How to read the Old Testament
So, how do you read the Old Testament? Especially when there are all of these weird things like laws and killing animals and prophecies and everything. Does it even relate to today? Can we apply it at all?
Well in other videos we will look deeper into things like the sacrificial system and the difference between Old and New Testament prophecy, but for now I think it makes the most sense to go through the layout of the Old Testament and show the differences between our Bible today and the Hebrew Bible.
First off, if you didn’t know, the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and actually all of the books in the Old Testament make up the Hebrew Bible. The main difference between Christianity and Judaism is that Jewish people do not believe that Jesus was their messiah so they’re still waiting for him to come, but it’s the same God. We just believe that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament.
One important thing to note is that the Bible was meant to be understood as a whole. We should be reading it book by book in order to understand first how each verse relates to the book and then from a big picture perspective, how each book relates to the complete Bible. We need to study the history behind each book too because that will help us understand the content even more. Remember that the Bible is a history book. These are real stories that happened to real people in the real world, just a long time ago.
If you’ve tried to read the Old Testament before, you probably noticed that once you hit the prophetic books you got lost and it stopped making sense. Well that’s because the Christian Bible today is based off of what’s called the Septuagint, the Greek translation, and people that were in charge of organizing the layout changed it up a little bit from the original Hebrew version. So in the Bible Study you’ll see that our plan is more chronological so when you’re studying the books they make more sense.
In the Hebrew Bible it’s split into 3 clear sections. You have the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.
The Law or the Torah is the first five books of the Bible, Genesis through Deuteronomy. Here we learn about Creation and the Fall of Man. We meet Abraham and Sarah and learn about their 12 sons. We follow the Israelites into slavery in Egypt and meet a man named Moses who actually sets the people free and is their fearless leader, bringing them to the Promised Land.
The second section of the Old Testament is the Prophets, which is split into two groups: the Former Prophets and the Latter Prophets. The Former Prophets begins with a man named Joshua leading the Israelites, he was trained by Moses so they were in good hands. Over time tho, Israel began to fall apart and head towards destruction. We learn about that in the books Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings.
And the second grouping is the Latter Prophets. They contain 3 large books and 12 “minor prophets” or shorter books. The big ones were Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. And the minor ones were Hosea, Joel, Amos, a guy named Obadiah, and Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. These books are also all about the destruction of Israel and their time in exile.
Then the third second section of the Bible is the Writings. Where we have poetic books like Psalms, Proverbs and Job. There are the scrolls: Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther. The story of Daniel. And then a few historical books: Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1 and 2 Chronicles.
So to recap, we have the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. Your Bible most likely has them a little out of order, but if you watch our other video on the timeline of the Bible you’ll be able to see where each book fits in history. And once you understand that, it will make a whole lot more sense.
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