I have often wondered why the Holy Spirit gave us the Old Testament? There must be a reason because it is at least 70% of Scripture. I found the following reasons for the Old Testament very plausible:
# The Old Testament reveals the origin of evil.
- If we ignore the Old Testament we don’t know what the origin of evil is. So many apologists have to answer questions about why there is evil in the world?
- There is also a huge amount of information on the growth of evil.
- God only gives us the wonderful news of how He will finally abolish evil at the end of this age, in the book of Revelation.
# The Old Testament describes what happens around us.
- We see historical scenario’s of the Old Testament repeated in history and in the daily lives of individuals. Even countries with their respective leaders follow either good or evil.
- Yet God never leaves His followers without hope. He promises a new heaven and earth and tells us what it will be like. How glorious it is that God clearly reveals the demise of the origin of evil, Satan. We can look forward to the miracle of eternal life without any evil at all. There will be only love, peace and harmony.
# The Old Testament proves God’s faithfulness.
People often wonder if they can trust God’s promises? The following are two of the many examples to show God’s faithfulness to His promises.
- The Old Testament covers more than 1,000 years of the history of the descendants of Abraham. God promised Abraham’s descendants the land of Canaan. They were exiled from their homeland the last time in 70 and 135 AD, but after about 1,800 years they again live in the land Israel.
- God promised in Genesis 3:15 that the Seed of the woman will crush the head of the serpent. Jesus did come, and He did rise victoriously from the grave. He is currently seated at the right hand of God, waiting for God’s appointed time to come for the second time to wrap up history. Then the eternal Kingdom of God will be established on earth and will last for ever.
# The Old Testament is part of the big picture of the Bible.
- We want to discuss the history of the arch rebel Satan, against God – what he tried to do to thwart God’s plans, and what we can expect in future.
- We do not do justice to God if we skip the Old Testament and then neglect the book of Revelation. Both are important to complete the big picture of God’s brilliance.
The following inspired words by the Holy Spirit are true,
‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness….’ 2 Timothy 3:16
We cannot ignore the Old Testament, because it is part of Scripture.
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
We would have been satisfied with whatever God gave us but God, in His grace, gave us what we really wanted.
After 42 years in the country, my wife and I moved to the city of Pretoria in South Africa. We had to find a house, because the place we rented for a year was sold. Since we live and work at home, we had a few requirements:
- Cool in summer and warm in winter. In the Southern Hemisphere it means the large windows must face north.
- Near our daughter and her husband with their four young kids.
- For health reasons, enough space for a vegetable garden and some fruit trees.
# The search
We embarked on the search (logically we asked the Holy Spirit for help). But what a disaster. The one place after the other was completely unsuitable. Either the workmanship was shoddy, the roof leaked, it was cold and miserable with no or limited space for a garden. Eventually we let go of all our requests and told God that we will be happy with whatever He gives us. Our daughter has a flat with everything we don’t really like, but we told God, it is fine for us if it is His choice.
# The fast
It felt to us the Holy Spirit wants us to fast. We began on the 10th of August. On the 24th of August a remarkable thing happened. Our daughter phoned around 4 pm to say her husband found the perfect house for us. That evening he showed us the place.
# The miracle
He told us that he drove one of the kids to school that morning and saw an empty house. He located the owner and met him at the property. The owner was completely shocked. He rented the house out to the neighbour’s daughter and her family. They lived there for three years, fell behind with the rent payments and moved without saying a word. Thieves moved in and stole everything they could (electric cables, taps, window closures, et cetera). The house was a mess. The vandalism made the owner (a wealthy man who saw no reason to sell) willing to let the property go.
# The sale
They decided on a price, which was less than the owner wanted. However, he did not have the heart to repair and rent the property out again. They shook hands (gentleman’s agreement). The documents were signed by the 6th of September. Now for the miracle! We would have been satisfied with whatever God gave us but God, in His grace, gave us what we really wanted:
- A north facing house with plenty of sun in winter.
- Enough space for a vegetable garden, a few fruit trees and space for the grandchildren to play.
- A beautiful view of the surroundings, not a boxed in small property.
- A quiet street, but two blocks from a shopping centre.
- Right between our son-in-law’s house and the school.
What can we say, except glory to God! The Lord answers prayer. He is wonderful – a gracious Father! ‘Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart,’ Psalm 37:4.