I.THE OLD TESTAMENT
Jesus Christ recognized the Old Testament as containing three distinct divisions. He did not make the divisions, but He did recognize the divisions and used them as means of teaching His disciples during His resurrection ministry. When He taught them about the resurrection, according to the three divisions of the Old Testament, they then understood that He was to have been buried and rise again.
“And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the (1) law of Moses, and in the (2) and the Prophets, and (3) the Psalms, concening me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures” (Luke 24:44, 45).
For a study of the Bible by subject matter, such as his resurrection, one is safe and justified in studying the Old Testament under the (1) Law of Moses, (2) and the Prophets, and (3) the Psalms. A recognition of our Lord’s approved divisiojn of study of the Old Testament is safe. To study the Old Testament by subject matter without recognizing these divisions, is unsafe, will lead to many doctrinal errors, which shall be pointed out in later chapters.
Most schools of theology arbitrarily divide the Old Testament into seven divisions, without Bible sanction, and such hinders one from effectively meeting gross heresy taught by suchyh as hold that they are still under part of the law, the moral law, of the Old Testament.
Seven wrong divisions of the Old Testament, that may lead to moral and doctrinal error are:
In no place does the Bible say anything about “moral law” and “ceremonal law.” These are the evil inventions of men. In no place does the Bible say anything about the “major prophets” and the “minor prophets.” In no place does the Bible say anything about the “historical books” and the “poetic books.” While it is admitted that men may remember some historical incidents better by such an arbitrary division of the Old Testament, it is also recognized and here pointed out that such unjustifiable divisions for a real study of the Bible by subject and doctrinal matter will lead to gross Bible error.
For instance, if one accepts these seven divisions of the Old Testament as being authentic, the person who wants to stay under the seventh day Sabbath can say, and does, “The ceremonial law has been fulfilled, but we are still under the moral law.” The Bible says nothing about either the moral or ceremonial law’s being fulfilled, because there was no such recognition by the prophets, apostles, or Jesus. The Bible says the Law was fulfilled, not just a part, or parcel (Matt. 5:17, 18; Gal. 3:10, 13, 19, 24; Col. 2:14-17; II Cor. 3:6-11).
Just because one prophet wrote more or less than another does not make him major or minor to another. In the Law of Moses there were morals taught and there were ceremonies that were to have been strictly observed, but the Bible says nothing about “moral law” and “ceremonial law.” Ben M. Bogard stated: “The moral law was invented by Seventh Day Adventists to save their idea of the Sabbath” (The Golden Key, p. 9). It is wise to avoid such divisions of the Old Testament, as shall be seen in later chapters.
1.The Law of Moses.
This is the first division of the Old Testament. It included not only the five books of the Pentateuch but also the other books of the Old Testament that tell how Israel’s government functioned in carrying out the Law of Moses, under Joshua, the judges, and Saul, David, and Solomon, the three kings of undivided israel. The term, “the Law of Moses,” as used by our Lord, Luke 24:44, included every book of the Old Testament from Genesis through Esther (seventeen books).
This second division of the Old Testament included those prophets who wrote books that were contained in the Old Testament Scriptures. These include every book of the Old Testment from isaiah to Malachi, without Bible recognition of one’s being major or minor to another (seventeen books).
The third division of the Old Testament, as approved by our Lord for study, included those inspired books of songs or poetry, from Job through the Song of Solomon (five books). The term “psalm” means a lyrical piece to be sung to a musical instrument (Smith’s Bible Dictionary, p. 539). “The Psalms” not only referred to the single book in our Bible called “Psalms,” but also to Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon, all of which were written in poetry, to be sung or chanted in worship to the Lord, in connection with instrumental music. It is wise for doctrinal purposes to study the Old Testament according to our Lord’s approval, Luke 24:44, 45. It is folly to study it otherwise, that is to disregard His approved divisions, for study and teaching.