The Old Testament is necessary to understand Jesus

OT & JCMany Christians have a very superficial knowledge of the Old Testament. It is strange, because the Old Testament is part of God’s revelation to man. Perhaps it is the word ‘Old’ that gives the impression that it needs to be discarded. That is not true, since the Old Testament is divinely inspired, ‘All Scripture is God-breathed…..’ 

There are people who say: ‘Why bother about the Old Testament? Preach Christ. He is the Saviour.’  That is true, because it is the main message of the Bible. Yet why did the Holy Spirit give us the 39 books of the Old Testament? Is He so ‘ignorant’ that He did not understand that the Old Testament would be scrapped with the coming of Jesus?

Paul wrote to Timothy, ‘But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of …and how …you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.’ 2 At that time the Old Testament was the holy Scriptures.

The continual message of the Old Testament is that God’s chosen people, Israel, failed to obey Him. They failed all the way. Even the Gentile nations could not live up to God’s standards. The Old Testament’s message is clear and stark: nobody can live the upright life that God desires. God’s goal and plan is a perfect Kingdom and a perfect nation (able to obey God). There has never been a nation or even individuals who could consistently meet the requirement.

Nations are destroyed by imperfect leaders and rebellious citizens. God’s goal seems an impossible plan. We see that even with a  ‘special’ nation, Israel, with a perfect God, and perfect laws to organise society, they still failed. Thus God’s goal, the perfect eternal Kingdom, will remain an impossible dream, unless God has a brilliant plan. That He had. It is His Son, Jesus, the Saviour, the Conqueror of evil and the hope of His followers.  By demonstrating the failure of man’s own efforts, the Old Testament highlights the importance of Jesus, who makes God’s glorious Kingdom  possible.

For a proper appreciation of the magnitude of God’s solution in Jesus, there is no other source than the Old Testament. After the failures of the Israelites and the Gentile nations, God presented His ‘Final Solution,’ Jesus the wonderful Saviour and Lord (see the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31).


The Bible is a wonderful book: the Old Testament shows how important Jesus is; Jesus sends us the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit teaches us the Truth; the truth is found in the Bible; the Bible includes the Old Testament (70%).  We should not neglect the Old Testament, since it makes us appreciate Jesus all the more.


  1. 2 Timothy 3:16
  2. 2 Timothy 3:14-15

Why the Old Testament if we have the New Testament

Atheists love to confront Christians with the ‘horrible’ God of the Bible who killed babies, allowed rape, and Titus archstoned rebellious teenagers and homosexuals. Often they distort the Bible to succeed in their derision. They use the Old Testament history to prove their point.


Besides the clever distortion of facts, it is convenient to forget that God’s laws were designed to promote peace and prosperity in a nation. A nation that follows His rules, will be very orderly without theft, murder, immorality, et cetera. The laws were the physical ‘outworking’ of the holiness of God.


The Law or first covenant was made with the Israelites of old: ‘These are the decrees, the laws and the regulations that the Lord established on Mount Sinai between Himself and the Israelites through Moses.’ 1  That was around 1,400-1,300 BC. The Israelites that God made that covenant with (those people who approached the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with sacrifices at the Tabernacle and Temple) no longer exist.  The Temple in Jerusalem was raised to the ground by Titus in 70 AD. They could never rebuild it and the Islamic Dome of the Rock occupies the spot.  Animal sacrifices ceased with the destruction of the Temple. The Old Covenant was replaced by the New Covenant.


Why are the details of the Old Covenant in the Bible?

# 1. It proves that no one can keep the law. The Old Testament proves that God’s special nation, the Jews, could not obey His laws. It proved that nobody can keep God’s commandments by his or her own decision or will power.


# 2. Grace and love are the solution. God wanted to show us that grace and love are much more powerful than law. If a nation moves into fraud, robbery, murder and immorality, it is no use trying to change their behaviour with laws. A heart change is the only permanent solution. That is where Jesus, the Son of God comes in. He changes hearts and makes it possible for people to live lives that please the Lord.


