The Old Testament of the Bible is a source of shadows, hints, clues and mysteries. If you were given only the Old Testament and were asked to answer the question “What is the Bible?”, you might have a hard time giving a complete answer. The Old Testament is a shadow of things to come. It provides hints and clues and figures but does not reveal the full picture.
The Old Testament tells of events from the creation of the heavens and the earth, until some time before the birth of Jesus. God speaks many times in many ways.
Click here for an overview of the Bible: What is the Bible: one BIG book? or a LIBRARY of books?
Remember that the Old Testament can be divided into four sections:
- Books of the Law: Genesis to Deuteronomy
- Theme: knowledge of sin
- Books of History: Joshua to Esther
- Theme: evidence of sin
- Books of Poetry: Job to Song of Solomon
- Theme: lift up your eyes to see the Creator
- Books of Prophecy: Isaiah to Malachi
- Theme: warning of judgment and the promise of coming salvation
Four Themes, many books
Each of the divisions consists of several books. The 39 books of the Old Testament are organized in following way:
The Books of the Law consist of:
These books establish the fact that man is a sinner. The Law was given not with the intent that man would be able to fulfill it, but rather to show man that he would not be able to. Romans 3:20 declares: “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”
The Books of History consist of:
- 1 Samuel
- 2 Samuel
- 1 Kings
- 2 Kings
- 1 Chronicles
- 2 Chronicles
These books demonstrate the fact that man is a sinner. Actions speak louder than words, and the actions recorded give clear evidence of sin. Judges 17:6 and Judges 21:25 state: “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
The Books of Poetry consist of:
- Song of Solomon
These books encourage the reader to look around and get to know the Creator. Ecclesiastes 12:1. Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth.
The Books of Prophecy consist of:
These books warn man of what is ahead because of his sin and also give hope to those who look to turn from their ways. Those who choose to not heed the warning will be judged, and those who choose to heed the warning will find salvation. John 3:36 sums it up nicely “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
They wanted to know more…
The writers of the Old Testament wrote what the Spirit of God led them to write. As they wrote, I am sure they asked themselves what it all meant. What they were writing, was a foreshadowing of what was to come. As much as they wanted to know more and have all the details, it was not revealed to them. Even the Angels were trying to understand the full picture.
Not until the coming of Christ would the purposes of God be made clear. In the chapter of faith, in Hebrews 11:39 – 40 light is shed on the long term plans God had in place. “And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.”
The Old Testament prophets were servants paving the way, and “It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.” 1 Peter 1:12
I feel for Daniel. After receiving so much revelation, he was told in Daniel 12:4 “But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (ESV) Not only would the details he received remain sealed, he also expresses his confusion as to the meaning of those details in Daniel 12:8 when he says “I heard, but I did not understand. Then I said, “O my lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?””. He was told in no uncertain terms, “That’s it Daniel, no more, sorry, go away”. The Angel “said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end.” Daniel 12:9 (ESV).
The writers of the Old Testament got nothing more than a preview or a “Trailer”, and were left hanging with… “coming soon”.
A Tough Challenge
Reading the Old Testament can be a little challenging the first time through. There are lots of names, places, numbers and timeline crossovers.
But don’t worry, I will take you through the plot one step at a time and sort through the exciting cause and effect, action / reaction and partial prophecy fulfillment.
Using Printable Bible Lessons you will be able to follow along to make sense of it all. What will eventually emerge is an amazing message written to you, confirmed by the Author himself.
Action Point: Summarize the Old Testament
- Take a few minutes to watch this short video describing the general themes of the Old Testament. Watching the presentation will reinforce what you
have read and help you to understand and process the information.
- Watch the short video here: What is the Bible: The Old Testament
- Now take a few minutes to review this printable bible study lesson.
By filling in the chart with the information learned, you will reinforce
the learning process. Feel free to read through the post and re-watch
the video as often as you need to in order to properly fill in the
- Solve online or download a printable PDF Bible Word Search of the Old Testament books here
- Go here to find out more about the New Testament
- If you have not already done so, please establish a personal Bible Reading Plan. In order to benefit from the Bible Study Lessons you will need to keep reading the Bible even if it is only for a short time or a few chapters per day.
- Visit this post to select and download your Printable Bible Reading Plan.