OLD TESTAMENT STUDY
Come to OT study: To build up and strengthen believers; To raise up Bible teachers who will go and teach others.
Most of us have very little background in the Old Testament.
General idea -- "OT 39, NT 27; Old abolished, not to be used." Superficial view, and not accurate.
TESTAMENT is COVENANT -- Made with seed of Abraham (Israel); Was pedagogue to bring to Christ - Gal 3: "23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be jus-tified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster."
But the Covenant did not include the history in the 5 Books of Moses or elsewhere, nor did it include Poetry and Prophecies. ALL are of much value to us - Rom 15:4, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope."
The common idea is that the study of the OT is of little value, and that the time could be much better spent on the study of the NT. This is evidence of the lack of understanding of the unity of God's Revelation. A full appreciation of God's plan for our redemption can be gained only from a comprehensive study of the entire Book.
The message of the OT is one of anticipation. It looks for-ward to the coming of a better day and to the establishment of a spiritual kingdom through the coming of the Messiah. Hundreds of prophecies tell of His coming and of His nature and life. When He came in complete fulfillment of the prophecies, the prophecies serve as proof that He is the Messiah - 2Pe 1:19-21, "19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost."
Many NT doctrines are based on the OT, and refer to the OT; without citing a lot of examples, note the force of 2Ti 3:14-17, "14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned [them]; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture [is] given by
inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
We need to acquaint our selves well with sacred writings to see God's attitude toward sin, and His eternal purpose to redeem sinners; To find the Anointed with His Gospel and kingdom.
VISUAL SURVEY OF THE BIBLE (SEE CHART AND OVERHEAD)
(A study of "Calendars" is useful)
Bible: Library of 66 books. Not one writer; About 40, over period of 1600 yrs. Most not know others. No collusion (agreement to write) nor collision (disagreement of content). How possible that 40 men of different era's of time could write just ONE story? Impossible to account for it without Divine inspiration for its writers!
Selection of books not left to fancy of men. CANON means a rule or rod. When applied to the Bible, CANON denotes the list of books which are received as Holy Scriptures.
Canonical writings: Books which have Divine authority. A book's canonicity depends upon it's authority. It is not authoritative because it is in the Bible; it is in the Bible because it is authoritative. Paul's writings possessed authority (1Co 14:37). Paul's words had authority the moment Paul wrote them, but were not canonical until received into a list of ac-cepted writings formed sometime later. Then, they were accepted on their authority. No church council can make the books of the Bible authoritative -- God did that.
A group of Jewish scholars formulated a set of very stringent rules to safeguard the Scriptures. "They counted the number of words in every book by sections, and marked the middle word of each section. Then they required every copyist, when he had copied to the middle word, to count back and see if he had the right number of words. If he had, there was good assurance that he had omitted none and added none. If he had not, the part written was to be thrown away and a new copy made" (McGarvey).
In 250 BC, seventy (70) translators completed the translation of the OT from Hebrew to Greek; This is known as the Septuagint Version. It is often quoted as the "LXX." This is the text most often quoted by the apostles and inspired writers.
Carefully use versions in study. Danger in using a one-man translation, as there are no checks and balances to see if the truth is translated. The man's particular error can easily creep into the text, and these works often are filled more with com-mentary than translation. THE LIVING BIBLE is a paraphrase; Be especially cautious in using it. A number of good translations can enrich study. "NT in 26 Versions" is useful.
Knowledge superficial if no clear connected view of God's plan all the way through. We hear sermons based on isolated texts, and do not know the Bible as one Book. Redemption is histori-cally unfolded; It should be historically studied. Need to know people/places/events as parts of an entirety. The Bible is not bound together in this order, but rather, the Books were grouped by the translators somewhat by subject matter, or type, and they tend to follow the order of longer Books first, followed by shorter and shorter Books. So we have to pay attention to the time element of each Book, and get it in proper historical order.
We often think of the Bible as simply containing the message of the Gospel. Better to consider the Bible as God's complete unified message to all mankind. The OT is not a compilation of interesting stories to be used only as illustrations of NT truth. The OT is the logical introduction, foundation, and authority for the story of Christ recorded in the NT.
The whole Bible is God's message about His Son, the Savior. The OT is the NT enfolded; the NT is the OT unfolded. The entire Scriptures find their meaning in the Lord Jesus Christ. The story of Christ begins in the first verse of Genesis, for He was there in the beginning - Jn 1:1. His-Story then continues through the entire OT in types and prophecies. The NT records the fulfillment of these prophecies. So the Four Accounts is the sequel to the OT, and can never be fully understood without a knowledge of the OT. When the Savior saw the need to put two men straight on the necessity of His death, He turned back to the OT, "And beginning at Moses" (Genesis - Deuteronomy) "and all the prophets" (the remainder of the Scriptures), "He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." Lk 24:27. Only by knowing the basic history and culture of Israel are we able to understand the story of the Jewish Messiah -- When there is reference in the NT to OT historical and geographical data, prophecies, personalities, and illustrations, then we will already know the stories and be able to understand the meaning of the reference to them, and the reason for the reference.
