Book of the Week 24: Jeremiah

Hebrew Name: Yermi’Yah

Human Author: Jeremiah

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 52

Basic Facts

  1. Jeremiah is the twenty-fourth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Jeremiah is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. The Hebrew name for Jeremiah is Yermi’Yah, which means “Yah (God) lifts up.”
  4. Jeremiah contains some of the clearest prophesies concerning the coming of the new covenant that would later be established through the blood of Christ.
  5. Jeremiah was sent by God as a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah.

Story of the Book

Jeremiah was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah during the reigns of kings Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiachim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. God sent Jeremiah to warn the people of Judah about God’s coming wrath against the nation which was kindled on account of their sins. God was about to judge the kingdom of Judah by sending the Babylonians to conquer Judah and carry its people into exile, which happened during Jeremiah’s ministry. The story of Jeremiah contains the following:

  • Jeremiah’s call to ministry
  • God’s condemnation of Judah for its sins
  • Jeremiah’s God-given prophesies about the coming destruction of Jerusalem
  • Jeremiah’s accusations of corruption against the nation’s leaders
  • A future promise of restoration for Judah
  • The outpouring of God’s judgment
  • Jeremiah’s prophesies about foreign nations
  • The fall of the city of Jerusalem

The book of Jeremiah ends with the fall of Jerusalem in which the Babylonians carry off the people of Judah into exile in Mesopotamia. The final paragraph closes by describing the way the king of Babylon eventually releases Jehoiachin the king of Judah from prison, but he is kept in Babylon, in exile, for the rest of his life. The ending of Jeremiah marks a low point for the nation of Judah as the people are carried off into slavery and exile.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Jeremiah

There are several prophesies in Jeremiah which point forward to the messiah and his ministry. Jeremiah is in many ways a story of sadness as the people of Judah fail to listen to Jeremiah. When the people of Judah fail to listen to Jeremiah and refuse to repent of their sins, God ultimately brings judgment on the nation and sends the people of Judah into exile. However, there are glimpses of hope in the future messiah. The following is a small sample of the ways in which Jesus Christ is foreshadowed and/or foretold in Jeremiah:

  • There would be weeping and lamentation in Ramah when the descendants of Rachel would face mass execution. This prophecy was fulfilled in the early years of Jesus’ life as Herod looked for the baby Jesus to destroy him (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:13-23).
  • God would make a new covenant with Israel and Judah which was later established through the blood of Christ (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Luke 22: 14-23).
  • Jeremiah condemns the people for rejecting God, symbolized as the spring of living water, and replacing Him with worthless idols—symbolized as a broken cistern that holds no water. Jesus later identifies Himself as the messiah who would give living water to those who believe in them—leading to eternal life (Jeremiah 2:13; John 4:7-26).

Though Jeremiah tells a sad story of destruction and exile, he also foretells of a future time of hope for the nation in which their fortunes will be restored through a new covenant in the messiah, who is Jesus the Christ.  

Book of the Week 23: Isaiah

Hebrew Name: Yesha’yah

Human Author: Isaiah

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 66

Basic Facts

  1. Isaiah is the twenty-third book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Isaiah is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. The Hebrew name for the book of Isaiah is Yesha’yah, which means “Yah (God) is salvation.”
  4. The book of Isaiah contains some of the clearest prophesies about the messiah in the whole of the Old Testament.
  5. Isaiah was sent by God as a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah.

 

Story of the Book

Isaiah was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah during the reigns of kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Manasseh. Isaiah was sent by God to warn the people of Judah of God’s coming judgment for their sins. The book begins with a review of the sins of the nation for which God is about to judge Judah. If Judah does not repent and serve the Lord, it will be brought into exile. Isaiah then reviews the judgment of God upon the pagan nations around Judah. Isaiah goes on to explain God’s purposes for His judgments upon Israel/Judah and the surrounding nations. Isaiah then warns the people of Judah not to put their trust in other nations who cannot save them from judgment but instead to trust in the Lord as the only one who can deliver the nation from judgment and exile. Isaiah then records the events of the reign of king Hezekiah, who repents, prompting God to temporarily relent from bringing disaster upon the nation. The rest of the book entails prophesies of Judah’s future after the exile in which God would bring His people back from captivity, provide a future redeemer in the Messiah, and establish an eternal future kingdom for the returned exiles. The book ends with a final foretelling of God’s everlasting judgment for the wicked and everlasting life for the righteous from all the peoples of the earth.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Isaiah

The New Testament quotes Isaiah more than any other Old Testament book other than Psalms. The ways in which the book of Isaiah foreshadows Christ are too numerous to mention all of them here. The following is a small sample of the ways in which Jesus Christ is foreshadowed and/or foretold in Isaiah:

  • The messiah would be born of a virgin and would be called Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). 
  • The messiah would be a child who would be both a son and mighty God (Isaiah 9:6).
  • The messiah would be despised and rejected (Isaiah 53:3, John 1:9-10).
  • The messiah would reign forever on David’s throne and over his kingdom forever (II Samuel 7:16; Psalm 45:6-7; Isaiah 9:7; Hebrews 1:8-9). 
  • The messiah would be pierced for our sake in such a way that God would lay upon him the iniquity of all people (Isaiah 53:6).
  • The messiah would stand silently before his accusers like a lamb led to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7; Acts 8:26-35).
  • The messiah would be given the tomb of a rich man even though he was innocent of any crime (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23: 50-56; John 19:38-42).

Jesus fulfilled each of these prophesies and many more.

Book of the Week 22: Song of Solomon

Book of the Bible: Song of Solomon/Song of Songs

Hebrew Name: Shir Hashirim

Human Author: King Solomon

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 8

Basic Facts

  1. Song of Solomon is the twenty-second book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Song of Solomon is classified as poetry.
  3. The Hebrew name for Song of Solomon is Shir Hashirim, meaning “The Song of Songs.”
  4. Song of Solomon, because of its adult content, was historically restricted to Jewish men in Israel who were 30 years old or older.
  5. Song of Solomon is also called Song of Songs. The name of the book will vary based on which tradition and translation the title is taken from.

