In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. In six days he created everything including his masterpiece, humans. On the seventh day he rested.
One day, the serpent convinced Eve and Adam to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In doing so, they disobeyed God's command and sin entered the world. God kicked them out of the garden as he didn't want them to eat from the tree of life and live forever.
Adam and Eve had children and as the population grew, God saw that human hearts and thoughts were constantly filled with evil. God was sorry he had made humans. To deal with the problem of sin, he chose Noah and told him to build an ark. Noah filled the ark with every kind of animal and God flooded the world, destroying all living things except those in the ark.
After the flood, the population grew again, but sinful desires led people to build a tower to the heavens at Babel. After destroying the tower, God decided to deal with the problem of sin once and for all. He chose one couple, Abraham and Sarah, to start an entire nation of special people from whom a Saviour of the world would come. God promised them a special land to live in. One of their sons, Jacob, had twelve sons who became the fathers of the 12 tribes of Israel. One of the 12 sons, Joseph, was sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers.
Joseph served Pharaoh well and was put in charge over all of Egypt. At Joseph's advice, Pharaoh stored up food for a coming famine. When the famine came, Jacob's sons had to go to Egypt to buy food. Joseph forgave his brothers and they moved to Egypt to live with Joseph.
The Israelites grew in number in Egypt and were forced into slavery. After 430 years of exile in Egypt, God chose one man, Moses, to lead them to freedom. After Pharaoh let them go, the Israelites travelled to Mount Sinai where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. After a year at Mount Sinai and a bad report from some Israelite spies sent out into the Promised Land, God sentenced his people to wandering in the desert until an entire generation of unbelieving adults had died.
After 40 years in the desert, Moses died and Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land. The land was divided among the 12 tribes. They had no formal leadership except for Judges that God called on as the need arose. The Judges were generally ineffective and the Israelites eventually asked God for a king. God granted them their wish and Saul became the first king of Israel. After Saul, David became king followed by his son Solomon.
After Solomon died, the kingdom of Israel erupted into civil war and divided into two parts: Judah in the south and Israel in the north. Israel lasted 200 years before being destroyed forever by the Assyrians. Judah lasted 350 years before the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and God's temple that Solomon had built. Many citizens of Judah were exiled to Babylon.
After Persia defeated Babylon, the exiled Israelites (now called Jews), were allowed to go back to their homeland and rebuild the temple. This is the end of the Old Testament.
During the time between the Old Testament and the New Testament, the region where the Jews lived was controlled first by the Greeks and then the Romans. The Romans appointed King Herod to rule over the province of Judea where the Jews were living.
Jesus Christ was born under Herod's rule to a poor couple named Mary and Joseph. At about the age of 30 he was baptized by John and began his ministry by announcing that he was the Saviour sent by God to be a sacrifice for the sins of the world. He chose 12 men to be his apostles and taught people about how to have a right relationship with God. However, religious leaders arrested him, tried him before Pilate and Herod and crucified him.
Three days later he rose from the dead. Jesus Christ was God's sacrifice, once and for all, for the sins of all humans.
After he rose from the dead, Jesus appeared to more than 500 people before ascending to heaven. Ten days later, the Holy Spirit was given by God to the apostles and the church began to grow rapidly. One of the church's main persecutors, Saul, encountered Jesus and was converted. After this, Saul became known as Paul and began preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ all over the region. One of Jesus' apostles, Peter, was sent by God to preach the message of Jesus to non-Jewish people.
The church grew rapidly throughout the Middle East. The Bible ends with a prophecy about events that will lead to the return of Jesus and the establishment of a new heaven and a new earth.
Bible verses quoted (except where stated) are from The Holy Bible, New Century Version (NCV), copyright 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
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