Bible History Old Testament Vol. 1



That the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” is also the “God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” and that “they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham,”—these are among the most precious truths of revelation. They show us not only the faithfulness of our God, and the greatness of our privileges, but also the marvelous wisdom of the plan of salvation, and its consistency throughout. For the Bible should be viewed, not only in its single books, but in their connection, and in the unity of the whole. The Old Testament could not be broken off from the New, and each considered as independent of the other. Nor yet could any part of the Old Testament be disjoined from the rest. The full meaning and beauty of each appears only in the harmony and unity of the whole. Thus they all form links of one unbroken chain, reaching from the beginning to the time when the Lord Jesus Christ came, for whom all previous history had prepared, to whom all the types pointed, and in whom all the promises are “Yea and Amen.” Then that which God had spoken to Abraham, more than two thousand years before, became a blessed reality, for “the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” That this one grand purpose should have been steadily kept in view, and carried forward through all the vicissitudes of history, changes of time, and stages of civilization,—and that without requiring any alteration, only further unfolding and at last completion—affords indeed the strongest confirmation to our faith. It is also a precious comfort to our hearts; for we see how God’s purpose of mercy has been always the same; and, walking the same pilgrim-way which “the fathers” had trod, and along which God had safely guided the Covenant, we rejoice to know that neither opposition of man nor yet unfaithfulness on the part of His professing people can make void the gracious counsel of God: BHOTV1 7.1

“He loved us from the first of time,
He loves us to the last.”
BHOTV1 7.2

And this it is which we learn from the unity of Scripture. BHOTV1 7.3

But yet another and equally important truth may be gathered. There is not merely harmony but also close connection between the various parts of Scripture. Each book illustrates the other, taking up its teaching and carrying it forward. Thus the unity of Scripture is not like that of a stately building, however ingenious its plan or vast its proportions; but rather, to use a Biblical illustration, like that of the light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day. We mark throughout growth in its progress, as men were able to bear fuller communications, and prepared for their reception. The law, the types, the history, the prophecies, and the promises of the Old Testament all progressively unfold and develop the same truth, until it appears at last in its New Testament fullness. Though all testify of the same thing, not one of them could safely be left out, nor yet do we properly understand any one part unless we view it in its bearing and connection with the others. And so when at last we come to the close of Scripture, we see how the account of the creation and of the first calling of the children of God, which had been recorded in the book of Genesis, has found its full counterpart—its fulfillment—in the book of Revelation, which tells the glories of the second creation, and the perfecting of the Church of God. As one of the old Church teachers (St. Augustine) writes: BHOTV1 7.4

“Novum Testamentum in vetere latet,
Vetus in novo patet.” 1
BHOTV1 8.1

That in a work composed of so many books, written under such very different circumstances, by penmen so different, and at periods so widely apart, there should be “some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest,” can surely not surprise us, more particularly when we remember that it was God’s purpose only to send the brighter light as men were able to bear it. Besides, we must expect that with our limited powers and knowledge we shall not be able fully to understand the ways of God. But, on the other hand, this may be safely said, that the more deep, calm, and careful our study, the more ample the evidence it will bring to light to confirm our faith against all attacks of the enemy. Yet the ultimate object of our reading is not knowledge, but experience of grace. For, properly understood, the Scripture is all full of Christ, and all intended to point to Christ as our only Savior. It is not only the law, which is a schoolmaster unto Christ, nor the types, which are shadows of Christ, nor yet the prophecies, which are predictions of Christ; but the whole Old Testament history is full of Christ. Even where persons are not, events may be types. If any one failed to see in Isaac or in Joseph a personal type of Christ, he could not deny that the offering up of Isaac, or the selling of Joseph, and his making provision for the sustenance of his brethren, are typical of events in the history of our Lord. And so indeed every event points to Christ, even as He is alike the beginning, the center, and the end of all history—“the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” One thing follows from this: only that reading or study of the Scriptures can be sufficient or profitable through which we learn to know Christ—and that as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” to us. And for this purpose we ought constantly to ask the aid and teaching of the Holy Spirit. BHOTV1 8.2

A few brief remarks, helpful to the study of patriarchal history, may here find a place. In general, the Old Testament may be arranged into “The Law and the Prophets.” 2 BHOTV1 9.1

It was possibly with reference to this division that the Law consisted of the five books of Moses—ten being the symbolical number of completeness, and the Law with its commands being only half complete without “the Prophets” and the promises. But assuredly to the fivefold division of the Law answers the arrangement of the Psalms into five books, of which each closes with a benediction, as follows: BHOTV1 9.2

Book 1: Psalm 1-41 BHOTV1 9.3

Book 2: Psalm 42-72 BHOTV1 9.4

Book 3: Psalm 73-89 BHOTV1 9.5

Book 4: Psalm 90-106 BHOTV1 9.6

Book 5: Psalm 107-150 BHOTV1 9.7

the last Psalm standing as a grand final benediction.

The Law or the Five Books of Moses are commonly called the Pentateuch, a Greek term meaning the “fivefold,” or “five-parted” Book. Each of these five books commonly bears a title given by the Greek translators of the Old Testament (the so-called LXX.), in accordance with the contents of each: Genesis (origin, creation), Exodus (going out from Egypt), Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy (Second Law, or the Law a second time). The Jews designate each book by the first or else the most prominent word with which it begins. BHOTV1 9.8

The book of Genesis consists of two great parts, each again divided into five sections. Every section is clearly marked by being introduced as “generations,” or “originations”—in Hebrew Toledoth—as follows: BHOTV1 10.1