Overview of the Bible

Pastor Ken Harrell gives us an overview of the Bible, showing us how it’s laid out so that we can get a better handle on how to understand and approach God’s Word.

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The Full Transcript

Welcome to The Bible for Life Podcast, where we are passionate about leading and equipping people in a growing relationship with Jesus. In today’s episode, Pastor Ken Harrell gives us an overview of the Bible, showing us how it’s laid out so that we can get a better handle on how to understand and approach God’s word. We’re so glad you’ve joined us. And now with today’s episode, here’s Pastor Harrell.

I’m so glad that you’re joining us for our second podcast. Harold Lindsell wrote a book entitled, The battle for the Bible. Let me quote what he said. “For anyone who professes the Christian faith, the root question is this, from where do I get my knowledge on which my faith is based? The answers to this question are varied, of course, but for the Christian at least, it always comes full circle back to the Bible. When all has been said and done, the only true and reliable and dependable source for Christianity lies in the book we call the Bible.” That’s why we’re calling this podcast The Bible for Life.

The word Bible simply means book. So remember that the Bible is not a number of books. It’s one book. You could say the Bible is this, it’s an inspired record of God’s mind in printed form. And what I want to do today is I want to give you an overview of God’s word. There are two testaments. There’s the Old Testament and there’s the New Testament. In each of those, each of the Old and the New Testament, there are four sections in each of those. So let me walk you through this and give you just a basic overview today of both the Old and the New Testament. The first section of the Old Testament are the first five books in the Bible, Genesis to Deuteronomy.

It’s what we call the law or the legal section. It’s called the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch is simply the Greek word that means penta, which means five, and teuchos, which means scroll. Five scrolls. In the law are the writings of Moses, the first five books in the Bible and the time period, it takes you from creation to the first few centuries of the nation of the Jews. And it takes you up until the death of Moses. The Jews call this the Torah, which in Hebrew means law. The next section or the next 12 books in the Old Testament, and it goes from Joshua all the way to Esther, that’s what we call the historical section of the Bible.

So you have the law, the first five books, then the historical section, the next 12 books. And in those 12 books, basically what you find is the history of the Jews, the history is traced. And that leads to the third section in the Old Testament. And that’s the poetical section, the narrative, poetry. It was written mostly by Job and David and Solomon. The books are Job and Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. So now you have one more section and that’s the prophetical section that goes from the Book of Isaiah all the way to the end of the Old Testament, the Book of Malachi. And in the prophetical section, what you find are a number of predictions that relate to Israel and a number of predictions that relate to the Messiah because Jesus had yet to come.

The writings of… First you find Isaiah and Jeremiah who wrote the Book of Jeremiah and also Lamentations. You got Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. It’s what we call the major prophets. And then Hosea all the way to the last prophet, Malachi, it’s what we call the minor prophets. Why do we call them major prophets and minor prophets? We say that because of the size of the books, not the content. For instance, the Book of Jeremiah has 52 chapters. The Book of Nehemiah has three. Isaiah has 66 chapters. The Book of Haggai has two. But understand this, it’s based on its size not the content. All books are major in their importance. All of those books in the prophetical section of the Old Testament are equally inspired.

So don’t make the mistake of thinking the Book of Isaiah or Jeremiah is more important than the Book of Zachariah or Malachi. It’s like if you have a red letter edition of the New Testament, by that, it means that when you see the red letters, that’s Jesus speaking. And some people make the grave mistake of thinking well, those words are more important than the other words of the New Testament. Not so, it’s just telling us and showing us what words Jesus all scriptures given by inspiration of God. But before we move beyond the Old Testament, I want to talk just for a moment about the final word of the Old Testament, because it helps you to understand the feeling of the people who lived under the law.

The last word in the Old Testament is found in Malachi chapter four, verse six. And the word is curse. You see, when you come to the end of the Old Testament, they have no hope. There’s no answer. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Only a feeling of a curse. They had been lost and taken into Babylon, into the captivity. They found their way back to the land. Yes, they rebuilt the wall and the city and the temple, but it wasn’t the glory that it was before. You see, they had come under the curse of the law and they needed help. Now between the Old Testament and the New Testament, there’s 400 years, it’s what we call the intertestamental period, 400 years. But I don’t want you to miss this.

