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Chronology: The Key to Unlocking the Old Testament

If you’re like me, you’ve attempted to read the Bible straight through a few times. You probably got about as far as Leviticus or Numbers and got sidetracked. Why is it so hard? The Bible starts as a story, gets into some history and then descends into laws that we can’t make sense of. As a New Testament believer, most of these laws no longer pertain to us, so the impact fizzles. Maybe, like me, you picked up a chronological reading guide. But reading Genesis and Exodus over again for the nth time feels like it’s you who is wandering in the wilderness.

In our homeschool, I’m trying to chart a different course for my kids. Last year we used Ascension Press’s Bible Timeline for teens program. My kids enjoyed it greatly, but I think lacked the biblical familiarity to really allow the format sink in. So this year we went to the Scripture. Again, my inclination was, we need to read straight through! It is God’s Word! But, looking at my number of weeks, and the length of readings that would demand, even breaking it into two years was too much. So I did more digging. I found a wonderful breakdown at Catholic Culture (because, you know, including the Catholic books makes this sort of hunt extra tricky). I used the layout almost exactly, with a few tweaks for readings that were extra long. Some I broke up, others I pulled significant passages from and only read those. I am finding it very effective to finally get the outline of Bible history and dovetailing the prophets into their relative positions to order the scope of the Old Testament into a coherent whole.

This is my 33-week reading plan. We homeschool 4 days a week, and one day each week we do a reading from Luke, so that’s 99 OT readings. Next year, I hope to do a similar trip through the New Testament lessons, using Acts as the launching pad to work through the chronology.

