The Acrostic Bible
In this section I’ve written an acrostic (a sequence of lines, each starting with consecutive letters of the title) about each book of the Bible. Obviously, you can’t summarise the whole Book of Job in three lines, and you don’t really need eight lines for Philemon! – so in each case I’ve tried to capture the book’s flavour. If you don’t know what’s in the Bible and don’t know where to begin, try this as an appetite whetter. Where appropriate, there’s an element of humour, but each acrostic is intended as a serious insight into the content and significance of each book.
God called all things into existence
Eden was estranged through human sin
Noah’s righteousness salvaged life
Each patriarch from Abraham onwards sinned yet kept faith.
Scheming Jacob’s sons sold their brother Joseph
Into Egyptian slavery, yet he prospered and
Secured a reconciliation with father and brothers.
Egypt treated her Jewish slaves harshly
Xenophobic Pharaoh wouldn’t parley with Moses and Aaron
Only the death of Egypt’s firstborn bent his iron will.
Daringly the Jews fled Pharaoh’s armies across the Red Sea
Upheld by God’s presence and laws they
Survived the wilderness and reached the promised land.
Lots of instructions for priests to obey
Everything from offering sacrifices to cleansing mildew, and
Various laws about righteous conduct.
Israelites were bound by the Old Covenant
To offer grain and animal sacrifices
If they committed particular sins or wanted to thank God.
Clean and unclean foods were systematically specified
Unclean conditions and punishable sins were regulated
Sabbath rest, sacred days and festivals were prescribed
Now the LORD told Moses to take a census of the Israelites
Until every man fit for military service was known.
Moses sent men to explore and conquer Canaan and Moab.
Balaam, Moab’s prophet, was instructed to curse Israel but his ass refused to go;
Even so, Israel mixed with the Moabites and worshipped their gods
Resulting in a plague from the LORD, so another census was needed before
Settlements and districts were allocated to tribes.
Despairing of Israel’s grumbling and their nostalgia for
Egypt (they’d forgotten how awful it was)
Unamused Moses reminded the people about how
The LORD had led and provided for them
Exhorting them to keep His laws, and
Reminding them (in great detail) of what the laws involved –
Ordering them to love, fear and obey the LORD,
Nurturing generosity towards debtors, paupers and servants.
Obedience would result in blessings, disobedience in curses.
Moses died on Mount Nebo
Yet not before he has blessed all the tribes
Joshua, son of Nun, succeeded Moses and
Ordered Israel to prepare to cross the Jordan.
Spies went on ahead to check out the opposition –
Hittites, Amorites and all the others were defeated,
Unyielding walls around Jericho came tumbling down,
Allotments of the land were made to the tribes
Judah continued Joshua’s work, driving out Canaanites and Perizzites;
Unfortunately, Israel fraternised with the locals, seriously upsetting God.
Defeated, Israel decided (on and off) to obey judges sent by God –
Gideon, Deborah and Jephthah did pretty well,
Ehud, Othniel and Shamgar had their moments, but couldn’t stop the rot,
Samson, despite Delilah’s tricks, brought down the house on the Philistines
Returning, widowed, from Moab to Judah, Naomi
Urged her widowed daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, to stay with their kin; but
Tearful Ruth clung to her, met wealthy Boaz and married him,
Had a son Obed, who became father of Jesse, who became father of David.
Shiloh, temple of priest Eli, was where Elkanah went to sacrifice.
Anguished Hannah, his barren wife, heard Eli promise she’d become a
Mother, and she bore Samuel – whom the LORD called in the night.
Usurping Eli’s wicked sons, Samuel became priest and kingmaker;
Enthroning Saul, but later regretting it, he anointed David
Lover of music, slayer of Goliath, sparer of Saul, mighty warrior.
Saul and his son Jonathan died in battle, which grieved David.
Abner, Saul’s army chief, and the house of Saul rebelled; however,
Many dastardly deeds later, David triumphed and unified the kingdom. Yet
Uriah’s beautiful wife, Bathsheba, proved too much temptation and David sinned.
Everything then soured – rebellions, sons killed, famine, plague – but
Latterly, David regained favour, sang praises to God and built an altar.
