In the beginning...
In 40:8, Isaiah wrote, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” Almost every Christian owns at least one Bible. We are fortunate. Many people in the world today still do not own a Bible. Through most of history, most people have not owned Bibles. Once upon a time, in fact, there weren’t any Bibles at all.
Then God began to tell us about Himself
The Bible tells us, in 2 Peter 1:21, that “men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” They were people like you and I. Each had favorite words and expressions. And God inspired them to write His word in their own words. When they were done, every word they had written was exactly what God wanted them to write. Men wrote the actual words of our Bibles, but those words are the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God.
The Old Testament
To look at this a little closer, over a period of about 1500 years, God gave us two collections of His word. The first one we call the Old Testament. Approximately 3,400 years ago, on Mt. Sinai, God instructed Moses to write down His word for the people to read and obey. During their 40 years in the desert, Moses did just that, writing the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Today, we call these the Pentateuch, from the Latin word “penta,” meaning five. The Jews call these books Torah, meaning, The Law.
For about the next 1000 years, men with names like Samuel, Nehemiah, David, Isaiah, and others wrote the books that became our Old Testament. With the exception of some portions of Daniel which are in Aramaic, the Old Testament scriptures were written in Hebrew.
If we still had those original manuscripts, they would be between 2,400 and 3,400 years old. Over the years, though, those first writings wore out and disappeared. Today, we a lot of copies, but the oldest dates to approximately 300 B.C. While we know very little about how the Old Testament books came down to us, we do know Satan tried his best to destroy them. For example, in 167 BC, at the command of Antiochus Epiphanes, “The books of the law which they found, they burnt in the fire and cut in pieces. Whosoever had a book of the Testament [was put] to death.” Thankfully, in spite of such opposition, God preserved His Word.
ca. 1650 A.D.