer: Satan wants to prove that Job will curse God. This is the central conflict of the book. It’s Job’s test: will he abandon his faith or remain loyal to God?

Here’s how the story plays out:

  • Satan attacks Job. God points out to Satan that Job is a blameless and upright man, but Satan points out that God has already blessed Job abundantly.  Satan argues that Job is just returning the favor, and asserts that Job would turn on God if his blessings were taken away. God gives Satan a chance to prove it, and Satan immediately rips everything he can away from Job. But Job does not curse God.
  • Job mourns while his friends accuse him. Job’s three friends come to comfort him, and Job begins to lament his loss to them. Their response stings: “God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves” (Job 11:6). Job’s friends tell him that this suffering must be brought on by Job’s sin, and he should repent. Job argues back that he has not incurred any punishment. Job wishes he could plead his case to God. Still, Job does not curse God. Job and his friends go back and forth three times on this issue, and then a young bystander named Elihu jumps in.
  • God Himself answers Job. After Elihu weighs in, God speaks to Job. God challenges Job’s understanding by reminding Job of His wisdom, sovereignty, and power.
  • Job is restored. When God finishes, Job humbly concedes that God’s will is unstoppable, and repents. God also reprimands Job’s friends for misrepresenting Him. Finally, God restores Job: he becomes twice as wealthy, he again is blessed with children, and he dies at a ripe old age.

Throughout the book of Job, we wonder whether Job will stand firm in his faith or abandon it. In the end, Job remains faithful to God, and God remains faithful to Job.

Theme verses of Job

“[Job] said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the LORD.’

Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” (Job 1:21–22)

Job’s role in the Bible

Job is the first Old Testament book of poetry (the others are PsalmsProverbs,EcclesiastesSong of Solomon, and Lamentations). Although the book of Job is best known for its story, only three of the 42 chapters are narrative. The rest are poetic discourses from Job, his friends, a young bystander, and God Himself.

Job is considered wisdom literature: the book helps us understand God, His creation, our relationship with Him, and how we should respond.

A few features make Job especially unique in the Bible:

  • Job is not said to be Hebrew. All other times the Bible mentions a place called Uz, it is not in the land of Israel (Lam 4:21Jer25:20).  Job makes sacrifices on behalf of others (Job 1:5)—there is no mention of Levitical priests nor God’s covenant law with Israel.
  • Job focuses on God’s role as sovereign creator. When God answers Job, He asks a series of “Where where you when . . .” questions. The book of Job attests to God’s creative power, wisdom, and authority. Because God made the universe, we can trust that He knows how to rule it.
  • Job pulls back the curtain on Satan’s activities. Until the book of Job, we’ve only seen Satan influence David for Israel’s harm (1 Chr 21:1), but in Job, we see the enemy in full-on attack against God’s servant. We see that Satan can manipulate the weather (Job 1:1619), a person’s health (Job 2:7), and even groups of people (Job 1:1517). But we also see God setting Satan’s limits (Job 1:122:6).
  • Job serves as an example of how the righteous are not immune to suffering. In the New Testament, James cites Job as an example to Christians who suffer:
  • As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. (James 5:10—11)
  • And like Job, we are Satan’s targets now. Peter warns us that the devil “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” But our response should be the same as Job’s: we must “resist him, firm in [our] faith” (1 Pet 5:8–9).

Quick outline of Job