The Bible--Part 1
Jan 30, 2009
After Jesus' resurrection, He met Luke and Cleopas who were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus and explained to them in Luke 24:44, "all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms."
These are the three general divisions of the Old Testament. The Psalms, of course, is so named because that is the book that began the final section of OT Scriptures. These three main divisions of the OT were well known in those days, but not as well known today, because our modern Bibles have not retained the original order of books.
Originally, the OT was considered to contain just 22 books. Here is an outline of the Bible as it was arranged by Ezra after the Babylonian captivity:
A. The Law
B. The Prophets
6. Joshua and Judges (one book)
7. The Book of Kingdoms (Samuel and Kings)
11. The Twelve (The Minor Prophets, Hosea to Malachi)
C. The Psalms, or Holy Writings
12. The Psalms
13. The Proverbs
15. Song of Songs
22. Book of Chronicles
Jesus indirectly affirmed the order of OT books in Matt. 23:35, when He said that "this generation" would be responsible for all the blood of the prophets from Abel to Zechariah. Who was Zechariah? He was the last martyr listed in the final OT book of 2 Chron. 24:20, 21.
" (20) Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest; and he stood above the people and said to them, Thus God has said, Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord and do not prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, He has also forsaken you. (21) So they conspired against him and at the command of the kingthey stoned him to death in the court of the house of the Lord."
It was not until 391 A.D. that the Old Testament books were divided further into 39 books. It was done by Jerome in his Latin translation known as the Vulgate. Modern translations have followed his lead since that time. They did not lose any of the books of the Bible, but they lost the significance of the number 22.
Number 22 means "sonship" or the "Sons of Light." The connection between light and sonship is obvious, because the manifestation of the sons of God will give them bodies of "light." There were 22,000 Levites that redeemed the firstborn of Israel (Num. 3:39).
When Solomon dedicated the temple, he offered 22,000 sheep on the eighth day of Tabernacles (2 Chron. 7:5). The eighth day of Tabernacles marks the day when the sons of God (sheep) will be manifested.
The name Saul is mentioned 22 times in the book of Acts before being changed to Paul. The last time Saul is used is in Acts 26:14, where it is used twice ("Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"). This suggests that on the 22nd day of the 7th month (eighth day of Tabernacles), we get a double portion, which is our inheritance.
In fact, the 22nd time Abraham's name is mentioned is in Genesis 25:5, "Now Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac." It was the moment when Isaac received his inheritance. The eighth day of Tabernacles is the day that the sons of God receive their inheritance--the glorified light-body.
Likewise, the 22nd time that Joshua's name is mentioned is in Deut. 31:7, where Moses transferred his authority to Joshua, so that he could bring Israel into the Kingdom (Canaan).
The 22nd time that Joseph's name is mentioned is in Gen. 37:4, where Potiphar made Joseph the overseer in charge over the entire household. We know that the sons of God, the faithful servants of Luke 12:44 will be put in authority over God's household possessions.
The characteristics of the glorified body are described primarily in terms of light. Hence, there are 22 almonds on the lampstand in Moses' tabernacle, and light is used 22 times in the book of John.
All of this is lost when we assume that the Old Testament consists of 39 books, rather than 22. The number 39 means "infirmity." One could assume, of course, that the Old Testament has an infirmity in itself, apart from its completion in the New Testament, but this only serves to degrade Scripture and give some an opportunity to treat the OT as if it is not inspired, or less inspired. That, of course, is not true.
Instead, we should look at the OT in the light of Saul, whose name was mentioned 22 times before being changed to Paul. The OT is Saul; the NT is Paul. Both are important, but they represent two stages of development.
The Hebrew language had 22 letters, which (together) represented the light of God's Word. Psalm 119 is divided into 22 sections, one for each Hebrew letter. Each section has eight verses, each of which begins with the Hebrew letter representing its section. It is the longest psalm, having 176 verses, because 22 x 8 = 176. Each verse mentions the word, the law, the commandments, the ordinances, etc., because the psalm is a celebration of the Word of God that is made up of the 22 letters.
To the people of the OT, the number 22 was a number indicating completeness. It appeared to have an air of finality, and so it was difficult for many to think in terms of a New Testament that might add more books to the number 22. Yet, as we will see later, the Apostle John (the last living apostle) established the canon of the New Testament late in the first century with his counsel of elders, selecting precisely 27 books to add to the previous 22. The total came to 49, because the NT was designed to bring us the fullness of the Jubilee.
Likewise, the number 27 is the number of the "Ministry of Salvation." (See The Biblical Meaning of Numbers from One to Forty. It is posted online, and is also available in the spiral-bound book at the back of The Genesis Book of Psalms.) The number 27 describes perfectly the message of the New Testament, which gives us a written record of this "ministry of salvation."
This is the first part of a series titled "The Bible." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones