The important question that every follower of Jesus must settle in his or her mind is: what is the value of the Old Testament? Do we need to read and accept it as part of God’s Word? (See How much of the Bible do we need to read? Part 1)
# Let’s consult the Holy Spirit.
We do this because He is our Counsellor. He also knows God intimately, ‘The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God…. In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God, except the Spirit of God.’ He tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16, ’All Scripture is God-breathed….’ The Holy Spirit inspired Old Testament is an important part of the Bible, for various reasons:
# Scripture says so in the New Testament.
- ‘In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in many ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son whom He appointed as heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe.’ 1
- God spoke to the forefathers through the prophets, but what does that have to do with us? He speaks to us through the Son in the New Testament.
# The New Testament testifies to the need of the Old Testament.
- It tells us ‘…everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.’ 2
- Romans 15:13 says, ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’
- So the Old Testament is very important to fill us with endurance, encouragement and hope, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
# Don’t forget the heroes of faith.
The Old Testament is the source of the Faith Heroes in Hebrews 11. They were ordinary men and women like us who did great feats and overcame great odds. They are examples of endurance, encouragement, hope, perseverance and trust in the Lord. We can be greatly encouraged if we read the detail of their lives in the Old Testament.
God uses the Old Testament writings to encourage us while we are subjected to the pressures of life with its concerns and cares. We have to stand strong, like Abraham, while we wait for our new heavenly home, ‘For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.’ 3 We need the Old Testament!
- Hebrews 1:1-2
- Romans 15:4
- Hebrews 11:10
A valid question for believers today is: do we really need to read the whole Bible with its 66 documents? The Old Testament takes up almost 75%. Can’t we discard or just neglect it, because it is the old covenant? Isn’t the shorter gospel of the New Testament sufficient?
# The ‘short’ Gospel
Paul gives us the Gospel in a few words, ‘Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David.’ 1 It is clear, simple, easy to understand and does not need hours of intensive Bible study.
# A slightly ‘longer’ Gospel
However, as followers of Jesus, we realize the Four Gospels are important. So we add them to Paul’s ‘short’ Gospel. What about the Acts of the Holy Spirit and Paul’s letters? What about the letters of Peter and John who were both disciples of Jesus? So we add them, as well as the letters of James and Jude, the half-brothers of Jesus. Finally, we cannot neglect Revelation because it teaches us about the end times. It explains how God will destroy every vestige of Satan’s kingdom on earth and renew the heavens and earth into an eternal home for His children. So we feel the New Testament is quite sufficient. But…
# What about the ‘long’ Gospel, Old & New Testament?
39 of the 66 books are in the Old Testament. Does the Holy Spirit expect us to take the time to read them? Will knowledge of a talking serpent, a universal flood and the calling of Abraham and his family with all their crises, help us get to heaven? Is it necessary to know about poor Moses and his 40 year journey in the desert with the Israelites? Do we have to know about the wars, disasters, disobedience to the Covenant, the exile, et cetera? What about the old ideas, slavery, strange manners and habits, animal sacrifices with rituals for the priests and long winding genealogies? Can’t we skip all the information in the Old Testament?
There is a reason the Holy Spirit gave us the Old Testament. In the next blog we will discuss a few reasons why the Old Testament is important.
- 2 Timothy 2:8
Followers of Jesus are confused about Genesis 1. Can they believe what the Holy Spirit inspired Word of God says? Did God create in 6 days or is it some kind of metaphor? Is Genesis 1 relevant? Is it necessary to believe its literal meaning?
If God created the heavens and earth, He is the Owner. In the world system an owner can do with his property whatever he likes. Does the Bible show us that God acts as the Owner who has a purpose for His creation?
# God, the Owner, in Genesis 2?
- God created Eden and put Adam there. Because He made Adam, He had the authority to tell him what to do. He gave him a command not to eat of a certain tree. Where did the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil come from? God created them. He did it with a plan and a purpose in mind.
- Adam and Eve were not robots. They were made in God’s image with a free will. Therefore God gave them a choice to test them. Their decision had a consequence: life or death.
# God, the Owner, in Genesis 3?
- Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and obey that ancient serpent, the devil or Satan. 1 With their choice they gave their God-given authority over to the one they obeyed. 2
- Since then the evil one is the ruler of this world. 3 Their disobedience brought sin, suffering and death into our lives.
- Yet as Owner and Boss, God made a promise of restoration. The Seed of the woman (Jesus) will crush the head of the serpent, the devil, the enemy of God. 4
# God, the Owner, right through the Bible.
All through the Bible, Old and New Testament, God is in command. He helps, saves, changes lives, prepares for eternal destinations, et cetera. There is never any question about who is the Lord. It is the Creator God (with ‘God’ we mean the Trinity of the Bible).
Why are so many ‘Christians’ reluctant to accept the clear message of Genesis 1:1, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth [in 6 days]?’ God’s position as supernatural Creator gives Him the authority to forgive, help, answer, make promises and create a new heaven and earth for His chosen, called, faithful followers to live on eternally.
- Revelation 12:9
- Romans 6:16
- 1 John 5:19b
- Genesis 3:15