King Solomon succeeded David (though not without family strife);
In spite of his abundant wisdom, success, wealth and wives, he went astray.
Numerous other kings (mostly bad) followed and the kingdom split.
God called the prophet Elijah to confront wicked King Ahab – who,
Spurred on by his wife Jezebel, behaved atrociously (they both met sticky ends).
Knowing he was heading for heaven in a chariot of fire, Elijah passed his mantle to Elisha.
Israel’s kings, despite Elisha’s miraculous signs, still kept turning to Baal;
Nor were Judah’s much better (apart from Joash and Hezekiah).
God, fed up with their sins, allowed them to be defeated and taken into exile –
Samaria fell to Assyria, Jerusalem fell to Babylon.
Chronicles 1 & 2
Catalogues of genealogies, and post-exile re-settlers,
History of David’s victories (including re-capture of the ark of the covenant),
Records of priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, treasurers and army officers,
Offerings for building a temple (which David remitted to Solomon),
Narratives about the construction and dedication of the temple, and
Israel’s descent into division and rebellion following Solomon’s death.
Collected annals of successive kings of Israel and Judah, with
Lots of information about the many bad things they did (and a few good ones,
Especially Hezekiah’s and Josiah’s reforms). Eventually, the Babylonians conquered,
Sacked the temple, and killed or transported the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Exiles were allowed by Cyrus, king of Persia, to return to Jerusalem, so
Zerubbabel and Jeshua started to rebuild the temple, but the Persian commanding officer
Rehum had the work stopped; however, Ezra appealed to the new king
Artaxerxes, who located the original permission and allowed the Jews to continue.
Nehemiah, sitting in the citadel in Susa (in Persia), received
Envoys from Judah, who told him about the ruinous state of Jerusalem.
Heavy-hearted, Nehemiah approached King Artaxerxes who
Expedited safe passage and arranged materials for construction.
Many were the enemies of those re-building the wall and many were the
Injustices of the officials overseeing their work, until Nehemiah was
Appointed governor; he organised things fairly and revived the festivals.
He was a bit of a stickler and ensured the Law was strictly observed.
Extravagant King Ahasuerus ditched his uppity wife Vashti, and chose a
Stunning girl from his harem called Esther to be queen – not realising
That she and her guardian Mordecai were Jews. Sneaky government minister
Haman persuaded the king to persecute the Jews (treasonous lot!) and to
Execute Mordecai. But Esther persuaded him to change his mind, and Haman was
Royally hanged instead – following which the Jews instituted the festival of Purim.
Just when he thought it couldn’t get worse, righteous Job lost all his wealth and health.
Obdurate friends ‘comforted’ (but also blamed) him. Then the Creator of Leviathan and
Behemoth boomed forth, Job realised his reliance on God, and his fortunes were restored.
Petitions and praises, laments and celebrations
Songs of remembrance, victory and defeat
Anguish in adversity and bliss amidst blessings
Looking to God for forgiveness and deliverance
Meditating on God’s ineffability and power
Seeking justice and reparation for the poor and the meek.
Prudence, insight, instruction, discernment,
Righteousness and justice are proclaimed by Lady Wisdom.
Oppression, sloth, adultery, vanity – like a dog returning to its
Vomit – are the ways of Dame Folly.
Exemplary behaviour, honour and a good name may
Result in respect and prosperity Yet even
Better, are the poor and blameless who understand the
Seven pillars of wisdom and fear God.
“Everything is meaningless!”
Claims the preacher, proving that with much wisdom
Comes much sorrow. Hard work, wealth and righteousness are
Like chasing after the wind. The same fate comes to
Everyone, whether they are good or bad. Good men
Suffer, while bad men prosper.
In truth, we will not understand things that happen “under the sun”; the
Answer lies in looking upwards. Thus, to everything there is a
Season and a time to every purpose under
The Heaven. If we want to make sense of life, we should seek after
Eternal mysteries which lie beyond the
Sun: so fear God and keep His commandments.
