It goes without saying that the Old Testament feels overwhelming to the average reader. So what happens when we decide to play it safe by sticking to the New Testament only? Ironically, we’re told by the New Testament itself: Don’t Avoid the Old Testament!
Don't Avoid the Old Testament! (Transcript)
The Old Testament Scares People (00:04):
I think the old Testament (it’s safe to say) scares a lot of people because most people that approach the old Testament feel incredibly overwhelmed. I mean, there’s a lot of reasons for this most churches spend way more time than the new Testament than the old. So if you’re looking to a pastor or a Bible teacher, as an example, odds are, you’ve been exposed to the Bible in the new Testament, way more than the old by anybody that you’ve looked up to. So naturally you’re going to have a kind of an alien relationship with the old Testament. And it’s pretty ironic because the Bible is if we were to make it a fraction equivalent, we could say that it’s basically two thirds old Testament and one third new Testament in terms of length. There’s way less new Testament books than there are old Testament books.
Old or New?(01:05):
And as you would imagine, it seems that the landscape of academics in Bible and theology studies includes way more new Testament scholars than old Testament scholars. So there’s just a whole lot of issue with really getting a good grasp of the old Testament. And when you translate that all the way down to the average everyday person like you and me, we would just assume go to a Bible bookstore and adopt the philosophy that many publishers have today, which is publishing new Testament, only Bibles and being sarcastic in saying that because I can’t stand that idea of a new Testament, only Bible, but many churches, many people, many Christians have the idea that if you’re going to pick one, pick the new Testament and to go with that and never look back. Well, the irony is even if you somehow find a way for that to make sense in your own mind.
What Does the New Testament say?(02:12):
Let’s just say that you have decided I’m just going to focus my time on the new Testament. I’m on, I’m living on this side of the cross, this side of Jesus’ life. So there’s no point in me looking back to the old Testament, all of that is irrelevant at this point. Well, that’s all well and good until you actually try to read the new Testament. When you hear the apostle Paul, for example, in first Corinthians chapter 10, tell us, I do not want you to be unaware brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea and all ate the same spiritual food and all drank from the same spiritual drink for they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them. And the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them, God was not pleased for, they were overthrown in the wilderness.
Gentiles Can’t Avoid the Old Testament Either(03:13):
Now, if you’ve spent any time in the old Testament, you understand that what Paul is referring to here is the narrative during the life of Moses. After the Exodus, after Israel is rescued and brought out of the land of Egypt towards the promised land, they’re in the wilderness, and this is the exact situation that Paul is referring to. Now we could stop there. But the point that I want to make is by Paul’s words that happen in the very next verse. He says this. Now these things took place as examples for us that we might not desire evil as they did skip down a couple more verses and he repeats himself. Now, these things happen to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction on whom the end of the ages has come. Now that’s very fascinating because Paul is saying that to the Corinthian church, this is a group almost exclusively of Gentiles of non Jews.
You Only Arrive at the New by Time Spent in the Old(04:20):
People who did not live in that old Testament context. These are not people that would have been familiar immediately speaking with the narrative of the old Testament. They would have been disassociated from that just like you and I, but notice that Paul is telling them that it was written down. That is the old Testament as a book, as writing has been preserved for them and by extension for us so that we can learn so many things we can learn not to desire evil. We can learn the proper understanding of how to overcome temptation. And ultimately we can learn about Christ. Paul even includes that in there. So there’s so much more that could be said, but the point I’m making is two fold. Number one, you can’t even spend time in the new Testament without constant references back to the old Testament. And in this case, in this passage, we just heard from, we can’t even get to the new Testament without being told explicitly to go back and to read the old.
The Old Testament is Good(05:28):
So my encouragement to you is to take great advantage of the fact that we have the old Testament today, and to listen to the words of the new Testament that we might learn from those narratives, those things that we might be confused about, the things that might not make sense, that we would go back and read them because we can learn a great deal about our savior.
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