Overview of the OT
Suggestions for Studying the OT

Suggestions for Studying the OT

Having established the historical context in which a chapter or book takes place, the number one thing you should do is consult your Bible dictionary. This is especially crucial not only to understand a term that may come up (e.g. ephod) but for names of places, people, and nations. Names tend to have meanings in ways they do not in today’s culture. They often betray characteristics of the person/people/place. And your Bible dictionary will tie the history of a place together so that you can see the significance of what is going on. For instance, Shechem was a special place for Joshua and Israel when they first crossed the Jordan into the Canaan. It will be the focus of future events in Israel and even bear prophesies concerning it. The historical context provided in your Bible dictionary will help you realize that God is not so much talking about a place but a spiritual condition. Every people/person/place teaches us something about God.

Use the “Prophetic Points in History” bookmark. [See the sidebar.] From a certain point of view, God’s Word given throughout different times in the Old Testament all appear to be on the same “mountain”; but if you stand to the side you realize that they’re on separate peaks of a range of mountains with valleys of time between. It’s important to understand if what God spoke at a particular time was for that present time or in relation to a future event, such as Christ’s First Coming. You will find that much of prophecy has a dual purpose both for the time in which it was spoken and for another time in the future. [Comment: Biblical prophecy is more about patterns than specific dates.] This chart is a visual reminder to ask one’s self about the context and timing of the passage.

What are the New Testament tie-ins? When reading a passage that invokes memory of something said in the New Testament-or if you notice a cross-reference in your Bible-look it up and meditate on what the Spirit is communicating. It’s definitely more than worth the time to build these associations which will become even more valuable when studying the New Testament. Over time you’re going to clearly understand the relationship between them and the foundation laid by the Old Testament.

Finally, whenever you come across a statement of God that He will destroy something or someone, make note of the effort He made to first reconcile them to Him. You will clearly see that “final judgment” is the result of a very long series of choices by man to reject God, not simply God “flexing His muscle”. Within the context of every “final judgment” is the revelation of God’s loving character to provide multiple opportunities for man to be reconciled to Him. Taking special note of this interaction moves our focus from “facts” or “information” towards the application of God’s grace and love in our life.

Return to A Rich Foundation for All that Follows • Continue to NT Bible Studies by Scripture