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YOUNG PEOPLE'S BIBLE HISTORY
1875 — This book is in the public domain.
Being a simple account of the great events mentioned in the Old and New Testaments. Comprising also the lives of the Patriarchs, of Christ and His Apostles, and of the remarkable women and children mentioned in the sacred volume. Each section closing with appropriate moral reflections.
TABLE OF CONTENTS (see also New Testament)
THE COUNTRIES MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE
Many years ago, there was no earth, nor plants, nor animals, nor sun, nor moon, nor people. All was darkness; but God was. God is eternal; He had no beginning. He will have no end.
God spoke, and created all things by his wonderful power. The first day, He created light: the second day, the blue sky; the third day, the seas and dry land, and trees; the fourth day, the sun, and moon, and stars; the fifth day, the birds and fishes; the sixth day, beasts, and insects, and creeping things, and man. Then all was finished, and "God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good." "The seventh day God ended His work which He had made." God rested on that day, and therefore He commands us to rest on the Sabbath day. He says, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy."
"The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul." God gave to the animals beautiful and useful bodies; but to man He gave more: He gave him a soul also, which could never die. God gave wonderful instinct to the animals; but He gave reason to man, power to know and to love, and to worship God. The man's name was Adam. God created him holy and happy. "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man." The garden was full of beautiful trees and flowers; the little birds sang sweetly, and the animals all played together upon the green grass; they did not fight, nor hurt one another; all was love and happiness, because there was no sin. It was warm and pleasant, there was no cold wind, no snow, no winter.
"The, Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden, to dress it, and to keep it." But God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." When Adam was asleep, God took a rib out of his side, and made it a woman, and brought her to Adam, and she was his wife. Her name was Eve. She had a soul and reason like Adam, and was holy and happy as be was. God said to them, "Of every tree in the garden ye may eat; but of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which is in the midst of the garden, ye shall not eat, lest ye die." Adam and Eve loved one another, and they loved God. They walked in the beautiful garden, and sang praise to God, without pain, or sorrow, or fear; and they loved to hear God speak to them, and to learn the wonderful things He taught them.
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THE BEGINNING OF SIN
THE GARDEN OF EDEN
There was a wicked angel of old, named Satan. Once he had been a bright and happy angel in heaven; but he was disobedient and God drove him out of heaven, and many other wicked angels with him. Sin cannot be in heaven; all must be holy there. "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down into hell." 2 Pet. ii. 4.
Satan bated Adam and Eve, because they were holy and happy, and be was wicked and miserable; and he went into the garden, and appeared like a serpent, and spoke to Eve, and tempted her to eat the fruit which God had forbidden. But Eve said, "God commanded us, saying, Ye shall not eat of it, lost ye die." Then Satan told a lie, for "he is a liar, and the father of it," John viii. 44, and said, "You shall not surely die." And Eve was tempted to believe Satan, and she took the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and ate, and gave to Adam, and he ate. God saw all this, and He was very angry. Adam and Eve were sinners now, their holiness and happiness were gone, and God would punish them for their sin. "They heard the voice of the Lord God, walking in the garden in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife hid themselves." Why did they fear ? Because they knew they had sinned; they knew that God was angry with them : they were not glad now to hear His voice; they could not now sing His praises, and talk happily to Him. But Adam and Eve could not hide themselves from God, for He can see everywhere. "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." Prov. xv. 3.
EXPELLED FROM THE GARDEN OF EDEN
God called Adam, and said to him, "Hast thou eaten of the fruit of which I commanded thee not to eat?" and Adam did not humbly confess his sin, but answered, "The woman gave it to me, and I ate." Then God said to Eve, What is this that thou hast done and she answered, "The serpent tempted me, and I ate." Then God told Adam and Eve that they had sinned, and therefore they must die. Thorns and thistles would now grow in the beautiful world; they must labor, and suffer pain and sorrow all the days they lived, and then "die, and return to the dust." Their bodies must die; but where must their souls go? They could not die, because they were immortal: and they could not go to heaven, because they were sinful. Heaven is holy; "there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth." Must the souls of Adam and Eve, and all their children, be lost? No- God did not wish his sinful creatures to perish. He said, "Deliver their souls from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom." Job xxxiii. 24.
God said, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. What did this mean? Satan was the serpent; Jesus Christ was the Seed of the woman. In due time, Jesus would come into the world, and subdue Satan, and deliver all who should believe, from Satan's power, from sin and death. If we, like Adam and Eve, have faith in Jesus, we shall be saved as they were, and made eternally happy when we die.
