The Bible consists of two major divisions – the Old and the New Testaments, with the Old Testament making up about two thirds of it. The Old Testament is further divided up into 39 smaller books, with Psalms being the biggest book of the Bible.
The Time Period of Writing of The Old Testament
The first book of the Bible, Genesis (which was written by Moses), was penned around 1500 BC. The book of Job was written around this same time, possibly earlier. The last book written of the Old Testament was Malachi, and it was written as late as 400 BC
The Time Span Covered In The Old Testament
The Old Testament begins with the creation of the universe, and all that is in it (around 4000 B.C., according to the calculations from the Old Testament). Then, the next major event is the Flood, which took place in Noah’s day (1600 BC). About 400 years later, Abraham is called by God and told he would become the father of many nations (1900 BC). Moses leads the children of Israel out of Egypt (1450 BC). David is crowned king around 1056 BC; and his son Solomon builds the Temple and completes it (1004 BC). Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, conquers Israel, destroys the Temple (586 BC), and moves the captives of Israel to Babylon. Israel remains in Babylon for 70 years, as was prophesied by Jeremiah, and returns when Cyrus makes a decree permitting them to do so – exactly at the end of the 70 years.
The Theme of The Old Testament
The theme of the entire Bible is “redemption,” from the first page all the way to the last. The Old Testament, however, focuses only on the beginning of God’s redemption of mankind.
While many are very quick to say that the Old Testament reveals God to be harsh, this really is not the case. The truth is not quite so simple, however. What must be taken into consideration is the understanding of what God is, and what it is that He is trying to do. Three things should help here:
1. Who is God? He is holy and separate from sin. There is no sin in Him, and He cannot and will not tolerate it.
2. What is God trying to teach? Repeatedly He seeks to show, not only Israel, but also all men, that He loves, will forgive their sin, and will bless them if they turn from it and walk in fellowship (obedience, with love) with Him.
3. What is God working to accomplish? In all His actions, He will never do more than is necessary to get man’s attention, to listen to His offers of love and fellowship, and to get His people established in a consistent walk with Him.
Can God’s love be seen in the Old Testament? Yes, plainly and consistently. The fact that He shows mercy at all is an indication of His love. God could have ended the whole mankind project, and had reason to do so, more than once: Adam and Eve’s sin, the Flood, the many strayings of Israel – especially in the Wilderness. Had God simply destroyed Israel, then there could have been no Savior – which was promised to come from the lineage of David.
How was Redemption Obtained in the Old Testament?
While this principle is not understood by many, the Bible is plain about redemption always being the same – it has always been by faith in God, and His Word. The whole Bible illustrates this for us, through every sacrifice offered, by the principles given (Leviticus 17:11), and the promises of God. Beginning with Adam and Eve, because of their sin God had killed two animals (shed their blood – the innocent for the guilty), and they took the coats of skins as God’s payment for their sin.
What Are Some Of The Great Passages Of The Old Testament?
1. Creation – Genesis 1,2
2. The Fall of Adam And Eve – Genesis 3
3. The Noahic Flood – Genesis 6-9
4. The Call of Abraham – Genesis 12
5. Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah – Genesis 18,19
6. The Passover, and Israel Leaves Egypt _Exodus 12-14
7. The Ten Commandments – Exodus 20
8. David Kills Goliath – I Samuel 17
9. The Shepherd’s Psalm – Psalm 23
10. Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication At Completion of The Temple – II Chronicles 7
Every sacrifice after that, offered Biblically, was a picture of God’s demand that blood be shed, because all sin demanded the death penalty. The ultimate Sacrifice, Christ, would provide a total forgiveness for sin forever, through faith, and there would be no further need for blood sacrifices.