Since we live under the New Testament law of Christ, one might ask the question: why study the old testament at all. The answer can be found in Romans 15: 4, which reads: “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” This verse tells us that there is much to learn in the old testament scriptures. They teach us patience and give us comfort and build our faith by giving us the hope and knowledge of how God has dealt with His people (specifically the ancient Jews) throughout history.
One thing we can be sure of is that God has not changed and indeed cannot change (Psalms 102:26,27), though He has made a new covenant with the world, through Jesus Christ, which we live under today. This means that we can study the Old Testament to learn who God is and how He deals with both those who serve Him and those who do not.We can see how God’s power and majesty worked in the ancient world and how He dealt with sin under the old covenant.
We can see how His plan for the redemption of the lost world unfolded through history. We can see Jesus in the pages of the Old Testament as He was there with God, as the word of God and came to fulfill the law and the prophets and not to merely do away with it as if it never existed. Though we do not live by the old law today, we can observe much of the old law carried over into the new or fulfilled (brought to completion) in it.
We can study the Old Testament prophesies of the Messiah (Jesus)–there are hundreds of them–and see how Jesus fulfilled them during His life. Hundreds and even thousands of years before Jesus came to this earth, the Old Testament told of Him. It was God’s plan from the beginning of creation to save us through His son and we can see the plan unfolding through the Old Testament and reaching completion in the New Testsment.
There are countless lessons that can be learned through the Old Testament scriptures. We are told of those who served God both under the Patriarchal law and the law of Moses and by applying their example to our lives, we can learn to be as God would have us be. Think of Abraham, David and Moses to mention a few. By studying these great men in the past, we can learn to live for God in the present and build our faith to withstand the temptations and trials that we face in our modern times.
Spiritual things have not changed since ancient times, nor has the world. We can find the same things true in our world that were true then and can learn about anything that life may throw our way as it happened to the people of old. Indeed, there is much to learn from the Old Testament and we should not neglect our study of it even as we study the New Testament and apply it to our lives. If we fail to study the Old Testament at all, we cannot be as strong a Christian as we would be otherwise.
The lives of Old Testament figures build our faith (see Hebrews 11). We should learn these bible stories in our youth, if we are lucky enough to have believing parents and revisit them as adults to learn from a more mature prospective. If we are learning them for the first time as adults, we should not neglect them either, as they can build our faith in ways that New Testament study alone cannot do. The New Testament tells us what we should do, but the Old Testament shows us the same bible truth working in the lives of real human beings as examples that build our faith.
So, study the Old Testament and learn about God in an up close and personal way. You cannot go wrong observing how He dealt with mankind and sin throughout history and how He will ultimately deal with the world in much the same way. God has not changed and His justice will endure forever.
May God bless you and keep you until next time.