Too often, the tendency of Christians today is to view the Old Testament as outdated, archaic, and irrelevant for life and faith in our modern times. While it is certainly important to understand that we are in no way under the Old Covenant or Law anymore as found in the Old Testament, it is nevertheless also important to note that, were it not for the Old Testament, we would not have our New Testament faith.
I believe it a grave and unfortunate error to make the mistake of never reading or enjoying the Old Testament, instead always viewing it as not applicable in any way to us today. For the following reasons, I encourage you to pick up your Bible and spend a bit of time in one of the books of the Old Testament instead of, as is the practice of some, merely spending your Bible time solely in the New Testament. I think you’ll be glad you did!
Why Reading the Old Testament is Important for our Faith Today
- The Old Testament provides the New Testament with its very meaning and context.
Without the pages of the Old Testament, the New Testament simply wouldn’t make any sense. Just think about the myriad of questions we would have if all we had access to was the New Testament – “How did the world begin?”, “What is this sin stuff these New Testament writers are talking about?”, “How did sin even enter the world?”, “Why did Jesus choose to die on the cross?”, etc. All of these and more are answered in the Old Testament, the pages of which provide us with an excellent foundation for then understanding the New Testament. Because, keep in mind, if we didn’t have the Old Testament, we also would not have those New Testament passages which quote it in order to explain or illustrate a teaching. How much we would be missing if we didn’t have the first 39 books of the Bible!
- The Old Testament is the basis and foundation of our faith.
Without the Old Testament prophecies, we wouldn’t have the same unshakable proof of Jesus being the Messiah, our Savior. It is through a knowledge of the over 300 Old Testament prophecies that Christ perfectly fulfilled that we are bolstered daily in our faith, resting in the knowledge that He certainly is, without a doubt, the Savior of the world that was promised.
- The stories of the Old Testament inspire and build faith like none other.
Though it is certainly true that within the pages of the New Testament can be found wonderful faith-building stories, the vast majority of the amazing accounts of God’s work in the hearts and minds of man are contained in the Old Testament. After all, when, inHebrews 11, we are given a list of the great heroes of the faith, we are told of Old Testament characters. If you want to be inspired to stand strong in the face of temptation and danger, if you want to see examples of unwavering faith in the midst of great trial, if you want to see God at work in amazing, tangible, miraculous ways, you need to spend some time in the books of the Old Testament! Read for a little while about Noah, David, Abraham, Rahab, or Daniel, and see if your faith is not built up as a result!
- The stories of the Old Testament help you to know you’re not alone.
How often do we feel like we are the only ones who ever struggle with [fill in the blank]? That defeatist, woe-is-me attitude will quickly be dispelled through even a quick reading through the pages of the Old Testament. There is truly nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9), and the various men and women of the Old Testament have all been there, done that when it comes to the sins and struggles which so easily entangle us today in our modern times – you find everything there from liars, cheaters, murderers, and folks struggling in their faith, to thieves, drunkards, adulterers and those struggling with hate and selfishness. You are definitely not alone! You are likewise not alone in the fact that God can and will work in and through you, no matter what skeletons you may have in your closet. Just ask David, the man after God’s own heart!
- There are so many lessons to be had in the pages of the Old Testament.
In Genesis, we discover that God works in and through all things that happen to us and we see how the sins of the old Adam led to our need for a new Adam. In Job, we learn that Satan has to bow to God’s will, even now. In Exodus, we see what consequences occur when we allow fear to reign over our trust in God, and we see what occurs when we take matters into our own hands.
- The Old Covenant leads us to have such a renewed gratitude for the New Covenant.
There is nothing like witnessing the hardships and trials of others to cause us to be freshly grateful for what we have, ceasing to take our blessings for granted. The same can be said for the Old Testament. There we read of all the hard work, precise detail, and repetitiveness that went into the sacrifices people regularly had to make in order that their sins might be atoned for. How is that for making you supremely grateful for the once-for-all nature of Jesus’ atonement on the cross? Likewise, we know from a reading of the Old Testament that only a choice few were allowed into the Holy of Holies in the temple where the presence of God dwelt. How grateful does that make you for your standing before God today? Under the new covenant, if you belong to Christ, you have full access to God at all times of the day or night, and His Spirit is ever present with you.
Read the Old Testament, Build Your Faith!
I hope this has served to inspire you a bit today, perhaps whetting your appetite for the wisdom, intrigue, adventure, faith, excitement, tragedy, and hand of God that are all found in the books of the Old Testament. Friend, that portion of the Bible is the furthest thing from the dry, boring, hard-to-read, outdated writings some believe it to be. Grab your Bible, flip to a book in the Old Testament, dive in, and watch your faith be strengthened! I’m excited to think about all the Lord will do in your heart and life as you experience Him and behold His majesty as set forth in the pages of the Old Testament! Happy Reading!