The Book of Books—Introduction and Part 1

This series of articles, which will appear in the next several issues of The Dawn magazine, are lessons extracted from a book also published by the Dawn, entitled, “The Book of Books.”


Many thousands of pages would be required to present a complete commentary on the Bible. “The Book of Books” attempts merely a brief review of the sixty-six books of the Bible with the object of calling attention to its main teachings as they are introduced in the Book of Genesis and reach their climax in the Book of Revelation. We trust that it will be an aid to many in finding the connecting chains of divine truth which run throughout the precious Word.

The Book of Books” is not a discussion of Christian doctrines as such, but a brief review of the Bible’s format, calling attention to the manner in which its theme of redemption and recovery for the sin-cursed and dying race is set forth in its various books, and emphasizing the wonderful harmony of its testimony concerning the divine plan of salvation. Thus, as the review progresses from book to book, repeated mention will be made of the various doctrines of truth, and attention called to the manner in which each inspired writer’s testimony harmonizes with what the others say on the same subject.

These comparisons, however, are not projected beyond the books which have been reviewed. For example, aside from a general statement of what the reader will find outlined in the entire Bible, no reference is made to the New Testament writings until the review of the Old Testament books is completed. In reviewing the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, references are freely made to the preceding books in the belief that by the time the reader reaches this point in the study he will have gained a general idea of what is contained in the entire Bible, and thus will be able to appreciate the marvelous manner in which all its books harmoniously present God’s great theme song of redemption through Christ and of restoration for a dying world through the agencies of the messianic kingdom.

Man’s Creation and Final Destiny

NO OTHER book in the world has had so many enthusiastic supporters, or has been so greatly misunderstood by its friends, as the Bible. No other book has had so many and such bitter enemies, and has so successfully withstood their attacks. Many have been cruelly persecuted for possessing the Bible, and devious attempts have been made to remove it from circulation. But the Bible still lives, and more copies are now being sold each year than of any other book ever published. It has been translated into all the principal languages.

The Bible has been styled the torch of civilization, and undoubtedly its moral and ethical teachings have done more to influence men and women to live nobler lives than any other book that has ever been written. But the Bible is more than a book of moral and ethical precepts. It is the textbook of Christianity, revealing the Creator’s purpose in the creation of man, and the divine plan for his recovery from sin and death.

In the fear-filled world of today there are increasing numbers of Bible believers who are convinced that this peer of all books contains the explanation and points out the solution of the continued world distress with which human wisdom seems to be so completely unable to cope. This solution to world problems, they believe, is not merely a theory presented by the Bible, but a plan designed by the Creator which, in his own time and way, is being carried out to its ultimate grand conclusion through the administration of a government supported by divine authority and power.

If this is true, no one can afford to be uninformed concerning such a hopeful outlook, or unacquainted with the details pertaining thereto. If such information is contained in the Bible, we will not want to let it gather dust in our bookcase, or lie unopened on the living room table, but will diligently endeavor to become familiar with the message it has for us in this time of world frustration and despair.

But with many, studying the Bible seems a difficult task. These say that they try to study the Bible, but cannot understand it. It all appears to be such a mystery. They may know that such expressions as Golden Rule, the Sermon on the Mount, beating swords into plowshares, and at Christmastime, peace on earth and goodwill toward men, are associated with the Bible; but if asked the circumstances under which they were used, many would be at a loss to answer.

Thousands have found the Bible to be a source of comfort in time of sorrow, and of strength to face the vicissitudes of life; some turn to it daily to find a reassuring message. Certainly the Bible is almost an inexhaustible source of inspiring and consoling thoughts, such as “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” But the Bible can mean much more than this to us if we learn to know it as a whole, and to understand the Creator’s plan of the ages which it reveals. To achieve this understanding is the objective of this series of discussions.

The Bible Summarized

What is the Bible? What is its structural makeup, and what great purpose of God toward his human creation is it designed to reveal? The Bible is divided into two main sections, familiarly known as the Old Testament and the New Testament. These two main sections are subdivided into books. There are sixty-six of these, thirty-nine of which are in the Old Testament, and twenty-seven in the New Testament.

The principal theme of the Bible is the plan of God for the recovery of the human race from sin and death. This great design of God has as its ultimate objective the restoration of mankind to life in a global paradise in which there will be no more sickness, no more pain, no more death. Concerning this we read in the last book of the New Testament that God will “make all things new.”—Rev. 21:5

The need for salvation and restoration is revealed in the early chapters of Genesis, the first book in the Bible, where we are informed of man’s original creation in perfection; of his disobedience to divine law; and his consequent condemnation to death by his Creator. The Bible reveals that because God continued to love man, he sent his Son into the world to be a Redeemer and Savior of the human race.

