A pictorial guide to walks  in the beautiful Irish county of Wicklow
And a pleasant chat along the way

 The Storyline of the Bible 12/30
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Moses - The Book of Exodus
The family of Jacob (or as he was renamed by God -Israel) grew into a nation. Their host nation Egypt became fearful of them and began to severely persecute them. It seemed that God was inactive, then suddenly (around 3500 years ago ) God intervened. An 80 year old man Moses was summoned by God. By miraculous wonders and dreadful judgements Moses led that people out from bondage in Egypt.

The Book of Exodus records these events as well as the birth and the life of Moses in chapter 2. He was born at a time when the policy of the Pharaoh was to reduce the number of the Israelites by killing all newborn males. His parents placed him in a basket on the river Nile. The daughter of Pharaoh finding the basket and having compassion on the child raised him as her own son. In his 40th year his royal life suddenly changed. He identified with his own people and after killing an Egyptian, he had to flee into the desert, where he became a nomad and a shepherd. In this way God was preparing him for the leadership role to Israel which he exercised for the next 40 years. Was he that CHAMPION KING promised in the book of Genesis? Although he bore many similarities he was not that person. Moses prophesied about the coming CHAMPION  KING and said The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.” Deuteronomy chapter 18 verse 15. 

 The Storyline of the Bible 13/30
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You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol
You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.
You shall not covet.

The Covenant – Re-establishment of God's Kingdom in the Nation of Israel - Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

In ancient times in the Near East, it was a custom of powerful kings to enter into written treaties with less powerful kings. These contracts or covenants usually took a common form outlining the benefits from the stronger king to the weaker, the obligations of weaker king and a list of blessing and curses that would follow either obedience or disobedience.

After delivering the people of Israel through Moses, God entered into a similar legal agreement with them. The nation of Israel became God's Kingdom. He became their God and they became His people. His relationship with them was a relationship of love, similar to the human relationship of father to a son. The obligations of the Covenant was what became known as the Law of Moses. This was a mixture of moral, civil and ceremonial laws outlined in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The moral law is summarised by the 10 Commandments. The object of the law was to restrain sin and enable the Israelites to live lives befitting the People of God. Also its purpose was to expose the sinfulness of sin. The ceremonial law with its  prescribed priests and animal sacrifices symbolically depicted the work of the coming CHAMPION  KING.

 The Storyline of the Bible 14/30
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The Tabernacle and Animal Sacrifices
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

God had re-established his Kingdom in the Nation of Israel and re-established his gracious presence with his people ( as it had been with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden ). Because this had been done in anticipation of the coming CHAMPION  KING (who is going to deal with humanity sin problem) the institutions were temporary and incomplete. 
God's gracious presence was symbolised in the inner portion of a large tent called the Tabernacle where ( only ) the representative of the Nation of Israel (the High Priest) entered once a year and met with God. This Tabernacle ceremony and others were conducted with animal sacrifices, to indicate that sin had to be dealt with before complete an true fellowship with God could be obtained.

 The Storyline of the Bible 15/30
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The Conquest 
of the Land of Canaan

book of Joshua

The conquest of Canaan was undertaken under the leadership of Joshua the successor to Moses. The rightness or wrongness of this action is dependant upon whether the Israelites were commanded by God or not. The position of the Bible is that they were and the former inhabitants were evicted because of their sin. This difficult subject can only be appreciated in the context of the World-view mentioned in Genesis chapter one, where God is seen as the only rightful owner and ruler of this World. The view of God presented in the Bible is that God is not only loving but also righteous and does hold men and women accountable for their sins (as these events demonstrate).

This fulfilment of the promise to Abraham by God (that his descendants would be given the land of Canaan) is a symbolic return to the Garden of Eden.

 The Storyline of the Bible 16/30
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Book of Judges
6,7 and 8

The period of the Judges spans the time from the death of Joshua to the reign of Saul the first king of Israel. The events are recorded in the book of Judges and the beginning of the first book of Samuel. The book of Judges records cyclical events of rebellion, judgement, repentance and deliverance. The Israelites would depart from the worship of God and worship other gods. In response God would raise up a nation to persecute them. The Israelites would repent and cry out to God for deliverance and God would provide a champion ( a judge) who would both deliver them and rule them.
An often repeated sentence (for emphases ) in the book is “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit”. This sentence is not a comparison with the period when kings ruled Israel. God was Israel's King and this fact was not recognised during the period of the Judges just as it was not recognised later in the period of the kings. (see1 Samuel 8: 7). In other words the events described in the book indicate the incomplete nature of the Kingdom of God in the nation of Israel.

 The Storyline of the Bible 17/30
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the first king
of the United Kingdom
of Israel

The development of a loose federation of 12 tribes into a united kingdom was prompted by this desire voiced by the Israelites
"We want a king over us. Then we shall be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles." (1 Samuel chapter 8 verses 19 and 20) After warning about the oppressive nature of kings, God instructed Samuel (the last of the Judges) to appoint a king for them. Lots are cast and Saul is appointed king. He starts well and becomes the hoped for champion of the people but finishes badly. His story is told in the beginning of 1st Samuel and 1st Chronicles
As can be seen from the desire of the Israelites a function of a king was to be a champion of his people and thus the kings of Israel illustrates the work of the coming CHAMPION  KING.