# 3. Jesus made a relationship with God possible. Without Jesus there can be no eternal Kingdom of peace and happiness. Only He makes it possible for us to obey God and live in a relationship with Him. Jesus is the one essential ‘ingredient’ to make God’s future Kingdom of peace possible. Without Him, there is no hope for us to ever live with God on the new earth.


# 4. No one can please God without Jesus. The Old Testament with its narratives of basically failure to please God is very important. Nobody will appear before the Judgement throne and be able to claim that he or she could please God without Jesus. It is impossible, as the Old Testament so decisively proves.



Jesus is the only solution to live a life pleasing to the Lord. Conveniently atheists don’t mention Jesus and the New Covenant in their eagerness to promote the ‘Terrible Tyrant’ idea. They also forget that there is nobody alive to whom the Old Covenant applies. Lastly, why do they so often refer to the Old Testament without mentioning the role of Jesus in what is lacking in the Old Covenant?



1. Leviticus 26:46


Thousands of errors

People often claim there are thousands of errors in the Old Testament.  It is notable who the people are: Robert_Dick_Wilson copy 2unbelievers, atheists or theologians who betrayed God. By betrayal we mean learned scholars who no longer accept the Bible as the inspired Word of God, a supernatural book.


How does one judge such comments about the Old Testament? You consult an expert. Today we want to introduce you to one: Dick Wilson. He was born in 1856 and studied theology. He decided that his life’s work would be the defence of the Old Testament. To do it, he divided what he thought would be his productive life into three periods. In the first 15 years he would study Biblical languages, in the next fifteen years the Old Testament history, and in the last fifteen years he would write down his findings.


He accomplished that goal. He became familiar with about 26 languages and dialects of the Old Testament period. He collected over 100,000 quotations from those languages to illustrate basic facts about the Old Testament. In his last fifteen years he wrote down his findings.1


In one of his books, A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament, he writes, ‘In conclusion, let me reiterate my conviction that no one knows enough to show that the true text of the Old Testament in its true interpretation is not true.The results of his extensive studies convinced him that the Old Testament can be trusted.


As an example of the attacks on the Old Testament today, Wilson remarked about Genesis 14 (Abraham defeats Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him and rescues his nephew Lot): Against the historical character of this narrative we have the assertion of …other critics of our times (only about 4,000 years after the supposed expedition) that the expedition was ‘simply impossible,’ and that the account may have been fabricated (or forged) by some person unknown, at some time unknown….  Not one item of evidence in the way of time, place, logic, language, psychology or customs has been produced to prove it.  But then ….says it is ‘simply impossible,’ which is then echoed by …other learned professors.  And this assertion of ‘simply impossible’ is called an ‘assured result of scientific criticism.’ 3


It is remarkable how true his statement is even today. The ‘experts’ tell us data in the Old Testament is simply impossible, and often we are swayed by them (he explains the truth of Genesis 14 in his book). Instead we should consult the Holy Spirit first and then people like him who at least know their subject.


What do we conclude? If you hear somebody talk about the many errors in the Old Testament, ask about their qualifications? Have they mastered as many Biblical languages and dialects as Dick Wilson? Have they studied the history as intensively as he did? If they did, then you can listen to them. Until then, trust Dick Wilson’s conclusions rather than people like Dan Barker, Richard Dawkins or Richard Carrier.


Please note that the criticism of the Bible will never stop. The devil will only give up when he is finally thrown into the lake of fire. Till then we have to be content that the Bible will be mocked and criticised. However, rest assured. We have a supernatural book of truth, straight from God’s heart. If we listen to it rather than to the devil and his coworkers, we will see the face of God one glorious day (Revelation 22:4).



  1. BH Edwards, Nothing but the Truth, Evangelical Press, 1993 (second edition), p 133-140.
  2. RD Wilson, A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament, Moody Press, Chicago, 1959, p 13.
  3. Ibid, p 25.
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