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CAIN AND ABEL
YOUNG CAIN AND ABEL WITH PARENTS
Even though God forgave Adam and Eve, He would not let them remain in the garden. An angel came with a flaming sword to drive them away. They were sinners, and therefore they must not stay there. Now, they felt pain and sorrow.
Cain, the eldest son of Adam and Eve, was very wicked; but his brother Abel loved and prayed to God, and believed in Jesus. Abel was a shepherd: and, at God's command, he took a lamb, and killed it, and offered it up in sacrifice. Abel sacrificed the lamb in faith, and in obedience: Cain offered a sacrifice too, but not the right sort of sacrifice, and not in the right way. He brought the fruits of the earth, and gave them to God. But he did not confess his sins, nor ask for forgiveness; so God accepted Abel, and his sacrifice; but Cain, and his sacrifice, He did not accept.
But when Cain knew God was angry, he did not ask God to forgive him, and change his heart; he was sullen and jealous, because God accepted his brother, and did not accept him. God said to Cain, "Why art thou angry? If thou doest well, shalt thou not also be accepted?" for God was willing to forgive Cain. But Cain would not attend to what God said; Satan was in his heart, tempting him to be angry and passionate, and Cain did not "resist the devil."
CAIN KILLS ABEL
One day, Cain and Abel were together in the field. They were alone; Adam and Eve were not there; and Cain struck Abel, and killed him. Abel's body fell dead upon the ground, but his soul did not die; Cain could not hurt that: it went to heaven, to be there in happiness for ever. God saw Cain kill his brother, and asked, "Where is Abel?" and wicked Cain committed another sin, and told a lie, and said, "I know not." But God had seen Abel die, and He punished Cain, and drove him away, far from his father, and mother, and brothers, and sisters; and he was a wanderer in the earth.
Adam and Eve were very sorry for their dear son. When they looked on his dead body, they must have thought of their own sin, and of the punishment of sin: and how glad they must have been to remember God's promise, that Jesus should come and die to save sinners. They lived to be hundreds of years old, and then they died. Their bodies were buried in the tomb; but we may hope that their souls went to heaven.
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Many people were in the world, and most of them were very wicked; but a holy man was among them, named Enoch. The Bible says, "Enoch walked with God." What does this mean? It means that Enoch's sins were pardoned, and that he was at peace with God, and that he loved and served Him. God blessed Enoch, and was pleased to take him to heaven without dying. "He was not, for God took him."
"God saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth." And He said, He would destroy the wicked people, and send a flood of water to wash them all away. But there was then another holy man, named Noah, and God promised to save him.
NOAH BUILDS THE ARK
God commanded Noah to make a great ark of wood. Noah did as God told him, and when the ark was finished, he went in, - with his wife, and his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and the wives of his sons, and many beasts and birds, and. creeping things; and "the Lord shut him in." The wicked people would not go into the ark, nor believe Noah when he told them that the water was soon coming to drown them all. God waited in mercy many years; for He did not wish them to perish. But they would not repent, nor believe, nor turn to God; and, at last, He sent rain from heaven, and water out of the sea, and washed away the wicked people. "The rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights," and every thing in the earth died. Was Noah safe? Yes: the ark floated upon the waters; it did not sink, because God kept it up. God will keep safely all who, like Noah, love and serve Him. He can keep them in every place. When they are asleep in the dark night, God sees them; when they walk about, He is with them; when they are in storms upon the great sea, He can keep them. He sends His holy angels to take care of them; His eye is always upon them. Those are happy people who have God near, to love and keep them wherever they are. And the ark may remind us of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we are in Him, by faith, then we shall be safe for ever from God's anger, as Noah was safe in the ark from the waters of the flood.
When the rain was over, the ark rested upon a mountain, called Ararat, and Noah looked out. All the ground was covered with water. There were no trees, nor flowers; they were withered and dead. There were no people, nor beasts, nor birds; the water had drowned them all. Then Noah opened a window in the ark, and sent out a raven. The raven flew about, and did not return to Noah. Then Noah sent out a dove. But the dove was not, like the raven; it would not feed upon the dead bodies, and there was no resting-place for it; so it flow back again, and Noah put out his hand and pulled it into the ark.