 The Storyline of the Bible 18/30
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David and Solomon
The Last Kings
of an
United Kingdom of Israel

The next king of Israel was David, who previously was an army officer of Saul. He is described as a man after God's own heart. He wrote many hymns (which are called  psalms - see the book of Psalms). He was a great champion defeating the surrounding enemies of the Israelites and extending Israel's borders. However David in his later years as king committed adultery and murder.
David's son Solomon (renowned for his God given wisdom) was the greatest of the Israelite kings. Under his reign the kingdom experienced it's greatest peace and glory. Nevertheless during his reign (with high taxes and his worship of the gods of his many foreign wives) the seeds of the destruction of the united kingdom were sown. Their story is told in 1st and 2nd  Samuel, 1st Kings, 1st and 2nd  Chronicles 
In the early reign of David, God made a promise to David regarding his heir. This promise was partly fulfilled in his son Solomon but the wider fulfilment was in the coming Champion. The coming CHAMPION  KING would be of the family of David and would occupy an eternal throne. (see 2nd  Samuel 7: 4 to 17)

 The Storyline of the Bible 19/30
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The Divided Kingdoms of Judah and Israel.

After the death of Solomon (around 930 BC) 10 tribes succeeded from the House of David and appointing Jeroboam their king forming the Kingdom of Israel. For the next 200 years various dynasties ruled this kingdom, each coming to power with the slaughter of the previous house. The last capital (Samaria) was destroyed by the Assyrians in 720 BC. The wealthy and educated  were exiled and foreign settlers took their place. 

The combination of the  natives and the settlers with the combination of their religions produced the people mentioned in the New Testament as the Samaritans. 
The tribe of Judah and half the tribe Benjamin remained loyal to Rehoboam the son of Solomon and his reduced kingdom was known as the Kingdom of Judah. Judah survived with a succession of good and evil kings of the dynasty of David until the conquest of the Babylonians under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar in 586 AD 
Both kingdoms were on a downward spiral of rebellion against God with the worship of Baal and other gods. Although there was reformation at times each new departure from the covenant was worse then the previous until both kingdoms in turn were destroyed by God. 
This period of History is recorded in the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles.

 The Storyline of the Bible 20/30
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The Prophets  - Heralds of the coming King

During the history of the Israelites, God raised up people to speak for him. Usually their message was a warning that the Israelites was breaking the covenant with their God and a call for repentance and reformation. Sometimes the message of a prophet was not only for the people of his day but also for future generations. Their message then would not only be oral but would also be in written form. The written message would not only included a prediction of coming judgement, such as the conquest of Israel by the Assyrians and the conquest of Judah by the Babylonians, but also a promise of future deliverance by God. These written messages form  many books of the Bible.

The prophets wrote about the coming CHAMPION KING and here is a sample of their predictions.

Isaiah 53 :8 to 12. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

 The Storyline of the Bible 21/30
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The Captivity
and Exile
from the Land

As warned by God through his Prophets the Kingdom of Judah in 586 BC was destroyed. It was the policy of the Babylonians (like the Assyrians) to disperse a conquered nation throughout their empire  to reduce the threat of rebellion. And so the survivors were expelled from the Land. Not only the capital city Jerusalem was destroyed but more importantly the Temple built by King Solomon was destroyed. This structure had replaced the Tabernacle ( a tent ) where the representative of the Nation of Israel (the High Priest) entered once a year and met with God. The destruction of the Temple symbolised the annulment of the Covenant by God made to Israel through Moses. During this period synagogues took the place of the Temple as religious centres, and the study of the law took the place of animal sacrifices. A new religious office of Scribe was established.
For the next 70 years the Israelites who now became known as the Jews (from the name Judah) lived in hope of the promises of God - to return them to the land and not only restore his Covenant but implement a new and  better one. God had outlined the benifits of this New Covenant in this way: He will put his law in their minds and write it on their hearts. He will be their God, and they will be his people. All will know him because he will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. (See Jeremiah 31:31 to 34)
The story of this period is outlined in Daniel, end of Jeremiah and end of 2nd Chronicles.

 The Storyline of the Bible 22/30
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The Return to the Land
and re-establishment of the Kingdom

The Empire of the Babylonians was conquered by the Persians under Cyrus the Great in 539 BC. He revoked the policy of the Babylonians and allowed captured people to return to their homelands. The book of Ezra opens with a small number of Jews returning, armed with a warrant and provisions from Cyrus, to rebuild the Temple. After great opposition, legal wrangling and hardship the Temple was completed ( much reduced in size and splendour ). Ezra a priest and scribe led a second group of approximately 5000 men, returning to their homeland in 459 BC. He instructed the Jewish settlers on the Law and initiates needed reformation of their lives.
The book of Nehemiah is the story of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem by the man of the same name in 445BC. 
The Jews lived under the dominion of the Persians and then the Greeks, with a period of self-rule before coming under the rule of Rome just before the New Testament period. During the latter part of this period the sects of the Pharisees and the Sadducee were established.