Updated: May 9
Over the years I have heard it asked in one form or another, ‘why do we need to study the Old Testament?’ That question can be answered in many ways. A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog called, “Does Doctrine Matter?” In that article we found that it does! How it does is found in the reference to Theology, which simply means the Study of God.
How can we not study the Old Testament as it reveals so much about our Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). It covers so much that the Bible is incomplete in our knowledge and study of God, unless we study it in depth. Much of the New Testament proves this to be true. The NT so often refers to the Old Testament, that we cannot ignore this, especially since Jesus Himself often quotes it. So, what was then is relevant to what is now!
The Old Testament starts with the story of Creation in Genesis 1-2 and begins the study of Hamartiology (the study of sin) in Genesis 3. We find the sinfulness of man progressed so far that God wished that he had never created man. Genesis 6:6. Man was warned for one hundred twenty years, while Noah built the ark. Did they repent? Surprise? Absolutely not!
The Pentateuch (Jewish Torah), the first five books of the Old Testament provide us with many truths about God and humanity. Christ often appears as an Angel of God, or a Theophany. By studying these Scriptures in depth, we discover so much about all His many perfect attributes. Also, if we pay attention to and expose what Old Testament scripture reveals to us, about who He is and what He expects from us, the Law, that He gave to us to follow. We would not know God as He wants us to know Him. It further unveils that Jesus is to come as the promised Messiah.
The Old Testament provides us with Spiritual truths and instructions which apply to us today. Paul refers to the Old Testament about some of these in 1 Corinthians 10:1–22, where he gives us Warning Against Idolatry. He testifies to the fact that we need to study the Old Testament, where he says, “. . . if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (Romans 7:7). Paul continues shortly thereafter, “For whatever was written in former days (referring the Old Testament) was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) As if these quotes are not enough, Jesus spoke these words, “. . . “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44)
The Old Testament provides us with a firm foundation through the prophecies shown throughout. We would not know and understand the various covenants that God made throughout the Old Testament and how He and He alone kept those promises.
The Edenic Covenant that God made with Adam in Genesis, sometimes called the “Covenant of Works” is the first covenant that God made directly with man. Yet, it came with conditions (Genesis 2:16–17) The Noahic Covenant re–established that covenant with a great promise from God. We then find the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 12. As we study Exodus 19–24, we find yet another great promise by God to Moses, in The Mosaic Covenant. We have just studied the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7:12–16.
Without studying these Old Testament covenants, we would find it impossible to understand Hebrews 8:7–12 where we find The New Covenant.
In conclusion Timothy explains “All Scripture (Old and New) is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16)
So, what was then is relevant to what is now!
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.