The structure of the Bible

It is very striking and remarkable that the Bible in our hands is structured in such a way that when we look at the first five books of the Bible, known as the Pentateuch, or the books of the law, each of the five books have features and characteristics, in which all the other books follow in an amazing order. In the Hebrew Old Testament, the structure is firstly, the first five books of Moses, then the historical and prophetical books, and then the psalms and the writings. The Lord Jesus Christ spoke to His disciples after His resurrection and expounded to them all things concerning Himself from the law of Moses, the prophets and the psalms (Luke 24:44).

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The Prophetical Books

We now come to the Prophetical books, forming a fourth division of the Bible, and the last division of the Old Testament. These books can be further divided into the Major Prophets (Isaiah to Daniel) and the Minor  Prophets (Hosea to Malachi). These books give prophecies regarding the judgment of Israel and Judah, then the restoration of  Judah, followed by prophecies relating to the destruction of the Gentile nations, and finally  prophecies regarding the coming of Christ.

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Outline of Malachi

“But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:2). The last book of the Old Testament comes with a stern and serious message and warning for the people who had returned to Jerusalem from the captivity in Babylon. Interestingly, it is the last message in the Old Testament to the Jews before the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth, and then God was silent for about 400 years. There was another 400-year period, when the Hebrew people were in Egypt (read Acts 7:6 and Genesis 15:13).

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Outline of Zechariah

“And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced”. John 19:37. This verse is found in Zechariah 12:10, a prophecy made long time ago before the Lord Jesus Christ came to earth as a Man and went to the cross. This interesting book is filled with what is called Messianic prophecies – words about the Lord Jesus Christ coming to earth to suffer and also draws on His second coming in His appearing to reign over the world.

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Outline of Haggai

It is interesting that there are three prophetical books along with three historical books that deal with the time of the post-captivity of the tribe of Judah. More interesting is that these three books are at the end of their relevant sections, i.e. the last three historical books, and the last three prophetical books. The three prophetical books are Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, and the historical books are Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. The times of the gentiles commenced when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came and destroyed Jerusalem and took captives back to Babylon. The prophecies of Ezekiel and Daniel most notably, occurred in the time of the Babylonian empire, which was the first of the world empires.

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Outline of Zephaniah

The “minor prophets” had one or a few things in common. One of these is that they had visions or saw things. Not all of them did, but most had visions. The prophets’ names also have meanings, and when we understand the meaning of their names, this usually has a link with their messages. The other thing in common is that the prophets spoke to the hearts of the nation of Israel, the tribe of Judah, and pleased with them to repent. Their messages were usually messages of judgement, but with a view to God restoring the nation of Israel and the reign of Christ in the Millennium.

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Outline of Habakkuk

“The just shall live by his faith” (Hab 2:4). The name Habakkuk means “embrace”, or “hug”. The prophet comforts his people and takes them into his arms and hugs them. The verse quoted above has three places in the New Testament, which we will explore shortly, but the message is that the just lives by faith towards God. Apart from the meaning of the name, there is not much background about Habakkuk, but his prophecy is in the form of a vision (chapter 1:1).

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Outline of Nahum

“How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” These words are from Nahum 1:15 but the verse is quoted in Romans 10:15 when Paul wrote about the nation of Israel. There is very little known about Nahum, although he was an Elkoshite (chapter 1:1) and his prophecy was a vision. Nahum means “comforter” or “comforted”. His message was to comfort Israel in prophesying against Nineveh.

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Outline of Micah

“Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage?” Micah 7:18. The name Micah means “who is like God?” It is fitting that one with that name quotes the above verse in his prophecy. What is the prophecy of Micah about, and who was Micah?

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Outline of Jonah

“For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the great fish’s belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt 12:40). There are some remarkable incidents in this wonderful and amazing book. Even though it is part of the prophetical books, Jonah’s prophecy was against Nineveh and consisted of only one sentence – “yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4). It is even more remarkable that the whole city of Nineveh, who were the enemies of Israel, repented at these very simple, yet firm words. What is more interesting, or sad, is that Jonah got angry at God because God did not punish Nineveh. In our day, Christians who are true believers in Christ are joyful that others come to know Him as their Saviour, that is why we share the gospel, the good news of salvation.

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