The Bible is a unique book among all of the writings in this world. It is without a doubt unequaled by any other book. The Bible speaks to the central questions of humanity. Sometimes we may not be ready, or willing, or able to hear the answers that it gives, but it does indeed speak to our questions.
While this list may be guilty of oversimplification, it is my attempt to identify a main question that is addressed in each of the books of the Old Testament. Expect a similar list for the New Testament next week!
Genesis: Who is God, who are we, who is Satan, and where do we all fit?
Exodus: What is the nature of our deliverance from bondage?
Leviticus: What is the nature of sacrifice?
Numbers: What is the importance of faith?
Deuteronomy: How can society be blessed, rather than cursed?
Joshua: What happened to the Jewish people in their early history?
Judges: How do humans tend to behave?
Ruth: What is an accurate and pure definition of love?
1 Samuel: What does the LORD desire?
2 Samuel/1Chronicles: What is God’s heart like?
1 Kings: What was Israel like at it’s all time high, and how did it decline?
2 Kings/2 Chronicles: What happens when we forsake God?
Ezra: Where to start when thing are in shambles?
Nehemiah: How should we go about doing important work?
Esther: How can we be brave in dire circumstances?
Job: Why do we suffer?
Psalms: How should we pray and how should we sing?
Proverbs: What is true wisdom?
Ecclesiastes: What is the meaning of life?
Song of Solomon: What does God have to say about courtship, marriage, and sex?
Isaiah: What should concern us, and what should give us hope?
Jeremiah: What does God say to those who know and love Him, but then drift away?Lamentations: Is there any hope for those who suffer the grave consequences of sin?Ezekiel: What are God’s past, present, and future plans for His rebellions people?
Daniel: How can we remain faithful in a world that does not share our beliefs?
Hosea: How much does God love us?
Joel: What is “the day of the LORD” and how should we feel about it?
Amos: How should we feel about injustice?
Obadiah: What happens to those who hurt others?
Jonah: What if I don’t like God’s instructions?
Micah: What does God say to a nation that is corrupt?
Nahum: Just how bad can things get when we stray from God entirely?
Habakkuk: Why does God let injustice happen?
Zephaniah: What does it mean that God’s people are a remnant?
Haggai: How can we give God first priority in our lives?
Zechariah: How can God’s people prosper?
Malachi: What is the nature of acceptable worship?
What we call “The Old Testament,” Jews often referred to as “The Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.” One remarkable thing about living after Christ’s resurrection is having the opportunity to look back and notice the many fulfilled prophecies and symbols that these ancient inspired works contain.
The New Testament refers to the Law of Moses as “a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:17). The historical account of Noah and the Ark, for instance, is spoken of as “symbol” or “antitype” which corresponds to baptism (1 Peter 3:21). Many such “shadows” and “antitypes” can be seen in the account of Israel’s sojourn in Egypt and pilgrimage to the promised land.
· Israel became a great nation in the land of Egypt, so that the Pharaoh feared what they might accomplish (Exodus 1:7-10). In the same way, we each have the potential to do great things for God, which the devil will try to thwart.
· The Pharaoh decided to “deal shrewdly” with the Israelites in order to keep them under control (Exodus 1:10). In the same way, Satan has been using trickery and scheming since Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:13) and continues to do so (John 8:44).
· The Pharaoh’s plan was to force the people to do hard labor as a means of controlling them (Exodus 1:11-14). Likewise, the devil seeks to enslave us to sinful desires (Romans 6:20).
· Help came to the enslaved Hebrews in the form of a newborn baby (Exodus 2:2). Our help, also, was prophesied with the words: “unto us a child is born.” (Isaiah 9:6).
· Moses fought for his people to be free, displaying many signs and wonders (Exodus 5-11). The Christ also suffered many things (Luke 17:25) and did many miracles (John 21:25).
· In the end, the oppressors were swept away and drowned in the same water that the Israelites passed safely through (Exodus 14:21-30). We also pass through water, that it might wash our sins away (Acts 22:16).
· God’s salvation of His people was commemorated by a feast of unleavened bread and the marking of doorposts with the blood of a lamb (Exodus 12:14-27). We also remember what God has done for us in a feast of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine, which represents the blood of the Lamb of God (Luke 22:15-20).
· A land of milk and honey awaited the Israelites as they left Egypt (Exodus 3:8, 33:3). We, as sojourners, also seek a better land, in heaven (Hebrews 11:16).
· While they sojourned, the people of Israel needed to be careful that they did not turn aside to foreign gods (Joshua 24:14-15). We also must be faithful until death in order to receive the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).
Hidden away in an Old Testament book like Exodus are many symbols that still have great power today.