 

Story of the Book

Song of Solomon is a series of love poems about an exchange between a man and a woman who are bride and groom, along with a crowd of admirers. Most modern English translations give cues in the text which indicate which vantage point the words of poetry are coming from as the poetry changes vantage point between the bride, the groom, and a crowd of admirers/friends. The book covers a variety of topics pertaining to the wedding day of the bride and groom, courtship, a dream the bride has, praising the beauty of the bride, the power of love, and the sexuality expressed between the bride and groom. The book has been interpreted in a wide variety of ways throughout history. While the original context was likely an expression of love between King Solomon and one of his wives, the book has often been re-interpreted into a picture of the love which is expressed between God and His people both in Jewish history and church history. This kind of allegorical interpretation is often favored as a legitimate interpretation of the book, giving theological overtones to a work of poetry that expresses human interpersonal sexuality in the context of courtship and marriage.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Song of Solomon

Throughout Biblical history and church history, Song of Solomon has been interpreted as a picture of the love shared between God and His people expressed in terms of a bride and his beloved. The Dead Sea Scrolls, Biblical commentaries, and Christian literature all attest to this kind of theological interpretation. Similar language is also used in Jeremiah 3:20 to compare Israel to a bride who abandoned her husband (see also Revelation 21:2). This analogy of a lover and his beloved is used as a general tool to describe the relationship between husband and wife in Song of Solomon, and it refers to God’s covenant love with His people. A similar analogy is later used by Paul in a much more specific way to refer to Christ and the church. In Ephesians 5:25-33, Paul gives detailed instructions to how Christian wives and husbands should treat one another. In this passage, Paul quotes the command of God that a husband and wife should become one flesh as recorded in Genesis 2:24. Then Paul does something remarkable. Paul takes the command between a husband and wife to become one flesh, and he writes, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31). This profound connection points to the reality that human sexuality is merely a symbol of a greater spiritual union between Christ and the church. Many scholars believe that Paul gets this idea of sexuality, at least in part, from a theological reading of Song of Solomon.

Book of the Week 21: Ecclesiastes

Hebrew Name: Kehilat

Human Author: King Solomon                                           

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 12

Basic Facts

  1. Ecclesiastes is the twenty-first book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Ecclesiastes is classified as wisdom literature.
  3. The Hebrew name for Ecclesiastes is Kehilat, meaning “community.”
  4. The old Greek name for the book is Ekklesiastes, meaning “teacher” or “preacher.”
  5. Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon late in his life to instill in his audience the fact that life is meaningless apart from God.

Story of the Book

Ecclesiastes contains the wisdom of King Solomon late in his reign. Even though King Solomon began his life and reign by doing right in the Lord’s eyes, he fell into idolatry later in life. Solomon begins Ecclesiastes by emphasizing the meaninglessness of life. The book begins with Solomon’s personal experience. Then, Solomon proceeds to talk about life and how there is time for everything under the sun (ex. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). Solomon talks about the judgment of God from his own personal experiences regarding oppression, labor, ambition, riches, caution before a king, and the common destiny of all mortal men to die. Solomon is searching for meaning and declares much of life to be vanity. He ends the book with a phrase that sums up how God showed him meaning: “the end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). This phrase not only serves as the climactic conclusion to the book, but also aptly sums up the duty of humanity toward God as Solomon understood it.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Ecclesiastes

At the end of the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon concludes his remarks on meaning in life with his famous statement: this is “the end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Jesus would later be revealed as the only one who perfectly obeyed the commandments of God by living a sinless life (II Corinthians 5:18-21; Hebrews 4:15). After verse 13, the very final verse of Ecclesiastes foretells a future judgment: “For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). Jesus is later revealed to be the light of the world (John 8:12; John 9:15) through whom the deeds of humanity would be exposed. Jesus made the connection explicit in a late-night conversation with Nicodemus when he said, “This is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed” (John 3:19-20). The broader context makes it clear that Jesus was sent into the world not to condemn the world but so that the world might be saved through him and so that the deeds of humanity would be exposed just as Solomon predicted (John 3: 9-21). Jesus took our punishment for sin through His death on the cross so that we do not need to die as a penalty for our evil deeds that were exposed by Jesus, the light of the world.

Book of the Week 20: Proverbs

Hebrew Name: Mashali

Human Authors: King Solomon, Agur, and King Lemuel

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 31

Basic Facts

  1. Proverbs is the twentieth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Proverbs is classified as wisdom literature.

  3. Proverbs contains the wisdom of king Solomon (Chapters 1-24), some of which was later recorded by king Hezekiah (Chapters 25-29).

  4. Proverbs chapter 30 is attributed to the “sayings of Agur,” and chapter 31 is attributed to “the sayings of king Lemuel.”

  5. The Hebrew name for Proverbs is Mashali, meaning “my rule” or “wisdom.”

Story of the Book

Proverbs is a collection of proverbs and wise sayings of king Solomon, the son of king David. The book is addressed by Solomon to his son and includes his instructions to his son (unnamed in the book) concerning the wisdom Solomon had received from the Lord that he seeks to pass along to the next generation. The book includes the sayings of Agur and king Lemuel at the end of the book. The book clearly attributes wisdom to the Lord God.

Proverbs is a rare example in the Bible of a book where the individual verses do not necessarily form a flowing narrative. Though the chapter and verse divisions were added later (like all books of the Bible), the verse divisions in Proverbs do often separate individual proverbs or sayings. Proverbs offers wisdom on a wide range of topics, but the entirety of the work can be aptly summed up from the opening chapter: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). Similarly, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10).

Jesus Foreshadowed in Proverbs

It is important to be careful when attempting to see Jesus foreshadowed in Proverbs. Proverbs gives wisdom that is often highly bound to a given context rather than giving universally applicable truths to the reader. With that said, Solomon often personifies wisdom as a virtue, and more specifically as one of God’s first creations in Proverbs 8:22 as he writes, “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.” Wisdom personified in Proverbs 8:22-31 is similar to (though not identical to) the way Jesus is later described in the New Testament. John 1:1-14 describes Jesus as the eternal, uncreated Word of God who became flesh. This "Word" in John likely represented the prophetic Word of God personified and may even be related to the Greek philosophical ideal of the rational order behind the way the world works. What was personified in Proverbs 8 as wisdom is later revealed to come from the uncreated Word, who is Jesus—the Word of God made flesh. Jesus Christ is described by Paul in Colossians 2:2-3 as “the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” This does not mean that Proverbs directly foreshadows Christ, but it does hint at a truth that is later fully revealed in the New Testament.

