A grave error is making its way into the church and into our culture as a whole: the belief that we don’t need the Old Testament.
Let us cast aside this relic of the past, we are told. Let us devote ourselves, instead, to preaching the gospel only. Let us follow the religion of Jesus.
Every day, our modern media reveal that in spite of superior technology, human nature has not changed in 3,000 years. We are still governed by the same passions that destroyed ancient Sodom, Ur and Babylon.
This stubborn and unchanging quality of human nature is the subject of the Old Testament. That alone makes our study of the Old Testament relevant. We must put aside our smug ways and realize that things have not changed as much as we like to think.
God is a holy God. He wants to reconcile us to Himself, to set us free through His Son, Jesus Christ. He begins to fulfill this grand purpose in the Old Testament.
The Old Testament tells us how God deals with awed human nature through the Jewish nation. It is a historical record about real people who actually lived— people whose lives and experiences can influence our own if we have eyes to see and ears to hear.
The Old Testament is a selective record of how God works through the Jews to accomplish His purposes to save men, women and children of every background for His higher purpose. The Jews are God’s chosen instrument to accomplish His salvation for all peoples (Romans 1:16). As Jesus says in John 4:22, “Salvation is from the Jews.”
We must study the Old Testament because Jesus Christ Himself insisted upon it. Jesus was born a Jew, and He studied the Jewish scriptures, that is, the Old Testament.
The New Testament portrays Jesus as God’s fulfillment of His covenant with the most prominent Jewish ruler, King David. He was speaking of the Old Testament scriptures when he said, “The scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).
In Matthew’s gospel, the writer repeatedly refers to Old Testament prophecies to show how Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of God’s promises to the Jews.
On the road to Emmaus, Jesus went through the entire Old Testament to show His dejected followers that His death and final glory was the final plan and purpose of God.
Paul constantly refers to Old Testament scriptures. In his Book of Romans alone, he makes 100 quotations from the Old Testament coming from 16 different Old Testament books. He sees Jesus Christ as the key that opens up the door to the full meaning of Old Testament scriptures.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews speaks of Jesus Christ in relation to the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and His perfect sacrifice found in the Old Testament scriptures. The writer of Hebrews also holds up many Old Testament men and women as examples of faith that we of the New Testament covenant should emulate.
Those who reject the Old Testament for a “religion of Jesus” not only reject the Old Testament but the gospel and person of Jesus Christ proclaimed in the New Testament. Let us all resolve to become better students of the Old Testament that we may better know Jesus Christ as our Savior, Lord, Messiah and Friend.