Don’t think for a moment that during those 400 years, though there was a pause in the inspired record, there was no pause in divine activity because what was happening during the 400 years, God was casting a highway for both the coming of the Messiah and the spread of the gospel. For instance, during that 400 year period, Greece rose to glory and Greece made the world begin to think about things like conscience, and the soul, and immortality. During that intertestamental period, the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek, the Septuagint, because the predominant language there in Israel at that time had become Greek. The Jews were scattered around the world in the diaspora.

And during this intertestamental period in the second and particularly first period B.C., Rome became a world power in the Middle East and the West. And if you’ve heard probably that phrase, all roads lead to Rome, well, Rome began a network of roads so that all roads did lead to Rome. But what they didn’t realize is God, the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord. And those roads would be there to take the gospel all over the world. And so during that 400 years where God was silent as far as speaking, divine activity was anything but silence. But 400 years after Malachi’s ink dried, the New Testament began to be written.

There are four sections in the New Testament also. The first section is what we call the gospels. That’s Matthew to John. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Think of the gospels like this, that each of those men… Think of like they had a camera and they’re taking snapshots of Jesus Christ. Now, they don’t cover everything. John, when he came to the end of the Gospel of John, John wrote these words and there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. So the gospels don’t tell us everything. They’re just snapshots. They all have different viewpoints of the very same scene, but they see things differently.

They saw the scenes differently. It’s like if someone were to come on these 22 acres here at Northwest Bible and four people have a camera. And one takes a picture just coming into our entrance of this acreage. Another one would be on a telephone pole with a camera looking down. One would be over to the West of our property. And the other one would be some other place. Four pictures of the same building but from a different perspective, a different angle. And you know what God did? God didn’t destroy the individuality of the writer. They weren’t exhaustive. No, none of them were exhaustive, but they’re in harmony with each other.

And that explains why one of the writers in the gospel may mention a miracle or miracle so much of the time and another would hardly mention miracles. Let me give you a breakdown of that first section. Matthew presented Jesus as the gospel, the regal gospel. He presented Jesus as a king. And so he traces the lineage of Christ as a king. He traces back to Abraham showing the lineage as a regal one. Whereas Mark traces no lineage at all because Jesus is presented in the Gospel of Mark as a servant and a servant’s lineage was not very important. Who back then cared for the roots of a servant? Luke was a physician and he traces the roots of Jesus back as a man to Adam.

Well, John has no genealogy at all because God has no beginning. And John presents Jesus as very God himself. That’s the first section of the gospels. The second section is the historical section. That’s the Book of Acts. And that shows the progress of history that began to take place after the ascension of Jesus and the birth of the church. There’s a third section in the Old Testament and that’s the epistles, 21 books, 14 written by Paul, two by Peter, one by James. John wrote three and Jude wrote one. Paul wrote a number of letters to the churches and he wrote to the pastors also. That’s the third section. So we have the gospels, the historical, and the epistles.

And that leads one more section, and it’s just one book. It’s the prophetical section. And it’s the Book of Revelation. Folks, what you have in the Bible is we have 40 writers who wrote over a period of 1600 years from Moses all the way to John, the Old Testament was written in Hebrew. The New Testament in Koinonia Greek. When you study the Bible, remember this, there are three things that really the Bible is constantly speaking about, people, events, and truth, doctrine. You can trace your way through the Bible by just calling to mind the men and women of the Bible. You can take the events of the Bible and you can trace your way all the way from Genesis to Revelation, creation, fall, flood.

You can go through the scripture by just naming the events. But there’s one more thing that I want to say. And that is, there’s a central theme to the Bible. And the central theme of the Bible is salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t miss that because if you do, you’re just going to… things just are going to get all muddy, they’re not going to fall together. You see, when you read the Old Testament, remind yourself, I’m reading before Christ came. Some are going to relate to the coming of Jesus. The New Testament, orient yourself wherever you are in the Bible to the sections of the Bible so that you’re able to think about Jesus.

