Ahhh the old testament – something that is all too often overlooked, but there are many reasons to study. In college I had concentrated courses on both the Old Testament & the New Testament, the Old Testament was actually my favorite! I love the stories of how early believers like Abraham & Noah lived in utter and COMPLETE dependency & trust in God. God told Abraham to move. Where? He didn’t say… So Abraham basically just went until God told him to stop. Noah was told to build an ark to survive a rainy flood (now remember that it hadn’t yet rained on the Earth) so Noah wasn’t sure what rain was, but he spent 100 YEARS building the ark!
The Old Testament is essential for anyone seeking to understand the human condition, for anyone seeking the answers to the most fundamental questions of life and death. In other words, the Old Testament is as relevant as the current issue of Vogue… And the next issue, and the next issue 😉
The Old Testament is a formal introduction to God himself – for seeking a relationship with him. It enables us to begin comprehending the incomprehensible. For anyone seeking to come to know the Creator of the Universe, the Old Testament is crucial.
- The Old Testament lays the foundation for the teachings and events found in the New Testament (prophecies, key people, etc). You can’t read the second half of any book & expect to have an understanding of it.
- The amazing lessons… Dependency on God, seeing WHY we needed a Savior, prophecies that stand the test of time.
- The knowledge of how God’s people through the ages have relied on the King of Kings as their rock.
#1: The Bible is progressive. You can’t skip or glaze over the first half of any book & understand the plot or even the ending. In the same way, the New Testament is only understood when we see its foundation of the events, characters, laws, sacrificial system, covenants, and promises of the Old Testament.
If we only had the New Testament, we wouldn’t even know why we needed a Savior! We would not understand why this Messiah was coming (Isaiah 53), and we would not have been able to identify Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah through the many detailed prophecies that were given concerning Him [e.g., where He was born (Micah 5:2), His manner of death (Psalm 22, 1, 7–8, 14–18; 69:21), His resurrection (Psalm 16:10), and many more details of His ministry (Isaiah 9:2; 52:3)].
A study of the Old Testament is also important for understanding the Jewish customs mentioned in passing in the New Testament. We would not understand the way the Pharisees had perverted God’s law by adding their own traditions to it, or why Jesus was so upset as He cleansed the temple courtyard, or where Jesus got the words He used in His many replies to adversaries.
The Old Testament records numerous detailed prophecies that could only have come true if the Bible is God’s Word, not man’s (like Daniel 7 and the following chapters). Daniel’s prophecies give specific details about the rise and fall of nations. These prophecies are so accurate, in fact, that skeptics choose to believe they were written after the fact.
A study of the Old Testament also helps us understand prophecy. The Old Testament contains many promises that God will yet fulfill. The Old Testament reveals such things as the length of the Tribulation, how Christ’s future 1,000-year reign fulfills His promises to the Jews, and how the conclusion of the Bible ties up the loose ends that were unraveled in the beginning of time.
#2 We should study the Old Testament because of the countless lessons it contains for us. By observing the lives of the characters of the Old Testament, we find guidance for our own lives. We see firsthand what it looks like to trust God no matter what (Daniel 3). We learn to guard our convictions (Daniel 1) and the coming reward of faithfulness (Daniel 6). We learn how to act and how to be Jesus to the world.
Learn how to love and serve God, and it will reveal more about God’s character. The Old Testament shows through repeatedly fulfilled prophecy why the Bible alone is able to demonstrate that it is what it claims to be: the inspired Word of God.
P.S. Here’s where to start…