Sometimes followers of Jesus forget that the Bible has 66 books. They think that the Old Testament is old and of no value. So they only concentrate on the New Testament. Therefore they describe themselves as ‘New Testament Christians.’ What do they mean by that? Basically they consider the Old Testament as part of an ancient revelation that has no bearing on today’s followers of Jesus. So they can disregard it.
Please note: We refrain as far as possible to talk about ‘Christians’ since the term has become very malleable. People do what they want, live as they please, and then claim they are ‘Christians.’ The terms ‘Followers of Jesus’1 or ‘People of the Way’ 2 are more precise. Jesus said, ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.’ 3 Thus both ‘follower of Jesus,’ and ‘people of the Way’ refer to disciples of Jesus, ‘… the Author and Perfecter of our faith.’ 4
Why did God give us two Testaments?
Logically a shorter Bible would have been very nice, easy to read, and probably easier to understand. Yet there are some logical reasons for the Old Testament.
The two Testaments explain who Jesus is and why He came.
- It is the Old Testament that gives us His genealogy, the preparation for His coming and the reason He came. Genesis 3:15 already promised that He would come. We can trace the genealogy of Jesus from Adam, Abraham, David and many others.
- Why is the genealogy of Jesus important? It teaches that Jesus is not only the Son of God, but also the Son of Man. That is why He can forgive people’s sins and restore us to God the Father. 5
- Without the Old Testament witness, the devil might object to God why he cannot be forgiven also? If Jesus was only the Son of God He might have been obliged to redeem the devil and his fallen angels. But as fully Son of Man He only redeemed man. Since the demons are not human they were not redeemed.
- Jesus took ‘…the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.’ 6 Without the information of the Old Testament, it would be illogical to say that Jesus became a man. God is a God of logic. Thus the Old Testament is very important with its background information in history.
- In an age of growing unbelief, it is important to show that the Bible is not ‘religion.’ It is reality. Jesus is not just some mythical figure. Because His ancestors were real historical persons, He is real, alive and well and sits at the right hand of God the Father in glory and majesty.
- The New Testament reveals that Jesus was co-creator with God and the Holy Spirit. 7 Thus the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit were all involved in creation.
- The Old Testament and the New Testament agree about the central doctrines. For example the resurrection. Many people think it is a New Testament teaching. No, the book of Daniel already mentions it, ‘Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.’ 8
Types link the two Testaments.
A type is a picture which God gives to teach us some important facts. It is not just a story. A type is a real event that happened, but it is also a picture of some future event. There are many types in the Old Testament that point to Jesus and link the Old Testament to the New. Please note that these types again rule out a human origin for the Bible.
- Joseph was a type of Christ. He was rejected by his brothers, suffered unjustly and became a ruler. There is no mention of any sin Joseph committed.
- Abraham and Isaac were a type of God the Father who would sacrifice His Son on our behalf. With Isaac’s sacrifice, God provided a ram. It demonstrates that we don’t have to die for our own sins. God would provide the substitute, Jesus.
- The tabernacle and temple are a type of God’s presence among His people. God appeared to Adam, Noah, Abraham and Moses. He spoke to them, but when the Israelites came out of Egypt, God wanted a visible dwelling place among them. So He instructed Moses how they had to construct the tabernacle. It was a very precise plan, because it pointed to Jesus who would come and tabernacle among people. 9
- The sacrifices and priesthood. The lamb is another picture that we continually meet throughout Scripture. God made clothes of animal skins for Adam and Eve. So He probably killed innocent animals that died in their place. That is why Abel’s sacrifice of a lamb from his flock was acceptable to God. Besides the many sacrifices throughout the Old Testament, we meet the Passover Lamb again in 2 Corinthians 5:7, ‘…For Christ, our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed.’
The two Testaments show that God is faithful.
The big question today for many is whether they can trust God, especially when it comes to problems? The Old Testament history testifies to God’s faithfulness.
- God promises Abraham a country, ‘The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.’ 10
- Because the Jews were unfaithful, they were exiled. God brought them back. Then they were again exiled and banished from their land after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Romans under Titus. The land was basically ‘expropriated’ from them. Yet in 1948 the miracle happened and it became their country again.
- This shows us that God fulfilled His promise to Abraham. The reason the world hates Israel is that they show that God keeps His promises.
The Old Testament in particular teaches us in history that the united Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are real, faithful and we can trust them completely.
- Revelation 17:14
- Acts 9:2; 19:9; 22:4; 24:14,22
- John 14:6
- Hebrews 12:2
- Colossians 1:15-23
- Phillipians 2:7
- John 1:2; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2
- Daniel 12:2
- John 1:14
- Genesis 17:8