Friday, May 13, 2016

Does the Old Testament Still Matter?

Many Christians seem to have dismissed the Old Testament because they find no relevance. Many think that the Old Testament is out of date and should not be in the Bible. Is that true? No. When the Apostle Paul wrote 2 Timothy 3:16, he was referring to the Old Testament. Jesus quoted the Old Testament during His earthly ministry and even used it to show the two disciples on the road to Emmaus that all of it was about Him.

Recently, Eric Geiger addressed this very question:

Does the Old Testament still matter?

You might think the answer is obvious, but many Christians ask this question. After all, if we’re no longer under the law, do we really need this collection of books filled with what some caricature as out-dated regulations, censuses, and lots and lots of violence?

But “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable…” (2 Timothy 3:16) includes the Old Testament, which means there is much in its pages that can benefit us today. Here are just three ways the Old Testament still matters:

1. The Old Testament shows us our real problem.

We know this world isn’t what it should be. Despite the many wonders we see, there is something deeply broken in the world and in us. And instinctively, we know it is not right. But how did it get this way? The Old Testament reveals to us the source of brokenness in the Genesis story—that sin, sadness, suffering, and death entered the world and ruined everything because humanity disobeyed God and rejected His authority.

The sin of our first parents set the human race on a different path than they had been created for. Instead of enjoying God’s presence, they were cast out of the garden. Work became hard. Childbirth became painful. Relationships became tension-filled. We would create for ourselves gods made in our image. The problems we see aren’t new. They have been around (almost) since the beginning. Sin is our real problem, above all else, and nothing we do on our own can free us from its grip.

2. The Old Testament reveals to us God’s character.

Despite the caricatures, the Old and New Testaments don’t show us conflicting portraits of God—a God of anger in the Old, and a God of love in the New. It’s in the Old Testament, first and foremost, that we learn “Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7).

And we see this on display through even the darkest moments of humankind’s existence. Though their sin deserved death, God showed mercy to Adam and Eve, sending them out of the garden but promising a rescuer. Because humanity’s evil was so great, God determined to destroy us all, but He preserved one man and his family. When the Israelites turned away from Him and worshiped idols, God would send prophets to plead with them to turn away from their sins, and He would show compassion to them when they would cry out to Him in their distress. God is just, without question. He does not tolerate sin. But He is patient and He does offer forgiveness for the repentant.

3. The Old Testament promises us the hope of redemption.

The gospel message is not isolated to the New Testament letters. It is in the Old Testament where we first see the promise of redemption through Christ. The promised “seed” of Eve who would crush the serpent (Genesis 3:15). The offspring of Abraham through whom all the nations would be blessed (Genesis 22:18). The Suffering Servant who would be crushed for the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 52:13–53:12). And the new heavens and earth to come, where our past sins and failures will be remembered no more (Isaiah 65:17).

There is good news in the Old Testament. Every failure of God’s people points us to our own. Every glorious victory invites us to look upon Christ’s greater victory. From beginning to end, the gospel is there! Does the Old Testament still matter? If you had any doubt, I would encourage you to read it again with fresh eyes. For every story casts Christ’s shadow.

Recommended Reading:

Why Read The Old Testament? by Graeme Goldsworthy

How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens: A Guide to Christ-Focused Reading of Scripture by Michael Williams

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee

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