The Structure of the Old Testament

Here is the key to understanding the Old Testament. Of the thirty-nine books in the Old Testament, there are three different kinds of books: Historical Books, Poetical Books, and Prophetical Books.

What kind of information would you expect to find the Historical Books? . . .  history!

What kind of information would you expect to find in the Poetical Books? . . . poetry!

What kind of information would you expect to find in the Prophetical Books? . . .  prophecy!


If you know what kind of book you are reading, then you will know what kinds of information to expect, and you can easily follow the logical flow of the Old Testament.

. . . the first seventeen books are historical,

. . . the next five books are poetical, and

. . . the next seventeen books are prophetical!

This is somewhat oversimplified, because there is some poetry in the Historical Books, and some history in the Prophetical Books, etc.  The point is, however, that each of the books fits into a primary category. If you keep this structure in mind, the Old Testament will begin to take shape for you.

My mistake was in assuming that the whole Old Testament was one long, unbroken story and that the history would flow evenly and consistently out of one book into the next until they were all finished. Now I know that the story line is contained in the first 17 books.

614wle0fkkl-_sx348_bo1204203200_Taken from 30 Days to Understand the Bible by Max Anders.


We talk at Explore today about the covenant God makes with Abram.  God also made covenant with Noah, and with Moses and the Israelite people.

I love this article by David Matthew about Covenants in the Bible.  Here’s an excerpt:

Covenant is a major biblical theme, central to the record of God’s dealings with his people. At its simplest, a covenant is an arrangement or agreement. Scripture majors on the covenants that God made with his people down the ages. He made covenants with key characters like Noah and Abraham. Later, after the exodus, he entered into a law-based covenant with the Israelites, sometimes called ‘the old covenant’. Then, following the death and resurrection of Jesus, he inaugurated the greatest one of all: the ‘new covenant’, ratified by Christ’s own blood.

Every covenant has clear-cut terms. Built into it are benefits for holding to it and sanctions for breaking it. And because we can’t bargain with God, he sets the terms unilaterally. All people can do is accept or refuse them.

To become a Christian is to accept the terms of the ‘new covenant’. The arrangement is that God offers eternal life as a gift. The terms declare that it can’t be earned or bought by human contribution. God offers it purely on the basis of what Jesus did by dying for sin on the cross, and we receive it by faith. When we come to God on that basis he accepts us—bound by the terms of his own covenant to do so.


I Decided I was going to Master the Bible.

Many years ago, I decided I was going to master the Bible. I was going to begin with Genesis and read through Revelation, and I wasn’t going to put it down until I understood it. I soon became hopelessly entangled in a jungle of fantastic stories, unpronounceable names, broken plots, unanswered questions, and endless genealogies. I stubbed my toe on Leviticus, sprained my ankle on Job, hit my head on Ecclesiastes, and fell headlong into the mud on Habakkuk.

I was defeated. I threw my Bible down, concluding that the Bible was a series of unrelated stories put together in random order!

Then one day I discovered a key. With this key, the fog that enshrouded my understanding of the Bible began to lift. Not that things came into sharp focus, but at least I began to see shapes on the horizon.

The key: Learning the structure of the Bible. If you want to learn architecture, you must first learn how the buildings are put together. If you want to learn sailing, you must first learn how ships are put together. And if you want to learn to understand the Bible, you must first learn how the Bible is put together.   Continue reading “I Decided I was going to Master the Bible.”