Old testament survey

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• In Genesis 16, the suggestion regarding Hagar did not come from Abraham or God, but from Abraham’s wife, Sarah.

C. Code of Hammurabi (c. 1750 BC) para. 146:

• “When a man has married a lady and she has given a female slave to her husband, and the slave has borne children, if later the female slave claims equality with her mistress because she has borne children, her mistress may not sell her, but she may brand her with the slave-mark and count her among the slaves.”


A. In the culture of Abraham, people offered human sacrifices to their gods.

B. Abraham struggled between faith and culture.

1. Sometimes God used Abraham’s culture as a means to communicate with him.

2. At other times, Abraham’s culture was in conflict with the will of God.

3. God allowed Abraham to go as far as the altar and then He stopped him. He made him realize two things.

a. God does not require human sacrifice.

• God is not like the gods of the heathens.

b. God wants Abraham to put Him first, even before his son.

• It is important for us to love God first.

C. Isaac and Jacob

1. Isaac had a son and his name was Israel.

2. The word “Israel” actually applied to different things at different times in the Old Testament.

a. Israel was the name of a man.

b. Israel was a whole group of tribes descended from Jacob. All of these tribes together used the Covenant name “Israel.” It meant “a covenant relationship between the tribes.”

c. Later, there was a Kingdom of Israel (The Northern Kingdom).


A. Joseph is a preserver of the family.

B. Moses is a deliverer of a nation.

C. The Burning Bush (Exodus 3)

1. The burning bush itself is a statement from God: a statement not in words but as powerful as any words could be.

2. The sight of a burning bush in the desert was nothing special, just a dry thorn bush catching fire under the hot sun.

a. Soon it would be gone leaving nothing but a patch of blackened earth.

b. It could never last more than two or three minutes without burning itself up.

3. But what caught Moses’ attention was precisely this: The fire blazed, but the bush was not destroyed by the fire.

a. The fire burned on and on!

b. The thing was unnatural.

c. Moses was drawn to this phenomenon; this strange occurrence.

4. There was nothing weird about the bush, nothing supernatural at all. It was just an ordinary bush.

a. It was the fire that was supernatural: a fire that needed no fuel, that existed in itself.

b. It was self-sufficient and self-existent.

5. God spoke to Moses in this phenomenon as “I AM THAT I AM.”

a. That is: “I am self-existent and do not depend on anything.”

b. He is Eternal in Himself and causes all things to be.

c. The universe depends upon Him.

6. This was a special revelation to Moses.

D. A series of plagues of judgment

1. Directed to the gods of Egypt

2. To make Pharaoh let the Israelites go

3. To make the Israelites learn how great God is

4. The last judgment: the killing of all firstborn children and the Passover

5. The Passover lamb was a type of Jesus Christ.


A. Exodus: The Israelites miraculously came out of Egypt.

1. They went through the sea.

2. They came to Mount Sinai where God made a Covenant with the Israelites. This is the heart of the Old Testament.

B. Suzerain/Vassal Treaty: a treaty between a great king and one who was under his control.

1. Excavations in Huttusas, ancient capital of the Hittites, royal archives, treaty documents, parity treaties, suzerain treaties

2. A Suzerain Treaty was similar to the Covenant God made at Mount Sinai.
(Exodus 19-20, 24)

a. Not only did the Hittites use this type of treaty, but also those throughout the Ancient Near East.

b. Example of what a Hittite king would say in treaty:

i. First, it started with his name and title.

ii. “These are the words of the Sun Suppiluliumas: the great king, the king of the Hatti land, the valiant, the courageous, the favorite of the
Storm-god . . . .”

3. Outline of Suzerain Treaty (after name and title):

a. Historical prologue: benefits basis for loyalty

b. Principles: only one Suzerain

c. Stipulations: do and don’t do in specific situations

d. Curses and blessings

4. Oath, treaty written in documents; documents put in temple

5. Apply the outline of the Suzerain Treaty to the text of the Covenant in

Exodus 19-20, 24; Deuteronomy 28.

6. One principle and nine commandments

a. “. . . no other God but me.”

b. The nine commandments followed.

7. The tablets of stone were in the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle.

8. Why did God choose an international treaty?

a. Israel then acted as a nation, a body politic, for the first time.

b. Israel was recognizing that God was sovereign, existed independent of Israel, and was God of the whole earth.

C. Detailed codes

1. Ancient law codes

a. It is not only in Suzerain treaties that we find a parallel to the Covenant.

b. There are also parallels between the law of the Old Testament and the law codes of other ancient nations in the Near East.

2. Examples

a. The code of Hammurabi, King of Babylon, ca. 1750 BC

b. The code of Bilalama, Amorite King of Eshnunna, ca. 1885 BC

c. The laws of Lipit-Ishtar, King of Isin, ca. 1875 BC

3. One notable difference is that where the other ancient law codes vary degrees of punishment according to the rank of the person, the Old Testament treats all men alike.

