Now all of these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the ages have come ( 1 Corinthians 10:11 NJKV).
If you have your choice, which will you plop down and read – the Old Testament or the New Testament? If you are like most Christians, your answer would, hands down be, “New Testament!” The truth is, many Christians today do not read the Old Testament much, if any. They may read books in the New Testament over and over again, but skip over everything in the Old Testament other than Psalms and Proverbs. Unfortunately, when people skip over the Old Testament, they miss much of what God has for them. The Old Testament was written for a purpose, and should be taken just as seriously and read and studied just as often as the New Testament. In fact, consider this: The Old Testament was the Bible of the New Testament church. It was the Bible that Jesus taught from and quoted regularly. It is what helped form the doctrine and practices of the New Testament church.
Although it was extremely useful in the early church, its usefulness did not cease with the completion of the New Testament. The Scripture above from 1 Corinthians gives us the following two reasons for reading and studying the Old Testament.
First, everything written in the Old Testament was written for our example. The Greek word, tupos, which is translated as “example” in the passage above means a picture, or a model of reality of that which was yet to appear. It was a prototype of that which wasn’t yet developed or evolved. It carries with it the idea that the Old Testament presented pictures of spiritual truths that would be brought out in the New Testament. Thus, the Old Testament contains visible examples of invisible truths and outward manifestations of that which takes place in our lives internally. Although people may at times have a hard time understanding the Old Testament, it is actually intended to help us to better understand the New Testament, since it uses tangible things to describe spiritual realities. In truth, we can’t completely understand the New Testament without having a firm grasp on the Old Testament.
Second, besides being written to paint a vivid picture of spiritual truths, the Old Testament was also written to admonish, or teach us. The Greek word, nouthesia, which is translated as “admonition” in 1 Corinthians 10:11 means to put something into the mind. It has different purposes ranging from a word of encouragement when that is sufficient, to a word of reproof, blame, or correction when needed. If the Old Testament is intended to put something into our mind, how can that happen if we don’t read it regularly? And who doesn’t need words of encouragement, not to mention the necessity of words of correction from time to time?
Whether we need something in the New Testament better explained through the vivid pictures painted in the Old Testament, or whether we need to be encouraged and instructed, as “New Testament Christians,” we really can’t afford to miss out on the great truths found between the pages of Genesis and Malachi.
If you struggle with understanding the Old Testament, consider using an easy-to-understand translation such as the New Living Translation, together with the version of the Bible you normally read. Also consider using a good study Bible such as the Life Application Bible. Incorporating helps such as those may bring to light and help explain the more difficult passages of Scripture in the Old Testament. Whatever you do, start spending time in the Old Testament today. You’ll be glad you did!
Father, we pray that You will help us to value every word of every book of the Bible. Help us not to despise or avoid any of Your Holy Word which You provided to us for our own good. Give us a hunger and desire to get to know You and Your ways better as we begin to read parts of the Bible that we have perhaps avoided in the past. We thank You for Your wonderful Word, and the truths You have placed for our benefit in both the Old and New Testaments. Amen.