Dr. Adrian Rogers said, “Cut the Bible anywhere and it will bleed. The blood of Jesus stains every page.” So think of this as it relates to each book in the Bible. Let me take some of the books. Let me take you… I’m not through all 66, but let me just mention a few. In Genesis, Jesus, you see the promised redeemer. Every book in the Bible folks, every page is stained as Dr. Rogers said, with the blood of Jesus. Dr. Scroggie in his book, The Unfolding Drama of Redemption says that there is a red thread going all the way from Genesis to Revelation. And that red thread represents the blood of Jesus. Genesis, you see he’s the promised redeemer. In Exodus, he’s the Passover lamb.

In Leviticus, he’s the atoning sacrifice. In Numbers, you see he’s the bronze serpent lifted up. In Ruth, he’s our kinsmen redeemer. In first Samuel, he’s the prophet, priest, and king. In Nehemiah, he’s the one who restores what is broken down. In Job, he’s the mediator between God and man. In Isaiah, he’s the suffering servant. In Daniel, he’s the stranger in the fire with us. Hosea, in Hosea, he’s the faithful husband even when we run away. In Obadiah, he’s the judge of those who do evil. Micah, he cast our sin into the sea of forgetfulness. In Zephaniah, he’s the warrior who saves. When you get to the New Testament, Matthew presents him as a king. Mark, he’s a servant. In Luke, he’s a deliverer.

In John, he is God in the flesh. Paul said in Galatians, “He’s our very life.” In Philippians, he’s the joy of our life. In First Thessalonians, he’s our comfort in the last days. Second Thessalonians, he’s our returning king. First Timothy, he’s the savior of the worst sinners. Second Timothy, he’s the leader of leaders. In Titus, the foundation of truth. In Philemon, he’s our mediator. In Hebrews, he’s our high priest. The final book in the Bible, the Book of Revelation, he’s the king of kings and Lord of Lords, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. And he’s coming again. And the one who makes all things new.

So folks, listen, all the way from Genesis to Revelation, Christ is the central theme and the blood of Jesus Christ that brings salvation, you see it on every page. Let me close with this story. My father, one of his good friends was Dr. Harry Clark. Both my dad and Dr. Clark are in heaven now. Dr. Clark was the last song leader that the great evangelist, Billy Sunday had. Dr. Clark told this story about Billy Sunday. Billy was preaching in the City of Chicago in a revival meeting, but he thought it was a very unsuccessful experience. And on one of the evenings, he went back to his motel and he was discouraged. But when he got back to the motel, he took out a pencil and a pad of paper and he began to write these words.

I quote. “29 years ago with the Holy Spirit as my guide, I entered at the portico of Genesis, walked down the corridor of the Old Testament art galleries where pictures of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Isaac, Jacob, and Daniel hung on the wall. I passed into the music room of Psalms where the spirit sweeps the keyboard of nature until it seems that every reed and pipe in God’s great organ responds to the harp of David, the sweet singer of Israel. I entered the chamber of Ecclesiastes, where the voice of the preacher is heard, and into the conservatory of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley where sweet spices filled and perfumed my life.

I entered the business office of Proverbs and on into the observatory of the prophets where I saw the telescopes of various sizes pointing to far off events, concentrating on the bright and morning star, which was to rise above the moonlit hills of Judea for our salvation and redemption. I entered the audience room of the King of Kings, catching a vision written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Thence into the correspondence room with Paul, Peter, James, and John writing the epistles. I stepped into the throne room of Revelation where tower the glittering peaks, where sits the King of Kings upon his throne of glory with the healing of nations in his hands, and I cried out, ‘All hail the power of Jesus’ name, let angels prostrate fall. Bring forth the royal diadem and crown him Lord of all.'”

That’s what Billy Sunday wrote as he remembered what the word of God had done to his life. You see folks, when you study the scriptures, you’re studying either in part or in whole, a testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanks again for listening. If you’d like to know more about Northwest Bible Church, visit us at nwbible.org. Until next time, remember, for the issues of life for the rest of your life, it’s the Bible for life.