How can I keep the Old Testament organized in my mind? There’s so much going on. How do things connect? Where is it going?
Here is the simplest way I can think of: Learn the four most important Old Testament covenants and their corresponding (rough) dates. If you memorize this simple outline, you will kill two proverbial (appropriate when talking about the Bible!) birds with a single stone: 1) You will end up able to keep track of the historical order and remember (very roughly) when events happened; and 2) You will end up knowing the most important biblical-theological moments in the Old Testament, the four covenants that move all of history toward Christ.
Ready for it? Here’s what you need to learn. These are the four major covenants God “cut” (literal Hebrew), and their corresponding ultra-rough dates to keep it simple.
The Abrahamic Covenant (2000 B.C.) – God cut a major covenant during the time of Abraham
The Mosaic Covenant (1500 B.C.) – God cut a major covenant during the time of Moses
The Davidic Covenant (1000 B.C.) – God cut a major covenant during the time of David
The Promise of the New Covenant (500 B.C. This is the roughest date, though they’re all rough) – God promised through the prophets to cut a new covenant in the future.
Finally, remember that all the covenants found their “yes!” in Jesus (2 Cor 1:20) (rough date: 0, though there is no zero on the Gregorian Calendar and Jesus was born a few years before the hypothetical zero): God cut the New Covenant through Jesus.
That’s the easiest way to keep track of Old Testament chronology. Memorize the covenant and person associated with the covenant (Abraham, Moses, David), along with their rough dates, and lo and behold (good biblical lingo), Old Testament history along with biblical theology just became much easier to keep organized. If you want to add one more layer, remember that the lengthy period of the Judges occurred between the time of Moses and David, and that the lengthy period of the Kings occurred between David and most of the New Covenant promises. I can’t think of an easier way to keep the Old Testament straight.