Hebrew Canon

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Proposition: Meditation on the coherent story of the Old Testament, with its introduction in Genesis, points exiled humans to take refuge in the Davidic King with the result that they will be live and be blessed.

HP: Meditate on the story of the Old Testament

Pre-Introduction: Apologetic for learning Genesis.


  1. Introduction
    1. Image – the Bible piecemealed
      1. JEDP Handbook on the Pentateuch
      2. “Life of Christ” compared to Gospels
      3. Contemporary Preaching
      4. We have our favorite parts.
      5. Result: To our peril, we have exchanged the story of the Bible with piecemealed “good sayings” from Scripture.
      6. We have lost the story of the Bible.
    2. Need -- We desperately need to know the story of the Bible well.
      1. If Moses and Jesus are correct that “man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” then we desperately need to know those words.
      2. Caution: There is a way to read the Scriptures that does not lead to life (John 5:39-46) and so we need to know it well.
      3. Confession: Our knowledge of the Scriptures is very fragmented and incoherent.
        1. What is the story of the Old Testament? Can you tell someone?
        2. Or just one book. What is the story of Genesis?
          1. What do Adam and Eve have to do with Abraham or Joseph?
        3. Many have not progressed past the point of Sunday School flannel boards or this children’s Bible.
      4. Knowing the Scriptures well is a matter of life and death.
        1. For us.
        2. For those we love.
        3. For those we come in contact with.
    3. Subject – Fundamental to knowing the story of the Bible well is knowing the story of the Old Testament.
      1. It was the Bible of Jesus, Paul, and the apostles.
      2. Understanding the Bible of Jesus is a necessary aspect of knowing the Scriptures well.
      3. You cannot be a good student of the New Testament if you do not know the Old Testament well.
    4. Text – Selected; Read Luke 24:27
    5. Preview
      1. The shape of the Hebrew Scriptures.
      2. The story of the Hebrew Scriptures.
      3. The mandate of the Hebrew Scriptures.
  2. The shape of the Hebrew Scriptures.
    1. Christian OT and the Hebrew Scriptures (i.e. Jesus’ Bible)
      1. Contain the same material, but are arranged differently.
      2. Christian OT generally follows the LXX and its Western concerns, i.e. it is arranged chronologically.
      3. Hebrew OT arranged theologically after the Exile by the “Canonicler,” perhaps Ezra.
      4. Why does it matter? By interpreting the OT according to the arrangement in the Hebrew canon, one may more easily perceive the kinds of connections with which the NT authors and readers were familiar.
    2. Threefold division of Hebrew OT.
      1. Comprised of the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.
      2. Luke 24:44 – “the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms”
      3. Matthew 23:35 – “from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah” (cf. 2 Chronicles 24:21).
      4. Jeremiah 18:18 – the “law” of the priest, the “counsel” of the wise, and “word” of the prophet.
    3. Show Chart of Arrangement.
    4. Coherence of each of the parts.
      1. The Law (Genesis through Deuteronomy)
        1. Connections
          1. Each book of the Law is connected to the previous book by continuing the story of the previous book.
          2. In Hebrew, each of the books beginning with Exodus begins with “And.”
          3. Genesis ends with the sons of Israel in Egypt (Gen 50:22). Exodus begins by listing the sons of Israel in Egypt (Ex. 1:1ff).
          4. Exodus ends by talking about the tent of meeting (Ex 40:35). Leviticus begins with the Lord speaking to Moses from the tent of meeting (Lev 1:1).
          5. etc.
        2. Unifying concept
          1. Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers are a narrative revolving around the events of Israel from the exodus from Egypt to the camp in Moab. Deuteronomy is a sermon that Moses preached on the plains of Moab where Israel was camped.
      2. The Prophets
        1. The Former Prophets
          1. Connections
            1. Connection to previous section.
              1. Connected to the Law by the death of Moses and Joshua’s succession (Deut 34 and Josh 1).
            2. Connected to each other.
              1. Like the Law, each book overlaps with the next (e.g. Joshua’s death; Josh 24:28-31 and Judg 1:1-2:10).
          2. Unifying concept
            1. The Former Prophets is a continuous narrative from the Conquest of the Promised Land under Joshua to the Fall of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians (2 Kings 25).
        2. The Latter Prophets
          1. Connections
            1. Connection to previous section:
              1. Connected to the Former Prophets by superscriptions which provide the prophet’s name and time of ministry. The Latter prophets minister during the events described at the end of the Former Prophets (2 Kings 13-25; e.g. Isaiah’s ministry takes place during 2 Kings 15-20).
              2. Connection to each other – quasi-chronological
                1. Isaiah – the pre-exilic prophet
                2. Jeremiah – the prophet at the fall of Jerusalem
                3. Ezekiel – the prophet in exile.
                4. The twelve Minor Prophets.
