For the past few days, I have been posting articles concerning Jewish beliefs or interpretations of the scriptures. If only the Jewish nation knew everything that Christians knew about Christ, and if Christendom knew everything the Jews knew about their language, customs, and scriptures. There would be a mountain of evidence between us, all pointing to the true Messiah. If we could come together, I feel that we would be able to show any seeker the truth – atheist, Muslim, you name it.
What’s the point in studying the Old Testament? How does it advance the kingdom of God?
Finding out as much as possible about the OT is a great way to win souls. You can flat out “prove” the inerrancy of the Scriptures, mostly due to the prophecies and the harmony between testaments. Much of what you find in the New Testament is a reference, commentary, or explanation of the Old Testament revealed in the light of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ (like the references to the cities of refuge). The more you know, the more you can prove. Luke thought it appropriate to prove that Jesus is who He said He is. (Read Luke and Acts to discover Luke’s methods. I also talk a bit about them in my post Proof of God.)
In addition to building a body of evidence, there is another reason to read the Old Testament. It is quite silly to say you believe in something that you have never studied or even read. I was speaking with a devout Jewish woman last year about one of my favorite quotes from Zephaniah: “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.” Zephaniah 3:9. (I have so much to say about this verse, but that is for another post. ) She responded that she had never read Zephaniah in all her life, and that she only studied the Torah because there was enough in it to keep her busy.
While I would agree that there are mountains of knowledge in the Torah, and that you could probably never exhaust the supply of information and meaning hidden within it, I found it strange that she would not read everything at her disposal. Wouldn’t she be curious about the other revelations? If Zephaniah and the other prophets and writings are inspired of God, why would you neglect to read them? How can you even claim to believe something you have not studied? You can say that you believe the Bible is true. That is belief in a statement. Someone told you the Bible is true, and you believe it. But can you honestly say that you believe facts, histories, prophecies, and foreshadowings if you have never even read them?
As we read through the Bible, the Word works in us to reveal that it is true: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12. But you have to read it if you want to benefit from these effects! If you don’t read it, then you are accepting someone else’s interpretation of it, and not the Holy Spirit’s.
Today I feel compelled to impress upon you the importance of reading the entire Word of God. Also, I want you to realize that the two testaments were inspired by the same God, whose plan for mankind has not altered in the least over the course of history. Christ was “slain from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:8 “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” Galatians 3:8
Here’s one more reason to study the Old Testament, if these others have failed to convince you: We are told to do it. If you don’t believe me, check out these verses about studying.
I want to help you learn to read and study the scriptures, so here are a couple of ideas to get you started:
Because we forget so easily, because spaced repetition is the key to long-term memory, and because our understanding of the Word is ever growing, I think it’s important to read the Bible through once a year. While that may seem like a mountain of homework to some, it is not as difficult as you think. If you read at a pretty standard speed, you can do it in fifteen minutes a day. To make it even easier, there are Daily Bible reading apps, The One Year Bible in print (you can get it on Amazon), Bible reading charts that you can download, etc. My favorite Kindle Bible is the Daily Bible in One Year. Here is its description from Amazon: “The readings are categorized into Epistles, the Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy, and Gospels which repeat every seven days. They are designed to provide variety in your reading while allowing sufficient time each day to reflect on each reading.” If you just want to stick with the Bible on your shelf, here is my favorite reading plan. It follows the same format as the Kindle Bible I just mentioned. Also, and this might be the easiest thing to do, you could just divide the number of pages in your Bible by 365, round up to the nearest whole page, and read that much every day. It will probably be much less than what you might have imagined.
If reading is difficult for you, might I suggest listening online? Here is an audio Bible from biblestudytools.com to get you started, but you might also check Librivox and YouTube.
Tomorrow I intend to wrap this series up, with what may very well be my favorite reason for studying the Old Testament.