Book of the Week 19: Psalms

Hebrew Name: T’hillim

Author: Multiple Authors (some individually identified)

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 150

Basic Facts

  1. Psalms is the nineteenth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Psalms is classified as poetry.
  3. The book of Psalms in Hebrew and in English has 150 independent Psalms, but the Greek Septuagint contains 151 Psalms, and the Dead Sea Scrolls contain even more.
  4. The introductory notes which are listed before verse 1 in many of the Psalms are considered to be part of the original biblical text, sometimes identifying the author.
  5. The Hebrew name for Psalms is T’hillim, meaning “praises.”

Story of the Book

Psalms is a collection of hymns or songs, poems, and prayers that were collected and preserved from Israel’s history. Each of the 150 psalms is its own independent work of poetry. As a result, Psalms is an assortment of 150 different stories, not necessarily a coherent whole that tells one story like most of the books of the Bible. The book of Psalms includes three main types of songs: psalms of thanksgiving or praise, psalms of lament, and psalms that are used as hymns. Some psalms are also titled "songs of ascent," which were sung by the assembly of the Israelites as they ascended the Temple Mount in order to worship (particularly Psalms 120-134).

Psalms has been organized and reorganized several times throughout the course of history before being settled into its final form, which divides the book into five smaller books as follows:

  • Book 1 (Psalms 1-41)
  • Book 2 (Psalms 42-72)
  • Book 3 (Psalms 73-89)
  • Book 4 (Psalms 90-106)
  • Book 5 (Psalms 107-150)

This structure to the book of Psalms is artificial and is only a means of organizing the Psalms. This organizational structure is not considered to be original to the text. Each psalm stands on its own as an independent work of literature. Nevertheless, each book contributes to the whole of Scripture in communicating meaning, truth, history, repentance, laments, and sometimes prophecy.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Psalms

Psalms is quoted in the New Testament more than any other Old Testament book. As a result, there are too many ways in which the book of Psalms foreshadows Christ to mention all of them here. The following is a small sample of the ways in which Christ is foreshadowed in Psalms:

  • Psalm 2 speaks of the anointing of king David. This description describes David as God’s chosen son and foreshadows the king to come, namely Jesus, as the Son of God (Psalm 2:7-12; Acts 4:25-26).
  • Psalm 22 speaks of the sufferings of king David, which many believe to be a foretelling of the crucifixion of Christ (especially Psalm 22:1-18; John 19:24). 
  • Jesus tells the scribes and the chief priests in the temple that the praise of children concerning him is the fulfillment of Psalm 8 (Psalm 8:2, Matthew 21:16).
  • The book of Hebrews makes extensive use of Psalms to describe the foreshadowing of Christ in the Old Testament:
    • Christ is called the "Son of God" (Psalm 2:7; Hebrews 1:5-6). 
    • Christ’s kingdom is forever (Psalm 45:6; Hebrews 1:8-9). 
    • David describes the Messiah as Lord, to whom God promises to subject the nations (Psalm 110:1; Hebrews 1:13).
    • Christ is even described as the Creator of the world (Psalm 102:25; John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:10).

There are many more examples, but these are a few of the many ways in which Jesus is foreshadowed in the book of Psalms.     

Book of the Week 18: Job

Book of the Bible: Job                                                          

Hebrew Name: Iyyov/Yob

Author: Unknown (possibly Moses)                                    

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 42

Basic Facts

  1. Job is the eighteenth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Job is classified as a theodicy.
  3. It is possible that Job is the earliest book of the Bible to be written, but the dating of the book is uncertain.
  4. The Hebrew name for the book of Job is Iyyov/Yob, after the main character, Job. Iyyov/Yob is a Hebrew name meaning “persecuted” or “hostility.”
  5. The Greek name for Job in the Septuagint is Iob, from which we ultimately get the English name “Job” for the book of Job.

Story of the Book

The book of Job tells the story of a man named Job. Job is a righteous man who fears God. The scene is set as God dialogues with Satan, and Satan gets permission from God to afflict Job and his household in order to get Job to curse God and abandon his loyalty to God. Satan is allowed to afflict Job any way that he wants but is not allowed to kill Job. Job loses his family, his health, and virtually all of his possessions through the affliction of Satan (though Job does not know that this is the work of Satan). Job is then confronted by a few friends who assume that Job is suffering hardship due to hidden sin in his life. Job has a lengthy dialogue with his friends in which his friends try to get Job to confess hidden sin while Job insists upon his integrity in the midst of suffering. Eventually Job despairs of life and questions God’s justice. At the end of the book, Job repents and is forgiven by God. God then rebukes Job’s friends for their rebuke of Job, and God’s righteousness is vindicated before Job and his friends. Finally, God restores Job's fortunes and doubles his former wealth and prosperity.  

Jesus Foreshadowed in Job

Though the book of Job does not directly refer to the Messiah, the book vindicates the righteousness and justice of God in the face of suffering, which is an important factor in understanding the Gospel. In ancient Israel, it was often assumed that when a person suffered hardship, the person suffering or their parents had sinned in some way. The story of Job reveals that even people of integrity can suffer, and the ultimate purpose for suffering is that the glory of God would be shown. (Jesus affirms this truth in a similar way in John 9:1-34, though the stories are not directly connected.) James 5:11 upholds the character of Job as an example to Christian believers who would be called to persevere through suffering, trusting that Jesus still loved them despite the persecution they faced. When Jesus died on the cross and was buried, it was a strong temptation for His followers to assume that God had abandoned Jesus because He was hanged on a tree—which was believed to be a sign of God’s curse upon a person (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). However, the righteousness and cause of Jesus are vindicated when the Father raises Jesus from the dead, for Jesus died to redeem us (Galatians 3:13-14).

Book of the Week 17: Esther

Hebrew Name: Hadasah

Human Author: Unknown                                                   

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 10

Basic Facts

  1. Esther is the seventeenth book of the Bible.
  2. Esther is the only book of the Old Testament not found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
  3. The Hebrew name for the Esther is Hadasah, which means “Myrtle Tree.”
  4. The term Esther is a name, possibly of Babylonian origin, meaning “a star.”
  5. Esther is one of the few books of the Bible which never explicitly mention God.

Story of the Book

Esther is a story of providence and deliverance. The book begins in the Persian period in which the Medo-Persian empire controls the Middle East. King Xerxes of Persia commands his queen to dance before a crowd at a banquet. When she refuses, the king has the queen deposed. Xerxes then seeks a new queen, and Esther (a Jewish woman) essentially wins a beauty contest which puts her in the favor of the king Xerxes. Xerxes makes Esther the queen of Persia.

