People often wonder why the Old Testament is such a large part of the Bible? Does it have any function, besides all the wars, intrigues and the ‘incomprehensible’ prophetic books? The answer has to do with the Good News of God’s Kingdom.
# What is the Good News of the Bible?
- It is simply that we can become part of God’s Family through Jesus’ blood. That means we become God’s blood relatives and will receive ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.’ 1
- What will we inherit? Eternal life, with God who loves us, on the new heaven and earth. 2 It will be a wonderful life of joy, peace and love with food, health, friendship, lodging, safety, et cetera.
- The issue is: how do we know that this glorious fantastic future will become a reality? The answer is in the Old Testament.
# The history of the Old Testament explains the Good News.
- For example, we understand that Jesus was the Lamb of God who died on behalf of our sins, because the Old Testament tells us that a lamb was sacrificed for the sins of the people.
- We understand that Jesus, the last Adam, takes us back into God’s presence, because the Old Testament tells us the first Adam caused us all to be expelled from God’s presence.
- There are many more such explanations and also specific promises in the Old Testament that build our faith in God.
# Three Old Testament promises
- God gave Adam and Eve a promise. The Seed of the woman will crush the head of the serpent. 3 It refers to Jesus who was born of the virgin, Mary and who defeated the devil on the Cross. 4
- God gave Abraham a promise. Through him all people on earth will be blessed.5 It refers to one of Abraham’s specific descendants, Jesus. He would be a blessing to all people. 6
- God gave David a promise. His throne will endure forever. 7 It refers to King Jesus who sits on the throne at the right hand of the Father. 8
# The Old Testament shows God is faithful.
- God’s promises to Adam, Abraham and David were fulfilled in the New Testament. Without the Old Testament we wouldn’t know that God is completely trustworthy.
- He gave the promises, and despite the devil’s efforts to thwart those promises, they happened: Jesus was born, He was sacrificed on the Cross, He was resurrected. Now He sits at the right hand of God the Father. 9
- The history of the Old Testament covers around 4,000 years. Yet it all converged on Jesus, the focus of God’s plan. If there was no Old Testament record, there was no reason to believe in Jesus or the Kingdom.
The Old Testament proves that God is dependable to the tee. What He promises, will come to pass. When God speaks in Scripture, it will happen. That is why the Old Testament is such a large part of Scripture. It gives us faith in God’s promises.
- 1 Peter 1:4
- Revelation 21:1
- Genesis 3:15
- Matthew 1:21-22; Luke 2:6-7
- Genesis 12:3
- Matthew 28:18-19
- 2 Samuel 7:16
- Acts 2:29-33
- Philippians 2: 5-11
The Word of God is the Gate to immense treasures in this life and the one to come.
1 Peter 1:3-5 says, ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you….’ To miss that inheritance is the most terrible tragedy that can befall anyone. We learn how to claim our eternal inheritance in the Word of God, the revelation of God’s plan for man. It is a reliable document, but there is a world-wide attempt to sow seeds of distrust in it.
The keys to our inheritance
- The keys to open the way to our inheritance are: wisdom, knowledge and understanding. We call it the ‘small trinity.’
- God used those keys to create: ‘By wisdom God laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding He set the heavens in place; by His knowledge the deeps were divided and the clouds let drop the dew.’ 1
- We need those ‘keys’ in our ‘creation’ process to become new people in Christ.
- But the glue that keeps the small ‘trinity’ together is faith (‘…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him’ 2).
How to acquire the keys
- ’The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.’ 3
- Thus the command in Proverbs 2:1-6, ‘My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom, and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.’ Then,
- ‘…wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.’ 4
The Bible calls these 3 keys, a tree of life
- ‘Blessed is the man who gets wisdom, the man who gains understanding for she is more profitable than silver, and yields better returns than gold…. She is a tree of life to those who find her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed.’ 5
- We eat of it here (get knowledge, understanding and wisdom in the Bible) to eventually eat of the real Tree of Life in the New Jerusalem. 6 God banished Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden so that they could not eat of the Tree of Life and live forever in their fallen state. 7
Wisdom preserves life eternally, which money cannot do.
‘Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun. Wisdom is a shelter, as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.’ 8
Knowledge, understanding and wisdom, held together by faith, are the 3 keys to the Kingdom. The foundation of these keys is the 66 Holy Spirit inspired books that together form God’s wonderful Holy Book, the Book of all books!
- Proverbs 3:19-20
- Hebrews 11:6
- Proverbs 1:7
- Proverbs 2:10-11
- Proverbs 3:13-18
- Revelation 22:2
- Genesis 3:22-23
- Ecclesiastes 7:11-12
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