Old Testament Introduction for Children
Before my family reads through a book in the Bible, we read a brief introduction of the book.
Below is a simple introduction to all the Old Testament books. This OT introduction is written at a 3rd grade level so our younger children can understand.
Genesis is the first book of the Bible. The word Genesis means “beginnings.” This book tells how the world began. Moises wrote the book of Genesis. Rewrote about Adam and Eve’s sin. He wrote about God’s love. This book tells of God’s special people. Some of these people are Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.
The first five books of the Bible are called the books of the law. These books were God’s instructions to the people of Israel. Genesis is one of these books because it tells how Israel became God’s people.
Exodus means “going out.” This book tells how God’s people, Israel, left Egypt. The story of Israel began in Genesis. In Egypt, God put Moses in charge of his people. Moises was not strong on his own, but God helped him. God sent plagues to Egypt so the king would let God’s people go. The last plague made the king let Israel go. Before they left, the people ate the Passover meal, a reminder that God had saved them. Then God led the people through the Red Sea, but they walked on dry Ground!
God was with the people on their journey. He led them night and day, and he gave them food to eat. At Mount Sinai, God made a covenant with Israel. This means that Israel was God’s special people. God promised to love them and take care of them. He gave them laws so they would know how to live and how to worship him.
Leviticus means “about the Levites.” The Levites were God’s priests. They led the people in worship. This book told the people how to worship God. It told the priests how to give animals to God, and it told the people how to be clean.
Some rules were just for the Levites, but God’s law helped all of Israel to worship him. God wanted his people to worship him and to be holy. One key statement in this book is, “Be holy, because I am holy.” (11:44,45)
This book is called Numbers because it counts the people of Israel. Moses wrote the book of Numbers.
The book of Numbers has three parts. The first part tells about the year Israel spent at Mount Sinai. The second part tells about their trip in the desert. The people walked in the desert for forty years, but God took care of them. The third part tells how God’s people got ready to go into their new land.
The people did not always listen to God in the desert. God gave them food and water, but they did not obey him. Sometimes God punished his people, but he still loved them and took care of them.
Deuteronomy is the last book of the law. In this book, Moses gave two speeches. The people were going into a new land. Moses knew he was about to die. He had to remind the children of God to do what God said.
In the first speech, Moses reminded the people how good God had been to them. In the second speech, Moses told the people to obey God’s law. He wanted the people to love God with all their heart. God was going to give his people a home, but they needed to follow him.
Near the end of the book, Joshua is picked to take Moses’ place. Moses dies before the people go to the new land.
Joshua was the man who took Moses’ place. This book tells his story as he leads God’s people into a new land, called Canaan. God told Joshua to be strong and brace. He promised to be with Joshua and to take care of him.
With God’s help, the people took over the new land. God led them across the river and into the land. He broke down the walls of strong cities. God kept his promise; he gave the people of Israel a home of their own.
After the people took over the land, Joshua told them to obey God. He wanted the people to remember that God took care of them. He told the people to serve God always.
This book tells the story of Israel after Joshua died. The heroes of this book are called judges. God gave the people judges to help them when things were bad. When the people loved God, things were good. When the people forgot God, things were bad. The stories in this book all follow the same pattern:
- The people of Israel loved God and lived in peace.
- The people of Israel forgot God and worshiped false gods.
- God punished the people. He sent another nation to fight and rule over them.
- The people of Israel turned to God and asked him to forgive them.
- God forgave the people and sent a judge to help them.
Twelve judges are mentioned in this book. Deborah, Gideon and Samson are the best-known judges.
This book is named after a woman called Ruth. She was King David’s great-grandmother. Ruth’s mother-in-law was Naomi. Naomi was from Israel, and Ruth was from Moab.
There wasn’t enough food in the land of Israel. Naomi and her family moved to the country of Moab to find food. Naomi’s husband died there. Ruth married one of Naomi’s sons. Then he died too. Naomi decided to go home, and Ruth went with her.
Back in Israel, Ruth looked for food. God took care of Naomi and Ruth and gave them food. He also gave Ruth a new husband. The book of Ruth teaches us about love. Ruth loved Naomi and stayed with her. God loved Ruth and Naomi and took care of them.
