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Question: I’ve never read the Bible before, but I want to begin. Can you give me some hints for reading the
Bible so that I can understand it?

Pastor Bill responds (pt. 3): Reading the historical books of the Old Testament.

The Old Testament is a compilation of 39 books, all written between about 1450 - 425 BC.
i.e. Before the birth of Christ. The study of who wrote those books and how they were compiled
is fascinating - but that’s way beyond the purpose of this series in The Haven Heart to Heart.
These books are commonly divided into three “genres”, or types of literature: Historical,
Wisdom literature, Prophets. The Historical books are the first section of the Old Testament: From
Genesis through Esther. What should you keep in mind as you read these books?

1. They ‘re history! If you could go back in a time machine you could see the 6 day period
in which the Lord created the heavens and the earth and everything in them. You could see a
real worldwide flood. You could see the Israelites passing through the parted waters of the Red
Sea, etc. The New Testament constantly refers to the Old Testament books as accounts of real
history, eg. Matthew 19:4,5, Romans 5:12,13, James 5:17,18, etc. We should read the Old
Testament - and especially the historical books - in the same way. They’re real history!
2. They all point us forward to Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. Jesus is the last Adam, I
Corinthians 15:45. He is the great Noah (which means “rest”) who brings an everlasting rest for
the people of God, Hebrews 4:1-13. He is the ultimate “seed” - offspring - promised to Abraham,
Galatians 3:16. He is the prophet who is greater than Moses, Hebrews 3:1-6. He is the great
Joshua (The Hebrew name for “Jesus”/Savior) who saves us from our sins, Matthew 1:21. He is
King David’s greater (and greatest!) son, Acts 2:34, 35, Hebrews 1:5, 13. He is the King who is
greater than Solomon, Matt. 12:42. He is the prophet who is greater than Jonah, whose ordeal in
the great fish’s belly was a picture of Christ’s ordeal in the grave, Matthew 12:40,41. As you read
the Old Testament - especially the historical books - always be thinking about how they point us
forward to Jesus Christ, Lord, Savior and King of his Kingdom.
3. They are not primarily books of moral lessons, but pictures of sin and grace, unbelief
and faith. We must be very careful about using the historical books for moral lessons. While it’s
true that Abraham’s wife, Sarah, is, in many ways, a model of holiness in submitting to her
husband, Abraham (I Peter 3:5,6), she also laughed in unbelief when the Lord said that she would
bear a son even when she was past the age to bear a child (Genesis 18:12ff.). Noah is a model of
faith as he built an ark according to the words and plan that God gave him (Hebrews 11,7); but
he also became drunk, giving an occasion for God’s judgment on his sons, Genesis 9:21ff. David
was “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22), and a man whose heart for God became the
human source of many of the Psalms, but he also was guilty of adultery and murder (II Samuel

Instead of reading the historical books to get moral lessons, always keep the big picture
in mind: “The best of men are men at best” -and, add to that, they are sinners who must be
rescued from sin and death -and they continue to be very imperfect in this life. But God is faithful.
He is full of gracious love. He disciplines his people for their good (Hebrews 12:3ff.). He is
perfectly just. But he is also richly merciful because of his son who would cause both mercy and
justice to kiss one another on the cross, Psalm 85:10. Hallelujah - Praise the Lord!