Can you imagine giving an algebra book to a preschooler and expecting the child to start solving intricate problems on their own? I think some searching and new Christians (and even some old ones) may feel a bit like that preschooler when they think about reading the Bible. They have heard and might even believe it can be helpful to their Christian walk. But, it still seems like such a large, overwhelming book – they would prefer the pastor just tells them what they need to know. The good news is that our little preschooler can learn to count, and then add, subtract, multiply, divide, replace numbers with variables and before you know it – they have grown in their math skills and are solving algebraic equations. And, even better news, it doesn’t need to take 10 plus years to get better acquainted with God’s Word and benefit from the countless opportunities to grow in our knowledge, faith and relationship with our Heavenly Father through his words. We can each continue growing today, no matter where we are in our current understanding of His Word, we can and ought to be dedicated to knowing God more and more as he reveals himself in His Word – daily.
A basic understanding of how the Bible is organized can help greatly in knowing the big picture of God’s story – which is profitable in also seeing how it applies to our daily lives as well since it is the same God at work. The 66 books are divided into the Old Testament (39 books covering creation through Israel’s history up to 400 years before the birth of Jesus) and the New Testament (27 books detailing the life, death & resurrection of Jesus, the acts of the early church, letters to the various churches and church leaders, and finally, a vision of the end times and coming kingdom). Each testament can be further subdivided into helpful divisions. For example:
THE OLD TESTAMENT
Law (5 books)
History (12 books)
Poetry (12 books)
Major Prophets (5 books)
Minor Prophets (12 books)
Today we will give a quick overview of the 5 books of the Law
The Books of the Law were mostly written by Moses and for many years they were the only sacred scriptures of God’s word for his people. These 5 books cover a great deal of the early years of the Jewish and Christian faith and it is here that God first reveals himself to his creation. While the setting includes many ancient cultures – beginning about 6,000 years ago – which can seem rather foreign at first, it doesn’t take long before we recognize many human characteristics we still see in ourselves and our neighbors today: selfishness, greed, pride, envy, as well as faithfulness, dedication, patience, and compassion. And, we also see GOD – the creative, all-powerful, jealous, wise, holy God of all the ages. Too often the Old Testament is sadly regarded as too old to be useful. However, Jesus knew much of the Old Testament, and in the Gospels he quoted from or referenced passages from all 5 of the books of Law. They were important to Jesus. These Scriptures helped him fight temptation, teach about God and live a holy life. If the Son of God found them so useful – it seems well worth my time to look into them further.
These are some of the exciting things you can look forward to reading and learning from in the Books of the Law . . .
Genesis – A Book of Beginnings!
Starting with Creation, Adam and Eve and the Fall (first sin), Noah and the Flood, and the Tower of Babel. Then, enters Abraham who would be the father of a great nation, and so begins the patriarchal family and the following generations, each with their own story to tell: Isaac, Jacob/Esau, and Joseph. This book covers the beginning of the universe, life, mankind, marriage, family, sacrifice, sin, death, redemption and more. This book of 50 chapters spans more years than the rest of the 65 books of the Bible put together – and in it we get our first predictions of the promised Messiah – Jesus. God’s story begins.
Exodus – The Exit Out of Egypt!
Hebrews enslaved in Egypt. Baby Moses saved in a basket – grows up in Pharoah’s house – leaves Egypt – burning bush – back to Egypt to free his countrymen – 10 plagues – the first Passover – crossing the Red Sea – manna – the Ten Commandments (chapter 20) – other laws – golden calf – preparing the tabernacle
Leviticus – Holiness
Now that God’s people were called out to be a rescued people for him – with their own tabernacle where they were to worship him – they needed direction. This book includes the rules for worship of a holy God and for the Levites – the tribe of priests who would serve in the tabernacle.
Numbers – Counting in the Desert
12 tribes of Israel counted, 12 spies sent into the Promised Land (10 were bad and 2 were good), faithless Israel listens to the majority and wanders in the wilderness 40 years
Deuteronomy – Repeating the Law
Moses reminds the Israelites of their history and God’s laws as they prepare to enter the Promised Land – Moses dies.
And – God is there – in it all! Through the ups and the downs. Just as He is with you, today – and yesterday and tomorrow. If you are looking for one chapter to read today to sum up the books of the law – Deuteronomy 32 is a good choice – or Deuteronomy 30 – or 28 – or Exodus 20. Maybe you can listen to a few chapters on your way to work, or during your bike ride. God put good stuff in there just for you – thousands of years ago. Thanks, God!
May I Find You There, God,