These Books Will Help You Read the Old Testament Confidently
Let's be honest. Some of us are too intimidated to read the Old Testament. It's long. It's old. It's confusing. It's written to other people from ancient cultures. It's just so different. We wonder, "what's the point of it all?"
But at the same time the Old Testament is also full of amazing stories, inspiring truths, and accounts for the majority of our Holy Scriptures. There is so much in there that helps us understand God and shows us how to live a Godly life. The Old Testament doesn't have to be intimidating. We just need to know how to start. Here are a few resources that can guide you in learning how to begin to read and enjoy the Old Testament:
Books To Help You Get Oriented to the Old Testament World:
CASKET EMPTY Timelines. These chronological timelines map out the entire story of Scripture in a visually appealing way. A few years ago we used these resources to help us preach through the entire Bible in one year. All the main points of each historical period are summarized with Scripture references. These are must-haves.
Making Sense of the Old Testament: Three Crucial Questions, by Tremper Longman. This short 3-chapter book offers some keys for understanding the entire Old Testament, answers the question of whether the God of the Old Testament is also the God of the New Testament, and shows how the Christian can apply the Old Testament to current life. I go back to this book often whenever I am teaching other people about the Old Testament.
How to Read the Bible Book by Book, by Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart. Douglas Stuart (who is one of the authors of this book) is the best teacher I have ever sat under. This one is a classic for a reason. Each chapter provides a short 10-pages-ish overview of each book in the Bible. It provides the big picture so that when you are reading through the Old Testament, you don't get lost in the details.
Books to Help You Read Scripture as One Big Story:
The Old Testament is the first part of the story of God rescuing his people. When we see that the Bible is all one story, then all the other pieces make much more sense. Trevin Wax has written an article titled, "12 Books that Showcase The Grand Narrative of Scripture." All of these are good! To this list I'd add just one more:
Echoes of Exodus: Tracing Themes of Redemption through Scripture, by Alastair J. Robets and Andrew Wilson. Andrew Wilson is one of my favorite contemporary teachers. This book is so easy and fun to read, and shows how salvation is weaved throughout the entire Bible. It takes a lot of Old Testament individual stories and shows how they all connect to the New Testament, and ultimately, to Jesus.
Books to Help You Connect the Old Testament with Jesus:
Really, the whole Bible is all about Jesus. It's all about preparing for Jesus, recognizing Jesus, and then living for Jesus. Every book in the Bible helps us do those things, including all 39 books of the Old Testament! These two books help you to see that!
Jesus on Every Page: 10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament, by David Murray. This book helps you see Christ in the Old Testament creation passages, in the old testament characters, the old testament law, and history, and prophets and more. Ugh, I just love it! It'll blow your mind, man!
For those of you who would want a more robust, scholarly version of David Murray's book (but not overly technical at all), you could pick up The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament by Edmund P. Clowney. Clowney's specialty was showing people how every page in Scripture helps us understand Christ better. He is masterful in this area and you won't be disappointed.
I'm just now realizing how nerdy this post is. I'm writing (this blog post) about writings (other books) that help us understand other writings (the Old Testament). Regardless, we need all the help we can get so that we can open up God's Word confidently and receive all the riches inside. My advice: Embrace the nerdiness, take up a book, and read!
- Pastor Mike
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