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Why it is important for Christians to know the Old Testament

07.17.18 | Inspirational | by Rev. Walt Marcum

Why it is important for Christians to know the Old Testament

    They say out with the old and in with the new, but that certainly isn’t the best course of action when reading the bible. While the New Testament is integral to our faith and includes the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Old Testament makes up more than half of the bible and is crucial to our faith as well. In truth, we can’t have the good news of the New Testament without the wisdom and knowledge found in the Old Testament.

    Why should Christians bother with the Old Testament? Isn’t it out of date? After all, wasn’t it written well over a thousand years ago? It was another time, another culture, another world. And didn’t we replace it with the New Testament? Isn’t the Old Testament a book of judgment, while the New Testament is a book of love?  So, why bother?

    There are many reasons why it is important for Christians to know the Old Testament: its basic plot, the characters, and the stories.

    First of all: it is scripture. It is part of the Bible. In fact, the Old Testament is nearly 80% of the Christian Bible. To ignore it, or to not know it, is to be ignorant of most of scripture.

    Another reason to know the Old Testament is that the Christian faith has always affirmed that the God of the Old Testament is also the God of the New Testament. The biblical story of God’s relationship with God’s people begins with the opening words of Genesis and concludes with the final vision in Revelation.

    It includes the creation stories, the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as Sarah, Rachel, and Rebecca. It includes the story of Israel’s slavery in Egypt and God’s deliverance of Israel out of Egypt. It includes the giving of the law at Sinai, the travel to the Promised Land, the taking of the land, the period of the judges, the united kingdom under Solomon and David, the divided kingdom after that, as well as the exile into Babylon and the return.

    It includes the prophets that God sends to speak to Israel with words of judgment and words of hope, as well as a promise of a coming Messiah and the kingdom of God.

    It also includes the poetry and wisdom literature found in Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. And it includes wonderful stories like Ruth, Jonah, Esther, and so much more.

    A third reason to know the Old Testament is actually found in the New Testament. The New Testament is clear. Jesus was a Jew, sent by the Jewish God, to the Jewish people, in fulfillment of the Jewish scriptures. The story of Jesus, and the birth of our faith is a part of the larger story found in the Bible.

    In fact, for Christians, it is the climax of that story.

    In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul gives the earliest summary of the faith with these words: For I handed on to you as of first importance what I, in turn, had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures  (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

    The truth of the matter is that the entire New Testament is based on the Old Testament.  

    To understand Jesus and his ministry, to understand the books of the New Testament, to understand the message of the New Testament, to understand the God of the New Testament, we need to know the Old Testament.

    Truth be told, the Old Testament is intimidating. There is so much material, so many books. How do we get a handle on this material?  How to we see the larger picture in its story. Want to get a better idea of the larger picture of the Old Testament, including its plot, major characters and what is in each of the books?

    Coming up in August, Rev. Walt Marcum will present a quick, condensed walkthrough of the Old Testament. Get more information and reserve your spot today!


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