The book of 1 Samuel tells us about Samuel, Saul and David. Samuel was a man who grew up in God’s house and spoke for God. He led Israel for many years.
The people of Israel wanted a king. Samuel, led bo God, chose Saul to lead the people. Saul did not obey God, so God rejected him as king. Then God chose David to take Saul’s place. David loved God and wanted the things God wanted.
Saul did not want David to be king, so he tried to kill David. But David trusted God to take care of him and protect him.
The book of 2 Samuel tells the story of King David. After Saul died, David became king. First David was king of Judah. Then he became the king of all Israel.
The book of 1 Kings starts with King Solomon, David’s on. Solomon was known for being very wise. While king, he built a house for God and a palace for himself.
Rehoboam was the next king. Israel split into two nations while he was king. The northern nation was called Israel. The southern nation was called Judah. First Kings tells about both nations’ kings. Some of these kings were good, and some were bad. The good kings obeyed God, but the bad ones worshiped false gods. So God sent prophets to tell the kings to obey God. Prophets were people who spoke for God.
When the people and their king obeyed God, there was peace. When they did not obey God, there was war.
The book of 2 Kings tells the rest of the stories of the kings of Israel and Judah. Most of the kings in this book are bad kings. They did not do what God wanted. They did not follow his laws, and they worshiped false gods.
God sent prophets to tell the kings to obey God, but the kings did not listen. God told the kings they would be punished if they did not turn away frothier sin. Finally, God let kings from other countries take the people captive. The book of 2 Kings tells about the end of both Israel and Judah.
The book of 1 Chronicles tells about King David. It starts with lists of many different families within God’s special people, including David’s family. Then it tells about David’s life.
First and 2 Chronicles used to be one book. It was written after kings from other countries took Judah and Israel captive. After this, some of the people were allowed to go home. This book reminded them that they were still God’s people.
The book of 2 Chronicles tells about David’s sons. This book was written to help the people of Israel. It reminded them about their past. God always loved them. God still loved them.
God made a promise to David’s sons. If they did what God said, they would have peace. If they did not do what God said, they would have war. This book tells about the good and bad kings. But it tells more about the good kings than the bad ones.
The people and their kings did not stay faithful to God. So God let a king named Nebuchadnezzar take the people captive. But God still loved his people. At the end of the book, God let his people go home.
Ezra was a priest and a teacher of God’s law.
The book of Ezra tells about the Israelites who went back to their land. King Nebuchadnezzar had attacked them and taken them to Babylonia. Later, King Cyrus said that they were free to go back home. The people went home and rebuilt the city of Jerusalem. They rebuilt the temple too.
Then Ezra came and told them to obey God. Exa was a good and wise leader. He helped the people turn away from their sin and love God.
This book tells about the Israelites who went home to Jerusalem. They rebuilt the city walls. Nehemiah worked for the king of Persia, but he wanted to help the people. He gave up his job and went home. Nehemiah helped the people in Jerusalem rebuild the city walls. He also helped the people turn back to God.
This book is named for a girl called Esther. Esther was a Jaw. She lived in a country called Persia. She was very beautiful. The king made Esther his queen.
Esther’s parents died. So she was raised by her cousin Mordecai. Hamas, a friend of the king, hated Mordecai. He wanted to kill Mordecai’s people, the Jews. Esther was very brave, so she went to the king for help. She saved her people from being killed.
God’s name is not used in this book. But God is at work. God took care of Esther. He took care of the Jews too. God always cares for his people.
There are five books of poems and wisdom in the Bible. Job is the first of these books. Job was a rich man. He loved God very much. But some bad things happened to him. Had Job done something wrong?
Job had three friends. They said Job had done something bad and made God angry. They said that was why bad things happened to him. But Job did not agree. He said he still loved God very much.
The book of Job tells us that sometimes God lets bad things happen to his people. But he still loves us and takes care of us. In the end, God takes care of all things.
Psalms is a book of poems. Some of the poems were songs, and some were prayers. Some praised God, and some thanked him. Some of the psalms asked God for forgiveness, and some asked God for help. David wrote many of the psalms.
