My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True Lord, God, and Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
Overview of the Books of the Holy Bible: Old Testament (Part II)
By The Right Reverend BASIL, Bishop of the Diocese of Wichita,
The Books of Prophecy
The FOURTH and FINAL SECTION of the 70 Old Testament includes the books of Prophecy, which appear in an order different from the Hebrew and Vulgate collections.
HOSEA gives a message of God’s own redeeming love for His chosen people, even when they spurn Him and prostitute themselves to false gods. AMOS is the simple shepherd called by God to denounce a self-satisfied nation for its grave social injustice, abhorrent immorality and its shallow and meaningless piety. MICAH foretells the day when nations shall beat their swords into plow-shares and their spears into pruning hooks. He speaks of peace reigning over all who do justice, who love kindness, and who walk humbly with God. JONAH unwillingly accepts God’s command to preach His mercy and forgiveness to a foreign nation.
NAHUM prophesied the defeat of the powerful Assyrian enemy. HABAKKUK deals with the perennial question, “How long, O Lord, shall I cry out to You, and You will not hear me?” (Hab. 1:2). ZEPHANIAH prophesied the dark days of Judah’s destruction but promises comfort and conciliation to those who wait patiently for the Lord and serve Him. HAGGAI, follows the return of the exiles, exhorts them to rebuild the destroyed Temple in order to unify their disrupted religious life and more importantly, to prepare for the coming of the long-awaited Messiah.
ZECHARIAH prophesied the image of the messianic Prince of Peace, the Good Shepherd Who would lay down His life for the flock. MALACHI exhorts God’s people to faithfulness and asserts the FATHERHOOD OF GOD over all nations. He foretells that God will appoint A FORERUNNER, similar to the ancient Prophet Elijah (or Elias) who will appear before the Messiah and prepare the world for the Coming Day of the Lord.
ISAIAH exhorts the people of God to place their confidence in the Lord, and to lead private and public lives which manifest this reliance. From Isaiah, we hear the prophecies of a Son to be born of a virgin, and of the Suffering Servant–the Messiah–Who would be led AS AN INNOCENT SHEEP TO THE SLAUGHTER, AND BY WHOSE STRIPES WE WOULD BE HEALED. JERAMIAH severely criticized God’s people FOR ABANDONING THE ONE TRUE GOD AND TURNING INSTEAD TO THE WORSHIP OF IDOLS. BARUCH was appointed to be read on feast days as a confession of sins. In LAMENTATIONS, the author Jeremiah mourns the destruction of the holy city of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. The EPISTLE OF JEREMIAH is addressed to those about to be carried off into exile in Babylon.
EZEKIEL, the Prophet of the exiles, assures his hearers of the abiding presence of God amongst them, even in exile and servitude. Finally, DANIEL writes an apocalyptic or mystical end times prophecy which is filled with difficult and often obscure signs and symbols. In the Greek Septuagint, DANIE, begins with the heroic story of Susanna and ends with the fascinating account of Bel and the Serpent.
These FORTY-NINE GOD INSPIRED Old Testament books divided into FOUR SECTIONS–books of the Law, of History, of Wisdom, and of Prophecy–which serve AS AN INTRODUCTION TO JOHN BAPTIST’S PREPARATION OF THE WORLD FOR THE COMING OF THE MESSIAH, WHO IS ISAIAH’S SUFFERING SERVANT, ZECHARIAH’S PRINCE OF PEACE, AND THE GOOD SHEPHERD WHO LAYS DOWN HIS LIFE FOR THE FLOCK.
OVERVIEW OF THE BOOKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
The Four Gospels
MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE AND JOHN recall the events in the life of Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, the first three are called THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS, in that they set forth a “COMMON VIEWPOINT” of the chronology of events and the message of Christ in His life and Ministry. MATTHEW addresses his gospel primarily to fellow Jews. MARK is likely the first gospel to be written and speaks of Christ as servant of all (Mark 10:45). LUKE, himself a physician, reveals the Incarnate Christ and His earthly ancestry. This Son of Man saves and heals the fallen race.
JOHN, the last of the Four Gospels to be written, emphasizes the DIVINITY OF CHRIST, the Eternal Son and Logos/Word of God, Who became Man. John’s gospel further reveals SEVEN MIRACLES OF CHRIST, not all of them in chronological order.
Written by Saint Luke, these are the Acts (or accomplishments) OF THE APOSTLES, but mainly of Peter (chapters 1-12) and Paul (chapters 13-28). Acts chronicles the earliest history of the Church from Pentecost through approximately 65 A.D.
The Letters (or Epistles) of Saint Paul
The FIRST NINE OF SAINT PAUL’S LETTERS are written to Churches. ROMANS, which begins this section, was the only Letter of Saint Paul wrote to a community he had not previously visited. Thus, the implication is that much of what he wrote to the Church of Rome he preached in other places.
Most prominent of the cities of first century Greece was Corinth, a center of commerce, immorality, and false religion. Predictably, this fledgling Church would have to deal with these same matters. FIRST CORINTHIANS is therefore a correcting epistle calling FOR UNITY, VIRTUE, FORBEARANCE, EUCHARISTIC ORDER AND PROPER USE OF THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. In contrast SECOND CORINTHIANS recognizes the repentance within the Church on the part of many, and Saint Paul defends his Apostolic authority.
In GALATIANS, Saint Paul addresses several Churches in Asia Minor, defending his Apostleship and calling the faithful to live their lives in the strength of the Holy Spirit instead of in submission to the laws of the Old Covenant. EPHESIANS is a marvelous discourse on how the Church should conduct itself. This community is rich in dedication to Christ. Yet just a few decades later the Lord tells them, “YOU HAVE LEFT YOUR FIRST LOVE” (Revelation 2:4). (Source: The Orthodox Study Bible)
(To be continued)
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Divine and Glorious Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God