Bible Summary for Beginners
This summary is meant as a zoom-out reference so you can see God's plan and the progression of things at a high level. It is a high-level view of the total picture to help beginners into a more meaningful Bible reading experience in their seeking of God. Keeping in mind that if you care about seeking God, there is no alternative to reading all the detailed pages of the Bible.
1. What Does God Want from Us?
A genuine relationship, where we truly get to know Him as our God, love Him, and worship Him. And in return He brings us into His Family, pours His blessings on us, and gives us eternal life in Heaven. He wants us to mature in the knowledge of Him to get this relationship to a meaningful level. You can get started now with the Lord's Prayer and talk directly to "our heavenly Father".
God, in His Holy nature, has rules that He Himself cannot bend or brake. Example, He cannot be in relationship with us when we are sinful. Who among us is without sin? So knowing this, He devised a way to forgive us our sins - renewed day by day - to restore the relationship with Him. But first you have to learn all about Jesus' commands and keep them! Thus, seeking God in the Bible.
God Himself cannot bend the rules, but He can forgive us when we do!
What is His biggest concern? It is the risk of losing us, to atheism for example. The worst sins of the flesh? He can forgive when we turn to Him with the right attitude. But leaving Him? means we've cut the cord; He can do nothing for us at that point. We'd be doomed to eternal torment. When you reject Him, He can only move away. And when He moves away, you have nothing left but darkness, desolation, depression, and every negative thing you've ever experienced in life multiplied by infinity.
You ask: Why would a loving God want to send us to hell and torment us just for rejecting Him?
Answer: He doesn't want to send us to hell - When you reject Him, He leaves. Then His absence is hell!!
Rejecting God comes in many shapes and forms. Example, when people reject His redemption plan through Christ and instead turn to dead people like Mary and saints. Or when people become so arrogantly callous, stick to the high-level lip-service belief, and refuse to learn the other half of the Bible, which clearly explains how wrong they are! This is another form of rejecting God. And the irony is, these people are throwing stones at Atheists all over the internet!!
2. The Old Testament
From Genesis to Malachi, 46 books written by prophets guided by God. For those skeptical of this being humans writing, let me remind you. If we believe in a supreme being who is capable of creating such a grand universe, is it too difficult for Him to guide certain individuals to write, and others to compile the Bible for our learning?
Note that the Old Testament is mainly a Jewish book. They call it "the Torah". But it is also the same Old Testament that Jesus referenced much of in His teaching. Therefore, we consider the Old Testament a key integral part of our Christian Bible.
2.1 God Created the World in Days! Here's How He Did It:
He created our universe in His realm over billions of years, then moved it over to our realm in days complete with fossils and bones.
Some choose to not believe this because of certain Bible wording that may seem contradicting. I believe God mixed into the Genesis account of the earth creation description - some from His realm and some after He moved it to our realm. This should not be perplexing to us because He does this vague wording throughout the Bible; He purposely kept things gray. He wants us to diligently seek Him! This is so He reserves the right to selectively reveal things to those wholeheartedly seeking Him.
See my page Atheism - A Different Perspective for more details.
2.2 Who Created God?
An infinite supreme being capable of creating such a grand universe is not one to be figured out easily by us, His creatures! He is outside our realm and is not subject to our world's scientific laws of physics etc. He said His name is "I Am".
God is not male nor female; these are human characteristics. He is our loving parent representing both genders. The Bible says He created us male and female in His own image. Both male and female are in His image.
See my page Atheism - A Different Perspective for more details.
2.3 Adam & Eve
After God moved the world from His realm to ours, the Bible describes the creation of living things starting with the first couple Adam and Eve. This does not mean He didn't/couldn't create other couples the same way as Adam and Eve. Just because this detail was not provided, doesn't mean God didn't do it. So, no need to speculate about the children of Adam and Eve marrying each other.
Adam & Eve chose to eat from the forbidden tree. God created them with complete freedom to choose. And they chose to eat from the tree. Then God expelled them from the Garden of Eden. Basically, this was a test from God, and they failed it. Which meant they became sinful in the eyes of God.
But being the loving and caring God that He is, He provided them with a redemption plan to forgive their sins and restore them to a relationship with Him. The Bible says God made garments for them from animal skins. Which meant that animals had to be sacrificed. And that Adam & Eve ate from it for forgiveness as instructed by God.
Adam & Eve and several generations of their descendants lived to an age between 600 and 900 years (see my page Amazing Little Known Facts from the Bible for more details). This continued up until the Noah flood.
2.4 Noah & the Flood
In those days, the Bible described the population in its entirety as "wicked" - people were not interested in God. Meaning, not only sinful, but also because of their rejection of God, no redemption plan to save them. One Exception, Noah and His family. So, God instructed Noah to build the ark, and raptured him and his family and all animal kinds before the flood. The Bible said the flood covered the whole earth - I often read in the news about fish fossils found at mountain tops, puzzling scientists etc.
After the flood, the earth re-populated from the 3 sons of Noah and their wives who were on the ark. Noah and his wife also had more sons and daughters after the flood. Then the age of people was limited by God to less than 120 years.
