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.

 

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.