March 23, 2009

Why Should Christans Read the Old Testament?

Posted in Devotionals, Prayer Request at 9:24 pm by Sarah Bosse

It is unfortunate that few Chrsitians today spend quality time diving deeper into the Old Testament.  If we truly believe that the Word of God (think about that – the very “Word of God“!) is perfectly Inspired, Inerrant, and Authoritative, we should not neglect the Old Testament.  God never changes – He never has and never will.  What God revealed of Himself in the Old Testament is still true today.  Messianic Jews (Jewish believers who profess Jesus Christ as the Messiah, Son of God and Son of Man who died for their sins and rose again) often appreciate a rich understanding of the Old Testament and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  They may better understand who God is through the Laws  and promises that the Lord declared to His chosen people, Israel.  

The Old Testament teaches us some very important and foundational truths about the nature of both God and man through the history of Israel.  Book after book, we watch, somehow hoping that history would prove Israel worthy of the calling they have received.  Yet we find ourselves wagging our heads back and forth as Israel repents, then sins, then repents, then sins over and over.  It’s the song that never ends.  Even more predictable than Israel’s sin is the Lord’s characteristic patience and severity.  The Lord is patient (He did not abandon His wayward people, Exodus 33:3-17), yet severe (the Flood, Genesis 6-8, and note God’s covenant with Noah in Gen 8:20-22).  And lest we get too hot-headed, the New Testament reminds us that Israel was a nation of people no different from you and me – deserving of the justified wrath of God yet receiving unmerited favor instead (grace) through the Perfect Sacrifice.  Instead of an animal sacrifice, which could never pay the penalty for rebellion against God, the perfect God Himself was suspended between Heaven and earth to make ultimate atonement for Israel’s sins and ours.  

Romans 3:9-31 ESV

“9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.”

The Gospel is built upon the history of the Old Testament; the history of man, and the revelation of God.  As the apostle Paul makes clear in the third chapter of Romans, the Old Testament and the New Testament work together as a unified whole – the whole Word of God.  The Old Testament makes it clear that man is unable to keep the Law, and that the Law itself brought about sin.  From the very beginning, God was pointing to His sovereign plan for redemption through His Self-Sacrifice (many scholars agree that the first reference to the Messiah is seen in Genesis 3:15, and a very well-written article on this subject may be found here).  Without the Old Testament, we would have little understanding of our NEED for the New Testament.  

Romans 4 ESV

“4:1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

Well, the Good Book has said it all and I need add no more.  I pray that this quick view of the Old Testament and it’s relevancy to the New Testament will encourage you and me to dive deeper into the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelations, so that we might know God as He is (Exodus 3:13-15) and worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24).  


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