THE DOVE RETURNS WITH A LEAF
Seven days after, Noah sent out the dove again; and in the evening it returned, and brought in its beak an olive leaf. Noah was very glad to see this leaf; because he knew by it that now the trees were beginning, to bud and grow, and that soon all would be dry and pleasant again. So Noah thanked God, and waited patiently for seven more days; and then he sent out the dove again. All was dry now. The trees and flowers grew, and the still shone brightly and pleasantly. The dove did not return any more to the ark. God gave it instinct to build its nest among the trees, and to find food for itself without Noah to take care of it.
LEAVING THE ARK
Noah took the covering off the ark, and looked, and he saw that all was dry. Then God told him to come out, with his family, and all the living things that were with him. They were glad to see the dry ground again, and the sun, and trees, and flowers, so beautiful and fresh. They were all well; for God had kept them safely in the ark from the wind and the waters.
THE OFFERING AFTER THE FLOOD
Then Noah and his family thanked God, and built an altar, and offered joyful sacrifices in faith, and prayed, and praised the Lord.
And God set a beautiful rainbow in the sky, and he told Noah, that when it should rain again upon the earth, and the clouds should be black and heavy, then the rainbow should be seen in the cloud, that people might know that God would not again drown the world. The sun shining upon the little drops of water in the rain-cloud, makes the bow, and its beautiful colors; God sends the rain, and the cloud, and the sunshine to make the bow, that we may remember his promise to Noah, never to drown the world again. But God sends rain from heaven, to make the grass and corn grow; to water the ground, and make the trees and flowers bud and blossom. God is very good and kind. "He maketh grass to grow upon the mountains; He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry." Ps. cxlvii. 8, 9.
When Noah and his family came out of the ark, they went into different places, and built cities and houses; and they had many children and the earth was soon full of people again. These people all spoke the same language. Many of them were very wicked. They sought to make themselves great, not to please God; and, in their pride, they said, "Let us build us a city, and a tower whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad." But God was angry with them, because they were proud, and forgot Him. And He confounded their speech, and made them speak different languages; so that they could not understand one another, nor finish the city and tower. The place was named Babel, or confusion, and the wicked people were scattered abroad upon the face of the earth. See how God hates and punishes pride!
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THE CALL OF ABRAHAM
There was a man named Abram who lived in Mesopotamia. The people there were idolators, but Abram worshipped God. God told Abram to go away from his home, into the land of Canaan; and He promised to bless him, if he did so. Abram obeyed directly; he took his wife, and his nephew Lot, and all he possessed, and went to Canaan. This showed his faith and obedience; and God did as He promised, and brought Abram safely to Sichem, and then said to him, "Unto thy seed will I give this land." Abram then had no children; but still he believed God, and "built an altar to the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord." Abram was very rich: he had silver, and gold, and asses, and camels, and servants. His nephew Lot was rich too, and there was not room in the land for the possessions of both Lot and Abram; and their servants were unkind, and quarreled with one another. Abram did not like to see this, for he wished all to be love and peace. So he asked Lot to separate from him, and to go to the place he liked best. Then Lot looked towards Jordan; it was a beautiful place, like a sweet garden, and full of water. So Lot chose to go to Sodom; because it was very pleasant, and there would be much food there for him, and for his cattle. Lot was very selfish; for he did not try to please Abram, he only tried to please himself. Let us always try to remember, that the Bible tells us to love others as as ourselves.
Abram and Lot parted, and Lot went to live in Sodom. But Lot was not happy there. The people were very wicked, and he was vexed, because they would not love and worship God, as He wished to do. And now Lot was punished for his sin in going among wicked people, and choosing a home in a place where God was not obeyed. We should try to be with those who love the Lord, and who will help us to do right. Riches and possessions can not make us happy; the love of God alone can give us peace and comfort. And therefore Abram was happier than Lot was, in the rich city of Sodom.
AN ALTAR OF THANKSGIVING
And God blessed Abram, and said to him again, "All the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy children." Then Abram went to Hebron, and dwelt there, and built an altar to the Lord.
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ABRAHAM MEETS MELCHIZEDEK
Soon after Lot went to live in Sodom, a great king named Chedorlaomer, and other kings with him, came, and fought against the city and the people of Sodom. Chedorlaomer conquered the king of Sodom, and took away all the riches of the city, and made many of the people prisoners, and Lot was made prisoner among them. See how vain and foolish it is to love and trust in riches and worldly things! Lot went to Sodom, hoping to enjoy all his great possessions: now, he had lost everything, and was made prisoner himself.
