For many, the Bible really starts with the first verse of Matthew chapter one. Any time we study from the Old Testament, someone will come up to me and say some version of this, “I hope we don’t stay in this long. We need to hear about Jesus.” They will complain the Old Testament isn’t practical or they don’t see the application. I can’t help but wonder how much they know of, “the gospel of God…promised beforehand…in the holy Scriptures,”-Romans 1:1-2, or what it means to them that Jesus, “was descended from David according to the flesh.”-Romans 1:3. Studying the first 39-books of the Bible IS learning about Jesus!
It is a fair question however, to ask what we should learn from our current study in the first two books of the Bible. We are reading 13-texts covering 70-chapters. Here is what I hope we discover this quarter.
Genesis 1-5: The first five books of the Bible are written to the people of Israel as they are about to encounter Canaanites and their collection of false gods. Who is in control of earth and sky, seedtime and harvest, animals and man? Is it Dagon, Baal, or Chemosh? No! Jehovah is the one God who created the earth, sky, land, seas, and all living things.
Why do bad things happen and people suffer and die? Because sin brought death and evil into the world. No one gets out alive (though Jesus, born of woman, will overcome-3:15). Every person from Adam to Lamech lived a long time, but they surely died.
Genesis 6-9: Evil consumed the earth. God wiped the slate clean and started fresh. Noah and his family are chosen to live because he found favor with the Lord. Noah is told to build an ark of gopher wood to save his family, two of every kind of animal, and seven pairs of the clean ones. It rains for 40-days and 40-nights and floods the earth for a year, before Noah emerges onto dry ground and sacrifices. God establishes life is in the blood, no life is to be taken without giving account, and the rainbow will be the sign of a covenant between God and man not to flood the earth again (II Peter 3:5-7).
Genesis 11-13; 21-22: The story of Abraham is the story of the rest of Bible. In faith, he leaves his homeland to be a sojourner in a strange land. God promises Abraham a son whose descendants would become a great nation (Israelites), inherit the land on which Abraham walked (Canaan), and save the world through his offspring (seed-KJV), our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Even though Abraham and his wife Sarah are barren, God delivers Isaac the child of promise. Abraham perfects his faith by his willingness to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. An angel stops the sacrifice and God provides a ram for an offering just as he will give his Son to be a sacrifice for the world.
Genesis 35-27; 46: Isaac has a son named Jacob through whom the blessings promised to Abraham will flow. Jacob (also known as Israel) has twelve sons who become the heads of a dozen families. These “twelve tribes of Israel” grow into the nation to inherit the land and through whom all nations will be blessed.
Jacob’s sons are jealous of their brother Joseph and his multi-colored robe. They sell him into Egyptian slavery and convince Jacob his favored son is dead. Joseph proves to be a man of great faith in the purposes of God. The Lord blesses his master and even Pharaoh himself through association with Joseph. God grants Joseph power to interpret dreams by which he saves Egypt from famine. As a result, Joseph is reunited with his family, including the aged Jacob, and they come to live in Egypt.
Exodus 1-20: After 400-years, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have multiplied into a great nation of over two-million. Still in Egypt, they cause Pharaoh to fear. God raises up a man, Moses, to lead the people of God. Moses is saved out of water by a princess of Egypt and raised in Pharaoh’s house. He is initially rejected by the Israelites as their leader, but later returns with a message from Jehovah the great I AM for Pharaoh to, “let my people go,”-8:1. God sends ten plagues on the Egyptians but Pharaoh’s heart remains hard until God kills the firstborn of Egypt and passes over the houses of Israel.
The Israelites make their exodus from Egypt, cross the Red Sea on dry ground, and arrive at Mount Sinai. God speaks directly to the people to give them the Ten Commandments. God offers a covenant to Israel. If they obey his terms, written in the Book of the Covenant (Law of Moses), Jehovah will be their God, fight their battles, and provide a home for them in the promised land of Canaan.
God did all these things to fulfil his promises to Abraham. The third promise was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus. The rest of the Old Testament tells us how God delivered on his promise. Praise God for such a blessed story. Glory to his name!