The rest of the book tells of how a high-ranking official named Haman has a continual feud with Mordecai the Jew. Because of this feud, Haman plots to have all of the Jews throughout the Persian empire put to death. Queen Esther learns of this plot to kill the Jews from Mordecai, who is her uncle. Esther exposes Haman’s plot against the Jews to king Xerxes, who in turn executes Haman. Then the Jews take revenge against their enemies who participated in Haman’s plot to kill the Jews. The Jews throughout the Persian empire kill their enemies rather than being slaughtered themselves. This event of the Jews' revenge upon their enemies is celebrated in an annual Jewish festival known as Purim (Esther 9:20-32).

Jesus Foreshadowed in Esther

It is probable, if not proven, that the story of Esther takes place after Ezra and Nehemiah return with waves of Jewish exiles to the promised land. The story of Esther tells of how the Jewish people are spared from Haman’s plot to commit genocide against the Jews (Esther 3:6). If the events of Esther had not occurred, Haman would have succeeded in his plot to kill the Jews throughout the provinces of the Persian empire. If this had happened, the royal line of king David would have been wiped out along with all of the Jews who survived the exile. Jesus Christ, the descendant of king David, might never have been born.* God’s promise to establish David’s royal line forever in II Samuel 7:16 would not have been fulfilled, and the Messiah would not have come. Therefore, even though the book of Esther never mentions God or Jesus specifically, the events told in the book of Esther are essential to the survival of the Jews and the coming of the Messiah. Without the brave actions of Esther, who risked her life to save her people, the plan of God to establish a royal descendant of king David on the throne of Israel forever would not have been fulfilled. God’s providence provided a way for the coming of the Messiah through the deliverance of the Jews as a result of queen Esther's brave actions. Mordecai summarizes God's deliverance of the Jews well when he says to Esther, “who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).

*Mordecai acknowledges that if Esther was silent, deliverance for the Jews would have come from another place (Esther 4:14).

Book of the Week 16: Nehemiah

Hebrew Name: Nacham’Yah

Human Author: Nehemiah                                                  

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 13

Basic Facts

  1. Nehemiah is the sixteenth book of the Bible.
  2. It is possible that Ezra and Nehemiah were originally one book, sometimes called the book of Esdras.
  3. The book of Nehemiah is named after the man named Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a cupbearer to the king of Persia who was called by God to rebuild Jerusalem.
  4. The Hebrew name for the book of Nehemiah is Nacham’Yah, a Hebrew name meaning “God comforts” or “comforted by God.”
  5. In the Greek Septuagint, Nehemiah is part of the book of II Esdras, which is not found in our English Bible.

Story of the Book

The book of Nehemiah begins with Nehemiah in exile. Nehemiah receives a report that Jerusalem is lying in ruins and prays to God concerning the state of Jerusalem. God is gracious with Nehemiah and moves king Artaxerxes to allow Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem to rebuild it. Nehemiah leads a wave of Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem. Through lots of opposition, Nehemiah leads the returned exiles in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Ezra reads the Law to the people, and the exiles repent of their sins. The exiles swear an oath to obey God’s Law, and Nehemiah lists the people who sign the oath and agree to live in Jerusalem and the surrounding towns. The book ends with the final reforms of Nehemiah in which the people expel foreigners from their midst, and Nehemiah consecrates the Levite priests for Temple service. Nehemiah closes with a prayer that God would remember his efforts to reform the nation and return the people to following the Lord diligently.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Nehemiah

The message of Nehemiah is one of restoration and repentance. Christ is foreshadowed in Nehemiah in a way that is similar to the story of Ezra. Among the returned exiles to Judah and Jerusalem was a man named Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the heir to the royal line of king David and ultimately an ancestor of Christ (Matthew 1:1-17). Jeremiah 23:5-8 predicted that the people of Israel would be returned to their native land, and there would then come a righteous branch from David who would execute righteousness and justice in the land. Jesus is that righteous branch in the royal line of David who was established forever in fulfillment of II Samuel 7:16. Nehemiah’s ministry brings about the beginning of a partial fulfillment of Jeremiah 23:5-8 as the waves of exiles return from Mesopotamia to Judah and Jerusalem and rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. Nehemiah’s reforms help to keep the bloodline of kings and priests pure until the Messiah, Jesus Christ, is born in Bethlehem. Nehemiah and Ezra take the exiles from the lands in which they were scattered and return them back to the promised land. The exiles establish the Temple and rebuild Jerusalem in anticipation of a more complete fulfillment when the reign of Christ would be established forever.

Book of the Week 15: Ezra

Hebrew Name: Ezra

Human Author: Unknown (Possibly Ezra)                         

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 10

Basic Facts

  1. Ezra is the fifteenth book of the Bible.
  2. It is possible that Ezra and Nehemiah were originally one book, sometimes called the book of Esdras.
  3. The book of Ezra is named after the man named Ezra. Ezra was a teacher of the law and a Levite priest who was descended from Aaron.
  4. The Hebrew name for Ezra is Ezra, meaning “help” or “helper.”
  5. The old Greek name for Ezra is Esdras, which is a Greek rendering of the Hebrew name Ezra.

Story of the Book

At the beginning of the book of Ezra, the Babylonian empire has recently been conquered by the Persians. The book of Ezra opens as Cyrus the first, the king of Persia, declares that God has instructed him to allow the Jewish people to return to their homeland to rebuild the Temple of God in Jerusalem. The book lists many Temple articles that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple which were returned to the Jews, along with a list of the returned exiles by family. The exiles include priests, Levites, and other Temple attendants. The exiles then return to the promised land and begin the reconstruction of the Temple.

