The Bible as a whole can be overwhelming. It’s made up of hundreds of stories, and often we just read one story at a time, in a different order every time. This pattern makes it seem like the Bible is just one book of disjointed stories, when in fact every story is actually telling one big story! In the words of Sally Lloyd-Jones in the Jesus Storybook Bible, “every story whispers His name.” Kids typically have the hardest time grasping the bigger picture of the Bible, since they hear the “children’s stories” told to them one at a time. This week, we’re taking a break from our character studies, and looking at the overview of the Old Testament!
Look at the chart above with your kids this week. (You can also download & print the pdf here: Overview takehome printable) Hang up this chart on your fridge this week, and talk about how the Bible works together- all telling God’s great story of Rescue through His son, Jesus Christ. We’ve split up the Old Testament into 9 different eras (with a lot of help from the book 30 Days to Understanding the Bible by Max Anders). We gave each era a picture to help make it easier to remember. For example, era #1 is called “Creation.” This era describes Genesis 1-11 before moving onto the next era, “Patriarch.” Some eras, like the “Kingdom” era, take up much more space (1 Samuel – 2 Chronicles) than others in the Bible. It’s also important to notice that some of the prophets (like Isaiah) were writing their books during the Kingdom era. Not everything in the Old Testament is written chronologically, so sometimes it’s simpler to think through the Old Testament in these eras.
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At dinner this week, come with a list of Bible stories, and see if your kids can pick what era each story belongs in. Have the overview chart up for everyone to see, but cover up the character and story rows. Have the kids quiz you too!
While driving in the car this week, talk about things that are connected together. For example, every stream of water eventually leads to a river, which eventually leads to the ocean. Similarly, every story in the Bible is telling one larger story. Can you think of anything else that is connected like that?
During bedtime this week, spend some time talking with your child(ren) about God’s great story of rescue. Even all the way back in Genesis 3, right when Adam and Eve brought sin into the world, God had a plan to redeem back His people for Himself. Discuss how amazing it is that God is in control of everything, and loves us each individually. If you have a copy of the Jesus Storybook Bible, read a few Old Testament stories from that this week to bring the point home.
Using some index cards, or using this printable pdf of the 9 ERAS, make flash cards for each era. Keep practicing different elements of the overview chart to see if you can remember what each era stands for. Start with matching the pictures to the name of the era (for example: match the tree picture with “Creation” era), and then move on to more details. The flag picture stands for the “Conquest” era, and the main characters were Joshua, Caleb, and Rahab. See how far you can get, and make this a game every morning.
Thank God for helping us to see the bigger picture of the Bible. Thank Him for making it all one big story to help us see His plan of rescue better! Ask Him to help you see the Bible as a story of rescue, rather than just a book of rules.
Next week we will start a new character trait: Trustworthy. We’ll look next week at the story of the Israelite spies checking out the Promised Land in Numbers 13-14. We will study how trustworthy God is, and how He always keeps His promises!