Song of Songs
Sing to my lover and tell me where to find her,
O daughters of Jerusalem. And she in turn, all
Night long yearned that he might run to her like a
Gazelle, for he was sweet to her taste and his banner
Over her was love. Oh,
Friends of the bride and groom
See the beloved and her lover
Overwhelmed with passion one for another.
No ordinary love story is this, but
God yearning for his beloved – pining,
Sick at heart with all-consuming love for Israel.
In the year King Uzziah died, Isaiah son of Amoz
Saw a vision of the Lord, and was commissioned to prophesy –
“A virgin shall bear a son, Immanuel, prince of peace;
Israel will suffer for her injustices, as will all nations; yet
A faithful remnant of Israel will survive and be comforted,
Her sins will be borne away by a man of sorrows, and He will bring rest”.
Jerusalem was sinning, worshipping false gods,
Errant, unjust and idolatrous. So God called Jeremiah to
Rebuke them, that they might repent and avoid defeat and
Exile. He was such a doomsayer that they flung him in a well and he sank in the
Mire. Even after they pulled him out he carried on wailing about disaster to
Israel, and lots of other nations as well. He made many enemies, but he was right
And Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar. Yet Jeremiah had an upbeat side too –
He foretold that Israel would be redeemed by a Righteous Branch of David.
Lying deserted, her gateways desolate
All the splendour had departed from Jerusalem. Her
Maidens grieved, her priests groaned, her
Elders wore sackcloth, while her enemies gloated. Yet
New every morning are God’s compassions, and
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.
And so the prophet (Jeremiah again) said
“The Lord is my portion; therefore
I will wait for Him”. He proclaimed
“O Daughter of Zion, your punishment will end.”
Now, though, Jerusalem must endure her punishment
Suffering the consequences of God’s great anger.
Ezekiel, prophet in exile, saw a vision of the glory of the Lord.
Zealous to see the restoration of His people, the Lord recounted Israel’s many
Evils, and showed Ezekiel the dreadful consequences that would ensue.
Keeping vigilant, as commanded, the “watchman” prophet saw many visions
Including a valley of dry bones coming back to life (Israel being restored), an
Ever-flowing river streaming from a rebuilt temple, and the
Lord’s Glory returning to Jerusalem.
Daniel and his three compatriots in exile – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – became
Advisors to King Nebuchadnezzar. When the three refused to bow to a golden image,
Nebuchadnezzar threw them into a fiery furnace, but God protected them. Daniel could
Interpret the strange dreams of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, which made the officials
Envious. When Darius conquered the kingdom, officials conspired to throw Daniel to the
Lions, but he survived and carried on having visions about the ‘end times’.
Hosea the prophet was told by God to marry an adulterous wife, to mirror His
Outrage at Israel’s infidelity. Israel courted foreign gods – so they would
‘Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind’. Yet Hosea returned to love his wife
Even though she was a harlot, to reflect how much God loved Israel
And wanted to heap blessings, rather than punishments, on them.
Joel foresaw armies sweeping down from the north like locusts, and the land being
Overrun. Yet, if Israel genuinely repented, then the Lord would pour his Spirit on
Everyone – young and old, male and female. In the valley of decision, the day of the
Lord was near, and He would bless his repentant people.
Angry about Israel’s injustices, God declared, through Amos, that he would send
Many woes and even captivity upon the people. He proclaimed “let justice roll
On like a river, righteousness like a never-failing
Stream.” Then, in time, Israel would be restored and never again uprooted.
Obadiah prophesied against
Boastful Edom because of their
Arrogance and disregard for Judah’s
Downfall. The Lord said
“In that day I will destroy the wise men of Edom…
And it will be as if they had never been”. Yet the
House of Jacob would be restored and Mount Zion delivered.
Jonah, fleeing God’s command to preach to Nineveh, sailed off in the opposite direction.
Overboard he went, after the crew blamed their bad luck on this God-dodger, but he
Narrowly escaped drowning when a big fish swallowed him for three days.
Afterwards, he went to Nineveh, prophesied doom, and the people repented. Jonah was
Huffy because God didn’t punish them – naturally, God was far too compassionate.