In order that the Creator’s plan for the recovery of the human race might be accomplished, a resurrection of the dead is necessary; so the Bible sets forth the plan for a resurrection—a hope not envisaged in any other religion in the world. The necessity for the resurrection is established by the divine penalty for sin, which penalty is death; and death, according to the clear teachings of the Bible, is not a gateway into another life, but the absence of life. God said to Adam, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”—Gen. 2:17

In setting forth the loving design of the Creator to restore the sin-cursed and dying race to life, the details of the Bible might, in a general way, be divided into four classifications—doctrinal, historical, inspirational, and prophetic. The doctrinal portions outline the details of the Creator’s plan for the recovery of man from sin and death. The historical parts supply the background of human experience to which the outworking of the divine plan has been related. The inspirational aspects of the Bible are made up of the promises of God to his people throughout the ages, by which he has assured them of his guiding and sustaining power in their lives, enabling them to be acceptable servants in the doing of his will. The prophetic truths of the Bible are its forecasts of coming events related to the outworking of the divine plan, and of the futile efforts which would be made by men and nations to counterfeit or to thwart the divine designs.

The first seventeen books of the Bible are largely historical. They are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I and II Samuel, I and II Kings, I and II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. Beginning with Genesis, these books record the account of man’s creation; his fall into sin and death; the experiences of some who lived in the antediluvian world; the Deluge; God’s call to Abraham and the promises made to him; the slavery of Abraham’s descendants in the land of Egypt; their deliverance under the leadership of Moses; the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai; the conquest of Canaan; the nation’s later exile in Assyria and Babylon; and the return to Canaan in 536 B.C.

The next five books of the Old Testament—Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon—are largely devotional and inspirational; although they also contain outstanding prophecies pertaining to developments in the plan of God. This is particularly true of the Book of Psalms.

The remaining seventeen books of the Old Testament are predominantly prophetic in nature, although, as we shall later see, they contain some history as well as precious assurances of God’s love and care for his people. These prophetic books of the Old Testament are: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

The New Testament

The first five books of the New Testament—Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and The Acts—are largely historical, four of them being a record of the life and ministry of Jesus, and calling attention to many events in his life which were in direct fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. In the Book of Acts we are furnished with interesting accounts of the experiences of the apostles and the early Christians as they faced an unbelieving and hostile world.

The next twenty-one books of the New Testament are an admixture of doctrinal and devotional truths. They consist of epistles, or letters, written by certain apostles to various individuals and groups, called churches. These letters are, by name: Romans; I and II Corinthians; Galatians; Ephesians; Philippians; Colossians; I and II Thessalonians; I and II Timothy; Titus; Philemon; Hebrews; James; I and II Peter; I, II, III John; and Jude.

The Revelation, the last book of the Bible, is mostly prophetic, and in its prophecies it reminds us of the great objective of the divine plan, and in beautiful, symbolic language it assures us that a happy day is coming when “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”—Rev. 21:4

While the Bible’s outline of God’s glorious plan for the redemption and recovery of the dying race from death is not set forth in sequential story form, the harmony, and at the same time, the contrast of its first three and the last three chapters is striking. The one describes the original creation of man and his fall from favor with God; the other the renewed or restored creation, with sin and its curse removed.

The three opening chapters show Satan and evil entering the world to deceive and destroy, while the closing chapters reveal Satan’s work undone, and this great deceiver and destroyer himself destroyed. Genesis shows man given a dominion over earth, and then, through sin, the loss of that dominion; while the last three chapters of the Bible give assurance that this lost dominion is to be restored to man.

The Bible refers constantly to one prominent personage, Jesus, who is set forth as the Son of God. This Son of the Bible’s Author is mentioned under various names and titles which, by their united meaning, reveal that Jesus was sent into the world to be, first, the Redeemer of the human race, and later, the Ruler of those whom he ransomed by his own precious blood.

The Old Testament prophets, who wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, foretold the coming of this great one, the Messiah, while the Spirit-inspired writers of the New Testament confirm the fact that he did come, and that he was crucified on Calvary’s cross. They not only record the fact of his death, but explain its purpose of redemption in the divine plan, and that it was in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies.

The combined testimony of the Bible is that Jesus returns at his second advent to accomplish this glorious consummation of the divine plan of salvation, which will include the resurrection of the dead. The Bible testifies that first to be raised from the dead will be the followers of Jesus. These will reign with him in his kingdom. Then, according to the Bible, there will be a gradual, general awakening from the sleep of death of all mankind, who will be given the privilege of living in the restored paradise forever. The prophecies of the Bible assure us that we are now living at the very threshold of that new age when Jesus, the Prince of Peace, will rule in righteousness for the purpose of restoring mankind to life.

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Dawn Bible Students Association
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