The book of Psalms says that God is the great King. The poems say that he made all things. They say people can trust God. The poems say we should be thankful to God. The poems tell us God loves us.
The book of Proverbs is full of wise sayings. These proverbs tell many truths about life. Solomon wrote some of these wise words. He told people how to live a good life. He wrote, “If you really want to gain knowledge, you must begin by having respect for the LORD.” (1:7)
The words of Proverbs help make people wiser. If people do what God says, they will be wise. They cannot be wise and do bad things. They cannot be wise if they do not love God.
The book of Ecclesiastes tells what makes life good. The person who wrote this book is called the Teacher. The Teacher says the things of this world are no good without God. Money, work, pleasure and wisdom will not make people happy. Without God life is empty.
The Teacher wanted to find the good life. He tried to find it in wisdom and pleasure. He tried to find it in success and money. But he could not find it in any of these things. Instead, the Teacher learned the most important thing in life. “Have respect for God and obey his commandments.” (12:13)
Song of Songs
Song of Songs is the last book of poems and wisdom in the Bible. It is a beautiful love poem. In Song of Songs a woman sings her poem of love to a man. The man sings his poem of love back to the woman. Even their friends sing poems.
Song of Songs shows what makes a good marriage. It is a beautiful picture of the love a husband and wife should have.
Isaiah wrote this book. He was a prophet in the land of Judah. He told the people what God had said. Isaiah brought sad news. The people of Israel had sinned against God, so God was going to punish them. War was going to come and destroy the cities. The Israelites would have to leave their land. But God still loved his people, so he promised to send a time of peace tool. He promised to let his people go home someday. God also promised to send someone to help them. He would send a suffering servant to save people. Isaiah was talking about Jesus.
Jeremiah was a man who spoke for God. He lived in Judah. Jeremiah told the people not to sin. He told them to love God instead. His words made people angry. They wanted to kill Jeremiah. But Jeremiah did not stop speaking God’s words to the people.
Jeremiah told the people what God was going to do. He told the people they would have war because they did not stop sinning. He also told the people God would forgive their sin and take care of them after the war.
Lamentations is a book of poems. Its name means “songs for the dead.” Jeremiah wrote this book. Some of the poems in Lamentations are very sad.
Lamentations tells about Jerusalem’s fall. The walls were knocked down, and the city was destroyed. God was angry because the people had sinned. They had turned away from God. But now Jeremiah asked God to help the people. He wanted the Jews to know that God was good. God is good even when times are bad.
Ezekiel was a priest and prophet for God. His name means “God is strong.” Ezekiel lived when Jerusalem was destroyed. He wrote this book for the Jews who had to move away from their land. He told the people about their sin. But he also told them about God’s promise. God still loved his people. He promised to care for them and protect them.
This book tells the story of Daniel. When Daniel was young, the king of Babylon attacked Jerusalem. He broke down the city walls and made all the people leave. Daniel had to move away from his home. The Babylonians took him to their king’s palace. But Daniel knew God would take care of him.
Daniel and his friends loved God. They would not worship false gods like other people did. God took care of Daniel for all of his long life.
Daniel wrote this book to tell the Jews to trust God. God was greater than the king of Babylon. He is greater than any king!
Hosea was a man who spoke for God. He lived in the northern kingdom called Israel. Sometimes he called his country Ephraim. Most of the people in Israel did not obey God.
This book tells about Hosea’s family. His wife would not be true to him, and one day she left him. Hosea found his wife and brought her home because he loved her. He loved her even though she had left him.
Hosea said the Israelites were like his wife. They would not be true to God. They had left God’s ways so they could worship false gods. But God still loved his people. Even though he punished the people, God promised to bring them back to him.
Joel was a man who spoke for God. He wrote this book to tell the people to turn back to God. Joel told them that bad things would happen if they did not turn away from their sin.
Joel wrote about locusts that came and ate all the plants. He said this should make the people turn away from their sin. He also said God would let worse things happen if the people did not turn back to him.
Amos was a man who took care of sheep, but God made him a prophet. He spoke to people in the northern kingdom of Israel. Israel was very rich at this time, but no one would help the poor. Amos said this was wrong.