D. Do the laws of the Old Testament apply to Christians?

1. Some try to separate the Ten Commandments from the rest of the Old Testament laws. No.

2. Exodus 21:16 forbids kidnapping.

a. It’s not in the Ten Commandments, but it’s wrong today.

b. How do we decide?

i. Old Testament law?

ii. Culture?

iii. Principle?

c. The Law

3. Deuteronomy 22:1, 8

4. Love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:8-10).

5. The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament.


1. Review Abraham’s struggle between his relationship with God and his culture. Then discuss some conflicts between your own culture and the Law of God.

2. How do Christians in your culture generally respond when faced with such struggles?

3. How do the laws of the Old Testament apply to Christians? Discuss by citing some laws in the Old Testament that are repeated in the New Testament.


1. Study the ancient treaty and law codes in this lesson and compare them with these passages:

a. Exodus 19-20, 24

b. Deuteronomy 28

2. Use the format of the Suzerain Treaty to outline these passages.

3. What important lessons can you learn from this treaty?


SESSION 6: The Tabernacle Worship


In the last session, we stopped at the Covenant God made with Israel at Mount Sinai. We saw that this Covenant was in the form of an international treaty and that God played the part of a Great King, the Overlord, while Israel pledged allegiance to the Lord. We also saw that the Covenant involved laws, not only the Ten Commandments, but laws for the lives of the people which reflected the nature of God.

There is another side to the Covenant that has to do with ceremonial and religious rituals. They set aside one of their tribes: the tribe of Levi, as priests. God gave them many details on how to worship Him. They were to set up a tent that was to be big and beautiful.



• There are three important reasons for the Tabernacle and the religious rituals.

A. The Tabernacle helped to unify the people of Israel.

1. The Tabernacle was in the center of the camp.

2. The Tabernacle represented the Covenant with God because inside of it was the

Ark of the Covenant.

3. Inside the Ark of the Covenant were the tablets of stone with the Ten Commandments on them.

B. The Tabernacle taught Israel a spiritual message.

1. The Israelites had to learn about holiness.

2. The word holy, “qadosh” means: set apart; to be treated with respect.

a. Remember Moses at the burning bush.

b. “The place where you are standing on is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).

3. One of the most urgent needs we have among Christians right now is a vision of the holiness of God.

a. Holiness is not a static but a dynamic idea.

b. What is holiness?

i. Usually people think of it as righteousness, as moral purity.

ii. But how can a patch of the Sinai desert have ethical or moral attributes?

4. What is holy ground?

a. There is a clue to the meaning of this in the anointing oil of the sanctuary.

b. In the Ancient East, people loved to anoint themselves with fragrant anointing oil just as we use after-shave or perfume.

c. In Exodus 30:22-33, the Lord gives instructions to Moses on how to prepare the anointing oil for the priest and all the objects in the Tabernacle.

• Exodus 30:31-32: “This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations. It shall not be poured on man’s flesh; nor shall you make any other like it, according to its composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you.”

5. That which is holy is set apart; it is special and separate.

a. In the Tabernacle, the various pots and pans and utensils were holy, not because they were made of gold (which they were), and certainly not because they had any moral quality (which they did not), but because they were to be used in the service of God.

b. The Tabernacle containers were not to be used just to cook dinner or to throw out the slops; they were for God, and God alone, vessels of honor.

c. The Israelites were not to regard anything associated with Yahweh as an object of familiarity or contempt.

d. What is touched by God is special and must be regarded with respect and reverence.

e. George Carey: “In the Bible, the term holy is invariably a dynamic, not a static, notion. It implies separation for God’s service. Holy things and holy people are those objects and people set aside for God’s use. They are not set aside for nothing, but for a definite and exclusive purpose . . . The Church’s holiness is inextricably linked with its mission to represent Jesus Christ in the world.” (George Carey, A Tale of Two Churches, IVF, 1985, pp. 138, 39.)

6. God says to us, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

7. What is the holiness of God Himself?

a. The holiness of God encompasses all His attributes.

b. It is like a diamond cut to an infinite number of facets, each one on fire with the light and splendor of His glory: that majestic serenity, that awesome purity, that divine power, that inexpressible beauty, that limitless knowledge, that inescapable presence, that unfathomable wisdom, that incorruptible justice, that boundless love, that inexhaustible grace.

c. When God calls us to be holy, He asks us for nothing less than to manifest His character in the world, to reflect His person in the mirror of our souls and our lifestyles.

8. Sin could be atoned for.

a. The law gave consciousness of sin, but sin could be atoned for and covered.