Mountains will melt, valleys split and cities fall because of those who plan
Iniquity, prophesy falsehoods, defraud the poor, worship idols and
Covet possessions. The Lord doesn’t want sacrifices – He requires you to
Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. There will be new
Hope through a ruler from Bethlehem whose greatness will reach the ends of the earth.
Nineveh would experience God’s wrath for its oppression of Judah
And Assyria would be scattered for its endless cruelty. Before God’s presence, the
Hills melt away. He takes vengeance on His foes and does not leave the guilty
Unpunished, but He is a refuge for those who trust in Him. Look, there on the
Mountains are the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace.
Habakkuk the prophet complained to God
About his inaction whilst violence and injustice prevailed.
But God said, first I will raise up ruthless Babylonians, who are
A law unto themselves, promoting their own honour. But then their
Kings will fall and they will suffer many woes. Then, earth will fill with the
Knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. Idols are
Useless – but the Lord is in His holy temple, so let all the earth
Keep silent before Him. And Habbakuk rejoiced in the Sovereign Lord.
Zephaniah heard the Lord declare that He would sweep away
Everything from the face of the earth on His day of wrath,
Punishing the idolaters and the complacent but having mercy on the
Humble and righteous. Zephaniah preached woe and destruction
Against Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Cush and Assyria.
Neither would Jerusalem escape the Lord’s anger because of the
Insolence of their leaders. Yet a faithful remnant would shout
Aloud, sing, be glad and rejoice with all their
Heart because in Zion God would restore their fortunes.
Hearing God’s anger at the ruined state of Jerusalem’s temple, Haggai
Asked his fellow countrymen to re-build it, to exceed its former
Glory. They obeyed his message, and Haggai warned them that
God’s blessings had been withheld on their crops and commerce,
All because they’d neglected the temple. But he assured them that
In the future, God would make it a place of peace and blessing.
Zechariah was called to remind captive Judah that they had suffered because of the
Evil done by their forefathers. He received many visions from angels,
Commencing with a rider followed by three horses, who were
Harbingers of restoration, peace and prosperity to Jerusalem. Later he saw
A man with a measuring line, surveying the rebuilt city; then a new high priest
Robed filthily but given new clothes; a gold lampstand; a flying scroll; a woman
In a basket; four chariots and a crown – all hinting at how God would judge, restore
And bless Israel if it practised justice and mercy rather than paying lip-service. And
He would send a righteous, gentle, saviour king, riding to Jerusalem on a donkey.
“My messenger” (Malachi), received a prophetic oracle
About God’s displeasure at Israel’s stingy behaviour, using
Leftovers for sacrifices – in sharp contrast to Levi who had stood in
Awe of the Lord Almighty. Backsliders will not endure the day of the Lord’s
Coming, for he will be like the refiner’s fire. But for those who return
He will open the floodgates of Heaven. “Before that dreadful day
I will send the prophet Elijah”, God says, “to turn your hearts”.
Many flocked to John the Baptist (who was in fact ‘Elijah’), by the Jordan,
And when Jesus was baptised the Spirit descended on him like a dove.
Tempted for forty days in the wilderness, Jesus then called
Twelve disciples, preached the Sermon on the Mount, taught about prayer,
Healed many, spoke in parables, and warned of future judgement. He
Exasperated the authorities who bribed Judas to betray Him. So he walked the
Way of the cross, rose from the grave and commissioned his disciples to build a church.
Minimum detail, but maximum urgency, Mark tells a gripping narrative
About the Messiah – baptised, appointing, preaching, healing, challenging, acclaimed,
Rejected, crucified, resurrected. Always proclaiming the nearness of God’s
Kingdom, throughout his life and beyond the grave.
Like Matthew, Luke begins with genealogies, the virgin birth and John’s baptism but
Unlike Luke the account is for all born of Adam (Gentiles), not just Abraham (Jews).
Knowledgeable Doctor Luke reports lots of Jesus’ sayings, and the post-resurrection
Emmaus road encounter, which helps to make sense of everything that had taken place.
