One of the things I find disheartening in the modern church is the lack of history and logic to understand our faith. Many young people today are not just confused about Christianity, they are not educated on the basic storyline of their Bible and how their Bible came to be. I went to church my entire life without ever learning how all of the books of the Bible relate perfectly to one another.
Current culture has made the Bible seem to be a book of lies written by corrupt
men (Dan Brown anyone?). So I think it is very important to know the
facts and get familiar with the history behind your Bible and how it was
put together. I am going to start this series by talking about how your
Bible is put together and the storyline it contains as a whole. We can then move into the
history and accuracy of the book in later posts.
Today I want you to flip with me to the table of contents in your Bible. Here is a picture of mine:
Notice all the little brackets? My church a few years ago did a series on understanding the storyline of your Bible from point A to point Z. One of the things they had me do was mark up my table of contents, and I have found it very useful for me to refer to while I am reading my Bible.
The first section you can bracket off is the books of Genesis through Deuteronomy. This section is call the Books of the Law. It talks about the fall of man, the forming of the Israeli nation, and the laws which were given to them to keep them in God's favor.
The second section you can bracket is the books of Joshua through Esther. These books are the Books of History. Any of you who are working through this area of your Bible may agree with me when I say this can be a bit of a rough read sometimes. I am reading through the old testament right now and just got to 1 Chronicles, where the first 10 chapters are simply listing names. These books tell the history of the nation of Israel. One thing to keep in mind is that these books are not in chronological order. For example, 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles both tell the story of King David. This is why many people think it is wise not to read the Bible in order from front to back, as the books are not in a Chronological order.
The third section to bracket is Job through Song of Songs. These books are called the Books of Wisdom. Any of you can who have waded through Proverbs or Psalms can guess why they are called that, as they are full of wise counsel.
The fourth section is Isaiah all the way to Malachi (the end of the Old Testament). This section is call the Books of Prophecy. It is in this section that we see prophet after prophet sent to the Israeli people trying to turn them back to the Lord. We also see prophecy here of the coming of Jesus Christ the Messiah.
Now moving into the New Testament, Matthew through John are known as the Gospels, or the accounts of the life of Jesus.
The book of Acts is in a bracket all its own, as it is the only Book of History in the New Testament.
The next section is Romans through Jude, and these are all called the Epistles. If you look up the meaning of the word Epistle, is means a letter written to a group of people. We know that these books are all written by followers of Jesus in the early church who were writing to spread the book news of Jesus Christ.
The last book in the Bible, Revelation, is in a bracket by itself, and is called the Apocalypse. Many people believe that the word Apocalypse means "the end of the world", but in fact it means a revelation of something hidden. If any of you have tried to read Revelation, you will know that it is full of metaphors, and the real meaning is often very difficult to decipher without lots of historical and cultural insight.
In the next post of this series I will expand on each of these sections and how their storylines tie together.