Read Part One
The first book of the Bible is Genesis, or beginnings. The Old Testament is made of 39 books containing history, the Mosaic law, poetry, and the prophecies of the prophets. Surprisingly, the Old Testament (or Old Covenant) does not really end until the birth of John the Baptist recorded in the first four books of the New Testament.
This division of the Old Testament and New Testament is tied to the end of the old Covenant and the beginning of the new Covenant ushered in by Jesus Christ. It marks the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law through the grace of Jesus Christ. We now live in the age of Grace until the prophecy of Revelation unfolds.
The Old Testament covers the time period from Creation to 425 B.C., where the record is quiet until 5 B.C. (This “quiet” period is covered by the Apocrypha included only in the Catholic Bible.) If you are asked to find anything to do with Adam/Eve, Noah and the flood, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph...look in Genesis. This first book is absolutely fascinating!
The next four books - Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy cover Israel’s journey out of slavery to Egypt back into their homeland given earlier to Abraham. This is the time period where God gave the Law (and Ten Commandments) to His people.
The early history of Israel is detailed in the next 12 books. There are many wonderful stories as well as the numerous battles and wars that challenge the reader’s faith. Some of the Bible’s greatest heroes are in this section—King David, Ruth, Esther, King Solomon, Nehemiah, Samson, to name a few.
Following the historical books we find the poetical and wisdom books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Solomon. The wrestling of mankind’s faith dilemmas are dealt with in them. You may be surprised to hear some of your parent’s “famous sayings” leap from the pages of Proverbs.
The 17 books that finish out the Old Testament contain the writings of the prophets. These prophecies cover the immediate time period but also the (then future) coming of the Messiah, even reaching to the end of the age. The prophets Daniel and Ezekiel were given spectacular visions of the future which are captivating our present attention.
The Bible is extremely interesting and should be read by everyone. I pray this two part overview helps you start your journey.
Mark S. Disbrow is pastor of Amazing Grace Community Church in Aspen Springs.