Why the Old Testament?

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119.105

I wonder which part of your Bible is the most worn. With it closed, pick it up with the spine away from you and look at the page edges. It is very likely that the last quarter (approx) – the NT – has well-worn and frayed edges while the first three quarters are only slightly worn if at all.

Now to be fair this is probably not surprising. but it is I believe, concerning, for unless we study the whole of God’s word we get a lopsided view of him and his dealings with mankind. Being somewhat mischievous, I suggest that  the page on which we find Psalm 23 might well be a bit dog-eared in the middle of the whole book and I fear it might even be the case for some that there are two pages somewhere that are ‘stuck together’ by the gilding which one gets on a Bible printed on bible paper or indeed as a result of the guillotining on ordinary paper, somewhere in the OT unless, you have consciously set out to read the whole 66 books right through!

Why is the Old Testament so important? After all surely our focus should be on Jesus for it is in him and by his name that we have salvation (Acts 4.12). Certainly that is true, but without the OT we  cannot have a full orbed understanding of God and his ultimate revelation of himself in Jesus. Without the OT we shall have real problems even in beginning to understand the complex world in which we live and in which we are called to be ambassadors for Christ. It is as we realise that the whole Bible points to Christ that we will come to love and treasure it more and more.

Just take two examples. Luke 24.13-27. As the walk to Emmaus became a walk of glorious revelation as Jesus joining the two disciples, ‘(began with Moses and all the Prophets (the OT)  and interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.’

Then in Acts 8.26-40  Philip began with the Book of Isaiah (at what is now our chapter 53) and told the Ethiopian eunuch ‘the good news about Jesus’.

So if we want to understand Jesus we need the OT and he becomes more wonderful if that is possible, as we see how he inhabits the OT and see the fulfilment in the NT.

Further I want to consider next time how reading the OT helps us to make sense of our current situation living as we do in a broken world.

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