[NOTE: Throughout the text, you will see bracketed purple text insertions that begin with “Discussion”. These are suggested discussion questions for small group leaders, who would like to review these topics in an interactive group setting.]
Today’s topic is about the best-selling book in history, with total sales exceeding 100 million copies each year.
Here are three more interesting Bible facts:
[Discussion: What is the Bible? How would you describe it? Do you know how many books it has?]
Although the Bible is the best-selling book in history, it’s actually not a single book. It’s a collection of 66 books that claims to have been inspired by God, and which has been split into the Old Testament with 39 books and New Testament with 27 books. The Old Testament has all the books to 400 years before the birth of Jesus, which is where the New Testament picks up the story —a long pause between the last book in the Old Testament, Malachi, and the first book of the New Testament, Matthew.
[Discussion: What is the basis for splitting the Bible into the Old and New Testaments?]
The word testament is a somewhat confusing translation from the Greek word diatheke, which is usually translated covenant, meaning promise or pledge. Thus, we could talk about the Old Covenant and New Covenant or of the Old and New Promise.
[Discussion: How many major covenants does the Bible contain in total? Can you name any?]
Even though the Bible is divided into the New and Old Covenants, it contains seven covenants: Adamic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Palestinian, Mosaic, Davidic, and the New Covenant.
All are given or promised in the Old Testament, but the New Testament gives the details of the New Covenant.
Here is a quick summary of the seven covenants:
(1) The Adamic Covenant outlined man’s responsibility toward creation and towards the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—don’t eat from it!
(2) In the Noahic Covenant, God promised to never again destroy all life through a flood.
(3) The Abrahamic Covenant includes several promises, the main one being a promise by God to call out a special people for himself via Abraham’s bloodline, through which he would bless the world. This was fulfilled by Jesus, a descendant of Abraham, coming to the world and dying for the sins of all.
(4) The Davidic Covenant adds to the Abrahamic covenant. It promised a future king from David’s lineage would rule forever. This will be ultimately fulfilled upon the second coming of Jesus, when he will establish his everlasting kingdom.
(5) The Palestinian Covenant said if the people if Israel were disobedient, God would scatter them around the world but would eventually restore the nation. The Jews were partially scattered for a time in the Old Testament, but never as severely as in 70 A.D. This happened some decades after the crucifixion of Jesus, when emperor Titus wiped out the nation and the Jews were scattered throughout the world. Consequently, the nation of Israel ceased to exist for almost 2,000 years, but was established again in 1948 after the second world war—quite a coincidence how no other country in world history has been destroyed and reborn two millenia later.
(6) The Mosaic covenant, given to Moses and Israel on Mount Sinai, centered on the ten commandments and God’s promise to bless Israel if they obey his law and punish them if they don’t. As we know, Israel did not keep their part of the covenant, to obey God. Thus, God came down to earth as Jesus, to observe God’s law perfectly and keep Israel’s (man’s) part of the Mosaic Covenant. That’s the idea when in Matt. 5:17, Jesus said that he came to fulfill the prophets and the law. Simultaneously, Jesus advanced the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant’s blessing of all nations, plus inaugurated the New Covenant, promised in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah.
(7) In the New Covenant, God promised to forgive sin and write his law on the hearts of his people (accomplished through the Holy Spirit). Now that we are under the New Covenant, both Jews and Gentiles can be free from the penalty of the Law. We are now given the opportunity to receive salvation as a free gift (Ephesians 2:8–9). Substitutionary sacrifices for our sins, such as lambs, are no longer needed, as they were merely place holders for the ultimate sacrifice, the death of Jesus on the cross.
Stay tuned for part 2.
1 All five Bible facts are from: https://www.factretriever.com/bible-facts
6 Hebrews 8:6–13
7 Deuteronomy 30:1–10
9 Jeremiah 31:31–34
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