Jesus, light of the world,
Only begotten son of God
He is the way, the truth, the life
Nazarene carpenter, cosmic King
Acts of the Apostles
After Jesus had ascended the apostles gathered together in an upper room and
Continued praying. On the day of Pentecost, a tempestuous sound filled their house and
Tongues of fire rested on them: just as Jesus had promised, the Holy
Spirit had been poured out, empowering them. Peter preached urgently to the
Onlookers and three thousand people joined them in a caring, sharing
Fellowship – the birth of the church. The apostles continued teaching and healing but
The Jewish authorities, including a man called Saul, thought they were
Heretics and began to persecute them. The apostles scattered, and Saul
Eagerly pursued them to Damascus, but on the road heard Jesus’ voice
And was blinded by a light from heaven. His sight restored, he was re-named
Paul and joined the apostles. The scattered believers continued spreading
Outwards, but only tried to convert the Jews, before realising that God’s
Salvation was for everyone. Then Paul, Silas, Barnabas, Timothy and others
Travelled across Asia Minor and Greece, spreading the gospel. On the way,
Luke joined them (and later wrote this book). After many tight scrapes,
Eventually Paul was arrested and sent to stand trial in Rome. He was
Shipwrecked off Malta but survived and preached in Rome prior to trial.
Righteous they weren’t, these Roman Christians! Saved by grace,
Ordinary people predestined to be extraordinary. Sinners all, who became
More than conquerors, Jew and Gentile grafted together, and no longer under
Any condemnation, but transformed through the Spirit to be living sacrifices. For
Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation can
Separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Corinthians I and II
Church at Corinth was a messy affair in the first century, all
Over the place in terms of faith, morality and behaviour – divided,
Righteous in their own eyes, litigious and ignoring lessons from
Israel’s history about idolatry and one-upmanship. So Paul had to
Nurture them in sharing communion and exercising spiritual gifts; he
Taught them about the resurrection body, and the excellence of love. Much
Hardship afflicted the apostles, and the Corinthians should have gloried
In this ‘treasure in jars of clay’ rather than seeking glamour. They were to be
Ambassadors for Christ, sowing generously, because they were
“New creations”. But because the Corinthians were so factitious and
Sinful, Paul had to give them lots of tough advice (which is still invaluable today)!
Grace and peace to the churches in Galatia – though really (said Paul) I’m
Amazed you are being so quickly deceived by false teachers:
Legalists who want to re-apply Jewish practices. Such external
Appearances are not important to God, because in Christ
There is neither Jew nor Greek nor any other division. All are one
In Christ Jesus. God put His Spirit into our hearts so we can cry
“Abba” (father) – we are all His children and heirs. Our sinful
Nature is to be replaced by the fruits of the Holy Spirit –
Self-control, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness.
Every spiritual blessing in Christ is ours, because God
Predestined us to be adopted as His children, and the
Holy Spirit marks us with a seal, guaranteeing our inheritance. May the
Eyes of your heart perceive the hope and riches which are yours, as
Saints. Grasp the all-surpassing scale of Christ’s love. Be
Imitators of God, living a life of love, unity and obedience. Wear the
Armour of God, to stand against the devil’s schemes –
Never cease praying, and wear God’s belt, breastplate, shoes,
Shield of faith, helmet of salvation and sword of the Spirit.
Philippi had a lively, faithful, Spirit-filled church. Although
He was in chains, Paul was uplifted by their prayers and he preached
Inside prison. He found contentment in all circumstances, for “to
Live is Christ and to die is gain”. He told his readers to rejoice, pray,
Imitate Christ’s humility, not be anxious; and to dwell on excellent and
Praiseworthy things that are true, noble, right, lovely, admirable and
Pure. Paul reminds them that, despite having been born a child of
Israel, he now counts all the Jewish legalism as garbage – he has
Already received so much more through Jesus. He exhorts them
Not to slacken off until their race is run, and thanks them for their
Sacrificial gift which has reached him in prison.
Continue in your faith, established and firm, you who
Once were God’s enemies but are now reconciled through Christ;
Live a life worthy of the Lord. Know that Jesus is the firstborn
Over all creation. In Him all things hold together; He has
Supremacy over everything; the fullness of God dwells in Him.
