I think most of us would agree, at least in theory, if not in practice, that we are meant to read the Old Testament. Considering that the O.T. takes up two thirds of our Bibles, it is astonishing how much it is neglected! There are different reasons why many believers are not reading the front part of their Bibles, and in this brief post I would like to mention just a few.
- The first reason is quite obvious, the size and length of the books can be intimidating. The length of time it would take to read through the book of Isaiah or the book of Psalms. This would require more than one sitting! But those who have taken the time to painstakingly read through them, will tell you of some of the rich spiritual dividends this practice has yielded.
- Pastors and Bible Teachers are often guilty of failing to expound on this portion of their Bibles, if leaders are not teaching from the O.T. how will the people acquire a taste for these great passages? Very often opening up an Old Testament passage and applying it to our living in the here and now has often been the key to unlock the door for the listeners, causing them to dig and investigate further in the O.T.
- The false assumption that the Old Testament wasn’t written for us, is another reason why these books can be ignored. The bible itself is very clear that the O.T. was also written for us, as well as to them in many places, Paul says,
Rom 15:4 NRSV.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.
1 Cor 10:11 NRSV.
These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the end of the ages have come.
We can see from these two passages alone, that we are mistaken, if we think the O.T. isn’t for us!
4. Another reason why we have neglected the O.T. is we have divorced the O.T. from our N.T. making a disconnect in our thinking that cant be found in scripture. The truth is, both Testaments are connected and present the same message. The old prophesies of the grace that was to come, while the New shows us the grace that has now arrived. The old phrase, “The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed,” is so true! How often have we heard the phrase, “that’s Old Testament!” in order to justify wrong ideas, and rebuff corrective statements that would correct our pride and arrogance?
We need to be careful in our thinking, and in being so quick to throw two thirds of our Bible under the bus! Considering how Jesus Himself approached and viewed these scriptures, we can see He had a very high regard for them, and warned us not to discard them.
Mat 5:17-18 NRSV.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the Prophets, I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.”
Even a casual read through the Old Testament will show us that a vast bulk of prophecies still haven’t been fulfilled yet. So it would be to our advantage to give some serious perusal to this part of scripture. Believers not being grounded in the scriptures is a huge cause for the lack of discernment we see in the Body of Christ today. Developing a taste for the scriptures will cause us to discard the teachings that tickles our ears. To feed on Gods word, with our mind, soul and strength is what we need to do.