Fittingly, and from most ancient times, the first five books of the Bible have been grouped together and have been known by the term “Pentateuch”, a word meaning “five books”. The Jewish rabbis called the Pentateuch the “five-fifths of the law”. They are the five chambers of law and justice, a vestibule in which to rest and meditate on the Sovereignty, Holiness, Power and Wisdom of God.
These books record the introduction of the divine religion into the world and are given to us for at least three special purposes; historical information, doctrinal instruction, and spiritual illumination. There are evidences of supernatural control and design in the arrangement of the books. Each book gives one phase of God’s plan, and together they constitute a real unity and are organic in structure. They are the basis on which the whole fabric of revelation rests, and a knowledge of the authority and importance of their teaching will help us to withstand the assaults that infidels and modernists have made against these books. With Paul we recognize its divine origin and authority. Much of his teaching conformed to what he found written in the Old Testament. In his preaching he often drew from these Scriptures; see Acts 13. 16-43; J7- I~4i 24- J4j 26. 22, 23; 28. 23.
Authority. We must ascribe the bulk of them to Moses. He was at least the editor if not the author of these books, the latter chapters of Deuteronomy being added by another penman, Joshua. Exodus 17. 8-14 refers to Moses as a writer and recorder, and in Exodus 24. 4, 7 he writes the terms of the covenant and reads them from a book to the people. In Deuteronomy, there are more references to the writing of the law by Moses, 31. 9-12, 24-26; 28. 58-61. There are sixteen chapters in Exodus and in Numbers, and twenty in Leviticus that begin with “And the Lord spake unto Moses”, or some similar expression. There is a continuous chain of testimony throughout the Old Testament to the Mosaic authorship of the books of the Pentateuch.
He had the necessary qualification. He lived in fellowship with God, he was well acquainted with the traditions of the people of his times, he was a trusted servant of God, and had received a wide education, Deut. 34. 1, 5; Josh. 1. 2, 7; Acts 7. 22, 38. More than 240 passages from the Pentateuch are quoted in the New Testament. The testimony of the Lord Jesus is final, e.g., Matt. 8. 4; 19. 8; Mark 7. 10; 12. 26; John 5. 46; 7. 19; Luke 20. 37; 24. 44. Our Lord refers to Moses and the law, and many times He mentions events recorded in the Pentateuch confirming their historicity.
Unity. The unity of character, design and style pervading these books shows they are not a series of separate and unconnected fragments. To the Jews these books were the standard of their faith, the rule of their obedience and the record of their whole civil and religious polity.
Organic Unity. This is evident in the structure of the Pentateuch. The symmetry of its literary structure is a characteristic of the Bible and is evident in these books also.
Spiritual Unity. There is not only consecutive history covering the first two thousand four hundred years of human history but a spiritual unity setting forth the experience of the soul in fellowship with God.
Genesis – Ruin through the sin and folly of man.
Exodus – Redemption by blood and power.
Leviticus – Realized communion by atonement.
Numbers – Reliable direction during pilgrimage.
Deuteronomy – Renewed instruction with the land in view.
In these books, on the divine side, we have a progressive five-fold revelation of God in His relationship with His people.
Genesis – Sovereignty of God – in creation and election.
Exodus – Salvation of God – His power in redemption and deliverance.
Leviticus – Holiness of God – its reality and safeguards.
Numbers – Forbearance of God – caring and chastening.
Deuteronomy – Faithfulness of God – the incentive to obedience. Moreover, we note the pathways traced in the five books:
In Genesis – the way down through sin and rebellion. In Exodus – the way out through sacrifice and salvation. In Leviticus – the way in through sanctification. In Numbers – the way through calls for separation. In Deuteronomy – the way home which brings satisfaction.
History. The Pentateuch is like the trunk of a tree from which other books spring like branches. From the history of creation and then of the patriarchs, we have the history of the Jewish nation, beginning with Abraham. The promises which God made to him were the foundation stones on which the psalmists rested and the prophets built. The history recorded in the Pentateuch stretches from the creation to the death of Moses, a period of over 2,400 years, excluding the creation.
The whole of God’s redemptive purposes for mankind find their origin in the first five books of” the Bible.
