It seems that no matter how much nuanced hinting or explicit declaration happens in churches people still stumble over the question of ‘Do we need the Old Testament?‘.
Neither references made, allusions highlighted, nor promises fulfilled seem to cement in people’s mind that yes, we need the Old Testament.
Let me give you just 5 reasons (of many) why we do.
1. All Scripture (the entire Bible) is God breathed and has been Divinely preserved for your benefit, not just the last quarter (2 Timothy 3.16).
When Paul wrote this to Timothy he wasn’t just thinking about the records of Jesus’ life and ministry (Matthew-John) or the testimony of those who lived with and learned from Him. Neither was he only thinking of the Hebrew Scriptures (cf. 2 Timothy 3.15). Paul was so often a big-picture guy, and his declaration that all Scripture is breathed out by God most certainly starts in Genesis and then includes the aforementioned records of Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection.
2. As believers, the New Testament gives us the hope of Jesus. The Old Testament shows us why it was needed.
Again, and again, and again in the Old Testament we see people doing their utmost to live the life God wants for them but failing. We see the fallen, fallible, and frail human condition come to the fore again and again. On their own and in their own strength and power, people simply cannot cover the ground between themselves and God that their sin has created.
We see in the Old Testament that, at the core, people want and need a figure of hope, someone to look to that will put this right. For a while the figure was a judge (Judges 3.15, for example), for a while it was a King (1 Samuel 8.19-20). None worked, truly, and the longing for someone better remained. The New Testament makes clear that this person is, ultimately, Jesus.
3. The New Testament picks up right where the Old left off.
So much is shared in the first few books of your Bible. There are covenants between God and man, creation, the promise of a Messiah, and the human condition is shown, warts and all. Throughout the first 77% of your Bible so much is detailed, so many problems are posed, promises promised, and so many dilemmas detailed. The New Testament picks up each, answers them neatly, and resolves them without fail in the person and work of Jesus.
Consider but a few:
See the story of Jael and how the New flawlessly fulfils the Old there.
See the proto evangelium, the first Gospel, of Genesis 3.
See the mathematical and chronological accuracy of the prophecies of Daniel.
See the prophetic declarations of Isaiah and Micah about the birth of Jesus.
See the suffering Saviour in Isaiah and the Psalms.
So much is predicted in the Old and comes to fruition in the New. To detach the two would be to have an answer to a question nobody asked.
4. Jesus said He came to fulfill, not abolish (Matthew 5.17).
Jesus fulfilled the sacrificial and atonement laws of the Old Testament. We are no longer required to live by Leviticus to be in God’s presence. However the character, selfless love, and behaviour of a believer draws much from the Old Testament (Romans 7.12). Jason Derouchie wrote that
“And you shall again obey the voice of the LORD and keep all his commandments that I command you today” (Deut. 30:8).”
Whilst we are no longer required to offer sacrifices for sins or to observe ceremonial laws do we ever move past commandments like Deuteronomy 6.5?
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
To say that the Old Testament no longer matters is tantamount to saying passages like that don’t matter, and Jesus said otherwise (cf. Matthew 22.37).
5. Jesus said it all points to Him (John 5.39, Luke 24.27, 44-47).
Quite simple this one. Jesus said it’s all about Him, so why wouldn’t it matter to those that love, follow, and believe in Him?
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These are just five reasons why the Old Testament is important. We have, as a church, been working through it one chapter a week for a few years and I honestly cannot remember how many times something has come up in Genesis or Exodus (for example) that has then been preached from a New Testament book on a Friday. To be believers with a well grounded, firm, and secure faith we need to feed ourselves on the full counsel of Scripture, not just the last quarter.
I’d love your thoughts on the Old Testament:
Are you currently reading part of it?
Are there parts you’ve never read?
Are there parts you don’t understand?
We’ve got some great resources for many Old Testament books and we would love to help you grow in your knowledge of the Word so that you can grow in your walk with the Lord.