• Romans 3:20: “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

b. Atonement, sacrifice, the animal: an extension of Himself

c. John the Baptist was a preparation for the coming of Christ.

C. The Tabernacle was a “type” (symbol) of Christ.

1. Typology, the book of Hebrews

2. “The Law having a shadow of the things to come . . . .” (Hebrews 10:1)

• It foreshadowed Christ.

3. Isaiah 53; 1 Peter 1:19-20; Revelation 5:6a, 9-12

4. “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14)

5. Now the people are ready to enter the Promised Land.


A. God’s Command (Joshua 1:1-4)

B. God’s Promises (Joshua 1:5-8)

• When the leaders and their people obeyed the law of God, they were blessed.

C. Crossing the Jordan (Joshua 3:15)


1. How did God teach His people holiness through the Tabernacle, and what lessons can Christians learn from this?

2. How did God prepare the Israelites before they could enter the Promised Land, and what principles can we learn from this as we claim God’s promises for us?


1. Study the book of Galatians and explain the connection between the Law and the Gospel.

2. Consider the Biblical concept of holiness.

a. What does holiness mean to you personally?

b. What does your church teach about holiness?

c. What are some things that you can do to promote a vision of the holiness of God among your fellow believers?


SESSION 7: Joshua, Judges, and Ruth


We are going to pick up this lesson from where we stopped in the last session. We are going to look at the land.



A. Canaan, a buffer state

• Map of Middle East: Canaan’s geographical position

B. City States

• Map of Palestine Topography

1. Canaan’s four main divisions

2. Hills and valleys were easy to conquer, but hard to hold

C. Climate

1. Dependent on weather: Baal or the Lord

2. The blessings of the Covenant and the curses

D. Canaanite Religion

1. The people of Canaan were under the judgment of God.

• The Canaanite lifestyle is described in the book of Leviticus, and much of it is confirmed by archaeology.

2. The Canaanites believed in the god of fertility.

a. Their pagan religion plunged them into the occult, spiritism, witchcraft, fortune-telling, male and female cult prostitution, and men and women mating with animals.

b. Canaanite religion involved not just idolatry but the offering of their own baby boys and girls as sacrifices in the fire to demons.

c. Incest and homosexuality were acceptable practices.

3. God himself used strong language about the Canaanites.

• He said, “For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants” (Leviticus 18:25).


A. Rahab of Jericho: The story of Rahab is in Joshua 2:1-21; 6:25.

1. If ever there was an unlikely candidate for the blessing of God, it was Rahab.

2. Rahab was a Canaanite and a harlot, but her life was spared and she became an honorary Israelite.

3. According to the New Testament (Matthew 1:5), Rahab married Salmon, the leader of Judah.

a. Her son was Boaz, who married Ruth, and her great-grandson was King David.

b. Rahab is included in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.

4. Why would a pagan Canaanite, an idolator and a prostitute be prepared to risk her own life to save the lives of Israelites?

5. Rahab’s faith in God: Rahab made very clear statements about God.

a. “I know that the Lord has given you the land . . . .” (Joshua 2:9)

b. “For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt . . . .” (Joshua 2:10)

c. “. . . for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” (Joshua 2:11)

6. Rahab’s insight

a. Rahab was a person of extraordinary insight.

i. She was aware of the past (Joshua 2:10).

ii. She knew about the crossing of the Red Sea, which had taken place probably before she was born and in a land which to her was far away.

b. But this was not just history.

i. This God who had rendered powerless the greatest nation in the world at that time: Egypt, was about to change her world.

ii. The promises of God were true; Jericho would fall, and Canaan was doomed.

c. This was not a matter of petty nationalism: Israel versus Canaan, where the accident of birth destined her to give loyalty to Canaan and to surrender the Israelites to the King of Jericho.

i. The Lord God is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

ii. The power of God transcended and overruled Israelites and Canaanites both.

iii. He was the Lord Jehovah, the I Am: That is the name she uses.

d. In the light of this, she knew how events in Canaan would turn out in the long view.

i. She could see the end result.

ii. In view of this, she made a clear decision and was ready to take extraordinary risks.

iii. Hebrews 11:31: “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.”

B. Joshua 2:18: The Scarlet Cord, cf. The Passover blood: Exodus 12:22-23

1. In a sense, Rahab is like the Gentile church.

2. Jesus was a Jew; John the Baptist called Him “The Lamb of God”.

a. He was crucified at Jerusalem during the Passover feast, and the early Church, a Jewish church, was saved through His blood.

b. Jesus promised that as the disciples went out to preach the Gospel in other lands, miraculous signs would follow the preaching of the Word.

i. Indeed they did, and as a result, many Gentiles turned from their pagan religion and their immoral lifestyles to serve the living God.

ii. They did not personally see Jesus on the cross, but they put their faith in Him, and they were saved.

3. In Exodus, the Passover lamb was killed in the camp of Israel in the land of Goshen.

a. Through their obedience and faith in the blood of the lamb, Israel was saved from the death of their firstborn.

b. As they came out of Egypt there were great signs and wonders.

c. Even the Canaanites heard of them.

i. Even Rahab, pagan and immoral, heard of the God of Israel.

ii. She did not see the death of the lamb at Passover or the Exodus, but she put her faith in the God of Israel.

iii. She put out the scarlet cord as a sign of her faith; she was saved from death; and she became part of the family of Israel.

C. What do we learn from this?

1. First, the fact that Rahab was a harlot and a pagan Canaanite did not stop her from turning to God and receiving her blessing.

a. She lived in a city which was already under the judgment of God; yet, she and her family were saved.

b. Do not let your environment, your traditional loyalties, or the pressure of your peers stop you from coming to God.

2. Second, in the life of Rahab there was a direct link between knowledge and faith, faith and commitment, commitment and action.

• You know the truth and power of God; you know the certainty of death and eternity; you know the urgent need to accept Christ right now, even though it could bring short-term difficulties.

3. We also see that she had a strong understanding of the sovereignty of God.

a. Man is not the center of the universe; God is.

b. Jericho would fall.

c. Even if our world crumbles, the purposes of God go on.

d. Rahab said, “. . . for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (Joshua 2:11).


A. This book begins with: “Now after the death of Joshua” (Judges 1:1).

1. What happened here?

a. There was no one great to lead them like Moses or Joshua.

b. There was no one king.

c. Everybody did what he thought was best.

2. “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6 and 21:25).

B. The cycle of the judges

1. Backsliding, disobedience, idolatry (influenced by Canaanites)

2. Judgment, God removes hand of blessing and protection, oppression by enemies

3. Israelites cry out to God for help (repentance); God raises up a judge

4. Deliverance (God saves them); a time of peace and blessing follows

5. The Israelites start backsliding again.

6. Then the whole cycle repeats.

C. Who were the judges?

• They were the “shophetim” (Hebrew word): meaning leaders, deliverers, and judges.


• Understanding the character of Ruth depends on three keys: identity, loyalty, and faith.

A. Identity

1. In the Bible, people saw their identity in community.

2. People did not assert their identity by saying why they were different. Their identity was in who they belonged to.

3. Ruth said her identity was with Naomi’s people: “Entreat me not to leave

thee . . . .” (Ruth 1:16-17)

4. The step of changing identity was far more difficult for Ruth than it was for Rahab.

a. Rahab was facing a crisis.

i. She knew her city was doomed.

ii. She could see no other future.

b. Ruth had better opportunities in Moab among her own people than in Judah where she might face rejection and end up with nothing.

5. The key to Ruth’s ability to do this was loyalty.

B. Loyalty

• “Then he said, Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness (hesed) at the end than at the beginning . . . .” (Ruth 3:10)

1. The translated Hebrew word “hesed” includes loyalty, faithfulness, lovingkindness, mercy, and Covenant faithfulness.

2. Think again about ancient Israel: the extended family; the sense of community, of corporate identity; the awareness of solidarity with others.

C. Hesed is an attribute of God

1. Deuteronomy 7:9; Genesis 24:27; Exodus 15:13

• He keeps His Covenant and is loyal to you.

2. Exodus 34:6: “The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness (hesed) and truth (faithfulness).”

3. All of Psalm 136 is about the hesed of God: “. . . for His mercy (hesed) endures forever.”

a. In God’s creative and sustaining work in nature (Psalm 136:1-9)

b. In miraculous deliverance and intervention in history (Psalm 136:10-15)

c. In His providential work through and for His people (Psalm 136:11-22)

d. In his mercy, deliverance, provision, and sovereignty (Psalm 136: 23-26)

4. The hesed of God is offered (Psalm 107:1, 8, 15, 21, 31, 43):

a. To the oppressed, the refugee, the hungry (Psalm 107:1-9)

b. To those whose sins have brought them hard circumstances (Psalm 107:10-16)

c. To those whose sins have brought emotional disturbance (Psalm 107:17-22)

d. To those without help in dangerous circumstances (Psalm 107:23-32)

e. In all ups and downs of life (Psalm 107:33-43)

5. God looks for the same characteristic (hesed) in us.

a. Ruth had it in her relationship to Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17; 3:10; cf. 2:12, 20; 4:17)

b. Boaz understood Ruth since he was the son of Rahab.

c. From this line came David, Solomon, the kings of Judah, and Jesus Christ.

d. While some nice things were going on with Ruth at this time, it was also a period of danger in Israel because a new people, known as the Philistines, had arrived in the land in great number.


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