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Making Sense of the Old Testament

April 11, 2016

Have you ever wondered why parts of the Old Testament were written? Some things have a more apparent profit, like the account of creation. Genesis 1-3 teaches how everything got here and how man sinned against God. Some things require more thought to understand the purpose, like the details of the building of the tabernacle. With consideration and study of other Biblical passages the Bible students finds those things teach about the plan and character of God. Other things are just baffling. How many Christians read the list of names in the book of Numbers and wondered, why is this even here?

Nothing in the Bible is accidental or merely incidental. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable (don’t miss that, all Scripture is profitable) for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” All the Bible is for our benefit. It teaches us, it confronts us, it corrects us and it guides us. From this general purpose the New Testament also reveals some specific benefits of the Old Testament for the Christian.

Romans 4 tells us the Old Testament was written for our benefit. The Old Testament was not written only for the ancient Israelites. It was not just a stand in until the New Testament could be written. The Old Testament was for the Christian’s sake. God gave the Old Testament with an eye to the benefit of the church that would begin in a later age. Galatians 3:24 teaches, “The law was a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.” The commandments of God reveal to men their guilt and condemnation. The law serves as a tutor, a teacher, that makes men realize the need for mercy and pardon. The law guides men to Jesus.

Romans 15:4 says, in reference to a quote from Psalms, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning.” The Old Testament is given to teach those today who are no longer under the bondage of the law, who are redeemed and a part of the new covenant. Paul continues and says the Old Testament teaches us that we might hope. Through the stories of the men and women of old Christians today are given comfort and are taught to endure. Through the rich theology of the Old Testament modern day believes are comforted and encouraged. The New Testametn Christian has a confident expectation of eternal life because the faithful God of the Old Testament is still faithful.

1 Corinthins 10 summarizes events from the books of Exodus and Numbers. Paul says in verse:11 says, “Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition.” The events of the Old Testament are recorded to exhort modern day Christians. The Old Testament accounts exhort New Testament saints to continued obedience for the Lord and warn of the consequences of departing from the Lord.

The New Testament teaches that the Old Testament fulfills three major roles: to point men to Jesus for salvation, to exhort the saints in faithfulness to God and to compel believers to obedience to God’s commands.


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