Since you have been raised with Christ, don’t get lured back
Into other religions and don’t give in to earthly desires. Be fair to
All people, even in an unequal society, for God shows
No partiality. Let your conversation always be full of grace,
Seasoned with salt. Greetings to everyone!
Thessalonians I and II
The Thessalonian church was thriving, having received the gospel with the
Holy Spirit, power and deep conviction – not just with words. Known
Everywhere for their faith, they had suffered severe opposition,
So Paul sent Timothy to see how they were coping. Fortunately, they were
Standing firm, and Paul encouraged them to be loving and holy,
Alert for the return of Jesus. Paul warned them about a man of
Lawlessness who would exalt himself over God and deceive many
Others with counterfeit miracles. He would delude those who had
Not believed the truth but had delighted in wickedness. So share
In the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, stand firm, and keep
Away from idle people who neither earn their keep
Nor live according to the apostles’ example. Then Paul
Signs off with a greeting of peace and grace.
Timothy I and II
Timothy was quite a young man of mixed Greek-Jewish parentage;
Inevitably, some Christians considered him a lightweight. But Paul
Made him bishop of Ephesus, valued him highly, and counselled him
On many matters of Christian conduct. He taught him: that
The love of money is the root of all evil; to fight the good fight; to endure
Hardships; to understand that all Scripture is God-breathed; and not to
Yield to devious and deceitful opponents of the gospel.
Titus was left by Paul on Crete (a tough assignment) to
Install elders and overseers. He counselled that
“To the pure all things are pure, to the corrupt all is corrupt”.
Ungodly, divisive, dishonest, disobedient people can be given a
Second warning, but no more. So, live devoted, productive lives.
Philemon, dear friend and fellow worker, please
Have mercy on your runaway slave, Onesimus. While
I was in chains, he was helpful and comforting to me,
Like a son. Please welcome him back, not as one
Enslaved, but as a brother in the Lord. You can trust
Me – I’ll happily compensate you for anything he
Owes. Your prayers have been working; any time
Now I hope to be free, so please prepare me a room.
High Priest of an everlasting order, above the angels, Jesus is the
Exact representation of God’s being, sustaining all things
By His powerful word. Through His new covenant, Jesus
Removes the veil so we can enter the inner sanctuary. And our
Evidence? – it is faith, which gives substance to things unseen. And
We have Jesus as an anchor for our faith, steadfast and sure. Be kind to
Strangers, for by doing so, some have entertained angels unawares.
Jerusalem’s church was headed by James, brother of Jesus,
And he wrote uncompromising advice about pride, anger,
Malicious gossip, favouritism, envy and selfish ambition. He
Emphasised the need to back up our faith with actions; and for
Sustained prayer from righteous people, which has power and effect.
Peter I and II
Priesthood! – a royal one. That’s what you are; a chosen people,
Elected by God, living stones of a spiritual temple. Your conduct
Therefore must be holy; dead to sin but alive to God; and alert to your
Enemy the devil who prowls like a lion. God is patient, giving people time to
Repent. To him a thousand years are like a day…but he will return to judge!
John I, II and III
Jesus, the Word of Life, in whom there is no darkness at all, is
Our advocate in heaven when we sin. We are God’s children; the world may
Hate us but we must love each other as God loves us. Walk in truth, and do
Not be deceived by antichrists, who are already amongst us.
Jude warns the faithful church that it is being infiltrated by perverse and
Ungodly people who are selfishly preaching false doctrine. They are
Doomed eternally. So he beseeches his ‘dear friends’ to persevere, to build
Each other up in faith and prayer, and to keep themselves in God’s love.
Revealed prophetically to John on Patmos, messages were sent by Jesus to
Each of the seven churches, piercing to the heart of their condition. Then
Visions of heaven were shown to John, and through a door he saw 24
Elders and four creatures eternally praising a Lamb on a throne. As the
Lamb broke the seals of a scroll, four horsemen arose and there were terrors.
Angels sealed 144,000 against the impending plagues and disasters. A vile
Ten-horned beast (numbered 666) arose from the sea and deceived many.
In the end, God’s wrath was poured out, the beast and his followers were
Overthrown and the dead were judged. But the faithful dwelt in the
New Jerusalem where the Light always shines and there is no suffering.