|Volume 18 Number 2 February 2016
Why should we Christians in the 21st century worry about a section of the Bible that deals with the history, laws and promises of a nation that is no longer in existence? After all, one may say, the Old Testament passed away 20 centuries ago! “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law” (Hebrews 7:12).
Even though it is true that the Old Law was taken out of the way, the New Testament gives us plenty of reasons and motives to study the Old Testament. We must look to those first 39 books of the Bible in order to have a better understanding of Jesus, a greater knowledge of the promises mentioned in the New Testament and to have a firmer grasp on New Testament teaching.
The Old Testament can give us a better understanding of Who Jesus is and what His role is and was. Some premillennialists – such as Thomas Ice – do not openly teach (in fact, they deny the accusation) that Jesus’ death was “plan B,” but their writings concerning the purpose of His death and the church certainly give off that impression. Teachings like this come about by a misunderstanding of the Old Testament and the purpose of God’s eternal scheme of redemption. When we peer into the Old Testament Scriptures through the assistance of the New Testament, we see that it was God’s plan all along for Jesus to die in order that both Jews and Gentiles could be reconciled into one body.
“But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ” (2 Corinthians 3:14). “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:22-23).
Paul said that Moses and all of the prophets were looking toward the time of Christ. Nobody had a better understanding of how Christ met the criteria for the Old Testament prophecies quite like the apostle Paul (outside of Jesus Himself, of course), yet many today fail to see how God never intended for Jesus to sit on a literal throne in literal Jerusalem.
The Law can also give us a greater understanding of the promises mentioned in the New Testament. For example, notice Peter’s use of the Old Testament in the second recorded Gospel sermon!
“But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. (Acts 3:18-26)
If we don’t study the Old Testament, how can we properly understand anything that the New Testament says? However, the study must go both ways. Some people make the mistake of leaving out the Old Testament from their study completely, but some leave out the New Testament, and some abandon both altogether!
Lastly, if we study the Old Testament, we can have a better understanding of New Testament teaching. For instance, a study of types and shadows can reveal a lot about why Jesus’ blood had to be shed and why we practice and teach other things that we do. “It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these” (Hebrews 9:23).
I hope that you will study the Old Testament along with the New! Both are the Word of God!
When David faced the giant with only a sling and five smooth stones, what made him different than the other men of Israel? He was younger than most – true. He was a shepherd not a soldier like many of them – also true. He was not very large – seems to be true. He had fought and killed lions and bears – true as well. Yet, none of these were the major difference. The major difference between David and the rest of the men of Israel was attitude!
Listen to the reaction of the army of Israel: First Samuel 17:10-11 reads, “And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.”
Now listen to the words of David, the young shepherd: First Samuel 17:32-37 says:
And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine. And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.
Again, I repeat, the difference in David and the men of the army of Israel was attitude! With what attitude will you face the tasks, troubles and burdens that may come your way today? Will you quake, shiver and shake at the thought of them and let them overwhelm you? Or, will you put them into the hand of the living God that can kill the lion, the bear and the giant if you will let Him work through you? Attitude check! What is your attitude today?