Four Reasons Why Christians Should Read the Old Testament
Between teaching a Bible study on ancient Israel’s divided history and listening to my pastor’s Sunday morning series on Psalm 119, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Old Testament for the past few months. When I mention this to friends and acquaintances, I often hear this response:
“I don’t spend much time reading the Old Testament—it’s all about the Law and the judgment of a harsh God. I focus on reading the New Testament—it’s all about the gracious salvation our loving heavenly Father provides in Jesus.”
Do the Old and New Testaments of the Bible really portray two different Gods? Absolutely not! The Old Testament is vital to understanding what we believe as Christians for many reasons, including:
A revelation of the character and ways of God:
The Law of God given to Moses reveal the holiness of God—a holiness we cannot attain, regardless of how much we try. The only one who lived a sinless life was Jesus.
We also learn the names God revealed for Himself. Names such as Elohim, the Mighty Creator God or Yahweh Jireh, the Lord Will Provide. El Elyon, the Most High God and El Shaddai, the All-Sufficient One. And these are just a few of the many names provided to better understand the magnitude of our great God.
A description of why we need a Savior:
Have you ever wondered why unbelievers try so hard to discredit the creation account in Genesis? The answer is found in this progression:
- If God did not create the world and humanity, then we are not accountable to Him as our creator.
- Therefore we are not accountable to Him morally, and we get to define what is right and what is wrong.
- If we are the final arbitrator of morality, then we don’t need a Savior.
- Finally, if we don’t need a Savior, then Jesus Christ is unnecessary.
To dismiss Genesis is to dismiss Jesus.
A description of who the Savior would be:
In His brief earthly life and ministry, Jesus fulfilled more than 300 specific prophecies regarding who the Messiah would be. Why is this important? Because the fulfillment of these prophecies provides a foundational difference between Christianity and every other religion. Every other religion or faith system appeared without warning. Every one of their founders simply announced themselves one day with a new approach to God. But Jesus? For thousands of years, prophecies were written—some in great detail—to identify who He would be and to validate that He is who He said He is when He came.
A roadmap to Jesus:
After Jesus’s resurrection, He appeared to two of His followers on the road to Emmaus. As He walked with them, “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:27 NIV).
Why read the Old Testament? Augustine famously described the relationship between the Old and New Testaments this way: “The new is in the old concealed; the old is in the new revealed.” Take the time to mine the treasures found in the Old Testament. You’ll never look at the New Testament in the same way again . . . and that’s a very good thing.
What’s your favorite verse of passage from the Old Testament?