3 Reasons to Read Old Testament

Do you ever start your favorite movie at the ending? Or maybe you begin an exciting book at its climax?

If you do, I would say that you have problems. No one in their right mind would watch the best parts of their favorite movies alone. Why? Because a movie is a story. The climaxes are not scenes that occur in isolation; they are built on foundations of character development and the sometimes laborious plot building. A climax is only as good as its beginning.

If beginnings and foundations are so important, how come we (or at least I) often do this with the Bible? We love the gospels and the stories of Jesus as we should. We love the accessible truth found in the epistles of Paul. It is easy, grace-filled, and foundational to what we believe and how we live. But the Old Testament, that is a little more difficult. There are books with names we cannot pronounce! The prophecies are confusing, the stories are filled with death and judgment, and all the laws are so legalistic. Why would we not just skip to the good stuff?

Here are 3 reasons to read the Old Testament:

1. Reading the OT reveals who God is. This should be reason enough. Scriptures tell us that God is immutable (the same yesterday, today, and forever). If He never changes, the same God we read about in the New Testament (revealed in Christ Jesus) is the same God we read in the old. It can be easy to fall into a sort of intellectual"Marcionic" heresy where we see God in the Old Testament as full of wrath and the God in the New as all mercy and grace. That is entirely false. The Old Testament is about God. It tells of His holiness, righteousness, perfection, love, eternality, transcendence, and wrath. Without this full view we can easily make Jesus into  pacified and watered down version--who only loves exclusively and never confronts.

2. Reading OT reveals God's plan. In the OT we learn what is wrong, why it is wrong, and how it will be made right. From the "Serpent Crusher" in Genesis 3 to the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 12 to the vivid account of Isaiah 53--we see just how BIG God's plan for redemption is. The Old Testament laws and sacrifices also set the stage for the "Lamb of God" who takes away the sins of the world. Without a prior understanding of the enormity of the law and the absolute necessity of atonement--we would have much difficulty understanding the gospel.

3. Reading OT gives us an appreciation for the cross. Just like watching a movie at only our favorite parts, reading the NT alone can give us a dimmed appreciation for the climax of the Bible: the cross. Reading the Old Testament allows us to consider our blessed position before God as his children. We do not have to sacrifice lambs, nor spend years wandering the wilderness, nor wait for generations for deliverance from a future Messiah. We do not have go through a Priest to have access to the Holy of Holies. God Almighty indwells us now with His Holy Spirit. Now. This moment!

What a privilege we have been given!
I would encourage you to stretch yourself in your Bible reading. We might not all be able to read the Bible in one year, but a better understanding of the story will likely yield to a better appreciation of Christ.

"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me," John 5:39


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