HOW TO STUDY THE
Lesson Two: Old Testament
The Old Testament consists of the 39
books of the original Jewish Bible, still used by Jewish people
today. The word "Testament" means "covenant, agreement,
contract". The word "Old" means "older, original," or the way God
related to men and women before the Coming of Christ.
The Old Testament contains many
observable kinds of information:
The Revelation of the Creation
of the World by God, The entry of Sin into the World. The
The History of the Ancient World
Through the eyes of God, the division of the languages of the
The History of the calling and God's
dealings with Abraham and his decendents, the People of
The Laws given to Israel, forming
their "Constitution" and duties to God and morality of
The Early history of Israel, the
kings and judges and captivity of Israel to
The Writings of the Prophets, dealing
with confronting sin and waywardness from God,
The Prophecies of The Coming Messiah,
the Future Resolution of history, end times, and New heaven and
The Psalms, Songs of worship and
praise and deep teachings about God
The Wisdom Books, Job, Proverbs,
Eccelesiastes, Song of Solomon
Perhaps we could title the Bible
God's Plan. The Old Testament would be Volume One: The Plan
Begins. And the New Testament would be called Volume Two: The
The Purpose of the Old Testament was to reveal
THE PERSON AND WORK OF THE COMING KING! All through the Old
Testament the student of the Scriptures can find
The Subject/Theme of the Old
Testament was to reveal THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE COMING KING. All
of the Old Testament looks forward to the Messiah and His
The General Content of the Old
Please open your Bibles to the
'Table of Contents' as we work through this material. The Old Testament is
neatly divided into three major sections.
a. HISTORY, Genesis to
b. POETRY, Job to Ecciesiastes
c. PROPHECY, Isaiah to
The Specific Content of the Old Testament
The first five books of the Old
Testament are called "The Pentateuch" and are believed to be written by
GENESIS is the book of
beginnings or origins....of the world, the human race and
especially the Hebrew nation. It contains the stories of Creation,
Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, and the biographies of Abraham, Isaac,
Jacob and Joseph.
EXODUS is the book of the
deliverance of Israel from Egyptian slavery. It includes the origin of the
Passover, the Red Sea crossing, and the Ten
LEVITICUS is a detailed
description of Jewish religious ceremonies and
NUMBERS records the
journeyings of the Israelites from Mount Sinai, where they received the
Ten Commandments, to the Jordan River, just before their conquest of the
DEUTERONOMY means 'second
law.' It is a of repeat of Leviticus and
JOSHUA is about the new
generation of Israelites crossing the Jordan River and beginning the
conquest of Canaan, or "The Promised Land" under the leadership of Joshua.
This book includes the famous story of the battle of
JUDGES is the record of
thirteen judges or popular leaders. The book records the sad result of man
doing what is right in his own eyes. Main characters include Samson and
RUTH is a simple but
beautiful love story. Ruth is a gentile who becomes the great~grandmother
I SAMUEL records the
history of Israel from the last judge, Samuel, to the death of Israel's
first king, Saul.
2 SAMUEL is the story of
Kings David and Solomon.
I KINGS records the history
of Israel from David's death, through the reign of Solomon, to the life of
the prophet Elijah. After Solomon's death, the Jewish kingdom is divided
into Israel, or "the North" and Judah, or "the
2 KINGS is about the
ongoing civil war between Israel and Judah. Both kingdoms are finally
destroyed by the judgment of God.
1,2 CHRONICLES are a kind
of repeat of 1,2 Kings, with an emphasis on the history of the southern
kingdom, Judah, from the reign of David to the Babylonian
EZRA and NEHEMIAH are about
the return of the Jews to Israel after 70 years of captivity in Babylon.
Ezra is about rebuilding the Jewish temple, while Nehemiah is about
rebuilding the wall and city of Jerusalem.
The second section or division of
the Old Testament is Hebrew poetry. All of these books were written at
different times during the historical record of the first 17 books.
Psalms, for example, was written by a number of people, most notably
David, during the books of Kings and Chronicles.
JOB, the oldest book of the
Bible, tries to explain the most difficult question or life: why bad
things happen to good people.
