The Latin word 'biblia' translated as 'bible' literally means "books." The Bible is God's truth about Himself and how we should relate to Him, set in the context of history.
God has given us 66 books. The 39 Old Testament books cover 2000 years and were written by a variety of authors.
Many have an insufficient understanding of the background to the Bible, which is why I first want to touch on a bit of an overview before each book so that we can apply the correct context. It will be brief and won't delve too deep into it the way the books I have been reading do, but will cover the basics we need.
The setting is the region currently known as the Middle East. Israel was at the crossroads of the world with trade routes arriving from all directions. Israel's unique position however was no accident. This location has spiritual significance. God was planting a people at a crossroads where they could be a model for the world and that the whole world could see the blessing that came to people living under God's rule and the consequences that came when they disobeyed.
As previously mentioned, the Old Testament covers over 2000 years of history before the time of Christ. This period of time can be divided into four parts of roughly 500 years each. Each period has a key event, a prominent person and a type of leadership.
In the first period, the patriarchs led Israel: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. In the second period Israel was led by prophets from Moses to Samuel. In the third period they were led by kings from Saul to Zedekiah. The fourth period saw priests take the lead, from Joshua to Calaphas in the time of Christ.
None of the leader types were ideal though and each individual brought his own flaws to the task. The nation needed a leader who was a prophet, priest and a king and they found Him in Jesus. Each stage, therefore, was a foreshadowing of the ideal leader who was to come.
There are essentially two main themes in the Bible:
· What has gone wrong with our world
· How it can be put right
The book of Genesis tells us exactly what the problem is while the rest of the Bible tells us how God is going to put it right by rescuing sinful humanity from itself.