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.

 

Book of the Week 4: Numbers

Hebrew Name: Bemidbar

Author: Moses                                                                                  

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 35

Basic Facts

  1. Numbers is the fourth book of the Bible.
  2. Numbers 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 name Numbers comes from the Greek term arithmoi, which means “numbers.”
  5. The Hebrew name for the book of Numbers is Bemidbar, which means “in the desert [of].”

Story of the Book

Numbers' name is derived from the two censuses that God commanded Moses to take of the people of Israel in the wilderness following the exodus, before the people of Israel entered into the promised land. The book is divided into four basic sections:

  1. The Israelites prepare for their journey to the promised land. 
  2. Israel approaches the land and sends in spies, most of whom bring back a bad report and advise against entering into the land (except for Joshua and Caleb, who give a good report), and some of the Israelites rebel against God. 
  3. Israel is condemned by God to wander in the wilderness for 40 years until the entire generation, except for Joshua and Caleb, is dead. 
  4. The people approach the promised land to enter into it a second time with the story of Balaam blessing Israel instead of cursing them, God commands Moses to take a second census of the nation, and the Israelites encamp east of the Jordan river opposite of the city of Jericho.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Numbers

The book of Numbers tells the story of multiple instances when the people of Israel, in whole or in part, rebel against God. When the people rebel, God punishes them accordingly. He even punishes the entire nation and tells them that they must wander in the wilderness for 40 years and that only Joshua and Caleb from among that entire generation of Israel would ever enter into the promised land. One such instance of rebellion is recorded in Numbers 21:4-9. The people of Israel complained against God, God sent venomous snakes to bite them, and many people died. God commanded Moses to set up a bronze snake, and anyone who was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake lived and did not die.

Later, in John 3:14, Jesus applies this symbolism to himself when he says to Nicodemus, “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” In this way Jesus was foreshadowed: as God gave deliverance to the Israelites when they were bitten by snakes and died, but looked to the bronze snake and live, now anyone who sins and looks to Jesus will not die, but he will live—in other words, he will be saved.

Book of the Week 3: Leviticus

Hebrew Name: Vayikra

Author: Moses                                                                                  

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 27

Basic Facts

  1. Leviticus is the third book of the Bible.
  2. Leviticus 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 name Leviticus comes from the Greek terms Leuitikon, which means “belonging to the Levites,” or Leuitikon Biblion, which means “book of the Levites.”
  5. The Hebrew name for the book of Leviticus is Vayikra, which means “He [God] calls.”

Story of the Book

Leviticus is primarily a book of Laws and instructions given to the people of Israel—and more specifically as instructions for priests. The people of the tribe of Levi—and more specifically the descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses—were called by God to serve Israel as priests. Leviticus lays out numerous laws for the people of Israel to follow. Many of the commandments in this book involve the Tabernacle/Temple system of sacrifices. The sacrificial system stood as a way for the people of Israel to make atonement for their sins. If a person in Israel sinned, he or she would bring the prescribed sacrifice for their sin and pass his or her sins along to the animal, and the priest would slaughter the animal on the sacrificial altar.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Leviticus

The book of Leviticus emphasizes rules and regulations within the Law of Moses, particularly those pertaining to the Levite priests and the sacrificial system. Central in this book are instructions for Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. This is the only event in the entire calendar year in which the high priest makes a once-and-for-all sacrifice to atone for all of the intentional and unintentional sins of all of the people.

The day of atonement points forward to the time when Jesus, functioning as both high priest and sacrifice, would make atonement for sins once and for all through his sacrificial death on the cross. Like the day of atonement, Jesus died once to atone for all of our sins for all time for anyone who accepts his atoning work by faith.

After the sacrifice, the high priest would leave the presence of the people and go in to the presence of God in the Holy of Holies to pray for the people. Likewise, Jesus left our physical presence to ascend into heaven to the right hand of the Father. From that lofty place, Jesus intercedes for us and one day will return to judge the world.

