A 30,000-Foot View of the Old Testament

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If you’ve ever taken an Old Testament survey class in college or seminary you know that after 13 weeks you feel like you’ve tried to take a drink from a fire hose.  

This video gives you a survey of Old Testament themes in a little over 12 minutes.

The Old Testament makes up three-quarters of the Bible and is separated into 4 sections: the Pentateuch, History, Poetry and the Prophets. This arrangement is a later Christian tradition that developed after Jesus and the apostles.

Before that, each work was on separate scrolls in a three-part presentation collectively called the TaNak. The Old Testament themes are in the three sections are the Torah (instruction), Nevi’im (prophets) and Ketuvim (writings). The three sections follow a similar but different order than what is found in the Bible.

The video gives an overview of the purpose of each section.

The Torah (Instruction)

The Torah begins with the story of God’s creation and his desire that it be run by humans. But Adam and Eve sin by wanting to define good and evil for themselves. From there humanity spins out of control, as does evil. The downward spiral leads humanity to the city of Babylon where humans exalt themselves to the place of God.

The plot conflict of the whole Bible is set in this first scroll. God wants to bless the world and rule it through humans but now humans are the problem.

God’s solution– a new kind of human. But sadly, each new example of God’s ideal also fails because of sin.

Moses dies while Israel is searching for the Promised Land and the Torah ends with the scribes wishing for another leader like Moses.

The Nevi’im (Prophets)

The Nevi’im shows us a series of leaders who at times are like Moses but too often fail and sin just like their ancestors. But in their failures are seeds of future hope.

The Nevi’im ends with the scribes telling the reader to watch for a new leader who they call Elijah who will announce the arrival of Israel’s God to purify and save his people.

The Ketuvim (Writings)

The Ketuvim is a diverse collection of scrolls and includes Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, Chronicles and Daniel.  Each book develops themes found in the other scrolls.

They carry on a profound conversation on how to live wisely in God’s good and often confusing world, point to a future king and conclude with the future hope of a New Jerusalem.

In total, the Old Testament is a unified story of God’s covenant promise to Israel and all humanity.

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Bob Ditmer
Bob Ditmer has worked in Christian media for more than 20 years including positions with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Focus on the Family.