The rest of the book tells the following stories: local inhabitants of the land halt the rebuilding of the Temple, a second wave of exiles returns to the land, the Jews appeal to the king of Persia who allows the rebuilding to continue, the people finish rebuilding the Temple and dedicate it to God, and Ezra strictly prohibits any of the exiles to intermarry with gentiles in order to keep the Isrealites' bloodline pure. The book ends with the exiles confessing their sin and putting away foreign wives from the midst of the people.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Ezra

The message of the book of Ezra is one of hope in the midst of hardship. God promised through Jeremiah that Judah would be in exile in Babylon for 70 years, and then God would gather up a remnant of His people and return them to the promised land (Ezra: 1:1; Jeremiah 25:12-13; Jeremiah 29:10-14). Included in the returning exiles to the land was a man named Zerubbabel (Ezra 3:8). Zerubbabel was the heir of the royal line of David being returned to the promised land and an ancestor of Jesus Christ. The book of Ezra ends with the story of how Ezra had the people put away foreign wives (Ezra 9:1-10:44). This practice was to preserve the purity of the Levite descendants of Aaron as lawful priests and David’s descendants as lawful heirs to the throne of David who would one day be restored in their reign through the kingship of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1-17). This partial fulfillment of Zerubbabel returning to the land and Ezra putting away foreign wives from the people kept Israelite bloodlines pure until Jesus would be born. Without a pure descendant of David, God’s promise to establish David’s royal line forever in II Samuel 7:16 could not be fulfilled. Thus, Ezra’s practice of putting away foreign wives was a necessary preservation of the royal line of David which ultimately led to the birth of Jesus Christ the Messiah.

Book of the Week 14: II Chronicles

Hebrew Name: Davari Hayamim – Bet

Human Author: Unknown (Possibly Ezra)             

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 36

Basic Facts

  1. II Chronicles is the fourteenth book of the Bible.
  2. II Chronicles is classified as a book of history.
  3. I Chronicles and II Chronicles were originally one book.
  4. The Hebrew name for II Chronicles is Davari Hayamim – Bet, which means “Word of the Ages – Two.”
  5. The Greek name for II Chronicles is Paraleipomenon Beta, which means “the things omitted, left over – two.”

Story of the Book

The story of the book of II Chronicles, in some ways, parallels the story of I Kings and II Kings. The book begins with the reign of King Solomon including the following stories: Solomon asks for wisdom, Solomon oversees the building of the Temple, Solomon dedicates the temple to God, and God grants Solomon great wisdom and wealth.

After the death of Solomon, II Chronicles continues with the story of the dividing of Israel into the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The rest of II Chronicles records details concerning the divided kingdom with various degrees of rebellion against God and some various times of reform. II Chronicles ends with the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians and the exile of the people into Mesopotamia. This exile would last from the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. to the first year of Cyrus I the king of Persia. The last paragraph of the book tells the strange tale of how God instructed Cyrus the king of Persia to allow some of the exiles to return to the promised land.

Jesus Foreshadowed in II Chronicles

Jesus is foreshadowed in II Chronicles in a very indirect way, similar to the book of II Kings. At the end of II Chronicles, the line of the kings of Judah is dethroned, and the Jews are brought into exile in Babylon in fulfillment of God’s warning that they would be cut off for disobedience (I Kings 9:6-9). However, in II Samuel 7:16, God promised to establish David’s royal line forever. After the royal line is sent into captivity in Babylon, the surviving remnant of the Jews looked for a day in which the kingship of David’s royal line would be restored. The Hebrew name for the king of Israel is Mashiyach. It is from this term that we get the English term Messiah. Thus, in a way, the return of the kingdom to the royal line of David and the coming of the Messiah are one and the same idea. The coming king of David’s line who re-establishes the kingdom of Israel is Jesus Christ (I Chronicles 3:1-24; Matthew 1:1-17). It is Jesus Christ alone who fulfills II Samuel 7:16. In a way, through the fall of the line of David’s royal line in II Chronicles (like in II Kings) comes the beginning of the long wait for the coming of the Messiah (II Samuel 7:16; I Kings 9:5; Isaiah 9:6; Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:5; Luke 1:31-33; Revelation 11:15).

Book of the Week 13: I Chronicles

Hebrew Name: Davari Hayamim - Aleph 

Human Author: Unknown (Possibly Ezra)             

OT or NT: Old Testament 

Number of Chapters: 29

Basic Facts

  1. I Chronicles is the thirteenth book of the Bible.
  2. I Chronicles is classified as a book of history.
  3. I Chronicles and II Chronicles were originally one book.
  4. The Hebrew name for I Chronicles is Davari Hayamim – Aleph, which means “Word of the Ages – One.”
  5. The Greek name for I Chronicles is Paraleipomenon Alpha, which means “the things omitted, left over – one.”

Story of the Book

The story of I Chronicles, in many ways, parallels the story of II Samuel. As a result, the lessons and foreshadowing of Christ in I Chronicles are in many ways similar to the story of II Samuel. Some scholars have theorized that I and II Samuel and I and II Kings were written before the Babylonian exile when some of Israel/Judah was still in the promised land, and I and II Chronicles were written after the exile. I Chronicles begins with a genealogy beginning with Adam and continuing up through the names of the exiles who returned to the promised land from Babylon. I Chronicles then proceeds to tell the story of the life of king David including the following:

  • David being anointed as king over Israel
  • David bringing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem
  • David’s military achievements
  • David’s preparations for building the first temple in Jerusalem

I Chronicles ends with king David’s death and Solomon’s anointing as king over all Israel (Solomon’s anointing includes God exalting Solomon as king).

Jesus Foreshadowed in I Chronicles

Jesus is foreshadowed in I Chronicles in a similar way to the book of II Samuel. In I Chronicles 17:13-15, God promises to David that He will establish the throne of Solomon forever. This promise was contingent upon Solomon’s obedience as spelled out in II Samuel 7. From history, we know that Solomon’s royal line ceased to reign when the last king of Judah was carried off into exile to Babylon in 586 B.C. However, the royal line of David survived the exile and returned to the promised land. The descendants of this royal line who survived eventually led to the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfilled God’s promise to establish the throne of David forever by being raised from the dead. Now Jesus Christ reigns in heaven at the right hand of the Father forever and is the only candidate to fulfill the promise of God given to Solomon the son of David in I Chronicles 17:13-15 (II Samuel 7:16; I Kings 9:5; Luke 1:33; Revelation 11:15). I Chronicles ends with the death of king David with his son Solomon established on the throne of Israel. Even though the line of kings would fail due to Israel/Judah’s disobedience to God, the promise of I Chronicles 17:13-15 would ultimately be fulfilled by the Messiah eternally in the person of Jesus Christ

Book of the Week 12: II Kings

Hebrew Name: Malachim Bet

Human Author: Unknown (Possibly Jeremiah)                  

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 25

Basic Facts

  1. II Kings is the twelfth book of the Bible.
  2. II Kings is classified as a book of history.
  3. I Kings and II Kings were originally one book.
  4. The Hebrew name for II Kings is Malachim – Bet, which means “Kings – two.”
  5. II Kings is named Basileion Delta in old Greek copies, which means “Kingdoms – four.”

