3 Reasons Why Jesus Followers Can’t Just Ignore the Old Testament
- Hope Bolinger Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2019 8 Aug
Christians can often get a little uneasy when it comes to the Old Testament. We stumble across certain passages that may feel a little hard to stomach, or many of the rules and laws in the Pentateuch seem outdated or irrelevant. So we might tend to ignore what we fail to see as pertinent.
Worse, churches, Christian literature, and other media will often adopt a similar approach.
More often than not, a sermon on Sunday will cover a passage from the New Testament rather than the Old, even though the Old comprises far more books and pages than the New. Christian daily devotionals, Christian living books, and other media will often focus on verses from the New Testament opposed to the Old as well. If they do focus on any Old Testament book, it’s most often Psalms.
Many Christians are ignoring 39 books in the entire Bible. The following reasons will show us why we can’t avoid the first half of Scripture.
1. It’s part of a larger narrative.
Imagine starting a movie or book halfway through the story. We’d miss important details established in the beginning that pertain to the story as a whole.
The same happens when we ignore the Old Testament. Sometimes we forget the Bible encompasses an entire narrative; the story doesn’t just begin when Jesus steps into the scene.
The story goes a little like this:
Creation: God creates the universe and everything in it, including man (Genesis 1)
Fall:Man rebels against God and creates a rift between himself and the Lord of the Universe (Genesis 3)
Israel: God chooses a group of people to be His nation on earth (Deuteronomy 14:2), a foreshadowing of the New Testament, where Christians are grafted into God’s family, becoming God’s people.
Law: The first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch, has a list of laws given to the holy nation of Israel to follow. These laws were to make the Israelites aware of how great their sinful nature was so they would turn to God for salvation.
Covenants: Through a series of covenants, God shows He fulfills His promises (Genesis 9:8-17) and foreshadows the redemption plan in place to save all of mankind.
Redemption: Jesus enacts that plan of salvation by dying and resurrecting again, forming a bridge across the chasm of sin, so all who believe in Him may cross over it.
Commission: Jesus commissions his followers to make disciples of all nations, spreading the Gospel throughout the world. After this, he ascended into heaven.
Return: One day he will return to judge the living and the dead.
From that storyline alone, five out of eight of the major points happen in the Old Testament.
Every culture seems to like to rip certain passages of Scripture out of the general narrative, but we forget all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16).
We have to keep in mind that the Bible will be counter-cultural to cultures it encounters, including our own. Nations that valued bravery above all else would’ve taken great offense to Peter’s cowardice when he denied Jesus. In our own culture, we might find Peter’s failure to put on a brave face relatable.
Sometimes, when reading Scripture, we have to take off our cultural lenses, study the passage based on its original context, and go from there, including the Old Testament.
3. It’s full of faith-filled stories.
Want inspiration from heroes of faith? Look no further than the Old Testament (although, you should look further, because we also have the New Testament):
Joseph: Refused to succumb to temptation when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him, and remained faithful to God after she falsely accused him of sexual assault (Genesis 39).
Elijah: Faced an evil queen and king and the prophets of Baal, while exercising enormous faith by having His altar to the Lord drenched in water (1 Kings 18).
Job: Remained loyal to God after Satan took away his family, property, and good health, while dealing with a handful of well-meaning but misguided friends who told him all these calamities happened because he had sinned (Job 4-23).
Daniel: Continued to pray to God, upon penalty of death, and remained faithful even when thrown into the lions’ den (Daniel 6).
The list goes on as it spans the entire Old Testament narrative.
In addition to the fact it takes up almost three quarters of the size of Scripture, we cannot read Scripture without reading the Old Testament. We miss out on some of the most important details that take place in the New Testament.
How can we be blown away by Jesus’ birth in the Gospels, if we don’t have an idea of just how many prophecies from the Old Testament that event alone fulfilled?
How can we understand the cost of salvation if we do not see the cost of animal sacrifice families in the Old Testament offered for various Jewish festivals?
How can we know the historical context of Jesus during the rule of the Roman Empire, if we don’t know Israel’s history and how they ended up under that rule?
We also have to keep in mind, the Apostles didn’t have the New Testament until late into their preaching and teaching careers (several of them had written books in the New Testament), but whenever they met for church, they would share Scriptures. These were the Old Testament.
They considered the Old Testament to be God’s Holy Word, and so should we.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Naassom Azevedo
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 500 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, Blaze, (Illuminate YA) released in June, and they contracted the sequel Den for July 2020. Find out more about her here.