Lesson: Understanding the Old Testament for Kids

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Lesson: Understanding the Old Testament (Bible Organization Series #1)
This lesson is the second in our series explaining how the Bible is organized. For more help, be sure to review our Bible worksheets on the divisions of the Bible.

  1. Lesson: Understanding Bible Layout
  2. You are here – Lesson: Understanding the Old Testament
  3. Lesson: Understanding the New Testament

OBJECTIVE: To teach the students about the organization of the Old Testament and how each section of books point to Christ.
MAIN IDEA: The Old Testament consists of books written before Jesus was born. It is organized by sections that each have a unique writing style in support of God’s plan for redemption of mankind (through Jesus).
SCRIPTURE PASSAGES: 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Genesis 1, Joshua 1, Job 1, Isaiah 1, Hosea 1
MATERIAL(S): Dry erase board or poster board, “Sections of the Old Testament” worksheets (download here), scissors, plastic sandwich bags, tape

Introduction (5 minutes)
OPENING PRAYER: “God, reveal your truth from the Old Testament and give us strength as we seek to understand how the entire bible focuses on Jesus Christ and your future plan to eradicate sin from the world. Amen.”
PREVIOUS LESSON REVIEW: Say, “Last week we learned that the Bible was written over a time period of 2,000 years. Does anyone remember how many books are in the bible (66)? How many authors wrote those books (approximately 40)?” Remind students that we know the bible is God’s true word because each book points to the gospel of Jesus Christ and God has preserved these books so we can have a relationship with him. Also, each book is “God-breathed” by the Holy Spirit through human beings (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Lesson (25 minutes
1. Remind the class that the bible consists of two big sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament. Say, “Turn to the table of contents in your bibles. Today we are going to talk about the Old Testament (the books written before Jesus’ birth) to understand its set-up and how it points to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
2. Write the five categories of Old Testament books on a dry erase board or poster.
The Books of Moses or Pentateuch (Genesis to Deuteronomy): Comment, “In these books, God established the Jewish nation as his chosen people – the people from whom the Messiah would one day come!” Find Genesis 1. Briefly discuss the biblical accounts of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, and Moses. Explain that all these happenings took place in the Books of Moses.
Historical Books (Joshua to Esther): Tell the students to find Joshua 1 in their bibles. Say, “Joshua to Esther are historical books that show God as the protector of those who believe in him, and that he is true to his word by punishing evil and rewarding those who believe in his plan (including the opportunity to receive salvation).” Briefly review the accounts of Joshua (Battle of Jericho), Samson, Ruth, and Esther.
Wisdom and Poetry (Job to Song of Solomon): Say, “Now let’s turn to Job 1. The books from Job to Song of Solomon consist of wise sayings, metaphors, psalms (songs), and poetry. These types of writings show the majesty of God and the power of his spirit in different ways than the previous books. And through his Spirit, we can receive eternal life!” Review the lives of Job, David, and Solomon.
Major Prophets (Isaiah to Daniel): Explain that these books are referred to as “major” prophetic books because of their length. Turn to Isaiah 1. Say, “The prophets speak of times to come of God’s judgment, redemption, and overall future destruction of sin (which started through Jesus’ innocent sacrifice).” Briefly discuss the lives of Elijah and Daniel.
Minor Prophets (Hosea to Malachi): Turn to Hosea 1. Comment, “These books are “minor” prophetic books because of their shorter length (and not because their messages are less important). They were also written for the same reasons as the major prophetic books.” Outline the book of Jonah as an example of a minor prophetic book.
3. Ask, “So, now that we know the organization of the Old Testament doesn’t it make more sense as to how the books point to the gospel?” Add that there was a time period of about 400 years between the Old Testament and New Testament, and next week’s lesson will outline the New Testament books.
Conclusion (5 minutes)
RECAP: The Old Testament consists of numerous types of writings that show God’s power, holiness, and his plan for the redemption of mankind through Jesus Christ.
CLOSING PRAYER: “Lord, we ask for your help in understanding the Old Testament. Guide us as we learn more about you by studying the Old Testament books. Amen.”
Review Activity (10 minutes) – *Download Attachment*
Pass out the “Sections of the Old Testament” work sheet. Say, “We’re going to practice identifying the books that go in each section of the Old Testament.” Cut out the book names (included in the work sheet) ahead of time for each student and place them in a plastic sandwich bag. Hand out the plastic bags and tell the students to use the table of contents in their bibles to help them tape each book in the appropriate place.

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