The Importance of a Sound Biblical Chronology
This lesson examines the order of events in the Old Testament leading up to the birth of Christ. Having a sound knowledge of these events, and the order in which they occurred, provides a solid foundation for our overall understanding of the Bible and God's eternal plan for mankind.
Similarly, as we begin to get deeper into our study of Genesis, it is necessary that we have a good understanding of the order of these events and that we are aware of the controversies surrounding Biblical Chronology. One additional thing that will help us in this understanding is having some knowledge about world history and the events going on outside of the biblical story as well.
Many believe the Old Testament is mostly—if not all—fiction, and since the vast majority of the Old Testament was written long after the actual time of the events, they believe that the events themselves were primarily "created" in order to teach a moral lesson, or to explain in some way something previously not understood. Our task as believers is to prove otherwise. We can best do this by tying together events in world history with an understanding of cultures, nations, languages, and customs and the archaeology unearthed thus far.
Let’s begin this task by considering the following questions:
- Define the Ussher Chronology, what are its weaknesses and strengths?
- Current history can easily document a period of how many years back in time?
- What is the Göbekli Tepe?
- What is the significance of the Tel Dan Stele and the Mesha Stele?
- Now let’s practice, using a combination of world history and the biblical text, to establish a date. Read Luke 3:1-23. From this passage and our knowledge of Roman history, see if you can calculate the year of Christ's birth.
- Read 1 Kings 6:1. What date was the Temple built, and when did Solomon's reign begin?
- Using 970 BC as the beginning of Solomon's reign, we can then establish dates for the reign and deaths of Saul and David. What would they be?
- Continuing back from the reign of Saul covers a period of time referred to as the Time of the Judges, plus additionally the period of time of the occupation led by Joshua, which was preceded further by the forty years of wilderness wanderings--which began with the Exodus. So, what was the length of time from God's promise to Abraham until the time of the Exodus and the giving of the Law? Read Exodus 12:40-41 and Galatians 3:16-17.
- 3000 BC is recognized as the beginning of written records. What role did the Sumerian and Egyptian people play in this process?
- The Tower of Babel event is dated at 3600 BC or earlier. Prior to the Tower of Babel, date uncertain, the Great Flood ended, and Noah and his family descended the Ark. Which of his three sons are the Semitic people descended from? See Genesis 10:21-32.
- Order the following events in their proper order, from the earliest to the most recent:
- Solomon builds the Temple
- Cain slays Abel
- Methuselah dies
- Joshua brings down the walls of Jericho
- Seth is born
- The Towel of Babel
- David is King
- Babylon destroys the Temple
- Jews are enslaved in Egypt
- Noah and the Flood
- Christ is born
In summary, understanding the proper order of the events in biblical history and tying those events to historical dates is possible using a combination of archaeology, the biblical text, and historical "synchronisms" (i.e., tying in the historical events and evidences that confirm the Bible). As students of the Bible, we need to have a fundamental understanding of these events, their order, as well as the evidences that exist outside of the biblical text which point to the accuracy of God’s Holy Word.
Praising God for your continued faithfulness in studying His Holy Word.