The question posed this week, “is the Old Testament relevant today?” If Christ came to fulfill the old law and created a new covenant with God, why do we take so much time to read and study Old Testament scriptures?
The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 31:31-32
This passage from Jeremiah tells us how Jesus will be a sort of “hinge,” joining the Old and the New. Many view this passage as the branching point of our faith, doing away with the Old and embrace the New. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that the mission of the Old Testament was to foretell the coming of Jesus. Then, it was Jesus’ mission to fulfill those scriptures.
But it is true that the path to our salvation lies in the New Testament. In a way, the Bible is like taking a course in school. If you just want to “pass the test,” you study the New Testament. But if you want to understand how all the material is intertwined, its purpose, and how to apply it, you have to study the New and Old.
Understanding God’s Character– Why Study the Old Testament
Reading the Old Testament gives us great insight into who God is to us. It is more than just the miracles God worked in the lives of the faithful. We also share in the relationships He built with those who loved Him. We also learn from the decisions He made and how He uses the least likely to do great things. Unlike the New Testament, the Old Testament is a history of our faith that dates back thousands of years! This gives us a greater understanding of God’s consistency, love, compassion, and patience.
The Old Testament gives us hope through countless examples of God’s faithfulness to those who lean on Him. God does not change (Malachi 3:6, James 1:17). Once we realize the God of the Old is the same God of the New, we begin to grasp the importance of the entire Bible. Comparatively speaking, trying to build a relationship with God exclusively with the New Testament is the equivalent of judging a 30-year-old man by the last 6 months of his life. Some would say you “can’t expect old friendships from new acquaintances.”
The Old Testament spans over 4,000 years where the New Testament spans roughly 70 years. If God never changes, we have a lot to learn about Him in both Testaments. To grow closer to God, build a strong relationship, we should use every resource available.
Fulfillment of Prophecy– Why Study the Old Testament
How do you prove someone is the Son of God and came to earth for the redemption of mankind? That is a question God answered with His divine forethought. We call the miracle, prophecy, because there is no way for a man to see into the future; therefore, if he accurately depicts future events, it must be divinely inspired and beyond our understanding. The prophecies of the coming Messiah are throughout the Old Testament and range from vague to extremely specific. God covered every angle using the most trusted men to share and record these prophecies.
What Prophecies are so important?
Hundreds of years and in some cases thousands of years before the birth of Jesus Christ, prophets provided us details of the coming Messiah. These ranged from the small to the complex (e.g., His hands and feet would be pierced, Psalms 22:16). This Psalm was written an estimated 500 or more years before the first crucifixion on earth, a millennia before Jesus was crucified!
The Old Testament prophetic writings contain an estimated 400+ total prophecies of the coming Messiah. The only prophecies that have not been fulfilled are discussed in Revelation during the second coming of Jesus. All remaining prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus Christ in the first century AD. From being born in Bethlehem, being betrayed, crucified, spat upon, performing miracles, the foretelling of John the Baptist, casting lots for His clothes, destruction of the temple, and rising on the third day, just to name a few!
The Old Testament is a vital part of Christianity and provides necessary proofs that remind us that our faith is well placed. If we can date prophetic writings about Christ 1000 years before He ever walked the earth and provide proof that these events happened, then the laws of probability come into play. Mathematically, it is impossible for Christ to have fulfilled all these prophecies. However, the fact of the matter is, He did! If you are interested in the actual probability study done on Christ’s fulfillment of prophecy, check out our article “What Was Jesus Like: Learning more About Yeshua“.
Is the Old Testament Relevant: OT and NT are Linked, and Christ is the Bridge
The Old Testament scripture is one part of the “whole counsel of God” and teaches us morality, wisdom, faith, understanding, expression through prayer, and unwavering love. Picking and choosing what we read is not part of God’s will and it can lead to misconstruing and misinterpreting. We often see Jesus and the apostles reference the old scripture using Greek words from the Hebrew texts. With that, we now have the means to look at both translations side by side and often see that our own language falls short of many key contextual points.
The Old Testament is vital in our study and understanding of the entirety of God’s will and plan for our lives. You do not read the Bible with CliffsNotes, hoping to get the overall purpose of every book. You read the Bible word after word, time and time again and allow God to speak to you and grant insight on His truth.
Old Testament: as Relevant Today as Ever
We are so fragile and unknowing when it comes to God’s perfection. I often wonder if God sees us all as a bunch of five year old children running around asking questions just for attention. Now that my eldest son, JP, is five, I realize just how inquisitive this age can be. Before he even thinks, he is already asking a question. Often I get frustrated with the bombardment and just say “because I said so.” Perhaps, that should have been its own section in this article… Read the Old Testament because “God said so.”
At the end of the day, our goal is to surrender ourselves to His will and to grow in our loving relationship with Him. The Old Testament is vital in obtaining both. Let God speak to you through the stories and wisdom of our ancestors. Read the Old to become anew. Amen!
Written by Jon and Kathleen Frederick, Founders of Seven11 and Authors of the book, “Immersion: An Inspirational Christian Photography Collection“