Sodom & Gomorrah happened some years after the flood. It was during the days of Abraham. The destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah had a similar story to the flood. Its inhabitants were mostly sinful and rejecting of God. Then God raptured Lot and his family and destroyed Sodom & Gomorrah. Note that in the New Testament Jesus used Noah's flood and the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah as a parallel to the rapture coming in our future. He called it, "the return of the Son of man..."
2.5 Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob
The patriarchs of the Jews started with Abraham, who was granted "righteousness" by God because he wholeheartedly believed in God. God made promises to Abraham, some of which will become fulfilled in the future as the Apostle Paul described in the New Testament. Abraham had two first-borns - Ismail from the maid Hagar, and Isaac from his wife Sarah. Isaac's descendants became the Jews. Jacob, Isaac's son, was also called "Israel". Jacob was the father of 12 sons who became the 12 tribes of Israel, which were the first ancestors of the Jewish nation.
God assigned the priestly role and the keeping of the temple, to the tribe of Levi (one of the 12). Moses was a descendant of Levi, and was given the role of leading the Jewish people out of Egyptian bondage and into the promised land.
2.6 Moses & the Commandments
God prepared people for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, by starting with the old covenant redemption plan through the sacrifice of animals and other offerings.
God appeared to Moses in the famous burning bush. Gave him hundreds of commandments and instructed him to document them on tablets. This was the old-covenant law. It detailed requirements from God that the Jews had to execute in the temple daily in order to preserve God's holiness ("hollowed be Your Name"), keep Him among them ("Your kingdom come"), and remain forgiven of their sins ("forgive us our sins"). You see, the old-covenant from God was a shadow proxy covenant pointing to the new-covenant, the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Jesus came a 1,000 years later and fulfilled most of the old-covenant law requirements, then only 10 commandments remained for us Christians to follow. Jesus' sacrifice on the cross changed the relationship with God to a direct one, by praying directly to Him as in the Lord's Prayer. Jesus' sacrifice on the cross changed the redemption method from daily animal sacrifices that people had to eat to become forgiven of sins, to daily Bread of life, Jesus Himself, to be eaten daily for the forgiveness of sins. Who said the Bible is not consistent? God's main concern ever since Adam & Eve was to design a way to reconcile us to Him. He executed His design perfectly, resulting in redemption plans that are very consistent. But most people don't know this!
You may be thinking, why did God do it this way? Why did He not skip the old Moses law and go directly to the Jesus redemption plan? The apostle Paul explained this point later in the New Testament. It was a bit too philosophical for the average person. In short, in the old covenant, God introduced His detailed law required to remain righteous in His eyes. This showed how difficult it was for humans to keep it. Then the Messiah, the only perfect sinless human, Jesus Christ, with His sacrifice on our behalf, fulfilled the law, and turned it into a simple prayer to receive the Bread of life in order to become righteous in the eyes of God.
2.7 Old Testament Kings
These were the Jewish kings that ruled Israel starting with King Saul, then David, then Solomon, and ending with King Harod about 1,500 years later, who ordered the killing of all babies under the age of 2, trying to kill Jesus after he heard of His birth.
After Kings David and Solomon died, for the next thousand years until the coming of Jesus, the rest of the kings deteriorated significantly in their relationship with God. As a result, the Jewish people also forgot about God and followed other gods. Which drove God's prophets like Jeremiah to use harsh words and prophesy severe disasters on Israel unless they turn back to God.
They did not turn back to God, and the disasters did happen. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, invaded Israel at one point, plundered the land, and took all its people as slaves. They were slaves in Babylon for hundreds of years until prophets like Daniel and others came and helped restore the Jewish people back to the land of Israel.
During this "kings" period, there were occasional kings that tried to properly folow God's commands and bring the people back to the true God. But would not last long, as when the next king takes over, they go back to their God-rejecting ways. This theme of good and bad kings (mostly bad kings) took almost half of the Old Testament scriptures.
The events described in the "kings" period explain the horrible behavior of King Harod later. King Harod, a Jewish king, heard that the Messiah was born in Bethlehem. And what did he do? Ordered the killing of all babies in the region to make sure the Messiah is killed. It is not surprising that the Jewish people of that generation later crucified Jesus!!
2.8 Psalms & Proverbs
These were words-of-wisdom from people with Godly wisdom like King David who wrote almost half of the psalms. Old Testament Jews used these in their daily conversations, as reference to what is the wise thing to do in various life situations.
2.9 The Prophets
A Messiah was promised - Messiah means the Annointed, the savior. The English translation of the word "Messiah" is, "Christ".
There were 17 Prophets that wrote in the Old Testament, including notable ones like Daniel, Moses, Isaiah, and Jeremaiah. Their message can be summarized in 3 bullets:
Drill in God's redemption plan for the people to learn and follow.
Warn the Jewish nation, Israel, of extreme consequences if they don't stop worshipping other gods.