The people Amos spoke to wanted more and more money. They were mean and selfish. They worshiped false gods. All these things made God angry. Amos told the people to turn back to God. He wanted them to be kind to each other and to help the poor. He wanted them to tell the truth and do what is right.
Obadiah spoke for God. His name means “servant of the LORD.” His book is the shortest book in the Bible. Obadiah wrote about the nation of Edom. Edam was proud and strong. The people of Edom thought no one could hurt them. They laughed when other nations attacked the Israelites.
All this made God very angry. Edam should have helped the Israelites. They both come from the same family. But Edom and Israel did not get along. Edam made Israel’s problems worse. God said Edom would be destroyed.
Jonah was a prophet. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh. Nineveh was an evil city. The enemies of the Jews lived there. But God wanted the people there to follow him.
Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh. He tried to run away from God, but God used a big fish to bring Jonah back. When Jonah went to Nineveh, the people there turned away from their sin. Jonah was very upset. He did not want God to forgive the people there. But God cared about the people of Nineveh. God wanted even the worst people to turn to him.
Micah lived in Judah. He was a man who spoke for God. Micah said God was angry with Israel and Judah. Their leaders were evil. They did not help the poor, and they did not live for God.
Micah warned that God would judge Israel and Judah. He also said that God would send good things. God promised to send a ruler. This ruler will set up God’s kingdom. Hundreds of years later, Jesus Christ became that ruler.
Nahum wrote about Nineveh. It was a big city and the capital of the Assyrian empire. Jonah went there once. He had told the people to turn to God, and they did. But they soon turned back to sin. Nahum told the people of Nineveh that God was going to punish them. God promised to send another country to attack Nineveh. Nahum reminded us that God rules over all the nations.
Habakkuk talked to God. He asked God why bad people had good things. Habakkuk saw many bad things in his country. He saw rich people who were unkind to poor people. He saw bad kings who did not love God.
God told Habakkuk that he was going to punish the people. Babylon would go to war with Judah. But the people of Babylon were evil too. They were worse than the people of Judah. Habakkuk did not understand why God would do this. God told Habakkuk that he would punish the people of Babylon for their sins too. Habakkuk praised God because God always does what is right.
Zephaniah spoke for God. He lived in Judah at the same time as King Josiah. Josiah was a good king, but the people had turned away from God. The king wanted the people to obey God. But they did not do what God said for very long. They turned back to sin.
Zephaniah also told the people to turn back to God. He said that if they didn’t, God would send a war. The people would lose their homes. But someday God would stop punishing the people. God promised to bring the people home and take care of them.
Haggai was a Jaw. He lived in Babylon. He had to go these after Jerusalem fell. Many years later, the king said the Jews could go home. The Jews who went home started to repair the destroyed cities. They built their own houses. But they didn’t rebuild God’s house, the temple. They laid a new foundation, but then stopped working. They said it wasn’t time to finish it yet. Haggai told the Jews to put God first and rebuild the temple. The people did what Haggai said.
Some of the people could remember the temple before it was destroyed, which made them very sad. But God promised that his Spirit would be there. God said, “The new temple will be more beautiful than the first one was.” (2:9) What would make this temple more special was that Jesus, the Messiah, would go there.
Zechariah lived at the same time as Haggai. He spoke to the people about rebuilding the temple. Zechariah told them to stay close to God. He told them to obey God by being fair and king to each other.
Zechariah wanted the people to know that God loved them. He wrote about the king God would send. This king would save his people. Zechariah was talking about Jesus
Malachi wrote this book after the Jews came home. The people had repaired God’s house, the temple. They had repaired their own houses. But things were not good. The people forgot God. They did not give to God what they should have. They married people who worshiped false gods.
Malachi told the Jews to turn back to God. He warned that God would come to judge the people. Those who do not love God will be judged. But God will take care of those who love and honor him.
This Old Testament Introduction for children comes from the New International Reader’s Version Bible published by Zondervan.
|Part 1||Old Testament Introduction|
|Part 2||New Testament Introduction|
|Part 3||Read the New Testament in 8 Weeks|