In out OT overview series, we sought to, as the name suggest, provide a broad look at the books in the OT. There are many ways of understanding how the OT is put together. Many of us assume that the OT from Genesis to Malachi is merely a chronological collection, but that is not the case. The books of the OT are grouped by genres, and understanding the features of each genre, as well as how they relate to each other helps us to understand and love the OT more!
This was why we decided on this series. The amount of content may be daunting, but this it merely serves to show how rich the books of the OT are. A Christian never exhausts the riches the OT (and of course the New). We hope you’ve been excited and intrigued by the different books, and are eager to begin your own journey of discovering God’s word and more of God.
And to help us all, here’s a quick summary:
The books of Moses are also referred to as the Torah by the Jews, or the Pentateuch, which means “five books” in Greek. In these books, we learn of Yahweh, the name of the One True God. Moses tells us of the relationship of this God, this holy God, to the people of Israel.
There are numerous contrasts that are established and woven across the Pentateuch. Genesis serves as an important starting point as we see how Israel stands against Babel, and Jacob stands against Esau. Through these contrasts, we learn that God’s people come from a specific line, and that God’s relationship with Israel is a covenant relationship: a special relationship where God is committed to His people, and His people are committed to God.
The history of Israel is described in the books of Joshua to the Chronicles. God gives the people their promised land and they have already been told how to live as His people through the provision of the law. God designed Israel to be a theocracy: a God-ruled system. However, instead of submitting to His rightful rule, God’s people responded with anarchy: where each man becomes his own king. A recurrent theme in the book of Judges is precisely this: that each one did what was right in his own eyes.
Thus, God’s people need a king, and the period of the kings show us that the obedience of the king reflects the spiritual state (and blessing) of the nation. Kings that obey God result in peace in the land, but kings that disobey and disregard God by turning to idols lead to unrest. David and his son Solomon mark the high point in Israel’s history and subsequent kings either follow in their footsteps of obedience to God or not.
The wisdom literature namely address the question of how God’s people are to live in a fallen world. The Psalms record for us the various emotions that God’s people face, and Proverbs show us how wisdom is also important in life. Song of Songs celebrate the joys of marriage, and point to the relationship of covenantal faithfulness and intimacy that is ultimately fulfilled in Christ and the church. But the books of Job and Ecclesiastes show us that though God’s people are in God’s land, under the rule of God’s anointed king, things are not as they ought. Death and suffering still exist.
The prophets — both major and minor — occupy a certain historical period in Israel’s history. They span the period of exile after the kingdom splits— Israel in the north and Judah in the south. The prophets address either Judah, Israel or the surrounding nations. They speak words of judgment and also hope, and serve to point forward to discipline and judgment, and also the restoration of all things.
How have you been treating the OT? How can we read the OT as people who have been saved by grace through faith?