The Old Testament In Detail
The Old Testament contains 39 books. The books are not all in chronological order, meaning in order of events, nor is one book more important in order than the other, they are separated into five categories, Law, History, Poetry, and Prophecy.
THE BOOKS OF LAW CONTAINS FIVE BOOKS
Genesis: Records the beginning of the universe, man, the Sabbath, marriage, sin, sacrifice, nations, and government and key men of God like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.
Exodus: Details how Israel became a nation with Moses as leader. Israel is delivered from bondage in Egypt and travels to Mt. Sinai where the law of God is given.
Leviticus: This book was a manual of worship for Israel. It provides instruction to the religious leaders and explains how a sinful people can approach a righteous God. It relates to the coming of Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Numbers: Records Israel’s 40 years of wandering in the wilderness which was a result of disobedience to God. The title of the book is from two numberings (population censuses) taken during the long journey.
Deuteronomy: Records the final days of Moses’ life and reviews the laws given in Exodus and Leviticus.
THE BOOKS OF HISTORY CONTAINS TWELVE BOOKS
Joshua: Details how Joshua, the successor of Moses, led the people of Israel into the Promised Land of Canaan. It records the military campaigns and the division of the land among the people.
Judges: Israel turned away from God after Joshua’s death. This book records the sad story of their repeated sins and the judges God raised up to deliver them from enemy forces.
Ruth: The story of Ruth, a woman of the Gentile nation of Moab, who chose to serve the God of Israel. She became the great grandmother of David.
I Samuel: This book centers on three persons: Samuel who was the last of the judges of Israel; Saul, the first king of Israel; and David who succeeded Saul as king.
II Samuel: The glorious 40 year reign of King David is recorded in this book.
I Kings: King Solomon’s reign and the kings of the divided kingdom through the reigns of Ahab in the north and Jehoshaphat in the south are the subjects of this book.
II Kings: The final decline of Israel and Judah is recalled in this book. God’s people fell into deep sin.
I Chronicles: The reign of David and preparations for building the temple are recorded here. The time of this book is the same as II Samuel.
II Chronicles: This book continues Israel’s history through Solomon’s reign with focus on the southern kingdom. It closes with the decree of Cyrus which permitted the return of the people from Babylon to Jerusalem.
Ezra: The return of the Jews from Babylonian captivity is detailed.
Nehemiah: The rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls under the direction of Nehemiah is recalled by this book. The project was begun about 14 years after Ezra’s return with the people.
Esther: God’s deliverance of the Jews through Esther and Mordecai is the subject of this book.
THE BOOKS OF POETRY CONTAINS FIVE BOOKS
Job: This book is the story of Job, a man who lived around the time of Abraham. The theme is the question of why righteous men suffer.
Psalms: The prayer and praise book of the Bible.
Proverbs: Divine wisdom for practical problems of everyday life.
Ecclesiastes: A discussion of the futility of life apart from God.
Song Of Solomon: The romance of Solomon and his Shulamite bride. The story represents God’s love for Israel and of Christ for the church.
THE BOOKS OF PROPHECY CONTAINS SEVENTEEN BOOKS
Several of these books were written during a period when the nation of Israel was divided into two separate kingdoms: Israel and Judah.
Isaiah: Warns of coming judgment against Judah because of their sin against God.
Jeremiah: Written during the later decline and fall of Judah. Told of the coming judgment and urged surrender to Nebuchadnezzar.
Lamentations: Jeremiah’s lament (expression of sorrow) over the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon.
Ezekiel: Warns first of Jerusalem’s impending fall and then foretells its future restoration.
Daniel: The prophet Daniel was captured during the early siege of Judah and taken to Babylon. This book provides historic and prophetic teaching which is important in understanding Bible prophecy.
Hosea: Theme of this book is Israel’s unfaithfulness, their punishment, and restoration by God.
Joel: Tells of the plagues which foreshadowed future judgment.
Amos: During a period of material prosperity but moral decay, Amos warned Israel and surrounding nations of God’s future judgment on their sin.
Obadiah: God’s judgment against Edom, an evil nation located south of the Dead Sea.
Jonah: The story of the prophet Jonah who preached repentance in Ninevah, capitol of the Assyrian empire. The book reveals God’s love and plan of repentance for the Gentiles.
Micah: Another prophecy against Israel’s sin. Foretells the birthplace of Jesus 700 years before the event happened.
Nahum: Tells of the impending destruction of Ninevah which had been spared some 150 years earlier through Jonah’s preaching.
Habakkuk: Reveals God’s plan to punish a sinful nation by an even more sinful one. Teaches that “the just shall live by faith.”
Zephaniah: Judgment and restoration of Judah.
Haggai: Urges the Jews to rebuild the temple after a 15 year delay due to enemy resistance.
Zechariah: Further urging to complete the temple and renew spiritual commitment. Foretells Christ’s first and second comings.
Malachi: Warns against spiritual shallowness and foretells the coming of John the Baptist and Jesus.