Most surveys of the Old Testament treat the books one by one in canonical order, but this often leaves readers confused about how these books relate to one another. The Road to Redemption is an effort to address that problem by treating the books of the Old Testament in chronological order. This involves interspersing the books of poetry and prophecy where they fit as we move through the events recorded in the books of history. In addition to helping readers see how the books of the Old Testament connect in time, this text also emphasizes how they convey the single great message of God's saving work, and therefore point toward the coming of Christ.
The Old Testament is a fascinating compilation of literary masterpieces. Within its pages we find historical narratives, great poetry, collections of wise sayings, and prophetic utterances both glorious and terrifying. The stories have long kept children and adults alike spellbound, and the greatest writers in history have incorporated allusions from its pages into their works. In fact, no book has been mined by authors as a source of language and references to events and characters more often than the Bible. But the Old Testament is much more than a collection of great literature from the ancient world. It is also the Word of God. As Peter affirms, “No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Because the Old Testament is the Word of God, we must acknowledge certain basic truths about its contents. First of all, because the Old Testament is God’s Word, it is completely true in all it affirms. Secondly, if the Old Testament is God’s Word it is coherent in all it teaches. Despite the fact that the books contained in it were written over a period of more than a thousand years by more than twenty different authors, many of whom are unknown to us, the facts and doctrines found in it do not contradict one another, but complement each other to communicate a single coherent message. What, then, is that message? While countless teachers and writers have drawn on the narratives of the Old Testament for moral lessons, and rightly so, this is not the basic purpose of these documents. God’s revelation is primarily a revelation of Himself; the Old Testament, like the New Testament that follows it, is chiefly about God. Thus the repeated human failures and God’s responses that we see recorded in the pages of the Old Testament speak to us of God’s holiness, His faithfulness, and His great mercy. The overarching narrative that flows throughout the books of the Old Testament is the one Great Story of human history – Creation, Fall, and Redemption. God made man in His image in a state of moral perfection to inhabit and exercise dominion over His perfect created universe, man rebelled against God and thus earned His just condemnation, and God, in His mercy, took the initiative to establish a covenant by which He would show grace to His chosen people – not just the nation of Israel, but implemented in such a way that “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” The first thirty-nine books of the Bible thus tell the story of God’s preparation for the coming of His Son into the world to save sinners. Jesus Himself affirmed this when He challenged the religious leaders of His day (John 5:39) and when He comforted His disciples after His resurrection (Luke 24:27,44-45). We should therefore not be surprised when much of what we study turns our eyes toward Jesus in one way or another, and numerous sections of The Road to Redemption are devoted to pointing out these connections. Most works of this kind are organized textually, with a chapter given to each book of the Old Testament. This has definite advantages, especially if one is looking for information about a particular book. I have chosen, however, to arrange the book chronologically. The structure follows the history of God’s dealings with mankind from the Creation to approximately four hundred years before the coming of Christ. The non-narrative books of the Old Testament are woven into the study in their proper historical contexts. While some may initially find this confusing, the hope is that such an arrangement will enable the reader to get an overall picture of the period covered by the text while at the same time seeing how the different books relate to one another chronologically. Thus, the text is designed to give an overall picture of the history of redemption as we see God’s plan of salvation gradually revealed to His people and carried forward toward the coming of the Promised One.