Story of the Book

II Kings begins with the death of Ahab king of Israel. II Kings also tells of the ministry of the prophet Elijah. The book continues with the continued decline of the divided kingdoms of Israel/Samaria and Judah. II Kings contains the stores of the later kings of Israel/Samaria, including Ahaziah, Jehoram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, Joash/Jehoash, Jeroboam II, Zachariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah, Hoshea, and the story of Israel/Samaria being taken to captivity in Assyria. Interwoven into the stories of the later kings of Israel/Samaria are the stories of the later kings of Judah, including Jehoram, Ahaziah, Queen Athaliah, Joash/Jehoash, Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. II Kings ends with the last remnant of Judah being carried into exile in Babylon. At the end of II Kings, all of Israel and Judah are in exile, and no part of the entire kingdom of Israel is left free.

Jesus Foreshadowed in II Kings

Jesus is foreshadowed in II Kings in a very indirect way. At the end of II Kings, the reign of the line of the kings of Judah is put down, and the people are in exile in Babylon in fulfillment of God’s warning that they would be cut off for disobedience (I Kings 9:6-9). However, in II Samuel 7:16, God promised to establish David’s royal line forever. The only way for this promise to be fulfilled, and for God to fulfill His warning to punish Israel/Judah for disobedience, is to send the nation and kings into exile. Then, at a future date, God would establish the eternal reign of the line of kings. After the royal line was sent into captivity in Babylon, the surviving remnant of the Jews looked for a day in which the kingship of David’s royal line would be restored.

The Hebrew name for the king of Israel is Mashiyach. It is from this term that we get the English term Messiah. Thus, in a way, the return of the kingdom to the royal line of David and the coming of the Messiah are one and the same concept. The coming king of David’s line who re-establishes the kingdom of Israel is Jesus Christ. It is Jesus Christ alone who fulfills II Samuel 7:16. In a way, the beginning of the long wait for the Messiah comes through the fall of David’s royal line in II Kings (II Samuel 7:16; I Kings 9:5; Isaiah 9:6; Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:5; Luke 1:31-33; Revelation 11:15).

Book of the Week 11: I Kings

Hebrew Name: Malachim Aleph

Human Author: Unknown (Possibly Jeremiah)                  

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 22

Basic Facts

  1. I Kings is the eleventh book of the Bible.
  2. I Kings is classified as a book of history.
  3. I Kings and II Kings were originally one book.
  4. The Hebrew name for I Kings is Malachim – Aleph, which means “Kings – one.”
  5. I Kings is named Basileion Gamma in an old Greek translation, which means “Kingdoms – three.”

Story of the Book

I Kings begins with king David as an old man. After a brief rebellion in which David’s son Adonijah attempts to succeed David to the throne, David appoints his son Solomon as the next king of all Israel. The book proceeds to tell about the reign of Solomon:

  • Solomon asks for and receives wisdom from God. 
  • Solomon oversees the building of the first temple. 
  • Solomon's reign is a time of plenty and peace in Israel. 
  • Solomon falls into the sin of idolatry, leading Israel on a downward path away from God and toward eventual destruction.

The rest of the book tells of how Israel was divided into the two kingdoms with Israel/Samaria in the north and Judah in the south. I Kings tells of Elijah the prophet’s ministry and the stories of the early kings of Israel/Samaria, including Jeroboam, Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, Ahab, and Ahaziah. I Kings also tells the stories of the early kings of Judah, including Rehoboam, Abijam, Asa, and part of the story of Jehoshaphat. The book of I Kings ends with king Ahaziah worshiping Baal, which provoked God to anger.

Jesus Foreshadowed in I Kings

Jesus is foreshadowed in I Kings in a way that is similar to how He is foreshadowed in II Samuel. In I Kings 9:4-5, God promises King Solomon that if he faithfully obeys all of God’s commands and laws, his royal line shall be established forever over Israel. However, God’s promise to Solomon to establish his royal line forever is contingent upon Solomon’s obedience. God strictly warns Solomon that his royal line would be cut off for disobedience (I Kings 9:6-9). Later in life Solomon falls into idolatry and disobedience, resulting in strife and a downward spiral for the nation, including the kingdom being divided in two.

Later kings after Solomon also disobeyed God, resulting in the eventual exile of both Israel/Samaria and Judah. When Judah went into exile, the royal line of David through Solomon was cut off from the throne—though their descendants would live on. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of God’s covenant promise to David to establish his throne and royal line forever, despite the disobedience of Solomon (II Samuel 7:16; I Kings 9:5; Luke 1:33; Revelation 11:15). Since the royal line of David is no more, Jesus is the only candidate for this eternal fulfillment to establish David’s throne forever.

Book of the Week 10: II Samuel

Hebrew Name: Shmuel Bet

Human Author: Unknown                                                  

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 24

Basic Facts

  1. II Samuel is the tenth book of the Bible.
  2. II Samuel is classified as a book of history.
  3. I Samuel and II Samuel were originally one book.
  4. The Hebrew name for II Samuel is Shmuel Bet, which means “heard by God – two.”
  5. II Samuel is named after Samuel the judge. His name means “heard by God.”

Story of the Book

The story of II Samuel begins just after the death of king Saul. The story continues as God has David anointed as king over Judah and then over all of Israel. (Ishbosheth briefly reigns over northern Israel except for Judah until David is anointed as king of all Israel.) II Samuel also contains the stories of Israel’s conquest of the surrounding nations under David: David’s conquering of Jerusalem, bringing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, God’s promise to David of an eternal dynasty through his royal line, and David’s faithfulness to Jonathan. The book finishes out with David’s sin with Bathsheba, the prophet Nathan confronting David, trouble in David’s family including the death of two of his sons, a time of national rebellion against king David, and the end of David’s reign. The book focuses on God establishing his covenant with king David and God’s promise of an everlasting reign through his royal dynasty.

