The Theme of the Old Testament

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Episode Synopsis

What is the overriding theme of the Old Testament? Can you see Jesus there? Jani offers some helps for reading through the Old Testament.

Audio Transcript

Jani: Hello, everyone. I wonder how you’re doing with your discipleship groups. I hope it’s going well for you. I pray for you, as does our team.

Today’s Resources

Leaders, I want to make sure that you copy off two papers from our website. One is the “Setting Lifetime Goals” Handout #1, and the second one is called “The Basic Theme of the Old Testament.” You’re going to need that during our teaching time today.

Free Download: “Writing Life Goals” (PDF)

Practical questions to ask yourself as you think through and set goals for your life. When you come to the end of your life, what do you want to look back on? How will you get there?

Free Download: “Basic Theme of the Old Testament” (PDF)

Get a birds-eye view of the basic theme of the Old Testament where God imposes his reign of peace and righteousness upon a rebellious world.

Weekly Review: Accountability

Jani: Well, let’s start with accountability. How is everyone’s quiet time going with the Lord? Are you getting it in five times a week? I would encourage you to pause the podcast and choose a name for someone to share.

Jani: How is everyone’s scripture meditation going? Review around your group what you’re meditating on and ask one person to share how their verse has impacted their week or how God is using the verse in their life. Make sure to share your dates for your extended quiet times. Has anyone had an extended quiet time already? If so, pause the podcast and ask that person to share how it went.

Jani: Finally, pause the podcast and recite the Old Testament books through Esther together by memory, see if you can do it.

Next Week’s Assignment

Jani: Now let me give you your assignment for next week. I know it’s December and I know it’s busy. Oh, keep making time for the Lord, please your assignment is five quiet times, continuing to meditate on your verse of scripture, memorizing the books of the Old Testament through the Song of Solomon. So that means you’re adding five more books on. And then one of the things we’re going to do together in the upcoming weeks is begin to talk about the importance of setting lifetime goals and how to begin forming them. To help prepare for this teaching, I’ve asked your leaders to copy off a paper called Setting Lifetime Goals handout. We’re going to be answering a few questions. And so leaders, hand out that worksheet and for next week, please think through these four questions and come prepared to share.

Worship: The Price of Redemption

Jani: Next, let’s gather round for some worship time. We didn’t do this during our last time together. And I wonder, do you have a chorus you’re singing together? I hope so. We’re told in Colossians 3 to encourage each other through psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. We we want to do that. My group sings a little chorus, Jesus Christ Is Made To Me. And it’s from 1 Corinthians 1:30. In that verse, we’ve been discussing each word that Jesus is to us. And so today for worship, even if you don’t use that chorus, but especially if you do, let’s discuss that phrase, “my redemption full and free. Jesus Christ is made to me. All I need, all I need. He alone is all my plea. He is all I need. Wisdom, righteousness and power, holiness for every hour. My redemption full and free. He is all I need.”

Jani: Well, what does redemption mean? It means to buy back or to rescue, to ransom, to recover, to reclaim, to atone for. It means deliverance from some evil by payment of a price.

Jani: What is that price? The very blood of Christ. Turn to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Look at these words there,

“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Jani: We must show in our bodies that we are no longer caught up in the bondage from which we’ve been released. We’ve been bought back from whom, from another master Satan.

Teaching Time: The Theme of the Old Testament

Jani: Now, let’s go to our teaching section of our time together. And leaders, you will want your members to have the second handout called Basic Theme of the Old Testament. I want to tell you that these teachings are from classes I was privileged to take as a wife of a seminary student at Dallas Seminary, dear Dr. Bruce Waltke, which teach us wives at night because most of us were working during the day, he would come and teach us some of what he was teaching our husbands. It was such a gift to us. We could enroll for free, it didn’t cost us a penny. And he taught us a course on the Old Testament and much of what I teach women in my discipleship group is from that course. I owe Dr. Waltke so much and now you do too. The rest of it is from an Old Testament Survey class I took once upon a time years ago. But you can see from our handout, that we have a working theme of the Old Testament that hovers over all the pages of the Old Testament.