PSALMS is a book of prayer
PROVERBS is a collection of wise
ECCLESIASTES is about how to
trust God and obey his commands, even when life makes no sense and even
God seems unfair.
SONG OF SOLOMON is a love
story. It has often been understood as a picture of God's love and
relationship with us.
The prophetic books have been subdivided into two
categories: the Major Prophets, called "major" simply because they are
longer books, and the Minor Prophets, or shorter books of prophecy.
ISAIAH is about the future
kingdom of the Messiah. Isaiah is full of beauty and hope. Some of the
most familiar passages of Bible prophecy are found in
JEREMIA AND LAMANTATIONS are
prophecies of warning and judgment on wayward
EZEIKEL was written during
the Babylonian captivity of Israel. It is about how the glory of God will
return one day to the sanctuary in Jerusalem.
DANIEL is history and
prophecy concerning Gentile world rule in relation to Israel and the
Kingdom of Christ. It includes the famous stories of the three men in the
fiery furnace and Daniel in the Lion's den.
HOSEA about backsliding and
JOEL, the prophet of
AMOS, about judgment on
complacency and materialism.
OBADIAH one short chapter on
the doom of ancient Edom.
JONAH, and the whale, Of
course! But showing a picture of a reluctant evangelist, and a great
revival despite him.
MICAH about Israel's sin and
God's grace in the promised Messiah.
NAHUM, about the doom of
HABAKKUK, the just shall live
ZEPHANIAH, on God's judgment
and the future of Israel.
HAGGAl, about Zion's
ZECHARIAH, a fairly
long "minor" prophet with several chapters on Armageddon and the end of
MALACHI, on robbing God,
judgment, and the return of Elijah in the last days.
The Teaching of the
(from material prepared by W. P. Ern
One word sums up all..Christ. But
let's see how this comes to pass. We will imagine a stranger with only an
Old Testament in his hand. He opens to Genesis 1 and begins reading verse
by verse. Soon he comes to Chapter 3, with its promise of Someone coming.
He reads on and finds a repetition of the same promise in almost every
book, until as he reads from Isaiah onwards the very Fullness of prophecy
appears. But he comes to Malachi 4, the last chapter of the Old Testament,
and the promises have not been realized. The reader has now become
conscious the Old Testament is ,.. a book of unfulfilled
So he turns back to Genesis 1 and
starts again. Soon he is conscious of something strange and unusual:
sacrifice and offering already in Genesis 4. He wonders what can be the
purpose of it again in chapters 9, 12, and 22, and still more clearly in
Exodus, until in Leviticus there is an entire organization of sacrifices,
offerings, rites and ceremonies. He sees them referred to again and again,
with very little explanation of their real meaning, until once more he
reaches Malachi 4 without the light he needs. He is now conscious that the
Old Testament is also ... a book or unexplained
Once more the reader returns to
Genesis, and it is not long before he becomes aware of another great fact:
man's great desire and longing for God. He reads of it in chapters 4,
5,15, 28, and 49 and throughout the rest of Bible history, but most of all
in Job, Psalms and the Prophets. He reads again and again about people
crying out for relationship with the living God and for the blessings God
has promised. There are often answers, and there are great moments of
satisfaction, but something is still missing. Again, the Old Testament
ends without the complete realization of satisfaction in mans relationship
with God. And our reader becomes conscious of yet another fact, that the
Old Testament is ... a book of unsatisfied
These are three threads running
through the Old Testament making it by itself an incomplete book. It ought
to be studied from this standpoint and with this perspective if it is to
be rightly understood. Only thus will it be appreciated as the foundation
of the New Testament.
And we will imagine that someone now
gives our stranger a copy of the New Testament. As he begins to read, he
finds there the very things he has failed to discover in the Old
Testament! On the very first page he reads, 'That it might be
And soon he realizes that:
Jesus the Prophet fulfills in His
life, the prophecies.
Jesus the Priest explains. in his
death, the ceremonies.
Jesus the King satisfies. in his
resurrection, the longings.
Jesus, my Prophet, Priest and King,
is thus the key to the lock, the perfect explanation of Old
Testament history, ceremony and prophecy.