A Guest Post by Jazmin N. Frank
Working at a Christian bookstore, I get to have a lot of different conversations with customers from various backgrounds, traditions, denominations, and with various levels of understanding of the Bible.
Just the other day I was straightening up the Bible section when I overheard a customer tell one of my coworkers that reading the Old Testament was like moving backward in faith.
He said that since we have the New Testament and Jesus there is no need to bother reading the Old Testament.
Since it was a conversation I was overhearing and not one I was a part of, I held my tongue. But everything inside of me wanted to march over there and let the man know that the Old Testament is still relevant, beautiful, and foundational.The purpose of this article is to help people understand how beautiful, foundational, and relevant the Old Testament really is.
I haven’t always seen the beauty of the first thirty-nine books of the Bible, and I won’t deny that there are some passages in the Old Testament that aren’t interesting on the first read—or the fifth read.
However, as I’ve continued to dig into God’s Word year after year, a love for the Old Testament has grown within me.
The Old Testament is not just a prologue to the life of Jesus. It is an important part of Scripture that reveals God’s heart, our faith history, and builds a foundation for our understanding of the New Testament.
So let’s talk about how the Old Testament is still relevant today, shall we?
Let’s uncover the beauty of the Old Testament and discover why it is still relevant for Christians today.
The Old Testament is Relevant Because it Reveals God’s Heart
We should read the Old Testament because it is part of God’s story and it reveals God’s heart.
The Bible is a collection of writings about God and how he interacts with His people.
Most of the time when we declare that the Old Testament is boring, it’s because we’re reading it through a self-focused lens.
We are searching for specific ways the passage changes, impacts, or answers a question in our life.
This isn’t a wrong approach, but it is incomplete.
We must always start our study of Scripture looking for what the passage reveals about the character and purposes of God.
The Bible is God’s story and anytime we approach it, our first thought should be, “What does this passage teach me about God?” then we can deal with the application piece of how it affects our lives.
As I read and study the Old Testament, I see a God who loves his people.
He is a God who protects and provides, who initiates and rescues — He is a pursuing God, going hard after those He loves.
This is easy to lose sight of as we read through the books of the law. In Leviticus, for example, it is easy to get confused or sidetracked by a list of weird rules that no longer apply to us.
However, the more we learn how to read Scripture with a heart seeking to know God better, the more we will discover that the law as a call to holiness.
The books of the law reveal God’s heart for his people. They show how He loves with reckless abandon and reveal the great lengths He will go to see His people living in relationship with Him.
The Old Testament shows us how God calls his people to live holy lives, and offers grace time and again when they fall short.
If for no other reason, the Old Testament still matters today because it reveals the heart of our gracious, loving, and holy God.
The Old Testament is Relevant Because it Sets the Stage for the New Testament
As Christians, we tend to camp out in the New Testament.
We like sitting with Jesus in the Gospels. We enjoy reading the letters from Paul and the other apostles as they taught first-century Christians how to follow Jesus in their daily lives. We appreciate the practical instruction of the epistles that is easy to apply to our lives.
Just because the New Testament is more approachable and applicable, that doesn’t mean we should neglect the first two-thirds of the Bible.
The Old Testament sets the stage for Jesus to enter the story.
The New Testament is the continuation of a story that began in Genesis. It is the fulfillment of God’s plan to redeem humanity and conquer sin.
When God called Abraham, he gave Abraham the promise that he would be the father of many nations and that through him, all the nations of the world would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3).
This promise was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus.
When God raised up prophets, they spoke of a coming Messiah who would set the people free from their sins and usher in a new kingdom.
Jesus’ incarnation was not just an isolated event, rather it was one anticipated for generations.
The weight and wonder of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are only felt when you rest in the thousands of years of history that led to it.The weight and wonder of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are only felt when you rest in the thousands of years of history that led to it.
The Old Testament is Relevant Because it Documents our Faith History
Though the Old Testament is God’s story, it is also Israel’s—and humanity’s—history.
It tells how the world began, how sin entered, and how God set into motion a great rescue plan to restore the relationship between Creator and creation.The Old Testament tells how the world began, how sin entered, and how God set into motion a great rescue plan to restore the relationship between Creator and creation.
There is a chapter in the New Testament book of Hebrews that is often celebrated as the “Hall of Faith.”
Hebrews 11 provides a hearty list of Old Testament heroes of faith we learned about in Sunday school.
The men and women of the Old Testament are our fathers and mothers in the faith.
Ancestry is getting more and more popular, as people dig deeper into their family history to see where they come from and who they descend from.
Somehow knowing our heritage shapes and solidifies us.
We would do well to pursue an understanding of our spiritual heritage with the same measure of passion and zeal.
The Old Testament is far from boring or irrelevant.
True, there are commands and laws that no longer apply to us because we live under the new covenant ushered in by Jesus.
However, that doesn’t mean we get to disregard these early books of Scripture.
The Old Testament is relevant because it has valuable things to teach us about God’s heart, builds a strong foundation for our study of the New Testament, and teaches us much about our history of faith.The Old Testament still has valuable things to teach us about God’s heart, builds a strong foundation for our study of the New Testament, and teaches us much about our history of faith.
If you are interested in studying the Old Testament for yourself, there are several free Bible studies available through this ministry to help you get started, including:
Jazmin N. Frank is a writer and teacher of all things Bible. She believes God’s story is living, active, and relevant, and desires to help women study the Bible for themselves. She is on a daily journey of learning to live freely as God’s beloved child. Jazmin writes regularly on her blog about the topics of freedom, Bible study, and the faith journey. You can connect with Jazmin on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.