WHY SHOULD WE STUDY THE O.T.?

 

Why should we as Christians study the O.T.? After all the O.T. was not a covenant with us it was covenant with the children of Israel at mount Horeb according to:

 

Deuteronomy 5:1 And Moses called all Israel, and said to them: "Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them.2 "The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.3 "The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive.

 

In fact, verse 3 teaches us that not even men such as Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob were under the O.T. and Paul makes it clear that Christians are not under the law of the O.T. in:

 

Romans 7:6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

 

The book or Hebrews also talks a great deal about how we are under a new covenant

 

Hebrews 8:6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

 

Jesus is the mediator of a better covenant established on better promises and Hebrews 8:13 tells us that this new covenant has made the old one obsolete So, why should we study the O.T. that has been deemed obsolete?

 

My goal tonight is answer this very question and to show why it is very important that a Christian study the O.T. and how it applies to us today. A lot of people in the religious world have misconception of what we teach on this topic. In fact, on several occasions when I was asked where I attend church and then I told them the church of Christ, they would respond with, ďOh youíre the guys who donít believe in the O.T. rightĒ. Now I donít know how that got started, but that is far from the truth. It is true that a Christian is not under the law of the O.T., that is we do not make animal sacrifices nor do we have to follow all those laws mentioned in the book of Leviticus because we are under a new law, Christísí law. This however does not take away from the value of the O.T.

 

The main purpose of the OT can be found in:

 

Galatians 3:24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

 

So the purpose of the O.T. was to prepare the people for the coming of Christ. This brings us to our first point on why we should study the O.T..

 

1. Romans 15:3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me."(Ps 69:9)4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

 

In verse 3, Paul quotes from the O.T. Ps 69:9 and then in verse 4 states that those things written before were written for our learning. Those things written before are talking about the O.T.The O.T. was preserved for you and me so we could learn a great deal about God and ourselves. Letís examine 3 things that the O.T. teaches us about ourselves.

 

Who am I?

 

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."††††

 

How was I created?

 

Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

 

Why am I here?

 

The book of Ecclesiastes is written from the perspective of a man who had everything from earthy standpoint yet had nothing to look forward to if there is no God. The answer to our question is found in the last 2 verses of Ecclesiastes.

 

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all.14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.

 

Now letís take a look a 3 things we learn about God.

 

God is omniscient - all knowing.

 

Psalm 139:1 A Psalm of David. O LORD, You have searched me and known me.2 You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.3 You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways.4 For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.

 

1 Chronicles 28:9 Ö for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughtsÖ

 

Since God knows our intent of our thoughts, we can better under stand why Paul tells us to bring:

 

2 Corinthians 10:5 Ö every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

 

The O.T. is letting us know that God knows our very thoughts even if we donít make them know to others. From this we can see that God truly is all knowing as:

 

Psalm 147:5 Ö His understanding is infinite.

 

God is omnipotent - all powerful.

 

Anyone who has the power to create the heavens and the earth and all the life is defiantly all powerful and Job came to this same realization after God asked him all kinds of questions about the origin of life and life itself. Job said:

 

Job 42:2 "I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.

 

God is omnipresent - that means he is present in all places at all times.

 

Psalm 139:7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.9 If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.11 If I say, "Surely the darkness shall fall on me," Even the night shall be light about me;12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You.See also Jer 23:23-24

 

Back in our text in Rom. 15:4, I want you to notice one more reason we should study the O.T. today. Paul said:

 

we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

 

When you study the O.T. and you learn how God deals with His people, you learn how much he loves His creation and how He always keeps His promises. When we see how He made promises to Abraham, Moses, and others in the O.T. and how He kept His promises every single time, it will give us great comfort knowing that God will also keep the promises He has made to us under the new covenant. Not only does the O.T. give us hope it also convinces us that the Word of God is inspired because of all the prophecies that were made and came true. As you can see, the O.T. is there for us to learn from and we should not neglect to study it.

 

2. Our second point come from:

1 Corinthians 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea,2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,3 all ate the same spiritual food,4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play."8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell;9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents;10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

 

Paul is telling us that the O.T. is very valuable to the Christian today because we can learn from the examples of how God dealt with His people in the O.T. I think everybody can understand this concept because we all know that if you donít study history and its failures, you will be doomed to repeat the same mistakes again. Lets take a quick look at 4 valuable lessons we can we can learn from the O.T. examples.

