As we strive to Know His Word more deeply in 2018, we’ll be reading the Bible together in genres. Our hope is that together we will see how each book of the Bible fits into the overarching story of Scripture. On the first day of each month, we’ll walk through a new biblical genre together. This month, we’ll be looking at the books of Law.
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. These five books start the Bible and the world. Genesis begins with the story of how we came to be.
“In the beginning …”
As we read the Books of Law, we read about beginnings. We read about the creation of the world, the creation of humans. We read about God’s people, how He longs to be with them, and how He wants them to be set apart from those around them. The Law is our foundation as believers.
The Law, or the Pentateuch, can also be a difficult read. Once you get past the familiar (and maybe not-so-familiar) stories of Genesis and Exodus, it’s easy to get bogged down in the tedious and sometimes downright weird laws in Leviticus. We see a variety of literary genres within these first five books. There is law, hence the division title, but one can also find historical narrative, poetry, statistics, a travel log, proverbs, etc.
Like every book of the Bible, the overarching theme of these first five books points us to God. He is revealing Himself to His creation over and over again throughout all the genres found in the Pentateuch.
In Genesis, God is our creator, our covenant maker. In Exodus, He reveals Himself as I AM. In Leviticus, He is our high priest. In Numbers, He guides the Israelites. In Deuteronomy, we see God as holy.
We love how the CSB Study Bible puts each book in light of the rest of Scripture:
Genesis lays the groundwork for everything else we read and experience in Scripture. Through Genesis we understand where we came from, how we got in the fallen state we are in, and the beginnings of God’s gracious work on our behalf. For the Israelite community, the stories of the origins of humanity, sin, and the covenant relationship with God helped them understand why God gave them the law.
Exodus provides the high point of redemptive history in the OT. Many patterns and concepts from Exodus receive attention, further development, and fulfillment elsewhere in Scripture, especially in the past, present, and future work of the Lord Jesus. These include rescue from oppression, provision of sustenance, God’s faithfulness to His promises, the presence of God, a new identity for people that is based on God’s actions, obedience and rebellion, and gracious forgiveness.
Leviticus is often neglected because Christians have misunderstood its message and purpose. This was not true of Jesus, who designated “love your neighbor as yourself” (19:18) as the second greatest commandment (Mt. 22:39). The apostle Paul considered these words the summation of the Mosaic commandments (Rm 13:9; Gl 5:14). The writer of Hebrews relied on the images of Leviticus in describing the person and role of Jesus Christ: sacrifice, the priesthood, and the Day of Atonement (Heb 4:14–10:18). Studying Leviticus gives us a deeper devotion to Jesus Christ, a stronger worship of God, and a better understanding of daily Christian living.
Numbers shows us how God responded to the unbelief of the Israelites. There are consequences to our disobedience, but God’s grace remains and His redemptive plan and desire for us will not be stopped. The book of Numbers underscores for us the importance of obedience in the life of a Christian, and Paul reminded us of the value of learning from the way God has worked in the past (Rm 15:4; 1 Co 10:6,11).
Next to the books of Psalms and Isaiah, the NT alludes to Deuteronomy more than any other book in the OT. This is true not only in terms of the sheer number of instances but especially in the passages where theological truth seems most to be at issue. Jesus and the apostles considered Deuteronomy of paramount importance to their own teaching about God and His dealings with His chosen people and humanity at large.
So that’s why we’re reading these first five books of the Bible. We’re reading them to get to know God better, to fall more deeply in love with Him, and to understand the whole of His Word.
Here is a reading plan with selected passages from the Books of Law to read this month. We know some of the selections are a little longer, but we also put some space in over the weekend, in case you need to catch up. We can’t wait to read and learn alongside you. Here’s a PDF of the February reading plan to print!
We would love to hear what you’re learning as we read through His Word together. Share on social media with the hashtag #KnowHisWord18, so we can learn together! We’ve also included an image below, featuring a verse we’ll read this month, perfect for Instagram.