Recently at Hollywood Community Church, we began a sermon series on some of the most loved Old Testament Bible stores. You remember some of them – Noah and the ark, David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lion’s den and so many more. I have fond memories of hearing those stories as a child in Sunday school. They were my first introduction to the Bible.
Are those stories still relevant? How about the laws and restrictions found in the Pentateuch (first five books of the OT)? Does that stuff still apply to us? Wouldn’t we be better served to focus all our attention on Jesus, the Gospels, and the New Testament?
The simple truth is that the Old Testament is still relevant for us. Not only is it relevant, but it is equally part of God’s story of His creation, the world and our lives. Here are several reasons, why we should seek to read, understand and apply the Old Testament.
- The Old Testament gives you a God-centered worldview.
“In the beginning God….” Those words demonstrate that history begins with God. He is the Originator, Creator and Sovereign over all creation. Admittedly, the Gospels (where the New Testament begins) beautifully introduce us to Jesus, but they do not establish God as the authority and sovereign over the universe and our world. The Old Testament, on the other hand, repeatedly shows us that our lives completely center on Him.
- The Old Testament allows you to see God’s heart.
God’s love for His people is a major theme of the Old Testament. He chose them from all the nations of the world, gave them a land, protected them from their enemies, and was faithful to them, even when they were unfaithful to Him. To read what the New Testament says about God sending Jesus, His eternal Son, doesn’t make sense without knowing Him to be a loving, patient, compassionate and forgiving Father.
3. The Old Testament was the Scriptures that Jesus read and makes up 75% of your Bible.
If the amount of content is important, then we cannot minimize the words and the books of the Old Testament. Over a span of more than 1,000 years, God used 25 different prophets to write the 39 books that make up the Old Testament. Those 39 books give us a wealth of divinely inspired information, that proved invaluable to Jesus and to the early Church. (Matthew 5:17; Luke 24:44; Acts 24:14; I Timothy 3:15)
4. The Old Testament helps you to understand the New Testament.
Someone has said, “reading the New Testament without the context of the Old Testament is like arriving late to a movie. You need the first part to understand the rest.” The context of the New Testament is the Old, and the fulfillment of the Old Testament is the New. They are intrinsically connected to one another. You cannot fully understand the one without the other.
5. The Old Testament stories encourage and edify you.
Without a doubt, the events and stories of the Old Testament are entertaining, but they also encourage your heart and strengthen your faith. After all, God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). If God guided, protected and provided for His children in times past, He will most certainly do it fo you.
Romans 15:14 – For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through encouragement of the (Old Testament) Scriptures we might have hope.
6. Jesus said that all of the Old Testament points to Him.
The key figure of the Old Testament is not Abraham, Moses or David, it is Jesus. He is the protagonist of the Old Testament narrative. That may seem like a bold statement, but such a claim was made by none other than Jesus Himself.
Luke 24:27 – And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He (Jesus) interpreted to them in all the (Old Testament) Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
John 5:39 – You search the (Old Testament) Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about Me.
So, let me challenge you to dive into the Old Testament. Become familiar with the stories, get to know the characters, and study and meditate on the person and character of God. Instead of boring, stuffy and antiquated, you will find the Old Testament to be rich, profound, encouraging and life changing. But more than anything else, it will point you to Jesus.