The most important truth of the Old Testament is that it all leads to and points to Jesus. It is also God’s Word and God never changes. (Hebrews 13:8) These things mean that the Old Testament is still relevant to the Christian faith.
The Old Testament covers a time period from Creation through to about 400 years before Christ (approx 4000 years). The title originates from the term “Old Covenant” referring to the Covenant (contract) God made with Moses on Mt Sinai around 1500 BC as compared to the New Covenant made by Jesus on the cross around 30AD.
While the covenant with Moses made 3500 years ago has been superseded by the New Covenant, there are many reasons we should stop calling the Old Testament “Old” because it makes it sound irrelevant, but nothing could be further from the truth. It would be better to call them the “Hebrew scriptures” given that is the language they are written in.
Doesn’t the Old Testament portray a wrathful God?
Many people see the Old Testament as containing stories of a wrathful God, however, if you read closer, you will find a loving God.
- The origin of the New Testament verse to “love your neighbour” (Mark 12:30-31) originates from Leviticus 19: 9-18.
- A second example is that of Jonah, a prophet who understood God to be a loving and forgiving God when he was called to witness to the people of Ninevah who were known to be a cruel nation.
2 And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.
So what about the Old Testament Laws?
14 For sin shall no longer be your master because you are not under the law, but under grace.
- The Mosiac covenant (contract) including the Law was made with Israel and not with the world at large. However, the principles in the 10 Commandments can be found in the New Testament such as Do not lie, Do not steal, Do not kill etc. These are very much common sense.
- If you read the book of Romans, you will find that one result of the Law is that it reveals sin and can even encourage sin. (Romans 5:20) This should lead us to a realisation of our need for salvation and for the Grace and forgiveness of Jesus. The message of the Old Testament is that it shows how much we need Jesus.
- If you consider many of the dietary laws, you might consider them irrelevant, however, there is a principle to follow. Jesus reversed the dietary laws in Matthew 15:11 where he said: “it was not what goes into our bodies that makes us unclean but what comes out.” What comes out of us is sinful thoughts. In the same manner that the Old Testament had strict dietary laws, we should have strict personal rules about our thought life (that which comes out of our hearts). Sinful actions start with sinful thoughts.
The law is now written on our hearts
The covenant Jesus made through the cross writes the principles of the Law into our hearts by the Spirit. Through the Spirit dwelling in our hearts (along with the scriptures), we know what pleases the Lord and will increasingly want to do what is right. We learn to do what is right out of a Love for our Lord Jesus Christ.
33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Early Christian’s only had the Old Testament
Consider that the Christians of the book of Acts who only had the Hebrew Scriptures and there was no New Testament. The Old Testament stories are examples to give us insight into how we should live our daily lives. (1 Cor 10:6) For example, we can read about the consequences of doubting God’s word when Israel doubted God’s promise to enable them to enter the promised land. (Numbers 14) When Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16, he made the following statement in regard to the Old Testament:
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophesies.
Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophesies from the Old Testament. It is a historical fact that the OT writings existed before Jesus came and fulfilled these prophecies. Statisticians have analysed the probability of this happening and found it to be statistically impossible. This should increase our faith in God and trust in His Word.
After the resurrection, Jesus walked with two people and gave them a bible teaching session on how the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) all pointed to Him. Luke 24:13-35.
Dig deep and you will find the same loving God in the Old as the New.
Jesus is hidden throughout.
The story of Jesus is actually hidden throughout the Old Testament. Here are a few examples:
- Moses was an intermediary between God and the people as is Jesus,
- Aaron the High priest was a picture of Jesus our High priest,
- Jesus is the sacrificed lamb,
- Joshua led the people into the promised land as Jesus leads us into the promises of God,
- King David was the King of the Jews so Jesus will be the King of Kings.
The scriptures, whether Old or New, point to Jesus Christ, His life on earth, His death on the cross, His resurrection, and His soon return, ruling and reigning for all eternity.
Is the Old Testament relevant for us today?
- Become familiar with the Old Testament making it part of your normal Bible reading.
- Find some study guides and good resources