Jesus Foreshadowed in II Samuel

II Samuel 7:8-17 is perhaps one of the most important passages in the Old Testament. In this passage, God announces what He will do for David by giving him a son to succeed him on the throne of Israel. The immediate context is clear that this passage is about Solomon, David’s son and heir to the throne. God's promise that this son of David would build a house for God is fulfilled when the Temple is built under Solomon’s command (II Samuel 7:13; I Kings 6:1-38). In addition, God promises to punish David’s son when he commits iniquity (II Samuel 7:14). This also proves this verse is not about Jesus but about Solomon, for Jesus never sins (Hebrews 4:15). However, the promise to establish the throne of Solomon forever goes beyond Solomon’s life: “And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever” (II Samuel 7:16). From history, we know that the reign of David’s line ended when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and carried the last remnant of Judah into exile in 586 BC. Therefore, the only way this promise of God could be fulfilled is if an everlasting king is established who will reign forever. Jesus Christ, the human heir in the royal line of David and the divine Son of God, is the only one who can fulfill this promise. The eternal reign of the risen and reigning Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to David (Luke 1:33; Revelation 11:15).

Book of the Week 9: I Samuel

Hebrew Name: Shmuel Aleph

Human Author: Unknown (Possibly Nathan and Gad)      

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 31

Basic Facts

  1. I Samuel is the ninth book of the Bible.
  2. I Samuel is classified as a book of history.
  3. I Samuel and II Samuel were originally one book.
  4. The Hebrew name for I Samuel is Shmuel Aleph, which means “heard by God – one.”
  5. I Samuel is named after Samuel the judge. His name means “heard by God.”

Story of the Book

The story of I Samuel begins with Samuel’s mother, Hannah. Hannah was barren, and she cried out to God, promising that if God gave her a son, she would dedicate the child to the Lord. God heard Hannah’s prayer, and she gave birth to Samuel. Samuel was given to Eli the priest, who helped to raise him. The nation of Israel went to war with the Philistines at this time, and the people grumbled against God. God raised up Samuel as a judge. At the pleading of the Israelites, God allowed Samuel to anoint Saul as the first king of Israel. Saul initially obeyed God but later sinned and was rejected by God as king. God then called Samuel to anoint David as king over Israel. The rest of the story of I Samuel includes the stories of David and Goliath, David and Jonathan, Saul pursuing David, and Saul’s defeat and death in battle. The book ends with the burial of king Saul.

Jesus Foreshadowed in I Samuel

When Samuel is old, the people of Israel ask him to give them a king like the nations around them. Samuel is displeased by this, but God tells Samuel in I Samuel 8:7, “it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.” In the beginning of the nation, God was the king over Israel. Even though Deuteronomy 17:14-15 states that the Israelites were allowed to appoint a king, in I Samuel 8 they did not ask for a king according to the rules set out by God in Deuteronomy 17:16-20. Through the disobedience of the Israelites in asking for this kind of king, they effectively rejected God as their king. God would later appoint David as king over Israel, describing him as “a man after God’s own heart” (I Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).

Even though God gave in to Israel's demand for a king, God would still establish Himself as king over Israel in this way: God would appoint a king over Israel who is both God and a king descended from the royal line of king David. This king would rule for eternity (Psalm 45:6-7; Isaiah 9:6-7) and would be both human in David’s line and divinely conceived by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:7). This divine God and king is Jesus Christ (Acts 2:36). In the one person of Jesus Christ, God fulfilled his promise to establish the royal throne of David forever and to establish Himself as king over Israel, for Jesus is both LORD (meaning he is God) and Christ (a term meaning “anointed one”—a title reserved for the king of Israel).

Book of the Week 8: Ruth

Hebrew Name: Rut

Human Author: Unknown                                                  

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 4

Basic Facts

  1. The book of Ruth is the eighth book of the Bible.
  2. The book of Ruth is classified as a book of history.
  3. The authorship of the book of Ruth is unknown.
  4. The Hebrew name for the book of Ruth is Rut, which means “Moabitess” or, if we use the meaning of the name Ruth, “a friend.”
  5. This is the first book of the bible to be primarily focused around a female character.

Story of the Book

The book of Ruth is about a poor widow named Naomi who lived in a foreign land. Naomi’s husband and all her sons died, leaving her in poverty. When Naomi decided to return to her home, her daughter-in-law Ruth insisted upon staying with Naomi no matter what. When Naomi and Ruth returned home, they lived in poverty by taking a few spare bits of grain from the open fields after harvest, which was a type of charity system in Israel. Ruth and Naomi both acted in a righteous way toward Boaz (the owner of the field), and Boaz chose to act as the kindsman redeemer by marrying Ruth. This marriage ensured survival and financial well-being for Ruth and Naomi. God showed his faithfulness to Naomi and Ruth through Boaz as a kindsman redeemer. The book ends with a genealogy which demonstrates that the royal line of king David is descended from the marriage between Boaz and Ruth.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Ruth

The book of Ruth is a story of redemption. The story of Boaz acting as a kindsman redeemer for Ruth (and consequently Naomi) is an ancient form of adoption in Israel (Ruth 4:1-11). This righteous act of faithfulness to God and kin by Boaz led not only to a redeemed life for Ruth and Naomi, but the descendants of Ruth and Boaz would become the royal line of David in Israel. In addition, the royal line of David would ultimately become the family line through whom Jesus Christ was born (Matthew 1:1-17). The personal story of redemption in the book of Ruth ultimately points forward to the eternal establishment of David’s royal line (II Samuel 7:16-17). Jesus is reigning in heaven at the right hand of the Father in heaven. Through Jesus, this promise from II Samuel is eternally fulfilled through the everlasting kingship of Christ. Jesus Christ, the everlasting king who is of the royal line of David, is the one who has accomplished for us a greater and lasting redemption through his blood shed on the cross (Hebrews 9:11-22). The redemption story of Ruth is a small, temporary redemption. The redemption that Jesus offers on our behalf in the heavenly places is complete and eternal

Book of the Week 7: Judges

Hebrew Name: Shoftim 

Human Author: Unknown (Possibly Samuel)                     

OT or NT: Old Testament 

Number of Chapters: 21

Basic Facts

  1. Judges is the seventh book of the Bible.
  2. Judges is classified as a book of history.
  3. The author of the book of Judges is unknown, though it may have been Samuel.
  4. The Hebrew name for the book of Judges is Shoftim, meaning “Judges.”
  5. The book of Judges is named after 12 judges whom God raised up to deliver the people of Israel from the oppression of their enemies.