Genealogy. Read Luke’s genealogy of our Lord; he traces the Lord’s lineage beyond Abraham to Adam. The vital factor to recognize is that the Genesis account of man’s creation and the New Testament doctrine of man’s redemption are bound up with each other, Rom. 5. 12; 1 Cor. 15. 45. The Jews attached great importance to genealogy; see Josh. 7. 16-18; 1 Chron. chs. 1-9; Ezra 8. 1-14.
Typology. These books are pictorial and we see types of things, persons, offices, events and ceremonies. Some typical things found here are the coats of skins, Gen. 3. 21; Abel’s lamb, 4. 4; Noah’s ark, 6. 14; the smitten rock, Exod. 17. 5, 6; the tabernacle and its furniture, chs. 25-31; the manna, Num. 11; the brazen serpent, 21. 9. Typical persons include Adam, Joseph, Moses and Aaron, Moses and Joshua. The offices of prophet and priest each yearning for their fulfilment in Christ are here falteringly held by Moses and Aaron. Two outstanding events with typical significance are the Exodus, Exod. 12, and the war with Amalek, Exod. 17. Ceremonies rich in typical meaning are the offerings, Lev. chs. 1-7; the day of atonement, ch. 16, and the feasts, ch. 23. Many others can be found.
Prophecy. In relation to our Lord Jesus Christ we find that He was to be the Seed of the woman, Gen. 3. 15; of the family of Shem, 9. 26; of the seed of Abraham, 12. 3; of the line of Isaac, 17. 19, through Jacob, 28. 4, 14; of the tribe of Judah, 49. 10; Shiloh, 49. 10; the Shepherd and Stone, 49. 24; the Star out of Jacob, Num. 24. 17; and the Sceptre out of Israel, Num. 24. 17. Find the New Testament fulfilment of these prophecies.
Summary. Genesis is a book of beginnings. Primeval history, chs. 1 to 11. 9. The creation, the collapse, the con-demnation, the corruption and the confusion of man. Patriarchal History, 11. 10 to 50. 26. Abraham, called and cheered; the man of action, 11. 10 to 25.10. Isaac, patient and peaceloving, the man of contemplation, 21. 1 to 28. 5. Jacob, cunning, crafty and contented, the man of concentration, 25. 19 to 50.13. Joseph, the son, slave, sufferer and sovereign, the man of consecration, 30. 22 to 50. 26.
Exodus is a book of deliverance and departure. The persecution of the people, ch. 1. The preparation of the deliverer, chs. 2-4; the plan of redemption, chs. 5-12. The protection of, and provision for, the people, chs. 13-18. The provision of the covenant, with its teaching, tabernacle, and testings, chs. 19-34. The construction, completion and the consecration of the tabernacle, chs. 35-40.
Leviticus a book of instructions for the regulation of the Lord’s worship, a manual for the priests and Levites. The laws of the offerings stressing propitiation, chs. 1-7. The laws of the priesthood, chs. 8-10, the thought of mediation. The laws of purity, chs. 11-22; ceremonial laws, chs. n-25; moral laws, chs. 18-22, speak of separation. The laws of the festivals and final instructions, giving occasions of approach to God, chs. 23-27. The lesson is consecration.
Numbers is thus named because of the two numberings of the people recorded in the book. Directions, chs. 1-10; the disposition of the camp, chs. 1-4, purification, chs. 5-6, devotion, chs. 7 to 9. 14, and direction of the camp, chs. 9. 15 to 10. 36. Disobedience, chs. 11-14. Discipline, chs. 15-19. Dealings of Jehovah, chs. 20-25. Fresh directions of Jehovah, chs. 26-33 a new census, new laws and new experiences. Division of the land, chs. 33. 50 to 36. 13. The lessons are trust in, travel with, and be true to God. Deuteronomy, the second law. Retrospection, chs. 1-4, the faithfulness of God. Resume of the laws of God, chs. 5-25, obedience to the Word of God. Responsibility, chs. 26-30, exhortations, expectations and establishment. Revelation of divine love, chs. 31-34; the charges, 31; the song, 32; the blessing, 33; and the burial of Moses, 34. This book covers the past, the present and the future.