Long ago God decided to come down from the glories of heaven and invite mankind into a personal and practical relationship with Himself, and from that moment on He has been communicating His love and purpose to His creation, giving them the choice of receiving His blessings through obedience or His curses through disobedience. This summary of each of these 39 Old Testament books contains that story of love. There is an introduction, settings, and a background to the OT as a whole. It asks the question, “Why study the OT?” and prayerfully that question will be answered during this study.From each book, there is a brief background (which contains information about the author, his audience and what was going on in their lives during the time this particular prophet was communicating God’s message to them, and some key verses), an introduction, a brief summary, and some very practical applications that will help us understand from a godly perspective what message God is giving to me that can affect my spiritual growth and walk with God. Then we will look closely at some of the key stories and key people from each book that have been given to us by Almighty God, looking at their successes and failures, and then what practical aspects can I get from them that will help me today. This study is divided into eight sections. Section 1 is an introduction to the OT / the Pentateuch which contains Genesis through Deuteronomy. The main purpose of this study is two-fold: To involve the person studying it in a first-hand survey of the OT text itself and to guide that person into seeing how the message of each OT book is organized structurally, because in order to get the full understanding of the biblical text, we need to know not only what God said, but how He said it. The practical aspect of our study is to allow God to lead us into a time of personal reflection as we consider the practical spiritual applications of each book we have just studied. We will answer “Why study the OT?” and come up with five reasons. 1) The Bible is incomplete without the OT. 2) The ministry of Christ would be an enigma without the OT. 3) The historical setting of Christianity is furnished by the OT. 4) Key revelations of God are found in the OT.5) The OT is spiritual food for the Christian. In the Pentateuch, Genesis shows Israel’s origin and their early years called the Beginnings. Exodus shows Israel’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt called Deliverance. Leviticus show Israel’s worship directed by the Levites called Legislation. Numbers examines the wilderness wanderings in the Sinai Peninsula which is called Testing. Deuteronomy is the second giving of the Law; awaiting entrance into the Promised Land called Preparation. Section 2 deals with the history of Israel in and out of the land of Canaan. These books are Joshua through Esther. Joshua is about a land and a people. The land is an inheritance promised by God, waiting to be occupied. The people are the elect nation of God, facing human obstacles in the way of taking the land. The obstacles are the occasion for battle – a holy war – designed by God to oust the idolatrous and corrupt enemies from the land. Judges is a tragic account of how Yahweh was taken for granted by His people year after year, century after century. They were disobedient and idolatrous, leading to their many defeats. Yet God has never failed to open His arms in love to His people whenever they repented from their wicked ways and call upon His name. So through these 15 judges of Israel, God honored His promise to Abraham to protect and bless his offspring (Gen.12:2-3). The short story of Ruth is one of the beautiful love stories found in the Bible. Boaz, a type of Christ the Redeemer, woos and marries Ruth, a type of Christ’s Church. This account from a godly family from Bethlehem reveals something of God’s mysterious and wonderful ways in fulfilling His divine purposes through a believing remnant. The books of 1-2 Samuel continue the history of Israel from the point where Judges leaves it. The last verse in the book (21:25) sums up the spiritual life of the nation at this time: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” It was always God’s purpose to reign as king in the hearts and lives of the Israelites. But the people were increasingly putting God out of their lives, so they rejected the idea of God on the throne and asked for a king of their own because every other nation had one. Then, in His mysterious workings of grace and might, as God of history He used the people’s kings as His channels of revelation, service, blessing, and justice. The story of 1-2 Kings is basically one of failure – a nation passes “from affluence and influence to poverty and paralysis.” The opening chapters of 1 Kings describes the glory attending Solomon’s reign, but by the middle of the book antagonisms between the 10 northern tribes and the 2 southern tribes bring on a split in the kingdom. The troubles of these two new kingdoms (Israel and Judah) carry over into the narrative of 2 Kings, climaxing in the fall and captivity of both. Ezra and Nehemiah report the fulfillment of the earlier prophecies that after 70 years of captivity, God would gather His people and bring them back to the land of Canaan. Thus, the historical portion of the OT ends on a bright note. The major purpose of Esther is to show how a host of Jews living in exile were saved from being exterminated by the hand of a Gentile monarch. It is to display the providence of God, especially in regard to His chosen people. Section 3 deals with the early years of Israel’s kingdom where God inspired a few writers to compose for Scripture some poems, songs, and dialogues reflecting the meditations and questions of their hearts and minds. These are the 5 books that comprise the third section of our English OT, called the “Poetical Books” (Job through the Song of Solomon). Job – the problem of pain, blessing through suffering; Psalms – the way to pray, promise through prayer; Proverbs – the behavior of the believer, providence through precept; Ecclesiastes – the folly of forgetting God, verity through vanity; Song of Solomon – the art of adoration, bliss through union. Section 4 speaks of the ministries of the major prophets (Isaiah through Daniel). Without question, the ministry of the prophet, along with the priest, judge, and king was crucial in the life of the Jews in OT times. Their task was not to foretell future events but to forth-tell the will of God which He had revealed to His prophets. The messages of the prophets, oral and written, for the most part, centered around four points in history – the prophet’s own time, the threatening captivities (Assyrian and Babylonian) and subsequent restoration, the coming of their Messiah, and the Millennium. Isaiah is the great Messianic prophet and prince of OT seers. He prophesied during very critical times to both kingdoms of Israel and Judah of judgment and salvation. Jeremiah prophesied mainly to the Jews in Jerusalem before the city fell. Lamentations makes it very clear that sin and rebellion were the causes of God’s wrath being poured out. Ezekiel prophesied mainly to the exiles in Babylon before and after the fall of Jerusalem. Daniel prophesied mainly to the court of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. Section 5 covers the minor prophets of Israel around Jonah, Amos and Hosea. The story of Jonah is one of the clearest demonstrations of God’s love and mercy to all mankind. By studying Jonah before the other minor prophets, we will see the full view first – God’s love for Gentile and Jew – and this will put the later studies about Israel and Judah in their proper perspective. Amos was God’s prophet to prosperous Israel, steeped in religiosity, immorality, and complacency. Hosea was the last writing prophet to minister to Israel before they fell to the Assyrians.
A private Christian school teacher with 33 years teaching experience, 24 at Florida Christian School; a high school Bible teacher for the last 13 years; a BS degree in Christian education, with a minor in Bible from Faith Baptist Bible College and Seminary in Iowa; a Master’s degree in Biblical studies from Trinity International University with honors in Florida; a U.S. Marine veteran who served a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1970; wonderfully married for 16 years; currently living and teaching at Florida Christian School in Miami, Florida.MESSAGE TO READERS: As a high school Bible teacher, it has always been my prayer and desire to have available in our Christian schools and churches a clear, understandable, yet very practical and applicable curriculum for our students a survey of each of the books of the Bible. A few years back, our high school Bible curriculum was changed to include Old Testament and New Testament survey. I volunteered to put the OT material together, not really knowing all that was involved. After much prayer and soul-searching, and many hours of hard work, I have put together a survey of the Old Testament that I believe will be beneficial spiritually to the one who teaches it, and for every student who studies it. It contains a brief summary of each book, an introduction and background, including the author, some practical applications from each book as to how the message of that day can apply to us today. I have also included some of the basic stories portrayed from each book and how they relate to us. It is my prayer that this study of God’s OT covenant to His people will not only bring us new insights as to what went on during OT times, but what biblical principles can we learn and put to practice from them as we live our lives serving the same God that instructed Abraham to sacrifice his son and also told Moses to go and free His people from Egypt so they could be free to worship Yahweh at the very mountain Moses was called. I believe this will be a fascinating study about real people living real lives in the midst of a real God!