Creation of the World and Man (Gen. 1:1-2:4)
Creation Retold: Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:5-25)
The Fall of Man and the Promise of a Redeemer (Gen. 3:1-24)
Cain Kills Abel (Gen. 4:1-16)
Birth of Seth (Gen. 4:25-26)
The Flood (Gen. 6:1-8:12)
God’s Covenant with Noah (Gen. 8:13-9:1-17)
The Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9)
God Gives Abram a Three-Fold Promise (Gen. 12:1-9)
God’s First Covenant with Abram: Land (Gen. 15:1-21)
God’s Second Covenant with Abraham: Royal Dynasty (Gen. 17:1-11)
Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:16-19:29)
Birth of Isaac (Gen. 21:1-7)
God’s Third Covenant with Abraham: Universal Blessing (Gen. 22:1-19)
Jacob Gets Esau’s Blessing from Isaac (Gen. 27:1-46)
Jacob’s Name Changed to Israel (Gen. 32:22-32)
Joseph Sold into Egyptian Slavery (Gen. 37:12-36)
Bondage of Israel (Ex. 1:1-22)
Birth of Moses (Ex. 2:1-10)
Moses Kills an Egyptian and Flees (Ex. 2:11-15)
Moses and the Burning Bush (Ex. 3:1-15, 4:1-17)
Moses and the Burning Bush (Ex. 4:28-5:9, 22-6:1)
Moses, Pharaoh, and the Ten Plagues (Ex. 7:1-8:32)
Moses, Pharaoh, and the Ten Plagues (Ex. 9:1-10:29)
The Passover (Ex. 11; 12:1-32)
The Exodus (Ex. 12:33-14:31)
Covenant at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:1-25)
Covenant at Mount Sinai (Exodus 20:1-20, Exodus 29:38-46)
Worship of the Golden Calf (Ex. 32:1-35)
Spies sent from Kadesh (Num. 13:1-33)
Forty Years Wandering in the Wilderness (Numbers 13:17-33 )
Forty Years Wandering in the Wilderness (Numbers 14:1-45 )
Forty Years Wandering in the Wilderness (Numbers 20:1-13 ), Sin of Baal of Peor (Num. 25:1-18)
Covenant of Deuteronomy (Deut. 29:1-29)
Moses’ Final Words and Death (Deut. 31:1-29; 34:1-12)
Joshua’s Invasion of Canaan (Josh. 1:1-9; 4:1-5:1)
Joshua’s Invasion of Canaan (Josh. 5:13-6:20)
Covenant Renewed at Mount Ebal (Josh. 8:1-35)
Division of the Land by Tribes (Josh. 13:1-7; 18:1-10, 49-51)
Joshua’s Final Words and Death (Josh. 22:1-24:31)
Israel Fights the Remaining Canaanites (Judg. 1:1-2:23)
Deborah Defeats Sisera (Judg. 4:1-5:31)
Gideon Defeats the Midianites (Judg. 6:1-7:25)
Jephthah Defeats the Ammonites (Judg. 10:6-18; 11:4-12:7)
Life of Samson (Judges 13:1-7, 24, Judges 16:4-30 )
All Right in their Own Eyes (Judg. 17:1-18:31)
Life of Ruth (Ruth 1:1-18, Ruth 2:1-23, 4:9-10 )
Birth of Samuel (1 Sam. 1:1-20)
Samuel Overcomes the Philistines (1 Sam. 7:1-17)
Israel asks for a King (1 Sam. 8:1-22)
Samuel Anoints Saul as King (1 Sam. 9:1-10:27)
Samuel Anoints David as King (1 Sam. 16:1-23)
David Slays Goliath (1 Sam. 17:1-58)
David Becomes King of Israel (2 Sam. 1:1-17)
David Becomes King of Israel (2 Sam. 5:1-25)
God’s Covenant with David (2 Sam. 7:1-29)
Solomon Anointed King (1 Ki. 1:28 – 2:12)
Solomon Builds the Temple (1 Ki. 6:1-37)
Solomon’s Downfall (1 Ki. 11:1-43)
Rehoboam Refuses Advice of the Elders (1 Ki. 12:1-15), Divided Kingdom in 930 B.C. (1 Ki. 12:16-20)
Northern Kingdom of Israel: King Jeroboam (1 Ki. 12:16-20), Southern Kingdom of Judah: King Rehoboam (1 Ki. 14:21-31)
Ahab the King of Israel (1 Ki. 16:29-17:1; 18:16-19:3)
Ahab the King of Israel (1 Ki. 20:35-43;22:1-4)
Jehoshaphat the King of Judah (2 Chr. 17:1-6, 18:1-8)
Jehoshaphat the King of Judah (2 Chr. 18:14-19:7,20:31-37)
Elijah The Prophet (2 Ki. 1:1-2:18)
Jonah the Prophet (Jonah 1:1-4:11)
Isaiah the Prophet (Is. 6:1-8; 7:1-17; 39:1-8; 53:2-12)
Israel Led Captive by the King of Assyria in 722 B.C. (2 Ki. 17:1-41)
Tobit and his Son Tobias (Tob. 1:3; 2:1-14; 3:1-11a, 16-17a)
Tobit and his Son Tobias (Tob. 6:10-11; 7:1, 9-17)
Tobit and his Son Tobias (Tob. 8:4-9a; 11:5-17; 12:1, 5-15, 20)
Josiah’s Reform in Judah (2 Ki. 22:1-23:30)
Jeremiah Speaks of the Fall and Restoration of Jerusalem (Jer. 1:1-19; 21:1-10; 23:1-4)
Judah Led Captive by the King of Babylon in 586 B.C. (2 Ki. 25:1-30)
Lamentations (Lam. 5)
Ezekiel the Prophet (Ez. 2:1-3:1)
Ezekiel the Prophet (Ez. 37:1-14; 47:1-12)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Dan. 3:1-30)
Daniel in the Lion’s Den (Dan. 6:1-28)
The Exiles Return to Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1-2:70)
The Temple is Rebuilt by Zerubbabel (Ezra 3:1-13; 6:1-22)
Ezra Returns from Babylon (Ezra 7:1-8:36)
Mixed Marriages and Ezra’s Reform (Ezra 9:1-10:44)
Queen Esther (Esther 2:1-23)
Queen Esther (Esther 3:1-15; 4:1-17)
Queen Esther (Esther 5:1-14; 6:1-14)
Queen Esther (Esther 7:1-10, 8:1-8; 9:20-32)
Nehemiah Returns to Jerusalem and Rebuilds the Walls (Neh. 3:1-4:23)
Ezra Reads the Law to the People (Neh. 8:1-9:38)
Prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (Haggai)
Prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (Zech. 8)
Prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (Mal. 2:10-3:7, 16-4:6)
Hellenism in Asia Minor (1 Macc. 1:1-64)
Revolt of Mattathias (1 Macc. 2:1-70)
Leadership of Judas Maccabeus (1 Macc. 3:1-26)
Purification of the Temple (1 Macc. 4:36-61), Defeat and Death of Antiochus IV (1 Macc. 6:1-16)
Leadership of Jonathan (1 Macc. 9:23-73; 12:1-4, 39-53)
Leadership of Simon the High Priest and Ethnarch (1 Macc. 14:27-49; 16:11-23)