Q. If you are correct, and the Old Testament is no longer valid for the Christian today, why do we have it in our Bibles? What value is the Old Testament to the Christian today?
There are two very important passages in the New Testament that speak to this issue:
4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Paul tells us that the Old Testament is valuable for: Instruction, Perseverance, Encouragement and Hope.
1 Cor. 10:1-12
1* For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea;
2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
3 and all ate the same spiritual food;
4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.
5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.
6* Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.
7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.”
8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.
9 Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.
10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.
11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
Paul reminds us in the passage above that the things written in the Old Testament serve as an EXAMPLE for Christians to observe
1. The Old Testament gives us a great deal of information that is important for us to understand in regard to our relationship to God.
(a) Fundamental questions such as the origin of the world (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 33:6,9),
The origin and nature of man (Genesis 2:7, Zechariah 12:1), the origin of sin (Gen. 3:1-6)
The beginning of the Hebrew nation (Gen. 12:1-3);
(b) Essential information for the understanding of the New Testament such as the history of the Jewish people from Abraham to the end of the Old Testament;
The understaning of Jewish events and activities mentioned in the New Testament, i.e., Passover, Pentecost, Sabbath, shedding of blood, etc;
Biographical allusions in the N.T. to O.T. people i.e., Elijah (Matthew 17:1-9), Moses (John 1:17), Adam and Eve (1 Timothy 2:12-15), etc
Back- ground for geographical allusions such as Jerusalem, Jordan, Samaria, etc. These bits and pieces of Old Testament allusion in the New Testament are better understood by a knowledge of the Old Testament.
(c) Important information about Jesus and his way of life such as his genealogy (Matt. 1; Luke 3), The prophecies which pointed to his coming (Psalm 16:8-10; Isaiah 53, etc.),
The failure of the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Heb. 10:1-2), and
Various essential words such as sin, righteousness, holiness, prayer, etc. Thus, the understanding of Jesus and his way is aided by the “learning” of the Old Testament.
2. The Old Testament supplies many admonitions for guiding and warning man. These include:
(a) Admonitions concerning man’s weakness such as the control of the heart (Proverbs 4:23),
23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
The danger of jealousy (Prov. 6:34-35)
34 For jealousy enrages a man, And he will not spare in the day of vengeance.
35 He will not accept any ransom, Nor will he be satisfied though you give many gifts.
Covetousness (Ex. 20:17; Joshua 7:1ff), and the “deadly sins” (Prov. 6:16-19).
16 There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood,
18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil,
19 A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.
(b) Admonitions which show the need to obey God such as the examples of obedience in Hebrews 11, Joshua at Jericho, Naaman, Noah, etc.
(c) Admonitions concerning the meaning and punishment of unrighteousness such as the sin of David (2 Samuel 11; Psalm 51), of Saul (1 Sam. 15), of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10), and of Balaam (Numbers 22). These admonitions, by precept and example, show the need of proper service and character for God’s people.
3. The Old Testament provides for our patience and comfort in various ways. There are excellent readings which tell of God’s care and keeping of his people (Psalm 23:27; 103; 121, etc.)
Also, there are examples of his keeping of his servants such as Job (Book of Job), David (Psalm 37:25-26), and Joshua (Josh. 1:5-9). In addition, the care God provided for the Jewish nation, in spite of its frequent failings and sins, serves to show his interest and provision for us today.
The Old Testament, then, should not be regarded as the Law of God’s people today since as a law it served its purpose, was fulfilled, and removed from authoritativeness by the death of Christ. The Old Testament, however, should be treasured as an inspired book from God which supplies means of our learning, admonition, patience and comfort.