Although authors have dedicated entire books to this subject, the church sometimes doesn’t follow their advice to study the first 39 books of the Bible. Many Christians can balk at some of the more difficult passages contained within or wonder if we should put as much stock into the first half of the Bible before Jesus appears in Matthew.
Even though this article can nowhere near cover the breadth of reasons why Christians should study the Old Testament, it can provide a handful of grounds to spend an equal amount of time in the Old Testament as we do the New Testament.
We Know All Scripture is God-Breathed
This doesn’t mean God started inspiring Scripture when the Gospel rolled around, all Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17), from Genesis through Revelation comes from God.
And if God is all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present, then we should pay attention to his words.
Yes, he even appears in the passages we don’t understand. The more “boring” passages like the census that takes place in the Pentateuch, he’s there. God shows up in all of it. So, we should make an effort to study all of it, to better know him.
Not to mention, we can’t ignore more than half of God’s word. The Old Testament takes up 39 books, the New Testament: 27. If we only focus on the latter half, we miss huge portions of the story.
We Can See Jesus in the Old Testament
Jesus’ work of salvation didn’t start when he began his ministry (Luke 4:14-30). In fact, as soon as mankind sins, God issues a prophecy about his Son (Genesis 3:15). God had a plan set in place long before the New Testament to save mankind from sin.
Furthermore, we see loads of other prophecies throughout the Old Testament that point to Jesus. The suffering servant in Isaiah 53, the virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14), and loads of other prophecies that took place hundreds of years before Jesus appeared on the scene.
Not only does this confirm the veracity of the Bible, as the odds of such prophecies being fulfilled are astronomically small, but it shows that God had a plan throughout history. Jesus didn’t come by accident. God intentionally wove his thread of salvation throughout the tapestry of history.
We Can Learn from Old Testament Heroes
Part of the reason I wrote a modern-day Daniel (see bio below) is because the original Daniel inspired me. His integrous actions and unwavering faith can inspire the youth of today who live in a twisted, subjective culture.
We can learn about loyalty and love from Ruth, selflessness from Jonathan, courage from Esther, wisdom from Solomon, and so many other lessons.
Although, yes, the New Testament is full of inspiring figures, we have a plethora of life lessons to learn from those in the first half of the Bible.
We Can Appreciate the Cost of Salvation
When we see the sacrificial system in which the Jews partook, the cyclical nature of the time of judges, how Israel strays from God time and time again, we can appreciate the cost of salvation.
Not only do we see Israel saved time and time again from oppressive rulers and from themselves, but we can see God foreshadowing what will happen in the New Testament. He will free us from the most oppressive ruler of all: sin.
In reading the Old Testament, we can place ourselves in Israel’s shoes. We have gone after false idols, we have become captive by sin, but it doesn’t have to end there. God offers a path to salvation, just as he had hundreds, thousands of times in the Old Testament.
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Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 500 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, Blaze, (Illuminate YA) released in June, and they contracted the sequel Den for July 2020. Find out more about her here.