Since His-Story cannot be clearly taught or understood apart from its God-given beginnings found only in the OT, it is our responsibility to teach the beginnings in the OT, and then teach the fulfillment in the NT. The OT was the Bible of the early church. Apostolic preaching in Acts first emphasized God's his-torical acts in relation to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, and the nation of Israel. Then the apostles linked these acts of God in the OT to the revelation of Himself in the history of His Son, Jesus of Nazareth. For them, the story of Christ began long before they met Him beside the Sea of Galilee, so they taught the OT and its history; so must we.
As the books are grouped, they can be remembered as 5 Books of Law (although Genesis is virtually all history); 12 Books of History; 5 Books of Poetry; 5 Books of Major Prophets; and 12 Books of Minor Prophets ("5 - 12 - 5 - 5 - 12").
The geography of the OT can be indicated by a slanting letter "S" which comes up from the Persian Gulf, through Mesopotamia, over to and down through the section just east of the Mediter-ranean Sea, continuing southward and westward into the northern part of ancient Egypt.
There are four famous rivers which are vital to these regions: Tigris, Euphrates (both in Mesopotamia, which means "between the rivers"), Jordan (in Palestine), and the Nile (in Egypt).
Palestine is only a small strip of land measuring not more than 150 miles north to south, and less than 40 miles wide at most points. It has mountains of 4,000 feet in the north, but the Jordan Valley sinks to 1,290 feet below sea level at the Dead Sea. This is the land which was given to Abraham's descendants.
At this point examine the chart from page 41 of the book FIRM FOUNDATIONS, CREATION TO CHRIST, by Trevor McIlwain.
Much of the OT is history, but not just an account of human events; Rather it shows development of God's eternal purpose.
THE PATRIARCHAL DISPENSATION: From the Garden of Eden to the giving of the Law of Moses, it seems that God's instructions were given to each head of a household (a "patriarch") who was then responsible for the religious leadership of his family and the offering of sacrifices to God - cf Gen 18:19 (God speaking of Abraham), "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment"). During this time God had no formal set or body of laws by which He governed all mankind.
THE MOSAIC DISPENSATION: With the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt, a new step was taken in God's plan for the development of the Hebrew nation. They were led almost directly to Mount Sinai in the lower part of the Sinai Peninsula, where they received through Moses the law of God. It was here that they began to be an organized body of people with a specified religion and a distinct body of law. Sacrifices were offered by the priests for the people, and their religious and social lives became more nationalistic.
PERIODS OF OT HISTORY: The development of God's purposes from the time of man's fall into sin to the coming of Christ and the resulting atonement for sin did not happen overnight. There is no standard outline, but the broad general classifications of time and events is reasonably clear. Examine the following outline by Dean (NOTE: The early dates are only approximate).
Mr. B. S. Dean said, "To hold the events of history in the proper perspective, one must fix firmly a few of the hinges of history and their dates. One hour spent in mastering the follow-ing periods, with the habit of always referring every event to its proper period, will prove of lifelong service:"
1.THE FIRST SEVENTEEN BOOKS.
A.Five Books Of Moses are historical; knowledge of them criti-cal, for they serve as the foundation for rest of the Bible.
B.The Next Twelve Books (Joshua - Esther) also are historical.
2.THE MIDDLE FIVE BOOKS.
A.Preceding Books are national and historical; these deal with problems of the heart -- they are individual and personal.
B.Those were written in prose; these were written in poetry.
4.THE LAST SEVENTEEN BOOKS.
A.First 5 are "Major Prophets," setting the tone of prophecy.
B.Last 12 are "Minor Prophets," similar in tone to the first 5.
5.CONSIDER THE OBVIOUS DESIGN OF THIS ORDER.
C.There were 30 writers, over a period of 1200 years, writing for different purposes, most of them not knowing the others would write, and with no idea of the collection we now have.
A.First and last groups of 17 are both divided into 5 - 9 - 3.
B.And between them (at the heart of the O.T.) are the 5 which deal with the emotions of the human heart.
D.Surely a Divine Hand was controlling -- THIS IS REVELATION!
Let's look closely at Genesis, but not study all the other Books verse-by-verse; Try to gain knowledge of outstanding peo-ple, places, and events, so as to see the overall picture. But to do that, we will not rush. This is the day of speed and easy ways to do everything; that philosophy does not work in Bible study. Let's dig deep and drink deeply.
Let's agree with God and with each other that in the time we take to get through Genesis we will:
1)Read Genesis carefully, thoughtfully, prayerfully.
2)Memorize: "FOUR EVENTS (CREATION -- SIN -- FLOOD -- NATIONS); FOUR PEOPLE (ABRAHAM -- ISAAC -- JACOB -- JOSEPH)."
"Genesis" is properly named "The Book Of The Beginnings." Without this Book, we would have to grope among the theories of man relative to the origin and development of man and life upon this planet. Questions can be resolved by the student who accepts the Mosaic account as historical.
Note that GENESIS covers considerably more than half the span of time from Adam to Christ.
It is here we read God's warning to Adam regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, "...in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen 2:17). We must realize that death, eternal separation from God, is God's just judgment on sinners, and that this price is fixed -- God will not accept our good works or our prayers as a substitute. This emphasis on death as the only payment for sin continues through the OT accounts of God's judgment on sinners, and ends with the NT account of Christ's death as the only satisfactory payment for sin. The Savior said, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me" (Jn 6:44-45). Every person who ever comes to Christ for salvation comes because he has been taught, through the revelation of God's character as revealed in the historical sections of the Scriptures, that God is holy and righteous and will not overlook sin.
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