Understanding The Books of the Bible (The Old Testament)

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I used the Bible on my tablet for a long time and you know how it works, you just search for the book of the Bible that you want and it gets it automatically. It was after I decided to switch back to the conventional Bible that I discovered I don’t know where many Books in the bible are located.
We are also used to the ‘open your Bible to so-so-and-so Book’ while in church to pick out a specific scripture that we hardly understand what’s in each Book of the Bible and the message they individually carry.
These gaps in our knowledge of the Bible inspired me to write this article and with the help of a special book titled “Explorer’s Notes: THE BIBLE; Finding your way around the Bible” by Nick Page, I welcome you to an article that would help you understand the Bible better than you do already.
Let’s proceed:

THE OLD TESTAMENT:

It takes us from the beginning of creation to around 400 BC. it tells the story of God’s relationship with human beings. It is split into four main sections: the Law, History, Wisdom and Prophecy (major and minor prophets).  The Books in the Old Testament include:

1. THE BOOKS OF THE LAW:

The first five books of the Bible are known as the Books of the law. Sometimes these are called ‘the Pentateuch’ meaning ‘five-volumed book’.

Genesis: is the ‘why’book. It tells us where we came from and why we are here. It is the book of beginnings. It traces the origins of the people of Israel from creation through to people like Abraham, Jacob and Isaac. It also tells of God’s promises or covenants with his people. Genesis is one of the most important books of the Bible because it introduces all the major themes that fill the rest of the Bible- creation, sin and rebellion, love, grace and mercy.

Exodus: meaning ‘exit’ and the book deals with the rescue of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.The book ends with Moses receiving the instructions for the building of the tabernacle.

Leviticus: takes its name from the tribe of Levites which supplied all the priests for Israel. It is mainly about the laws the Israelites were supposed to follow to show that they were true followers of God.

Numbers: is so called because its full on numbers. It is a book of statistics and accounts, a list of the tribes of Israel and the number of people in each tribe.

Deuteronomy: is a kind of summary of the other four books. It’s Moses’ farewell speech, given just before his death and before the Israelites’ entry to the Promised Land. Indeed, the name Deuteronomy means ‘repetition of the Law’.

2. THE HISTORY BOOKS:

They are specifically about the history of Israel. They take on the story on from the conquest of the Promised land, through the decline of the monarchy, into exile under foreign powers and finally to the return from exile of the Jewish nation.

Joshua: takes its name from the successor to Moses called Joshua. Moses never got to enter Promised Land. It was Joshua who led the Israelites across the Jordan. This book tells of the invasion and conquest of the land, and the division of the territory between the twelve tribes of Israel.

Judges: its title comes from the phrase ‘from time to time the Lord would choose special leaders known as judges..” (Judges 2:16). It is one of the bleakest books of the Bible. It tells of the dark, anarchic era that followed the conquest, when every man acted as he thought fit, and violence and barbarism ruled.

Ruth: is a small book telling the moving story of Ruth who, despite being a ‘foreigner’ from Moab, shows great faithfulness and love and is rewarded. It is a book about family duty, affection and friendship.

1 & 2 Samuel: 1 & 2 Samuel is actually one book, which originally divided into two parts for the simple reason that couldn’t fit the whole thing on one scroll. It tells the story of the first kings of Israel: Saul and David. The title of the books comes from Samuel, the prophet who anointed both kings.

1 & 2 Kings: 1 & 2 Kings is also one book, divided into two parts for the simple reason that it couldn’t fit the whole thing on one scroll. It starts with the reign of Solomon and then goes downhill as the kingdom splits in two, with ‘Israel’ in the north and ‘Judah’ in the south. Kings tell of the downfall of Israel, as a succession of bad kings get their hands on the thrones.

1 & 2 Chronicles: aims to answer a simple question: ‘Does God still care about Israel?’. Chronicles aim is to express the continuity of God’s relationship with His people.

Ezra & Nehemiah: are two books telling the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon, their struggles to rebuild the shattered city of Jerusalem, the re-establishment of the Temple and the rediscovery of the books of the Law.

Esther: is the story of Queen Esther, a Jew who became Queen of Persia and saved her people from extermination at the hands of their enemies. It is a book about liberation and rescue.

 

3. THE WISDOM BOOKS:

The Hebrew word for wisdom has a meaning similar to ‘life skills.’  They are focused on God, on His relationship with humanity and how all wisdom and knowledge is based on a proper respect for Him and His works.

Job: deals with one of the most profound of all human problems-why do good people suffer?

Psalms: is a collection of 150 poems or songs written by different authors, Psalms is a kind of spiritual journal, reflecting on all the ups and downs of a believer’s life.

Proverbs: is a collection of wise and insightful sayings to help you live your life right. It is full of nuggets of wisdom to make us think.

Ecclesiastes: recognizes God’s greatness but the mood is pretty sombre and bleak.

Song of Solomon: is a love poem, about how good it is to fall in love. It’s about men and women and the joys of a physical relationship.

 

4. THE BOOKS OF THE PROPHETS:

This section of the Bible called “The Prophets” consists of the major prophets and the minor prophets.

i. THE MAJOR PROPHETS:

This section consists of five books. The phrase ‘major prophets’ refers not to their importance, but to their length.

Isaiah: is a long book warning of the judgment of God, but also looking to the Messiah and the World that is to come. Isaiah’s core themes are judgment and redemption. God would judge His people for their sins, but would also rescue them from captivity.

Jeremiah: prophesied during the final days of the doomed county of Judah.

Lamentations: is a short, sad poem about the fall of Jerusalem.

Ezekiel: contains a series of powerful visions warning the people in Jerusalem to change their ways and urging them to stay faithful in exile.

Daniel: is part prophecy, part the story of a Babylonian exile who refused to compromise his faith.

ii. THE MINOR PROPHETS:

This section consists of twelve books. The phrase ‘minor prophets’ refers not to the contents of these books, but to their length; some of these books are only one chapter long.

Hosea: is a tale of one man’s love for his unfaithful wife. A love which mirrors the merciful, forgiving love of God.

Joel: is a short book that tries to explain who Judah has been laid waste by a huge plague of locusts.

Amos: is a powerful book that condemns the hypocrisy, idolatry, corruption and injustice in Israel.

Obadiah: is only one chapter long and deals with the destruction of Edom.

Jonah: contains one of the most famous stories of the Bible where Jonah was swallowed by a big fish for disobeying God. It is more a story than a book of prophecy. It deals with God’s offer of forgiveness to the hated, evil Assyrians.

Micah: moves between condemnation of Israel’s unjust conduct and prophecies of a great future hope.

Nahum: theme of the book is the destruction of Nineveh and by Nineveh, Nahum means the entire Assyrian empire.

Habakkuk: is a kind of mini book of Job, and asks why God is allowing bad things to happen to his people.

Zephaniah: warns that those who follow false gods will face the judgment of God.

Haggai & Zechariah: are associated with the return to Jerusalem after the exile. Zechariah talks of a king who will one day return to Jerusalem.

Malachi: is the last book of the Old Testament. Malachi reminds people of their obligations to God and their purpose in his plan.

 

Continuation: Understanding The Books of the Bible (The New Testament)

 

Reference:
Explorer’s Notes: THE BIBLE by Nick Page

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Lakesha
    Jun 01, 2014 @ 13:09:36

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I’m working on helping my kids learn the books of the Bible, and this is a very comprehensive explanation.

    Reply

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