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When we open the Bible, what do we find? We soon discover that this larger book is a compilation of multiple books arranged in two broad categories that are referred to as the Old and New Testaments.
Our Christian Old Testament contains the same content as the Hebrew Bible, or the Jewish Scriptures, except the arrangement is different.
The Old Testament begins with creation in the Book of Genesis and takes us to God’s dealings with Israel until about 400 B.C.
The New Testament...more
One of the first things we want to know about any good book is “Who is the author?” Have you ever asked that question about the Bible? Though Christians throughout the ages have affirmed that there is a divine inspiration of the Bible, there has always been a recognition that God spoke through human authors to write these various books. I use the word “books” intentionally, because the Bible...more
Winston Churchill described political rival, Clement Attlee, as “a modest man, who has much to be modest about.” No one mistook that for a compliment. He also said Attlee was a “sheep in sheep’s clothing.” Again, “an empty taxi arrived at 10 Downing Street, and when the door was open, Attlee got out.” Is modesty proof of a weak leader? Is humility a virtue even to be desired? Do...more
One of the things I love about serving at our church is that there is an intentional emphasis on soul care and the need for ministers (and all believers) to care for their souls. In fact, one of the gifts the church gives our ministers is a monthly spiritual retreat day for prayer, study, and spiritual refreshment. Our pastor often reminds us that ministry should be out of overflow,...more
Followers of Jesus cannot read the Bible without understanding that he is the climax of the Bible’s Story and that the Old Testament points to and anticipates him as the fulfillment of all the types and promises of Scripture. Jesus himself instructed us to read the Bible using a Christ-centered approach. Consider these passages: John 5:39: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal...more
There are prophets throughout the Old Testament, often found in the narrative accounts, such as Elijah and Elisha. The emphasis here, however, is in the prophetic books from Isaiah—Malachi, books at the end of the Old Testament. Prophecy is often understood as something that predicts the future. Though these elements can certainly be found in the prophetic books, it’s been said that there is more “forthtelling” in the prophets...more
The wisdom genre of the Bible may best be seen in the books of Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes. Each of these teach a perspective on how to live life, and particularly in relationship to God. The beauty of these three books is that they complement one another and allow for the multi-faceted perspectives we need on wisdom. The Book of Proverbs contain many short, pithy statements that provide skills...more
Most of the Bible’s poetic books and passages are in the Old Testament. Hebrew poetry appears frequently in the Old Testament. The Book of Psalms may be the best example of this, though poetry is sprinkled throughout the Old Testament, at times thrown in among the books that are otherwise characterized by narrative or prophecy, for example. Perhaps the most obvious characteristic of poetry is its use of figurative...more
PART 2 Last time we emphasized the importance of context when reading or teaching narrative. This includes the literary context, the historical context, the cultural context and the geographical context. Another important element in studying narrative is to distinguish between what is descriptive and prescriptive. Descriptive means the biblical author is merely describing what took place, with no value judgment one way or the other. When the author is...more
PART 1 Everyone loves a good story, and the Bible is full of stories. In fact, over forty percent of the Old Testament would be classified as narrative, and the Gospels and Acts in the New Testament also generally fall into this category. One popular book on interpreting the Bible defines narrative this way: “Narratives are stories—purposeful stories retelling the historical events of the past that are intended to...more