I love the Bible that Jesus read (aka the Old Testament). I do not want to ruffle any feathers; however, the Bible that Jesus read, taught, lived and loved is not ordered the same way as our English translations.
The Hebrew Bible is arranged in three major parts, known by the acronym TaNaK.
The T stands for Torah (Pentateuch in Greek) which means either Law or Instruction. These are the five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
The N stands for Nevi’im which means Prophets. This section is divided into the “Former Prophets” which consists of Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings (in English we call these “Historical Books”) and the “Latter Prophets” Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, The Twelve (which in English we call the “Minor Prophets”).
The K stands for Ketuvim which means Writings. This large section includes Psalms, Wisdom Literature (Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes) and Post-Exilic Writings (Lamentations, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, 1-2 Chronicles).
(Please note in the Hebrew Bible: 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, Ezra-Nehemiah, 1-2 Chronicles are all one book, they are not separate books as presented in our English translations.)
Every year at Christmas we hear how Malachi ends with God’s promise to send a forerunner for the Messiah (Mal 4:6 ESV). We also hear how Malachi ends the OT and that for 400 years God did not speak until Matthew 1. However, when we look at the Hebrew order, it is not Malachi that closes the Hebrew Bible but, 1-2 Chronicles.
Why does this matter? 1-2 Chronicles begins with a long genealogy (nine chapters). The book (OT) ends with Cyrus’s decree to allow the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple. While the literal physical exile was coming to a close, Israel was still in “spiritual” exile. In Matthew, the New Testament opens, with the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the long awaited Davidic king. The genealogy of Jesus Christ found in Matthew 1 is the culmination of the genealogies of 1-2 Chronicles. When we read the Bible in this order, rather than in the order of our English translations, we will see the beauty, hope, anticipation and longing for Messiah. Ultimately, when we read the Hebrew Bible in this order, we read in the same order as Jesus Himself. God willing our English translations will follow the Hebrew order sooner rather than later!
Father God, thank You for Your Word! Thank You, Jesus, for all that You have done to end our captivity and exile both in this life and the next. Thank You for the gift of salvation. Lord regardless of what theological camp we may belong, may we be mindful that people do not roam around with big “E’s” on their forehead. May we be mindful to share and show Jesus to this dark and hurting world in a way that is authentic and bold; yet, brings glory and honor to Your Name. Lord God, help us to read Your Word as You originally intended. Lord God, thank You for the gift of communication, far too often we take this for granted. Lord God, thank You for this reader. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.