Predict the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
There were more than 300 prophesies about Jesus in the Old Testament that came true in the life of Jesus Christ. Thousands of years before the coming of Jesus, predictions such as his birthplace, lineage, and method of execution were beyond Christ's control and could not have been accidentally or deliberately fulfilled. Some of these prophecies were so vividly described. Examples from Isaiah 53, "He was pierced for our transgressions", "He was led like a lamb to the slaughter", and "the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all".
3. The New Testament
From the book of Matthew to Revelation, 27 books written by disciples and apostles of Jesus, guided by God. The birth of Jesus marked the beginning of the New Testament.
3.1 The Promised Messiah Has Come - Jesus Is Born
Those who are religious-Jewish today, call Jesus an illegitimate child of a fallen woman, and are still waiting for the promised Messiah. Their ancestors did not believe Jesus was the One. So, they are still waiting today.
Jesus is the "Savior". Our Savior from what? From our sins! Without the forgiveness of our sins, God could not be with us, we'd be doomed to hell.
You may ask, we're good people, what sins? See my page on We're Good People, What Sins?
So, the Messiah was born, and peace on earth and glory in the highest?
Glory in the highest? Yes indeed.
Peace on earth? It would have been, had the generations of people followed Jesus' commands on how to become righteous and "wash their robes"!! But no, people got creative in their preferred ways, did not go with God's way. Regardless however, it is still peace on earth to those who truly love Him and follow His commands, just as it says in Verse 14 below. And just as it will continue to be peace on earth to the true Christians all the way through the days of tribulations to come.
11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
3.2 Why Did the Jews not Accept Jesus as the Messiah?
Most Jewish people at the time did not believe that Jesus was the awaited Messiah, for many reasons, examples:
Jesus did not fit their pre-conceived image of Him. They expected a warrior that would fight the Romans for them. And a grand public figure that would negotiate with the Jewish temple leaders etc. But God had His own plan for the Messiah. Jesus came humbly in a stable manger, spent most of His time teaching in poor areas, and performing miracles for them.
Skeptical of Mary's claims of the angel story and the Jesus conception through the Holy Spirit. To the Jews, Jesus was a regular guy from their town, the son of Joseph the carpenter. "How did He become the Son of God all of sudden?!"
The arrogant leaders of the Jewish temple did not want anything that would change their way of life. They were money-rich, powerful, and respected. And who is this Jesus guy claiming to be God and changing everything? The teachers of the law were un-Godly, as Jesus showed on many occasions in the New Testament. Does this ring a bell? Today's church leaders - a parallel?
Many Jewish people rejected Him because He was performing miracles on the Sabbeth!! And called Him demon-possessed for defiling the holy Sabbeth. Jesus rebuked them for that and tried to explain why they were wrong.
Despite all the magnificent miracles He performed, including raising people from the dead, example Lazarus was raised after he had been dead for 4 days!! Most Jewish people did not believe that He was the Messiah and are still waiting for the real one to come, up to this day.
3.3 The Gospel - The 4 Books of The New Testament
Written by 4 of Jesus' disciples who accompanied Him during His ministry on earth all the way through His crucifixion, death, and resurrection. They heard all His teaching and commands and witnessed all His miracles. Then years later, living in separate regions, wrote these 4 books. The early Christians assembled them into the Bible. All guided by God. You can be assured of that. Because He would not be the magnificent God that He is, then fail at giving us a book about Him?!
The 4 disciples who wrote these 4 books described the life of Jesus starting with His birth in a stable manger in Bethlehem to His resurrection and ascension into heaven. They described similar details in their own way. And sometime one reported certain stories that the others did not. But they all noted that they could write many books if they had time to include all the details.
“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”
3.4 The Rest of The Books in The New Testament
Apostles and other disciples wrote the books that followed the 4 books in the New Testament. Note these were also mere humans who performed miracles in the name of Jesus, including making crippled people walk, and raising people from the dead!
The apostles wrote letters to the churches where early Christianity was work-in-progress. Their main objective was to clarify the salvation plan through Jesus to people. And to bring the message to the whole world, who were also invited to this salvation plan by God. Meaning, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, He was no longer only the Messiah for the Jews, He became the Savior of the world. They introduced Jesus to the world. They did the introduction and performed miracles, hoping that people would be impressed enough that they would go do their own digging in the scriptures to learn more. But what did the people do? Some misunderstood the introduction as the whole thing - "by faith alone". And some went praying to dead people - to Mary and saints. And here we are today - no peace on earth.
One example of these other writers was the apostle Paul who came after the death and resurrection of Jesus. He had started out as a persecutor of the church and a killer of the early Christians. But Jesus got his attention one day by blinding him on the road to Damascus when he was on his way to kill Christians there. Jesus revealed to him that He was the awaited Messiah. Then Paul, a wholeheartedly devout Jew, saw clearly and made a complete U-turn.
3.5 The Book of Revelation
A mysterious book full of visions and prophesies yet to be fulfilled. Uses difficult symbolic terms to describe future events to come. People throughout history attempted to interpret the meaning, but the reality is we only have speculations, and nothing confirmed by God. So, for now we keep reading this book and waiting for more wisdom from God to reveal these meanings to us.
See my page, End Times for more on this subject.