How often do you read or study the Old Testament? I’ve heard Christians give lots of reasons for avoiding the first 39 books of the Bible. We are under the new covenant. It’s too hard to understand. The Old Testament isn’t relevant. I’ve even heard, I don’t like the God of the Old Testament.
Personally, I love the Old Testament. Yes, there are some parts that are more difficult to understand. I get bogged down in Leviticus. And there are parts of the prophets that at first read I go “huh?”
But, I know that every word is inspired. That God intentionally included every book, chapter, and verse in His Word for a purpose and for our benefit. The Old Testament is in fact glorious and beautiful and needed for our lives today.
I can tell you aren’t yet convinced. You aren’t quite ready to pull out your Bible to study the Old Testament. So, I’m going to give you some reasons. (See also “10 Reasons the Old Testament is Important for Christians.”)
6 Reasons to Study the Old Testament
The following list is not exhaustive, but I hope these reasons will foster your interest in the Scriptures Jesus Himself studied.
- To expand our knowledge of God – The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. The same God you love and follow. In the laws, history, and prophecy of the Old Testament we learn about our God’s power, holy nature, and eternal purposes. The New Testament gives us a great – but limited – understanding.
- To get the full story of redemption – Our story of redemption begins in a garden. In the book of Genesis. Yes, Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s redemptive purposes. But God formed His plan before the creation of the world. He began to unfold His plan when Adam and Eve chose disobedience. The thread of redemption runs through the entire Old Testament.
- To understand our need for a Savior – God’s dealings with His people in the Old Testament show the seriousness of sin. The Law and the sacrificial system reveal the depraved nature of mankind and the great cost of forgiveness (Romans 7:7).
- To gain a deeper understanding of Jesus and His work – Everything in the Old Testament points to Jesus (John 5:39). Everything in the old covenant is a shadow of the great truths of Christ (Hebrews 10:1). When we study the Old Testament, we study the person and work of Jesus.
- To foster a sense of awe and worship for our holy God – When we neglect the Old Testament, we often end up taking God too lightly. We fail to give Him the fearful respect He deserves. When we study the Old Testament, we see the exalted glory of our great God. For instance, when God descended on Mt Sinai (Exodus 19:16-20) and when Isaiah sees God seated on His throne, high and exalted (Isaiah 6:1-6).
- To see great examples of faith in action – Incredible stories of faith pack the pages of the Old Testament. People of faith like Noah, Joshua, Deborah, David, Ezra, and so many more live their faith before us. We miss so much when we don’t know their stories.
Some help to understand the Old Testament
One reason we may avoid the Old Testament is because we find it a little harder to understand than the New Testament. But, with some practical tools and encouragement, we can not only understand the first 39 books of the Bible, we can also enjoy them! The following posts can help:
- 5 Tips for Understanding Biblical Narrative
- 5 Tips to Help You Understand the Psalms
- 8 Tips to Help You Understand Proverbs
- 4 Tips to Help You Understand the Prophets
How will you dive in?
What about you? Have you been avoiding the Old Testament? Maybe you have but you’re ready to dig in now. Where do you start? It can be as simple as starting to read in Genesis. If you’d like some encouragement and support, check out the Facebook group I lead “Reading the Bible Together.” We alternate between Old and New Testament books. Right now we are in Mark, but we will start Haggai and Zechariah on August 7th.
I also have an enhanced reading guide for Ruth available for a small fee. It will easily guide you through this beautiful book. Don’t avoid the Old Testament. You will miss so much about our great, big God!
Do you read and study the Old Testament? If not, why not? If you do, what’s your favorite Old Testament book?