Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

05 November 2012

How to read ALL of the Bible # 6 - The Southern Kingdom

The Southern Kingdom (or Judah) also has a succession of kings (nineteen) and one (very bad) queen. Now God has promised King David (from the tribe of Judah) that someone from his line will always be on the throne of Judah.  Consequently all of the kings of the Southern Kingdom are from the family line of David.  Some love and honour God and others fall away to serve other gods. The pendulum swings back and forth for nearly 400 years. During the reigns of the bad kings God sends prophets including ISAIAH, MICAH and JEREMIAH.

Unfortunately there are more bad kings than good and again the warnings of the prophets go unheeded - and things deteriorate. Eventually God sends the Babylonians into the Southern Kingdom to take over. The FIRST DEPORTATION TO BABYLON IN 597BC sees the key leaders of the community taken in captivity to Babylon. During the SECOND DEPORTATION TO BABYLON IN 586BC all but a very few poor people (who are left to keep the wild animals and tumbleweeds from taking over the land) are deported and spread all throughout the vast Babylonian Empire. God continues to speak to His people through the prophets, even in exile, such as through EZEKIEL.

The Israelites are still holding onto God's promise that someone from the line of David will always remain on the throne.  In 538BC there is an EDICT OF RETURN. A small contingent of Israelites with NEHEMIAH the governor and EZRA the prophet/priest return to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, starting with the city wall. Most of the Israelites stay put, having done as God instructed and made themselves a comfortable life and home in Babylon. The small contingent that returns is encouraged along in their endeavours by the prophets HAGGAI, ZECHERIAH and MALACHI. The rebuilding and repatriation project goes ahead but they are unable to return things to their former glorious state - as built up during the reigns of David and Solomon.

That marks the end of the main events of the Old Testament.  What follows is a period of about 400 years when God remains silent. There are no more prophets and no further key developments in the history of His people during that time.

This diagram is from Gospel and Kingdom: A Christian Interpretation of the Old Testament by Graeme Goldsworthy, page 32. (Published by Paternoster Press in 1982)

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