Genesis sets the grand stage of the metanarrative of the Old Testament. God is introduced as the Cosmic Creator who stands triumphantly in charge in the beginning of time. He is a loving and caring Creator who makes mankind to be in a relationship with him. Humanity fails at this, with the Fall, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel. God stands ready to give grace and restore each time, and this grace is seen most amazingly as the story focuses in on one Abram and his family. God forms a covenant with him and his family and stays faithful despite all of the sinful patterns of Abram, Isaac, and Jacob. The book ends with God providing food and sustenance for his people in a foreign land.
Exodus picks up with a generation of Israelites who are living as an oppressed people in a foreign land, and the question is posed “will God keep his promise to form Abraham into a nation.” God does so by raising up a leader, Moses with his brother Aaron, and by rescuing this people group from oppression. Moses and his brother Aaron are charged with leading this people into a promised land. Moses and Aaron are charged with communicating God’s covenant and covenant rules to these people.
Leviticus spells out for these people what it means to be a holy people amongst the nations. They are to live as a distinct and holy people yet they are also charged with loving their neighbor and showing God’s covenant love towards the strangers and the foreigners who desire to step into the fold of God’s people.
Numbers is a recounting of the people of Israel’s continues grumbling and rebelling against God’s continual providence. They grumble about food and about God’s election of Moses and Aaron’s family as the priestly leaders of the nation. They doubt God’s ability to bring them into the Promised Land. Yet God remains faithful as he prepares them for their inheritance.
Deuteronomy recounts the mighty deeds of God in saving Israel, but does so because God desire there to be a recognized renewal of the covenant between him and Israel. God retells the conditions of the covenants and expounds upon the blessings and the curses for not following this covenant. Israel is to be a distinct people from the other nations—one that serves God and God alone with an undivided heart. They are not to serve the God’s of the other nations; they are to glorify God’s name and that name alone is to be made known.