Book of the Week 2: Exodus

Hebrew Name: Shemot 

Author: Moses                                                                                  

OT or NT: Old Testament 

Number of Chapters: 40

Basic Facts

  1. Exodus is the second book of the Bible.
  2. Exodus 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 name Exodus comes from the Greek term exodos, meaning “a departure.”
  5. The Hebrew name for the book of Exodus is shemot, which comes from the second word of the Hebrew text of Exodus. Shemot means "names."

Story of the Book

Exodus is the story of how God called Moses to lead God’s chosen people—the people of Israel—out of slavery in Egypt. The story begins with Pharaoh’s oppression of the people of Israel. The book of Exodus includes the following:

  • Moses’ birth
  • God’s calling of Moses
  • Moses’ flight from Egypt
  • Moses’ stay with Jethro
  • The burning bush
  • The story of the ten plagues
  • The story of the Exodus through the Red Sea
  • God's appearing to Moses on Mount Sinai
  • God's giving manna to the Israelites in the wilderness
  • God's giving the law to Moses
  • Some early commandments
  • Regulations and instructions for the building of the Tabernacle with its articles of worship
  • The establishment of God’s presence among the people of Israel in the Tabernacle

The story of Exodus is a story of God’s deliverance of the people of Israel in fulfillment of God’s covenant promises given to Abraham in Genesis chapter 15. The story of Exodus ends with the story of how the glory of the LORD fills the tabernacle, and God’s presence goes with and before the people of Israel throughout all their journeys. 

Jesus Foreshadowed in Exodus

The central theme of Exodus is God’s deliverance of Israel out of Egypt in the Exodus through the red sea. Before this key event, God instituted the first Passover, in which the angel of death passed over the Israelites because their doorposts were covered with the blood of the Passover lamb. The lamb was to be without defect: a perfect Passover lamb. The shedding of the blood of the lamb on the doorposts spared the Israelites from the wrath of God, leading them to eventual freedom from slavery in Egypt. Later, Jesus would be crucified near the time of the feast of the Passover. In a real yet symbolic way, Jesus served as the Passover lamb to free all who have faith in him from the wrath of God, leading to freedom from sin and leading to salvation for all who are covered by the blood of Jesus, the perfect Passover lamb.

Book of the Week 1: Genesis

Hebrew Name: Bereshit 

Author: Moses                                                                      

OT or NT: Old Testament 

Number of Chapters: 50

Basic Facts

  1. Genesis is the first book of the Bible.
  2. Genesis 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 name Genesis comes from the Greek word genesis, meaning “birth” or “lineage.”
  5. The Hebrew name for Genesis comes from the first word of the Hebrew text of the book: Bereshit, which means “In the beginning.”     

Story of the Book

Genesis, the first book of the Bible, is a story of beginnings. Genesis tells the story of creation, the fall, Cain and Abel, the flood, the Tower of Babel, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph and his twelve brothers. After the fall of humanity into sin, Genesis tells how God destroyed the earth with the flood and then established his Covenant with Abraham—beginning God’s cosmic plan of redemption for humanity and ultimately for creation.

The story of Genesis begins with creation and through telling all of the stories mentioned above, tells a brief recap of all of history from the time of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden through the time when Jacob and his twelve sons travel to the land of Egypt. The story of Genesis ends with the death of Joseph. At the time of the death of Joseph, the people of Israel are given permission by Pharaoh to dwell in the best of the land of Egypt.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Genesis

When God brings judgement against the serpent in the Garden of Eden, God says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15, ESV). The "he" in "he shall bruise your head" in this passage is a foretelling of the coming of Jesus and his redeeming work on the cross to defeat the serpent (Satan).

Some Christians believe that, when the LORD appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, the three men who visited Abraham were two angels and Christ in a pre-incarnate state. This is a debatable interpretation, but nevertheless many believe this to be an example of Jesus in the book of Genesis. In addition, some Christians believe that when Jacob wrestled with God in Genesis 32:22-32, Jacob was also wrestling with Jesus in a pre-incarnate state.