An Old Testament Survey
for Modern Day Christians

Old Testament Survay

The value of an Old Testament survey is declared by the New Testament.  In reference to the Old Testament, the apostle Paul wrote...

Romans 15.4:  “for whatever things were written beforehand, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” 

The Old Testament is there for our learning.  When I read the Old Testament I am encouraged to endure the hostility and antagonism that is expressed toward me because of my life as a Christian.  My ability to endure the suffering, and the comfort I get from the scriptures helps me to live a life, not of discouragement, but of hope.  There is value in studying the Old Testament.

Another passage that reminds me of the value of the Old Testament is found in 1 Corinthians 10.  During Old Testament times, the children of Israel refused to accept the land of Canaan that God had promised them.  As a result, God sentenced them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years during which time the older generation would die and the younger generation would grow up, be brought back to Canaan, and given the change to accept it. 

Paul refers to this time in 1 Corinthians 10 where he writes about what happened to the children of Israel during this time.  Why do we have this history revealed to us in the Old Testament?  What impact do these Old Testament events have in our lives today?  Paul answers that question in the next verse.

1 Corinthians 10.6:  “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.”

Have you read the expression?  “Those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  The Old Testament is valuable because we can read about their mistakes and learn from their example. 

Paul goes on to describe their idolatry (1 Cor. 10.7), their sexual immorality (1 Cor. 10.8), their testing the patience of God (1 Cor. 10.9), their constant complaining (1 Cor. 10.10).  He then writes...

1 Corinthians 10.11:  “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”

An Old Testament Survey Helps Me Today

When I do an Old Testament survey, I can learn about the faith of Abraham.  I can read about the strength of Daniel.  I can read about the patience of Job.  I can learn about the character and nature of God.   Other valuable insights can be gained from… 

 Most important, when I read do an Old Testament survey I learn about what God did in preparation for the coming of Christ.

 Old Testament Survey
What is the Old Testament About?

Paul wrote to Titus saying that eternal life was what “God who cannot lie promised before time began”  (Titus 1.2).  Similarly, Peter wrote this statement in reference to Jesus…

1 Peter 1.20:  “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you”

Even before God said, “Let there be light”  (Gen. 1.3), God had a plan to bring His Son into the world, so that God could offer salvation through Jesus.  The Old Testament is the historical record of how God executed that plan.

Throughout all of the history that we read about in the Old Testament, it had a single purpose in mind.  From an Old Testament survey we read about the coming of a Savior through the lineage of the Jewish nation, the nation of Israel.

When you first open up the Bible and begin reading Genesis, it does not take you long before you come to the first man and woman who violated God’s law and sinned  (Gen. 3.1-6).  From that point, the Old Testament unfolds the plan of God to provide the solution for the problem of sin by bringing His Son into the world.  We read about…

  • Joseph the dreamer (one of the sons of Israel), whose role in history resulted in the growth of the children of Israel into the nation of Israel.
  • Potiphar and Pharaoh both of whom unwittingly played a critical role in independence of Israel.
  • Moses who, although he thought himself to be a nobody, showed the greatness God could achieve with a nobody as he led the nation of Israel into the promise land.
  • The nation of Israel which eventually became a divided kingdom.
  • The nation of Israel going to war with the Philistine from which we can read about David and his coming of age fighting against Goliath.
  • The son of David named Solomon, with the wisdom given to him shown in so many ways including the honor shown to him by Queen Vashti.

Through all this history, we read about how the nation of Israel was preserved, protected, and guided by God through His providence, His miraculous intervention, His Law, and His prophets.  Why?  It would be through this nation that a Savior would be born who is Jesus, the Christ, the one who would save the world from their sins.

The first mention of this plan is found shortly after Adam and Eve sinned.  

Genesis 3.15:  “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed;  He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

If we were do an Old Testament survey and give a summary, it would be this.  The Old Testament tells us that Jesus is coming.  In contrast, the New Testament tells us that Jesus has come, and will come again.

Old Testament Survey
Books of the Old Testament

An Old Testament survey finds that the Old Testament consists of 39 volumes and can be divided into four major categories:  Books of Law, History, Poetry, and Prophecy.  Throughout each section I can read about the people of Israel chosen by God to be His special people through whom God would bring forth His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Books of Law

The first five books of the Old Testament are considered the books of Law.  These five books are also known collectively the Torah, or the books of the law.  Additionally, they are known as the Pentateuch.

  1. Genesis
  2. Exodus
  3. Leviticus
  4. Numbers
  5. Deuteronomy

The author of these five books is undoubtedly Moses.  Skeptics disagree with the assertion that Moses wrote the Pentateuch.  However, the Bible itself claims to have been authored by Moses. 

John 1.45:  “Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’”

Books of History

 At the end of Deuteronomy, Moses dies and Joshua is appointed by God as the new leader over Israel.  The next series of books are...

  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Kings
  •  2 Kings
  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Esther

Books of Poetry

     The Old Testament books of poetry include...

  • Job
  • Psalms
  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Solomon

Books of Prophecy

Israel was not only governed by the Law of Moses, but also through the prophets.  In the New Testament book of Hebrews, the writer reminds us that...   

Hebrews 1.1:  “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds”

The phrase, "in times past" refers to the Old Testament time in which God would communicate to the nation of Israel through the prophets.  The books of prophecy can be divided into two categories.

The Minor Prophets

These prophets are so called not because they are of less significance than the other prophets or had a lesser impact and influence on the lives the Israelites.  The description of minor prophets relates to the length of their books.  Obadiah has only one chapter.  Jonah only has four chapters. 

There are twelve minor prophets in the Old Testament...

  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi

The Major Prophets

 As is the case with the minor prophets, the major prophets are so described because of the more lengthy nature of their books.  There are five major Old Testament books of prophecy which were written by four prophets...

  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations
  • Ezekiel
  • Daniel


Old Testament Survey
Is the Old Testament Binding Today?

We have seen the value of an Old Testament survey.  There is so much that can be learned from the Old Testament.  We ought never to neglect it’s lessons and valuable insight into the character of God.

However, are the laws of the Old Testament binding on man today?  Are Christians obligated to keep the Ten Commandments?  What about the Lunar Sabbath?  Does the tabernacle of Old Testament times have any relevancy to us?

There are several points of comparison between the Old and New Testament.  However, the New Testament tells us that the Old Testament laws were only binding on the nation of Israel up until the time of the death of Jesus.  In fact, it was the apostle Paul who referenced the Old Testament Law saying…

Colossians 2.14:   “having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

In a powerful letter explaining the temporary nature of the Old Testament Law, Paul anticipated the Jew’s objections.  If the Law is no longer in effect, then what was the point of the Old Testament Law?  Paul explains…

Galatians 3.19:  “What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.”

Notice that the Old Testament Law was to be in effect “until the Seed should come.”  Earlier that Seed is identified as Jesus  (Gal. 3.16).  He furthermore explains…

Galatians 3.24,25:  “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”

The Old Testament is described as a tutor whose job was to bring us to Christ.  After Christ came and the New Testament Law of faith was established, we are no longer bound to the Old Testament Law. 

The Old Testament Law is no longer binding on man today?  If we are no longer the Old Testament Law including the Ten Commandments, can we say that murder is still a sin?  Of course it is.  But it is not a sin because it violates the Ten Commandments.  It is a sin because it violates the Laws of Christ. 

The Old Testament survey shows it to be a valuable part of our Bibles that needs to be studied and understood in context.  However, our lives are not governed by the laws of the Old Testament but that of the New Testament.

> Old Testament Survey

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.