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Arguably the world's most famous book, the Holy Bible gives history, guidance, and comfort to billions. This invaluable handbook offers a clear, concise understanding of the stories and lessons contained within the scriptures, enabling anyone to fully grasp the subtleties and message of each book. An ideal companion for any student of the Bible, Bible Guide will give all readers a fuller, more complete understanding of God's remarkable and ...
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Arguably the world's most famous book, the Holy Bible gives history, guidance, and comfort to billions. This invaluable handbook offers a clear, concise understanding of the stories and lessons contained within the scriptures, enabling anyone to fully grasp the subtleties and message of each book. An ideal companion for any student of the Bible, Bible Guide will give all readers a fuller, more complete understanding of God's remarkable and historic works.
The Bible's story is a unique account of salvation, the means whereby a loving and just God transforms the lives of men and women and brings them into his believing community, the Church. Although it begins with a vivid portrait of God as the world's creator, the Bible does not claim to be a complete account of everything which he did in the ancient world, nor even of every event which occurred in the life of the Hebrew people. It is history, but it is more than history. As it tells the history of God's people, the Bible reveals the great truths of God's salvation.
God needed a particular nation to be a special instrument to present his truth, his name and nature, to the world, and he chose the Hebrew people, or "the Israelites," as they are also called.
The Bible's first book provides a graphic presentation of the devastating effects of sin and God's answer to human need. Genesis means beginnings, and it describes the origin of the world, and of sin in the world, before going on to the call of Abraham to be God's servant, and "father" of the Israelite race. It follows this with an account of leading events in the lives of Abraham's immediate successors and fellow patriarchs -- Isaac and Jacob.
Severe famine conditions throughout the ancient near-east led the old man Jacob and his family to Egypt, wherethere were good supplies of food, thanks to the statesmanship of Jacob's long-lost son, Joseph, now governor over all Egypt.
The family settled in Egypt, but in the decades after Joseph's death their numbers rapidly increased. In an attempt to suppress them, the Egyptians made them slaves, and treated them roughly, even ordering the execution of their male babies. One such infant was hidden by his parents for three months, and was then providentially delivered from death and brought up in Pharaoh's court. His name was Moses, and he was the deliverer chosen by God to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage and back to the land God had prepared for them -- Canaan, roughly the present state of Israel.
THE PROMISED LAND
The Israelites' miraculous escape from Egypt was followed by their journey across the desert toward the "promised land." Early in that journey God revealed himself to the people through Moses, and made a "covenant" (agreement) with them.
The making of such treaties was a familiar feature in the life of the surrounding nations. A smaller country might at times feel compelled to make such an agreement with a larger, more powerful nation. The terms of the treaty would demand allegiance from the smaller (vassal) nation and in turn the larger (suzerain) would promise full support and protection. The treaty always included a promise that the weaker nation would not make similar alliances with other nations; the loyalty was to be complete and exclusive.
God's covenant with his people followed the same pattern. They were to obey his laws and not worship other "gods." The covenant's terms are clearly set out in Exodus (Exod. 20:117) and Deuteronomy (Deut. 5:621) and are brilliantly summarized in the Ten Commandments.
Instead of being grateful for God's miraculous salvation from Egyptian tyranny, many of the Israelite pilgrims often grumbled and complained during their desert journey, sometimes wishing they had never left Egypt. When they got to the borders of Canaan, they were particularly stubborn and rebellious, refusing to believe that God was able to make them victorious over the existing inhabitants of the land. God therefore told them that their generation would not enter the land. When, several decades later, that entire unbelieving generation had died, their children resumed the journey and, under Joshua's leadership, entered the land of Canaan.
They entered a land whose people worshipped many idols. The Canaanite religion was a fertility cult, a particularly immoral form of worship, involving such practices as "sacred" prostitution. God had told the Israelites that they must have no other gods, but they often disobeyed that part of the covenant-agreement.
Initially, the leadership of the land was the responsibility of "judges," or tribal leaders, but eventually the people asked for a king, and Saul was appointed by the prophet Samuel. Saul, like some other biblical characters, failed to achieve his rich potential. David was chosen as Saul's successor and the rule then passed to David's son, Solomon. Continues...
Excerpted from Bible Guide by Brown, Raymond Excerpted by permission.
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Posted November 6, 2009
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