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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 (13)

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

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?❤️

As the question indicates, Genesis and Exodus, being mainly straightforward narrative, much of it known from a very early age are easy to interact with, even though there are some very confronting stories. However, Leviticus with its detailed laws is fairly dry, though it does make one very aware of the holiness of God, and our propensity for falling into sin. It also,as we are currently studying the beatitudes at church, makes you wonder what is covered by "not one jot or tittle shall pass from the law until all be fulfilled. " Obviously Jesus’ sacrifice replaces all those sacrifices, and Peter’s vision and Paul’s teaching cover the food laws, but what about wearing a mixture of linen and wool? Numbers and its genealogies rather passes over my head, though I was fascinated to find the name Ashkenaz in there, with its possiblelink to the Ashkenazi Jews of today. Deuteronomy we studied in church last term, and I think it boils down to: "We have a great God, who has done wondrous things for us. He has chosen us and promised us a land and blessing if we keep His law and keep the Covenant He made with our forefathers, and we will be cursed if we disobey His laws."
I expect that God will give me deeper insight ino the Pentateuch as we study it.

I haven’t spent much time in Leviticus or Numbers. There is a lot of laws,sacrifices and Numbers with list of descendents, Feasts. It gets long and hard to focus. I will have to try again since this study may help me.
I hope to understand why some of the detail in these books were so important.
In the past I’ve keep Old Testament & New Teatament some what separated, focused more on NT. I hope to really see full picture from God’s Creation and all the happenings in Old Testament that then brought us to the New Testament. God’s patience and love, always coming after us.

I don’t know that I have expectations but I hope to come out of this weeks study with a different outlook on why they have to say and how I see the world……. I know that I don’t know everything an I have a lot to learn!! An what a better way to learn then from everyone here with their very different lives from my ow which brings so many different views of the same scriptures.

Last year I decided to read the Bible in a year thru a bible
Study with Nikki gumble. It really helped understand the whole bible and brought it together for me. Now this study is helping build on what I learned last year.

The first time I read Numbers, I essentially skimmed over all of it because I didn’t feel like I was gaining anything from it and it was just one long list of a bunch of words I couldn’t relate to. I’m hoping I can find a new appreciation for it and better understand why it’s necessary.

Before this study, I have always regarded Numbers as a boring book and the last thing that I would like to read or study. I am expecting this study can inspire me and draw me into the Numbers from a fresh new perspective. I am looking forward to "surprise" 🙂

It was hard to stay focused after reading Genesis and Exodus. I expect to read through these books with a better understanding and appreciation for all the details.

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