Every once in a while, someone will make a statement about the Old Testament as if it is old news, implying that Christians don’t really need to get too excited about its content. Nothing could be further from the truth. It may be a little tougher to dig into the history of the Old Testament (OT) and understand the culture of that day, but the insights into life are worth the effort. There are several reasons why the study of the “Hebrew Bible” is valuable to the New Testament Believer.
The Old Testament was the Bible Jesus and the Apostles used. Jesus saw the OT as God’s inspired Word. He and the Apostles both quoted from it in their speaking ministries and read and studied it in their personal lives. If Jesus and the Apostles studied the OT, certainly that is enough reason for us to do the same.
The Old Testament is our heritage as God’s people. The New Testament is grounded in the Old. The OT gives us the prophecies of the first and second coming of Christ. In fact, it could be argued, that the topic of the OT really is Christ Himself. The flow of OT history is the completion of God’s plan of redemption, fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ. The OT helps us understand the New. It gives us insight into the blood sacrifice and what it really means that Jesus Christ is our “great High Priest.” Without the OT, we would understand very little about covenants and the real significance of the cross. It helps us to know who we really are in Christ.
The New Testament refers to the importance of the Old Testament. First Corinthians 10 reminds us that the events of the OT were given to us as an example of God’s dealings with His people. So, when we read of God’s judgments upon Israel, it helps us see how He deals with our nation. The OT teaches us how to live the Christian life. We learn what endurance looks like from Job. We see what faithfulness really is when we study the life of Daniel. We learn more about obedience when we read of the life of Abraham. Our lives are enriched by the events and examples we find throughout the OT.
The New Testament Christian is blessed by the study of the Old Testament. We use the Psalms extensively in our worship songs and our devotional lives. Who is not blessed by a better understanding of Psalm 23? How would we know about creation without Genesis? The wisdom of Proverbs would not be able to challenge and shape our thinking today were it not for the OT. The OT makes up the bulk of God’s inspired Word. Without it, we would miss many blessings.
Studying the Old Testament helps us to witness to people who know little about the New Testament. Chuck Swindoll challenged me one time on his radio program by asking this question, “Could you share Christ with a person using only the Old Testament?” There are many unsaved people in our own communities that have a deep respect for the OT. If we could help them see Jesus portrayed in the OT, they would be much more receptive to our message.
Yes, I am a New Testament believer. I am not under the old covenant and I know Jesus has fulfilled all the law and has become the perfect sacrifice and High Priest of my soul. But God speaks to us through the pages of His Word regardless of which book of the Bible we are reading from. The study of the OT does have its challenges, but how inspiring is its poetry, how rich is its history, how precious are its insights. I love the Old Testament because it edifies my soul and points me to Jesus.