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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Old Testament: Why do we need to read it?

I finished reading the Old Testament today for the second time in my life. That's not a lot, considering how old I am. The first time I finished reading through it was on August 27, 2008. Oh, I'd read plenty of the Old Testament before that, grabbing passages here and there, doing an in-depth study on Daniel and Genesis, reading a Psalm or a Proverb now and then to boost my spirit. But to actually start in Genesis 1:1 and read all the way through to Malachi 4:6--that was something I had never done in my Christian life until a few years ago.

Some people don't believe the Old Testament has anything to do with our lives in 2012. They say it's a book of ancient stories about ancient people living in ancient times. I think some people would even go so far as to say the Old Testament is about an ancient God. How can anything written way back before Jesus was even born have any relevance on our lives as Christians today? I mean, after all, Christianity is a New Testament faith, right?

Wrong!

Every word in the New Testament originated in the Old Testament! What I mean by that is, the very essence of Christianity came from prophecies foretold in the Old Testament. Jesus is Christianity and Jesus' coming was prophesied throughout the Old Testament. His life, his death, his resurrection. Jesus the Lamb. God Jesus. All of it was foretold to us in the Old Testament!

Where, you ask?

  • Genesis. Deuteronomy. Numbers. Isaiah. Jeremiah. Psalms. Proverbs. Daniel. Micah. Hosea. Haggai. Jonah. Zechariah. Malachi.  

So, so many scriptures in the Old Testament point to Jesus. The Old Testament is his story just as clearly as the New Testament is. To choose not to read the Old Testament is like not reading the entire first half of a novel. Or sitting down to watch a movie that is half over. You may have a vague idea of what happened in the first part, but to fully understand it you need to know the details of what has been going on since the beginning.

I love the New Testament as much as anyone. But I also understand that the New Testament writers, especially Paul and the author of Hebrews, were obviously students of the Old Testament. They knew what those "ancient" books said about Jesus and they believed it. It was part of them. They knew he fulfilled every single prophesy ever written about the Messiah.

And if that doesn't convince you how important the Old Testament is, keep in mind that Jesus himself quoted from it often. In his 3 year ministry, he quoted from 24 different texts! And that's just what was recorded.

God gave us the Bible---both Old and New Testaments!---so we could know Him. Jesus is God. God is Jesus. Everything God said in the Old Testament was said by Jesus, because they are One. You can't embrace the New Testament teachings of Jesus without also acknowledging that the Old Testament is where his teachings came from.

So if you haven't ever read through the Old Testament, I encourage you to do so this year. I guarantee you will be amazed at how interesting it actually is and how much more understanding you have about what's in the New Testament!

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This week's Prayer Shout Out countries are:
USA, Germany, United Kingdom, Philippines, India, Ukraine, Slovenia, Russia, Canada, Guam, Kenya, Poland, Spain, Namibia, Georgia

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