When Abram heard what had happened to Lot, he armed himself, and his servants, and pursued the army of Chedorlaomer, and smote them, and brought all the people and goods that Chedorlaomer had taken, and delivered Lot; and Lot returned in safety to Sodom. The king of Sodom offered to give great riches to Abram; but Abram would not take any reward; for he wished only to show kindness to others, not to enrich himself. Let us try to imitate Abram, and to be kind and generous as he was. The Bible says, "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." Phil. ii. 4.
When Abram returned, the king of Salem, who was named Melchizedek, came out to meet him, and gave bread and wine to him and his servants, to refresh them. Melchizedek was a priest as well as a king, and he blessed Abram, and said, "Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy bands." Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth part of all the riches that had been taken, to show how much he honored and respected him.
We read no more of the history of Melchizedek; but the Bible teaches us, that be is to remind us of another and greater king and priest -- of the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Melchizedek was a type, a likeness, of Jesus. Jesus is a king; He reigns in the hearts of his people now; He will reign over all the world hereafter. And he is a priest too; He has offered up the sacrifice of himself, to take away our sins, and He ever lives in heaven, to make intercession for us there.
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ABRAHAM SEES THE STARS
And now the Lord spoke to Abram again in a vision, to comfort and encourage him. God promised to do great and wonderful things for him at some future time, but not yet; for He was pleased first to try Abram's faith and patience.
One night, God brought him out, into the fields, and told him to look upwards. The stars were shining; brightly in the sky, and God told Abram to try to count them; but, there were more, many more, than Abram could number. Then God, said, "So shall thy seed be." Abram had yet no children, but he believed God still. He felt sure, that the Lord could and would do as He promised. This is an example of faith for us. God speaks to us in the Bible, and all he says we are to believe. And those who truly believe, will be blessed with faithful Abram.
God promised Abram that be should inherit the land of Canaan; and He told him what would happen to his children, when he himself was dead. God commanded Abram to take several animals, and to divide them in pieces, and offer them in sacrifice, and when the birds came to devour the dead bodies of these animals, Abram drove them away. That same night, God spoke to Abram again, and told him, that his children should go into a strange land, and be afflicted there; but that after 400 years, they should come out of that land, with great riches, and possess all the country of Canaan. And when it was dark, Abram saw, in vision, a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp, which passed between the pieces of the sacrifice, which Abram had offered at God's command.
What was the meaning of this? Perhaps the vision was meant to teach Abram, what should happen to his children, in that strange land to which they were going. The smoking furnace might teach him that they would be afflicted; and the bright lamp might teach him that they would be comforted. God often afflicts his people, but He always comforts them too; and so, as we shall soon see, He afflicted and comforted Abram's children, the people of Israel in the land of Egypt.
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Sarai, the wife of Abram, had a maid named Hagar, who was also Abram's wife. Hagar behaved disrespectfully to her mistress, and this made Sarai angry, and she treated Hagar very harshly, and was so unkind to her, that Hagar ran away from her mistress, and fled into the wilderness. It was wrong of Hagar to be disrespectful to her mistress; and it was wrong of Sarai to be unkind to her servant; and Abram himself was wrong in allowing these things to happen in his family.
But what became of Hagar? The angel of the Lord found her in the wilderness, by a well of water, and said to her, "Hagar, whence camest thou?" And Hagar answered, "I flee from my mistress Sarai." Then the angel told Hagar to return to her mistress, and to submit to her. This was Hagar's duty, and she could not be blessed nor happy while she forgot this duty and gave way to her own pride and self-will. But the angel comforted Hagar, though he reproved her, and told her that she would have a son, who would be the father of a great nation. That son was to be named Ishmael, which means, "God shall hear," because God had heard the affliction of Hagar, and had mercy on her. And the Angel said, that Ishmael should be a wild man, and that his hand would be against every man and every man's hand against him: Ishmael was born not long after, and from him descended the nation of the Arabians, who have always been a wild people, as the angel foretold.
So Hagar was comforted; and she did as she was commanded, and returned to Sarai. But first, she gave a name to the angel who had appeared to her. She called him, "Thou God seest me." He saw Hagar in her affliction, and He can still see us in all our sorrows, and bless and comfort us, as He did her, if we pray to Him, and trust in Him.
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After this, the Lord appeared to Abram, and again promised to bless and multiply him, and give him the land of Canaan, for a possession. And God changed his name, and called him Abraham, which means the father of a multitude, because many people should descend from him. And Sarai's name also was changed to Sarah, which means a princess. Then the Lord appointed a sign in Abraham's family, to mark them as a distinct people; this sign was the circumcision of every son who, should be born in the family of Abraham.
