Make a Bible Timeline

“If I were the devil, one of my first aims would be to stop folks from digging into the Bible.”
~ James I. Packer

Which comes first?

a. George Washington becomes president
b. Christopher Columbus sets sail from Spain
c. Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation

Put these in order:

a. Moses parts the Red Sea
b. Esther takes a stand for her people
c. Solomon builds the temple

If we can get the first sequence correct with ease (b,a,c), why not the second (a,c,b)?

Know more to love more

And does it matter? Would better knowing the sequence of biblical events help us love God more?

It depends.
Do motives matter?

If you have your child in training to win a Bible Bowl trophy or you want to impress your Sunday School teacher or you’re trying to get an A in a seminary class, bone up on your Bible timeline. It will help you reach those goals, for better or worse.

But if you’re simply (simply?) trying to follow the greatest command (Matthew 22:36-40), then perhaps you also should consider a timeline.

Not to be smarter (1 Corinthians 8:1). But to love more.

Put it in order

Just as knowing the order of U.S. Presidents won’t necessarily make us a better American citizen, so knowing the order of Israel and Judah’s kings may not make us a better citizen in God’s kingdom.

But if the history of God’s people was recorded in the sacred Scriptures to build up our faith in Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15-16), every word God-breathed and valuable, then wouldn’t we benefit by putting it in order?

I admit, when I read through the Old Testament especially, I can lose track of where I am in the big story unless I look at a timeline of events and rulers. So I made a copy of a simple timeline (out of a Bible or reference book), and tucked it in my Bible. Now I pencil in my own cheat notes as I read and can quickly reorient myself from whatever Bible book I’m reading.

I can better see the finger of God writing his story, bringing his people to just the right place in time and space for Jesus to walk among us.

Our church participated in a Walk Thru the Old Testament workshop three years ago. It’s a memorable approach using hand motions (for kids AND adults) to sequence 77 events in the Old Testament. It gives you a great framework to piece together Bible facts. I highly recommend you attending one near you.

Just as the Israelites were told to rehearse their history often, we should too. I made a timeline of biblical dates for my children with important events. They then practiced each day putting the events in order until they (and I!) had them memorized.

Packaged products are readily available as well—as cards, strips, posters, etc. Many not only include biblical history, but incorporate concurrent world history as well.

And why not add in your own family’s spiritual heritage, too?

Then, Now, Later

When we see God’s faithfulness throughout history, we can trust him more in the present, and be more hopeful about our future with him.

While God is not confined by time, he has chosen to work through it.

I want to appreciate that more. Be more wowed by his wisdom. Be more awed by his sovereignty. And if that means following his story more closely, then so be it.

Because the more we know his story, the more we’ll know him.
And the more we know him, the more we’ll love him.
And the more we love him, the more we’ll love others.

His legacy of love marches forward.

Do you have a favorite Bible resource for timelines? Please share!
How has knowing God’s history helped strengthen your faith?

Lisa looks for God in ordinary people and in everyday moments, then shares where she finds Him on her blog She is a wife to Jeff and a mother to two girls here, one in heaven.

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  1. Love this especially: “When we see God’s faithfulness throughout history, we can trust him more in the present, and be more hopeful about our future with him.

    While God is not confined by time, he has chosen to work through it.”

    Excellent post, both the tips and the motivation.

    • The older I get (and the most personal history I have behind me! ha), the most I understand the value of looking backwards as helpful. The Lord has brought me through so many things that I can look back at and remember, “Oh yeah. God WAS indeed faithful to me!” All the time.

      So why don’t I think he’ll continue to be that way in my future? I’m still trying to let go of my worry habit, so God’s history is another tool to help me trust him more.

      Thanks for your encouragement, Barbara.

  2. Kimmomof4boys says:

    great resource for timeline info.
    Annals of the World by James Ussher

    I uses the Bible and sources to show a timeline from the beginning of the world thru 70AD

    Free copy thru

    I used it with kids when we study from the beginning of creation through ancient times.

    Cool way of seeing how time was plotted out using the bible.
    We also bought a map that shows the visual of time thru the 1940’s

    • Great resources! Thanks for including these links. I’m checking some of them out already.

      Have you ever used Veritas cards? I used them with my girls a few years back and loved the visuals and the songs that would go with them.

  3. Lisa, I love your emphasis here on learning how Bible history fits together as a means of loving Him more.

    Reading the Bible chronologically (this year through One-Year Bible’s chart) has helped me fit the pieces together. I also have a Bible map insert which includes a timeline:
    Some study Bibles also include timelines in the book intros. I am thinking of The Nelson Study Bible and the newish Holman Christian Standard Study Bible. In the HCSBSB, it’s been fascinating to see how Bible history relates to extrabiblical events.

    This is not my strongest suit, but knowing good resources and where to find the answers helps abundantly. Thanks for the motivation!

    • Good ideas, Christina. Thanks for sharing!

      If I hadn’t been forced to teach history for homeschooling, I’m sure I wouldn’t have used any of these kinds of resources. But I have definitely benefited by it. I’m glad I finally made better connections between what was going on in Israel with the rest of the world at that time. So interesting (as an adult anyway!).

      I found it quite amusing today when I got my mail: I received a book I’d forgotten I’d ordered on the kings of Israel. Quite interesting of God to get it to me today when history is so fresh on my mind. :-) I told my daughter that if we were still doing history at home (I’m finished teaching it now since she’s taking it for college credit this year!), this would be a homeschool book. But now, it’s just for me. Ha. She’s welcome to it, but I kinda doubt she’ll be as interested…

  4. I never really thought too much about knowing the Bible timeline, but the homeschooling program that my daughter is involved with memorizes 160 timeline facts every year. Some of those facts are from the Bible. It’s been interesting to see where in time all the Bible stuff was happening.

    • My neighbors must be in a similar program because they had to do the same. I was totally amazed by the things they could quote to me. It has to come in handy to them, both now and later in life too, if they can retain it. (Although they may not appreciate that now!, they will later.)

  5. I love history and what you can learn from previous events and others’ successes and mistakes. I liken learning the history of the Bible to this a bit (not to say that the Bible could be compared to anything else, though!)

    What a strong way to end this post, Lisa: “Because the more we know his story, the more we’ll know him.
    And the more we know him, the more we’ll love him.
    And the more we love him, the more we’ll love others.” Such truth.

    • I have finally learned to love history. I didn’t start out that way. :-) And once I finally could see connections between biblical history and world history, it’s been even more fascinating.


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