Why Read the Old Testament?

In the coming days, a group of people in my church and friends from around the country will be starting to read through the Old Testament together again, and it’s sure to be a very interesting and encouraging experience.

But why would you want to do this?  Why take all that time to listen to, or read through the OT texts? Isn’t it good enough to be reading the New Testament in our devotions? The short answer is, as you might guess, “No!”  This isn’t about meeting a quota, or doing what is “good enough”, that’s certainly NOT the point. But what IS the point? Here are a few good reasons why you should consider reading the Old Testament devotionally every day…

First, the OT gives us the context for the New Testament (NT). We can understand the redemptive nature of NT history better if we know the history leading up to Christ’s incarnation and earthly ministry. As we get a sense for the context in which Christ came, we grow to appreciate God’s control over history even more.  Unlike most eastern thought, Christians believe that history is linear – God is driving toward a point.

David Murray puts it this way, “Many history books simply relate the what, when, where, and how of each event. Not many attempt to answer the “Why?” question, and those that do usually prove laughably unreliable. In contrast, biblical history has a clear purpose: it is a progressive revelation of the mind and heart of God for the benefit of needy sinners. God is the subject and the hero of the Bible.”

Second, once we become familiar with the OT, we begin to see how Christ is the fulfillment of types and shadows, and the epicenter of redemptive history and the story of humanity. Our story is really HIS story.  Seeing typology fulfilled in Christ only comes when you have studied and read the OT.

Sam Storms says, “In most cases the Old Testament type finds a deeper realization or expression in some aspect of the life of Jesus, his redemptive work, his judgments, or in his future return and reign. The correspondence is based on the premise that god controls history.”

Finally, but not by any means “lastly”, as Christians we believe that ALL Scripture is profitable for renewing our minds. Paul reminds Timothy of this, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

This means that as we read the Old Testament, the words of God are literally renewing our minds, and changing our hearts.  They are equipping us to serve and enjoy God better, because we can help others understand the Scriptures more clearly, and we can appreciate and love God for all that He is and has done as our context is widened.

In conclusion, there are so many reasons to read the whole Bible, and I’ve just scratched the surface here, but needless to say, it is a very profitable exercise, and if you’d like to join a reading group and get to know the OT a little better, feel free to send me a message!

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