Five Key O.T. Passages

Many Bible students have difficulty with the O.T. Despite their efforts at study, it remains to them an apparently disjointed collection of books which they have never really felt at home with.
I am persuaded that one of the principal causes of this is the fact that they have never been taught to view the O.T. as a unified story—as a story with a plot, a beginning, a middle, and an end. They know many individual stories and passages from the O.T. But they do not see the grand design of God that is being worked out there. And they do not see how the stories they do know fit into the whole picture.
What I want to do in this article, therefore, is point out to you what I consider the five key passages of the O.T. These passages form an outline of the whole story of the O.T. Through them you will be able to see the grand design of God. Also, they can serve you in your future study of the O.T. as “reference pegs” for getting the whole scope of the O.T. organized in your own mind.
1. Genesis 3:1-24. This is the account of sin committed by Adam and Eve and the curse that has come upon man because of sin. This is our first key passage. Indeed, if sin had never entered the world, the remainder, not only of the O.T., but of the whole Bible would never have had to have been written. For the theme of the whole Bible is the redemption of man from sin. In Gen. 3:1-24, then, we are introduced to the fundamental problem of man—the problem with which the Bible is designed to deal.
2. Genesis 12:1-3. From Gen. 3 through Gen. 11 we see the growing problem of man’s sinfulness. At one point it even becomes so bad that God destroys all but Noah and his family in a flood. But men do not heed the warning and wickedness continues after that. It becomes clear that man cannot solve the problem of sin by himself. He is in need of help. He is in need of grace.
That grace comes in Gen. 12:1-3 when God calls Abraham. With sin had come a curse. But now God beings to reveal his plan for redeeming man from the curse of sin. “In thee,” he says to Abraham, “shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” And so the entire remainder of the O.T. is concerned exclusively with the seed of Abraham—the Israelites—for it was through them that God would fulfil his promise to Abraham and redeem “all the families of the earth” from the curse of sin.
3. Exodus 24:1-11.
By the time we get to the 24th chapter of Exodus, the descendants of Abraham have grown into a great nation—the nation of Israel. The promise made to Abraham had begun to be fulfilled, but the time of its complete fulfillment and the final redemption of man from sin was yet a long way off.
It was necessary, therefore, that God give the Israelite people an appropriate set of laws to live by until the time came for the fulfillment of the promise. We usually refer to these laws as the Law of Moses. These laws served three major functions. (1) The law served to spell out for man exactly what sin was so that he might see his predicament, and his need for salvation (Rom. 3:20). (2) The law served as a temporary restraint on sin, holding it in check until the time came when sin could truly be forgiven. (3) The many rituals and sacrifices of the law served as a fore-shadowing of the means by which sin would truly be forgiven when the time finally came for the fulfillment of the promise.
In Ex. 24:1-11, Moses reads these laws in the ears of all the Israelites, and they give their consent to them saying, “all the words which the Lord hath said will we do.” Sacrifices were then offered, and the Law of Moses went into effect—the Old Testament was ratified by the blood of the covenant.
4. 2 Samuel 7:1-29 or 1 Chronicles 17:1-27.
About 400 years have passed by the time we come to this passage. And a great change has just taken place in the Israelite nation. David has just been crowned king of all Israel. The nation has become a glorious kingdom. And with the coming of that kingdom, God makes the promise to David which is described in these two parallel passages. According to the promise, the throne of David will endure forever, and some day he will have a son (a descendant) who will sit on that throne and rule over the kingdom of God forever.
It is at just this point that the promise made to Abraham (of which this promise to David is but an extension) takes on a whole new dimension. That promise will be fulfilled, the blessing will be brought and salvation from sin will be accomplished all through a single individual—the anointed king who will sit on the throne of David. It is precisely at this point that the hope of Israel became a Messianic hope. It is here that the promise to Abraham became the promise of the Christ. It is here that Israel began to look not just for salvation, but for a Savior.
5. Jeremiah 31:31-34. This is the last of our key passages, and it naturally comes near the end of the O.T. period. As the Israelites are being carried off into the Babylonian captivity, God sends his prophet Jeremiah to tell them that all hope is not lost. He tells them that God has not forgotten his promise to Abraham, and the days are indeed coming when God will make a new covenant with the house of Israel. It will not be like the covenant given in the days of Moses. That was just a temporary covenant.
Moreover, the terms of the covenant of Moses did not allow for the true and complete forgiveness of sins. It was not the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham. But under the terms of the new covenant God said, “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Under the new covenant, the promise of a blessing made to Abraham would finally be fulfilled. The problem of sin would be resolved The story of the Bible would be completed.
And that new covenant of which Jeremiah spoke was, of course, the covenant sealed by the blood Christ shed on the cross of Calvary. Indeed, the story of the O.T. is not complete without the New. The O.T. is our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ (Gal. 3:24). And it is to him that each of these passages points. He is the Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 8:6); the Savior-King on the throne of David (Lk. 1:31-33); the reality of which the Law of Moses was but a shadow (Heb. 10:1); the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham (Gal. 3:14-29); and as such he is our answer to the problem of sin. And that’s what the story of the Bible was all about to begin with. ~ The Plano Provoker, Feb. 1977