Is It Important To Study The Old Testament?
The Old Testament is made up primarily of the Mosaic Law, the history of the nation of Israel, writings by Israelite kings, and prophecy for the Jewish people. It contains some of the most ancient writings ever preserved. It’s not written directly to the church. Does it really pertain to our day? Is it really worth reading? Why is it important to study the Old Testament?
Here at New Tribes Bible Institute, we emphasize the crucial nature of the Old Testament. In fact, our students are in classes for almost an entire year before they ever delve into the New Testament.
Eight Good Reasons
It is important to study the Old Testament, and here are eight foundational reasons why:
1. It Is Part of God’s Word.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.(NLT)” 2 Timothy 2:16 pretty much sums it up here. If God said it, we need it. Even though the Old Testament wasn’t directly written to the church, God wants to use it to teach us right from wrong.
2. It Sets Us Up To Understand The New Testament
The Old Testament is a critical foundation for the New Testament. Books like the Gospels, Romans, and Hebrews are more easily understood with a working knowledge of the Mosaic Law, Israel’s history, and Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah. If we want to deeply grasp the New Testament, it will require us to also know the Old Testament.
3. We can learn From The Lives Of People In The Old Testament.
Even thousands of years ago, people were still people. The utter humanity recorded in Old Testament stories tells us nothing we experience is new. People messed up, tried to perform for God, questioned Him, learned from Him, and either rejected or walked with Him. They had families and friendships. They experienced the highs and lows of life, the joy and pain involved in relationships, and asked deep life questions, just like we do today. Some of the wisest writing about life, relationships, and the human soul are found in the Old Testament, and we do well to take advantage of those who have gone before us!
4.It Answers Our Foundational Questions.
The Old Testament answers many questions that are innate in our hearts. We long to know “Where did I come from?”, “Why am I here?”, “Who is God?”, “Where did evil come from?”, “Why is there suffering in the world?”, etc. The Old Testament brings some sense to our questions and answers many of them. As we learn from the life themes of people in the Old Testament, we can be comforted knowing we are not alone in our human struggle.
5.It Shows Us Who God Is.
The Old Testament is a place to come and meet the living God. It’s here that He introduces Himself to the world. In the Old Testament He first communicates with mankind. The ancient texts show Him to us in profound and unique ways. The themes of God’s holiness, justice, faithfulness, steadfast love, wisdom, and power cry out in story after story and page after page in the Old Testament. If we only study the New Testament, we are depriving ourselves of a rich supply of God’s revelations about who He is. Do you want to know God? Then immerse yourself in the Old Testament. You will find aspects of Him you’ve never known before.
6.It Foreshadows the Coming Of Jesus.
Starting in Genesis 3:15, Scripture starts to talk about Jesus. Throughout the Old Testament, Jesus the Messiah is foreshadowed again and again. Through pictures, types, and direct prophecies, God continually promised to send a Savior to save His people from their sins. In order to understand more about Jesus, it’s important to know all the things that were said about him and how he was described before He even came to earth. Want to know more about Jesus? Study the Old Testament, because it points to Him.
7. It Brings Credibility To The New Testament.
Because the Old Testament is foundational to the New, it brings credibility to some of the things stated in the New Testament. For example, much of what Jesus said and did fulfilled prophecy stated about Him in the Old Testament. As we see these prophecies being fulfilled in Christ, it validates who He is as the Messiah. The New Testament states some bold things, and the Old Testament backs it up and proves it to be trustworthy.
8. It’s The Beginning Of The Story.
Like any other story, the Bible is meant to be read chronologically as it was written. We would be silly to expect to understand a book by opening it to the middle instead of at the beginning. The Old Testament may be old, but it is the beginning of the story of mankind, the gospel, and redemption. If we want to understand the whole story, we’ve got to go to where it all started. “In the beginning, God….”(Gen 1:1). Get the full picture; know the whole tale. Study the Old Testament.
The Old Testament’s Value and Authority
So is it important to study the Old Testament? Absolutely. Just because it wasn’t all written directly to us doesn’t mean we don’t need it. The history, Law, prophecy, and wisdom of the Jewish people that is collected together to make up the Old Testament will enrich our lives in so many ways if we allow it to. In the end, we must trust that since God said that the Old Testament needed to be part of the Bible, it has value and authority in our lives.
Anna Wishart is a graduate of Ethnos360 Bible Institute, and continues to seek ways to be involved with missions through writing. She currently lives in Winchester, Virginia, and enjoys biking, art, friends, the mountain views, and serving at Fellowship Bible Church.