Were the children of Ishmael to possess the land of Canaan? No; Ishmael was not the promised seed who should inherit Canaan; but God told Abraham, that Sarah should have a son who should be called Isaac, and that He would make with him, and with his children, an everlasting covenant? What is a covenant? An agreement and promise between two parties. The promise which God made to Noah, never to drown the world again, was a covenant; and the sign of it was the rainbow. And now, the promise God made to Abraham, to bless his seed, and to give them the land of Canaan, was a covenant; and the sign of it was circumcision. And God had made another covenant with Adam in the garden of Eden, when He promised that Jesus Christ should come into the world, and die to save sinners. This was the greatest covenant of all. And we know that every one of God's covenants is true, because [they are] made by Him who cannot lie, and who will never deceive His people.
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THE ANGELS VISIT
One day, Abraham was sitting at his tent door, and he looked up, and saw three men standing by him. Then he rose up directly, and bowed respectfully to them, and asked, "Let now water be fetched and wash your feet, and rest under the tree, and I will bring you food." So the men sat down, and Abraham ran into the tent, to his wife Sarah, and told her to make cakes very quickly; then he ran to the field, and took a calf, and killed it, and dressed it; and he brought the calf, and the cakes, and butter, and milk, and gave them to the men under the tree; and they did eat, and Abraham stood and waited upon them. He was right to be kind and respectful: Peter says, "Use hospitality one to another." I Peter iv. 9. And Paul says, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers." Hebrews xii. 2.
When the men had finished eating, they asked, "Where is Sarah?" And Abraham said, "She is in the tent." Then the Lord told Abraham, He would soon give to him and Sarah a son; for God had not forgotten his promise made to Abraham so many years before. Sarah heard the Lord speak, but she did not believe what He said, and she laughed and thought it could not be true. Then the Lord said, "Why did Sarah laugh? Is anything too hard for the Lord? Sarah shall have a son." Sarah was afraid, and denied, and said, "I laughed not;" but He said, "Nay, but thou didst laugh." So the men went away, and Abraham went with them towards Sodom. And then the Lord told Abraham, that He was angry with those two wicked cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, and was come now to destroy them.
Abraham thought of his nephew Lot, who was still in Sodom, and he felt afraid, and very sorry for him. So he asked the Lord to spare the city if fifty righteous people were there; and the Lord said He would. But soon, Abraham thought, that Sodom was so very wicked, that perhaps there were not fifty there who loved God; and he prayed the Lord again, five times, if there were forty-five, or forty, or thirty, or twenty, or only ten righteous people in Sodom, to save the city. And the Lord said, "If I find in Sodom ten righteous, I will not destroy it." Then the Lord went away, and Abraham returned unto his place.
It was right and kind of Abraham to pray for Lot. We should all remember our friends in prayer, and ask God to take care of them. And when they are unhappy, or in danger, we should particularly pray God to comfort them, and to keep them from evil. "Pray one for another. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." James v. 16.
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SODOM AND GOMORRAH BURNED
It was evening when the two angels came to Sodom. Did they find there ten righteous people? No; there were not ten righteous in Sodom; and therefore it could not be saved. But the Lord remembered Abraham's prayer: and He remembered righteous Lot, who loved God all alone in the wicked city, and sent the angels to save him.
Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom; and when he saw the angels, he rose and bowed respectfully, and brought them to his house, and gave them food. Then they said, "Whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring out; for we will destroy this place." So Lot went out, and spoke to his sons-in-law, and said, "Get you out of this place, for the Lord will destroy this city." But they would not believe what he said. And when the morning was come, the angels hastened Lot, and said, "Arise, take thy wife and thy two daughters which are here;" and while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful unto him, and they brought him forth. Then they said, "Escape for thy life to the mountain; stay not; look not behind thee." But Lot said, "I can not escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me. There is a little city near to flee unto, let me escape thither." And God mercifully allowed Lot to go to that little city. It was called Zoar.
LOT FLEES SODOM
So Lot, and his wife, and his two daughters, escaped from Sodom; and then "the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah, brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven." All the cities were destroyed; all the people died. Lot was saved, with his two daughters but "his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt."
In the morning, Abraham rose very early, and went to look toward Sodom. No beautiful city was there now; it was all black with smoke; the houses destroyed; the people killed. But God had remembered Abraham's prayer for Lot, and kept him safely. But Lot had no house to live in; no riches, no possessions: he lived in a cave, with his two daughters, and was thankful to be even there.