Story of the Book

The story of the book of Judges begins just after the death of Joshua. The people of Israel have entered the promised land, but they have failed to completely destroy the people of Canaan as God had commanded them to do, and they rebelled against God in sin. As a result, the surrounding people groups repeatedly oppress the people of Israel. When the Israelites are oppressed by their neighbors, they cry out to God. God responds by raising up an Israelite judge to deliver the Israelites from their enemies. After the death of the judge, the people of Israel repeatedly fell back into sin and rebellion. This pattern repeats several times, and each time God raises up a judge to deliver his people. God raised up many judges for Israel, including Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah (with Barak), Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, and Samson. (Samuel was the last judge, but he is not mentioned in the book of Judges.)

Jesus Foreshadowed in Judges

The pattern of the book of Judges does more than demonstrate part of Israel’s history as a nation. The pattern of Israel as they sin, cry out to God, and receive God’s deliverance through a righteous judge demonstrates God's faithfulness. God is holy. He refuses to tolerate the sins of his people but instead brings judgement to punish the Israelites. The book of Judges demonstrates both the righteous judgment of God against Israel’s sin and his lasting mercy and faithfulness to Israel despite their disobedience.

The motif of the righteous judge is a foreshadowing of Jesus as the righteous judge. Regarding God’s judgement of the world’s sin, Jesus said, “this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19). The righteous judgment of God is demonstrated in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). God the Father does not judge anyone but has entrusted all judgment regarding sin to the Son, Jesus Christ (John 5:19-24). Jesus is the righteous judge whom the Father sent to rescue the world from sin and its consequences, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17).

While Old Testament judges brought justice through war, Jesus brought justice to the world once and for all through his perfect sacrifice on the cross once and for all.

Book of the Week 6: Joshua

Hebrew Name: Yehoshua

Author: Joshua (chapters 1-24:27), Unknown (chapter 24:18-33)    

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 24

Basic Facts

  1. Joshua is the sixth book of the Bible.
  2. The book of Joshua is classified as a book of history.
  3. Joshua is the first book of the Bible that was not written by Moses.
  4. The book of Joshua is named after the Hebrew name of the book, Yehoshua, which means “Yahweh is salvation.”
  5. The book of Joshua is also named after Joshua the son of Nun, the successor of Moses.

Story of the Book

The book of Joshua tells the story of how God fought for the people of Israel to conquer the Canaanites and deliver the Israelites into the promised land. Joshua is divided up into three basic sections: the Israelites cross into Canaan, the Israelites conquer Canaan, and the Israelites settle in the land by tribe. The story begins with Joshua assuming the mantle of leadership over the nation. God commands Joshua to be strong and courageous. God then miraculously stops the Jordan river so that the people enter the land of Canaan on dry ground.

God leads the people of Israel in a series of three campaigns to conquer the Canaanites: first in the center of the country, then a southern campaign, and finally a northern campaign. After the main conquest, the people settle in the land but ultimately fail to completely destroy their enemies. The story ends as God fulfills his promise to bring Israel into the land, and the people divide up the land by tribe—some on the eastern side of the Jordan river and some on the western side.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Joshua

When God led the people of Israel into the promised land, Joshua and the army of Israel failed to completely destroy their enemies. Because of this, Joshua failed to give them complete rest (though this was accomplished in part in Joshua 22:4). Hebrews 4:8 says that Joshua did not give final rest to the people of God, and therefore there was a sabbath rest for the people in days to come. The rest of Hebrews 4 goes on to say that Jesus, as the great high priest, is the one who would accomplish this complete rest. When Israel entered into the promised land, they received the land of promise as their inheritance from the Lord (Joshua 14:9; Acts 13:17-20). When Jesus came, he came as the mediator of a new covenant that secured an eternal inheritance for the people of God. This eternal inheritance is a better inheritance in Christ which entails eternal life with God and freedom from sin (Hebrews 9:15-28). If the Israelites rebelled in disobedience, they would lose their land inheritance, but we have the Holy Spirit who guarantees our inheritance in Christ (II Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:11-14; Hebrews 9:15; I Peter 1:3-5).

 

Book of the Week 5: Deuteronomy

Hebrew Name: Eleh Ha-Devarim 

Author: Moses (Chapters 1-33), Unknown (chapter 34)       

OT or NT: Old Testament                           

Number of Chapters: 34

Basic Facts

  1. Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Bible.
  2. Deuteronomy is part of the “Pentateuch”: the first five books of the Bible including Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
  3. The Pentateuch is also referred to as the “Torah,” meaning “to guide or teach.”
  4. The book of Deuteronomy is named after two Greek terms: deuteros, meaning “second,” and nomos, meaning “law.”
  5. The Hebrew name for the book of Deuteronomy is Eleh Ha-Devarim, which means “a copy of this law.”

Story of the Book

The book of Deuteronomy is about God giving the law to Israel through Moses for the second time. The story of Deuteronomy begins with an address by Moses. First, he reminds the people of Israel of all the things God had done for them. Second, Moses communicates the law a second time. The law includes the following: 

  • The ten commandments
  • A commandment to love God (known as the Shema)
  • Laws concerning worship
  • Laws for governing the nation
  • Laws for interpersonal relationships
  • Promises of blessing for obedience and warnings of punishment for disobedience

Third, Moses reminds the people of their commitment to God and renews their covenant commitment to the Lord. Fourth, Moses appoints Joshua to succeed him and to lead the people of Israel into the promised land. The book ends with a short addendum to the book which describes the death of Moses, along with a summary of the uniqueness of Moses’ ministry.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Deuteronomy

In Deuteronomy 18:18-19, God promises to raise up a prophet like Moses from among the people of Israel. God warned Israel to listen to this prophet, saying, “I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.”

Later, in Acts 7:35-59, Stephen testifies before the Jewish leaders in the temple that this “prophet like Moses” is Jesus. When Stephen testified that Jesus is the prophet like Moses that God promised to send to Israel, the crown dragged Stephen outside the city of Jerusalem and stoned him to death. That day, Stephen became the first Christian martyr. Stephen died for his faith in Jesus, but not before confirming that this ancient prophecy in Deuteronomy was fulfilled in the person of Christ. Jesus Christ is the prophet like Moses who was to come.

There are many parallels between the life and ministry of Moses in the Pentateuch and the life and ministry of Jesus in the Gospels, each of which further cement the identity of Jesus as the prophet like Moses who was to come.