                  1. Cover the same time frame as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.
                  2. But they add three post-exilic prophets – Haggai, Zecheriah, and Malachi.
                  3. Thus, the Latter Prophets begin with the pre-exilic prophet Isaiah and end with three post-exilic prophets.
              3. Unifying concept
                1. The poetic Latter Prophets provide an interpretation and explanation of the exile that occurred in the narrative Former Prophets.
        3. The Writings
          1. Connections
            1. Psalms through Ecclesiastes contain material primarily from the era of the Davidic kingdom.
            2. Lamentations through Daniel contain material covering the exile of the Davidic kingdom.
            3. Ezra-Nehemiah, Chronicles (special case) contain material related to the post-exhilic return to Judah/Jerusalem.
          2. Unifying concept
            1. Wisdom and the word of God is the path to walk on which leads to fervent hope in the Messiah.
  3. The story of the Hebrew Scriptures – the Savior.
    1. Outline
      1. Introduction: The Ideal World and the Real World (Gen. 1-4)
        1. The Ideal World of Creation (Gen. 1:1-2:3)
        2. The Real World (Gen. 2:4-4:26) Note: This creates a tension for the reader between the ideal world and the real world of the OT and the world in which he lives. The OT does not resolve this tension in narrative, only in prophetic vision. The tension is ultimately released in the Revelation 21-22 portrayal of mankind’s entrance into the creation blessing and rest of God.
      2. Body: The Book of Man (Gen. 5:1 to Nehemiah 13) Read Gen. 5:1
      3. Conclusion: A Summary of the book of Man: Adam to Post-exilic of Israel Note: Chronicles begins (1:1-4) with the genealogy of Gen. 5:1-32) and ends with the decree of the Persian King Cyrus (2 Chron 36:22-23).
    2. A look at the seams of the Hebrew OT to see the story.
        1. Remember Luke 24:27
        2. The end of the Law, the end of the Prophets, and the end of the Writings.
          1. The end of the Law (Deut. 34:10) – A prophet has still not risen, one like Moses, who knew the Lord face to face.
          2. The end of the Prophets (Mal. 4:5-6) – Behold, I will send Elijah, the prophet, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
          3. The end of the Writings (Chronicles)
            1. Upon first reading, Chronicles seems redundant of Samuel and Kings.
            2. Commentaries are usually occupied by explaining/harmonizing the differences between these books.
            3. But Chronicles is last for a reason.
            4. Remember Chronicles is written to the Post-Exile crowd.
            5. It is a janus to the OT as a whole: it looks back with reflection and forward with anticipation.
              1. It looks back by beginning with Adam (1 Chron 1:1).
              2. The rehearsal of the kingdom history takes on a hopeful dimension when one recognizes what is not there compared to Samuel and Kings.
              3. With the exception of David’s census, which is minimized, no sinful activities of David or Solomon are recorded.
              4. David and Solomon are idealized. They become ideal kings for readers who wait for the coming Son of David.
          4. The end of the Law looks forward to the coming of a prophet like Moses, the end of the Prophets looks forward to the coming of Elijah, and the end of the Writings idealizes David and the Son of David as a picture of the coming Messiah from the line of David.
        3. The Story of the Hebrew Scriptures is the coming Son of David, the second Adam, who will restore humanity to the ideal world of the garden.
  4. The Mandate of the Hebrew Scriptures – Meditate Day and Night.
    1. What do we do when we are waiting for the prophet like Moses, the coming Elijah, the Davidic King.
    2. A look at the seams of Hebrew OT to see the mandate
      1. The beginning of the Law (Gen 1-4) – In Genesis, the word of God brings the world into being and disobedience to the word of God brings destruction.
      2. The beginning of the Prophets (Joshua 1:8) – The book of this law/Torah will not depart from your mouth, and you shall meditate on it day and night in order that you may take care to do according to all that is written in it. Then you will make your way prosper and then you will have understanding/success.
      3. The beginning of the Writings (Psalm 1:2-3) – But in the law/Torah of the Lord is his [the blessed man’s] delight, and in His law/Torah he meditates day and night….And all which he will do will prosper.
    3. The Mandate of the Hebrew Scriptures is the meditate day and night on the word of the Lord.
  5. Conclusion: Where is the connection between the story of the Hebrew Scriptures, Jesus, and the mandate of the Hebrew Scriptures, to meditate day and night on the word of God?
    1. Psalm 1 & 2 brings it all together
      1. Psalm 1 and 2 are commonly regarded together as the introduction to the Writings. The themes in these two Psalms are the themes of the entire Writings.
        1. Psalm 1:1, 2 – Blessed is the man…his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.
        2. Psalm 2:7-12 – I will tell of the decree…Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
      2. Meditation on the word of God leads one to love and take refuge in the son with the result that you will be blessed!
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