Jani: It goes like this. God is imposing his reign of peace and righteousness upon this rebellious world, through the agency of Abraham’s seed and he will not be defeated. As God establishes this rule, man is continually rebelling, but God is continually saving man. And then you can see six little listings of ways to think through the different ages of the Old Testament on through the New Testament and on into the future. It’s a little outline overview of how we can read through the Bible.

Jani: First of all, we begin in Genesis where you can see God is ruling over man who’s to rule over Earth. Man is to have dominion over creation. We’re told that in Genesis 1, but man is under God’s dominion, mediating the rule of God over the whole earth, Genesis 2:16-17 teaches that. At the Fall, man refused to submit to God.

Jani: So then we come to the next section, where God has Earth ruling over man, because of sin, Earth will rule over man and ultimately swallow him up in death. Genesis 3:16-19 teaches that. God’s judgment, which is the curse, means that the earth will have dominion over man. There will be labor and pain and ultimately, death. Now, despite God’s judgment at the Fall, God does restore man to himself. All throughout the Old Testament, we see God’s proud enemies rising up against him, and his gracious restoration of those he has committed himself to in covenantal love.

Jani: So next we come to God in dominion over Abraham, who is to have dominion over the nations. Now at this point, God has chosen a single man to mediate his rule, Abraham. From Abraham, grew the nation of Israel. Look in your Bibles, look at Genesis 12:1-3. Listen as I read, Genesis 12:1-3.

“Now the Lord said to Abraham, “Go from your country, and your kindred and your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you and make your name great so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and Him who dishonors you, I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Genesis 12:1-3

Jani: Do you see that? I like to think of it as concentric circles. Here’s Abraham in the middle with his family and then he’s going to build a nation, a great nation, and then that nation will bless all the families of the earth. So it’s Abraham, to Israel, to all the nations of the earth.

Jani: Now, Israel was to be a geal political kingdom of priests, mediating God’s rule on Earth. Deuteronomy 26 talks about this. Deuteronomy 28:1 as well. The order should have been this: God, Israel, and the Gentiles, but instead it becomes God, using the Gentiles to dominate Israel, because Israel rebelled. Many Israelites turned traitor to God. Now the one where Israel is ruling over the Gentiles, of course is what we see in 1 and 2 Samuel and Kings, Solomon, but then eventually, the Gentiles come and rule over Israel. Rather than enforcing her rule upon the nations, Israel turns traitor to God. And she lets the nations enforce their rule over her. The Gentiles begin to influence, to rule over and to subjugate Israel. You might know some of this in Old Testament history you might not but Assyria led Israel, which is the northern kingdom, referred to as the northern kingdom, led away the northern kingdom in 722 BC. And then Babylon captured Judah, the southern kingdom, in 586 BC. And God instituted the times of the Gentiles.

Jani: The Israelites kept hoping that Messiah would come and again set up His kingdom on earth. Someday, he will. Someday, God is going to have Israel and the Church rule over the nations. God is moving history to a great renewal of his people who will reign with Him forever and ever. Look at Daniel 7:27. You actually, in your discipleship group really should read verses 15 through 27. I’m just going to pick up at verse 27.

“And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High. [That’s those of us who believe in Christ] And His kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom and all dominion shall serve and obey Him.”

Daniel 7:27

Jani: Do you see what they’re saying? And then Revelation 22:1-5 ends like this,

“The Lord God will be their light and they will reign forever and ever.”

Revelation 22:5

Jani: Oh, we look forward to that, as you read through the Bible this year, keep Revelation 22 in mind, will you?

Seeing The Theme Throughout The Old Testament

Jani: Now, I want to go back because you’re going to be reading through the Old Testament, and I want to give you some background as you begin reading in Genesis so that you’ll have some knowledge on what you’re reading about. How do we see this theme? Do you remember the theme of the Old Testament? God is imposing his reign of peace and righteousness upon this rebellious world, through the agency of Abraham’s seed, and he will not be defeated. As he establishes this rule, man is continually rebelling, but God is continually saving man.

Jani: Think, ask yourself, how do I see this theme throughout all of Scripture? Well, In the Garden of Eden, man asserted his own self mastery and stepped out of God’s will. He was alienated from God and from his wife. God provides the first sacrifice to clothe them. And then later on in Genesis 4, we see not only man alienated from God, here man is alienated from man when Cain kills his brother, Abel. Cain is banished and he builds a city in Genesis 4. It’s the birth of the arts and sciences. Then in Genesis 6 through 11, we have the flood and the Tower of Babel. Man now is alienated from God.

