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.
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 Hebrews, but we will start Joel and Hosea on October 5th. Go ahead and join now! Or, find a Bible study to guide you through a study of an Old Testament book. My study “Before His Throne” is a 9-week study of Malachi.
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?
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All of your reasons are spot on!
I LOVE the Old Testament! Many of Jesus’s words are quotes from the OT. Matthew’s entire structure of his Gospel is built on the OT prophesies.
If Jesus and Matthew thought it was worthy of quoting, it is worthy of our study. We forget that, when they refered to God’s law, promises, and truths, they were drawing from the OT because the New Testament didn’t exist.
I love it too! And you are so right about Jesus quoting the OT. That was His Scripture!
Luk 2:40 The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
Luk 2:41 Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.
Luk 2:42 And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast;
Luk 2:43 and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it,
Luk 2:44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances.
Luk 2:45 When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him.
Luk 2:46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.
Luk 2:47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answeAmen.
I had the blessing a number of years ago to study EXODUS and LEVITICUS in Precept Classes (in person). What I learned in Leviticus has helped me in so many ways – the law, the sacrifices, basic rules of living in the community. It gave me a very good foundation for the study of Hebrews. In the Gospels, Jesus encounters the Scribes and Pharisees. Having studied Leviticus helped me perceive where Jesus was coming from. Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. I studied and taught 5 sections of GENESIS by precept. Exodus I studied under another Precept leader. Themes from Exodus are mentioned in the Gospels, the Psalms, and the Epistles (pictures to remember and remind ourselves of God’s great deliverance in OT Pharaoh and in New Testament total and perfect forever deliverance of sin to salvation. In the book of Revelation, we see many prophecies that will be fulfilled. It is easy to read the Psalms and Proverbs. Read 5 Psalms per day alternating sections in the 150 Psalms. You can read a proverb for the day of the month. Lastly, you will find many portraits of individuals – not perfect- but knew the God Who is.
Thanks for sharing all that! I love your enthusiasm for the Old Testament!
Hi, I dont have a favourite old testament book but would like a study of the wisdom books as a special indepth study.
I love old testament because its tells us incredible story of faith of the old testament people like David, Joshua and Ezra live their faith before us