 

  1. In Genesis 4, we learn about Cain and Able. Cain made an offering that wasnít pleasing to God, but Able did. Because of this, Cain got mad and murdered his brother. From this example we learn two things. 1. God wants us to give Him our best and what is acceptable 2. Jealousy and anger towards others can only bring about harm. In Cain case, it caused him to murder his on flesh and blood, and God punished Him for this.
  2. In Genesis 6 and 7, we learn about Noah and the great flood. We can learn two things from this as well. 1. God will only tolerate unrighteousness for so long. God even states that He was sorry that He had made mankind in Gen 6:6. So, He destroyed everyone except Noah and his family. 2. We can learn that God will take care of those who love and obey Him.
  3. Our third example comes fromLeviticus 10:1 Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them.2 So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.Nadab and Abihu offered a fire, but it wasnít the kind of fire that God commanded so they paid with their lives. We can learn from this that God does not want man to do things his own way, He wants mankind to worship Him according to the Scriptures. Knowing this, we should take God Word seriously and do our best to worship Him how He has commanded us in Scripture.
  4. Our next example comes from Job. When you read the book of Job, you learn that Job had to exercise great patience and endured many hardships, but in the end, he received his reward since he persevered against the devil. James uses Job as an example to teach us to be patient in our sufferings. James 5:10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord -- that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. (Rom. 8:28)

 

These were just 4 examples out many. For example, Hebrews 11 uses many O.T. examples to show us what kind of faith we should have. Did you know that there are over 450 quotations or references in the N.T. from the book of Genesis to Ester alone? This should tell us how important the O.T. is. So, read the O.T. and learn from the examples found there.

 

3. It makes us wise to salvation.

 

2 Timothy 3:15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

 

In context, the Holy Scriptures mentioned here are talking about the O.T. Scriptures because that it what he would have had available to him in his childhood. As Paul states, the Holy Scriptures makes one wise for salvation. But how is this possible? It is through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. Notice how this goes hand with:

 

Galatians 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

 

Just about everywhere you look in the O.T., you can find passages that look forward to Jesus and the salvation that comes through Him. We are truly blessed today because we can look at the big picture and see how Godís plan of redemption unfolded from the beginning to the end. The O.T. prophets only had a glimpse into what you I know today. In 1 Peter 1:3-9, it talks about how we should rejoice knowing that Christians will be saved and live in heaven with God forever. Look at verse:

 

1 Peter 1:10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you,11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven -- things which angels desire to look into.

 

Not only did the prophets desire to fully understand the mystery of Christ, the angels wanted to know as well. Paul tells in Ephesians 3 that we understand the mystery of Christ by reading the Word of God. It amazes me at how many times the O.T. points toward Christ and the new the covenant we are under today. The N.T. Christians used the O.T. over and over again to teach people about Christ.

 

  • Peter and the other apostles used it in Acts 2 at the day of Pentecost.
  • Stephen used it to defend is teaching of Christ in Acts 7.
  • Paul used it to teach the people at Antioch about Christ in Acts 13.
  • I am sure that we are familiar with the story of eunuch in Acts 8 who was reading from Isaiah and did not understand it, but Philip the evangelist came up to him and preached Jesus to him from the book of Isaiah. So you see, the O.T. can make us wise unto salvation.

 

The last point I want to make comes from:

 

2 Timothy 3: 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

The first thing you see is that all scripture is inspired by God. This includes both the Old and New Testament. That within itself should make us want to study both the Old and the New Testament.

 

  • The Scriptures are profitable for doctrine or teaching. As we have already examined, there is a great number of lessons we can learn from the O.T.
  • The Scriptures are also for reproof and correction. We learn many examples from the O.T. of how God wants His people to repent and turn toward Him.
  • The Scriptures instruct us in righteousness. Over and over again the apostles would use O.T. examples on how Christians should conduct themselves.
  • Finally, the Scriptures make us complete thoroughly equipped for ever good work. The O.T. and the N.T. are to be used together to thoroughly equip us for all that we do. There are many passages in the N.T. that simply cannot be fully understood without studying the background of the O.T. So, never fool yourself into thinking that that the O.T. isnít important to the Christian today. Instead, try to make it a habit to study both the N.T. and the O.T. every opportunity you get.