Jani: In the flood, God shows us that his program for mankind will not die. God is continually saving man. Oh, look for that, as you read through the Old Testament this year. At the Tower of Babel, God took his gift of language, and used it against man in judgment for their rebellion. Now man is alienated from God and man.

Jani: And we come to the time of the patriarchs. Let’s just talk about two patriarchs today in today’s podcast, and then we’ll close it up until the next time we get together to talk about some Old Testament things to help you as you read. In Abraham, God shows us a new act of salvation as he is continually redeeming man. God will use Abraham to begin to form a nation. Now, we talked about this in Genesis 12:1-3 and we read it. These three verses spell out God’s redemptive plan for the world. There are three stages in this plan of salvation. Genesis 12:1, well, it began in the year 2100 BC, with the individual, Abraham. And then Genesis 12:2 came about in 1440 BC, when the nation of Israel was formed. Genesis 12:3 is still future, it’s universal and we’re looking forward to that.

The Struggles of Abraham

Jani: Now, I want you to think with me of some of the struggles that you’re going to be reading about that Abraham went through. It’s always helpful for me to see these and be able to identify with Abraham as I’m reading through Genesis. Think of the struggles he went through. He had a selfish relative. In Genesis 13, he went through that struggle of possessions. A second struggle he went through was a gorgeous wife, Genesis 12:14-15. Sara’s beauty proved to be a trap. Sometimes beauty can be a struggle. Or a third struggle Abraham dealt with is in Genesis 15. He had no heir, no one to give his property to. And in, in Genesis 15:8, he had no land. It seems that God’s promise was not being fulfilled. And then a fourth struggle he had was marital difficulties. He had contention with Sara in Genesis 16:5. Another struggle he had was the struggle of time. In Genesis 17, he’s 99 years old. It’s 24 years since he set out to go to the Promised Land. 24 years to see God’s promise fulfilled. And the final I think the ultimate sacrifice is in Genesis 22, when God called him to sacrifice his only son. This is the ultimate test. He’s surrendering everything, nothing makes sense. God only gave Abraham the command. He didn’t tell him the end result. But we read that Abraham believed the Lord in Genesis 15:6, and in Hebrews 11:11, he considered God faithful. Abraham considered God faithful. He believed God would keep His Word. Therefore, he could give Lot the best land and rest in God as the years passed and obey God even when it didn’t make sense.

The Struggles of Joseph

Jani: I think I’d like to skip through a bit of Genesis, and come to Joseph, come to Genesis 37. Because I want you to see that there are so many real struggles in the Old Testament. Don’t just read them as old lessons you learned in Sunday school as a child, or maybe as an adult. Take them to heart. These are real people. You will meet them in heaven someday, they really walked on Earth, and they really dealt with actual sorrows, griefs, struggles. Think of Joseph. Think of the contention he had with his brothers in Genesis 37. Think of how he was slandered, even when he didn’t sin in this way. In Genesis 39 Potiphar’s wife accuses him of seducing her. Or third way he struggled when he was forgotten and neglected in prison. Genesis 40:23. Or I think another one of his struggles we see in Genesis 41:40, where his power became a struggle to him. You see, even blessings can be a struggle. How did Joseph survive all these struggles, all these tests? Well, look at Genesis 50:19-20. Turn there and look at them. Do you see what it says? Do you see how Joseph believed in the goodness of God, he looked beyond his own life into God’s plan. He trusted that God was in control. And that was enough for him.

Wrapping Up

Jani: Oh, I hope it can be enough for you today. Now, we’re going to walk through the Bible a little bit more in our next time together. But for now, discipleship group leader, why don’t you take a break, and then come back together and share time for sharing requests and praying with each other. May the Lord restore your souls as you meet together and as you begin to think about reading through the Bible together. God bless you.

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. This podcast is generously funded through Renewal Ministries. If you would like to discover more about Jani and Ray’s ministry or make a donation, visit their website at If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at

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  • Taylor says:

    This is absolutely beautiful and a true God send. My faith is highly enhanced and I feel encouraged.

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    He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

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