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The First Five Books of the Bible

For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?

Deuteronomy 4:7

Watch Week Two: Old Testament: The Pentateuch

The thirty-nine books of the Old Testament are organized into five sections. The first five books are the books of Law, also called the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). Moses is traditionally accepted as the author of all five books, and the Pentateuch has an essential role in how we understand the rest of Scripture. This week, we will explore the content of these books, looking first at their backgrounds and context and then at how to interpret and apply them to our lives.

A Beginning Worth Reading

Sometimes we can skip over the beginning pages of a story, dismissing them as boring bits of exposition. However, as the story progresses, we realize that the introductory details are key to understanding the rest of the story. The books of the Law introduce us to key figures, events, and themes that are referenced throughout both the Old and New Testaments. What distinguished Israel from all of the other nations was their relationship to God. Not the size of their population. Not the skills of their musicians or architects. God chose this small nation to model what it looks like to be the people of God. He established a covenant, or promise, with them and entrusted to them his laws and instructions so the nation would reflect his holy character and proclaim his glory. No wonder David, the most well-known king in Israel’s history, extolled the beauty, truth, and goodness of God’s laws, statutes, and judgments contained in these first five books. Their value far outweighs gold, and God promised his presence to the ones who delighted in his words (Deuteronomy 26:16-19).

The plot of Genesis through Deuteronomy revolves around one group of people, Israel, but it lays the foundation for the broader narrative of God’s plan to provide salvation for all people from every nation. Through Jesus, we are children of Abraham by faith (Romans 4:16). The true people of God are those that accept his gift of salvation, whether we’re part of Israel or not. We are family, not because of bloodline, but because of Jesus. That means that our story doesn’t begin in Matthew: it starts in Genesis! The timeless truths captured in these books transcend culture and traverse time.

An Ending Worth the Wait

As we study the Pentateuch, we see a God who wants to be near his people and known among them. As he revealed himself in different ways to Israel, he reveals his Word to us in fresh and exciting ways today. In spite of their failures, God promised Israel a future in which nothing will separate them from him. Not sin, not enemies, not death. We are included in that promise.

Our story will get a new chapter, in which we receive new, glorified bodies to enjoy God’s presence forever. Until then, we pray for the light of his Word to shine in the dark and broken places of our lives.

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Daily Question

Before this study, how have you interacted with the books that make up the Pentateuch, especially Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy? As we start exploring these books this week, what expectations do you have?

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Comments (11)

As I study the Pentateuch this time, I am hopeful to see it and understand it in a new way- to give me the passion and heart like David to lift up the beauty, truth and goodness of God’s laws, statues and judgements so that I can truly appreciate how Jesus came to fulfill the law! As I read and go through this study I pray to have more questions, questions, questions!! May I have the continued hope like Moses of never being separated from God?❤️

I haven’t interacted with them. I made it “easy” on myself and figured they weren’t “for me.”

I usually only read these when reading through the Bible, like in a year or something. And then I read through them as fast as I can so I can get to the more interesting chapters. I’m actually reading Leviticus now and I’m trying to read more carefully.
Sometimes reading I wonder if I should be following some of these rules to please God, like eating shrimp. Maybe I will get better answers to some of my questions.

I love the book of Genesis as it provides a foundational understanding of where we come from and why we are here. Exodus tells a powerful story of God’s desire to provide and protect us, even though we never deserve it. I typically gloss over the other books because they are verses and verses of lineage that I get lost in. I am excited to pick out the gems and missing elements I have overlooked for years.

I am actually pretty familiar with the first five books of the Bible. I expect us to be talking about how the world was first created and what Gods plan was for his people and how his people fully disobeyed him and decided to do their not thing and make their own rules to follow.

I am familiar with these books a lot. I expect us to talk about the world being corrupt and the beginning of the world and a little bit more about the plagues things like that.

I am pretty familiar with the Pentateuch. Honestly, I expect them to be a little boring (lots of measurements and instructions), but also expecting to see God’s forgiveness and redemption of the people and celebration.

I am not really familiar with these books of the Bible(Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). But I hope this study will really show me more about these books and I think it will, I mostly think it will show me a different way of seeing the world, and seeing God’s way of doing things. I can’t say I expect anything, (But if I do), I expect these books of the Bible to be a bit boring, But also interesting since I’m not familiar that familiar with them.

One of my most favorite verses comes from Deuteronomy when Joshua becomes the leader of the Hebrews in Deuteronomy 31. God promises Joshua that He will go before them and will never fail or abandon them. It’s the promise that transcends all time and space because it’s the reiteration of God’s promise to commune and be with us because He loves us! It’s the very promise God ultimately fulfills for all mankind through his son, Jesus! However I did always seem to gravitate towards the NT in the beginning of my walk until my pastor asked me if I would ever pick up any other book and only read from the middle to the end. I never looked as the Bible as one cohesive book until that day but rather 66 individual books compiled together through time to create for us to read the best love story ever written.

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