“… the name by which he is called is The Word of God” (Revelation 19:13b).
What Is the Old Testament? The Old Testament records the history of God’s people before Jesus was born on earth, but the story of our redemption didn’t start with the Savior’s first cry on earthly soil. From the first line of Genesis to the last in Revelation, Jesus is.
“At his coming,” the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible explains, “the world will finally realize that Jesus himself is divine.” Jesus came to fulfill the law, not re-write it. His life fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophesies, according to a count from CBN. “The Old Testament is precious and wonderful and useful for our Christian life today,” wrote John Piper.
Below we've highlighted some of the most popular Old Testament verses. We'll also dive into the reasons that Christians need to read the Old Testament today:
Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Proverbs 3:5: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."
Proverbs 16:3: "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans."
Isaiah 41:10: "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
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Is the Old Testament Still Applicable for Us Today?
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1-5).
God’s Word is alive and active. It meets us in our daily lives to encourage, teach, convict, and nurture God’s wisdom and truth within us. God’s plan, from the very beginning, was to rescue us from the imprisoning nature of sin. Jesus’ one time, perfect sacrifice, is forever enough.
Time in God’s Word is core curriculum. When we read the Old Testament scriptures with this in mind, it allows us to learn more about the character of our great God. “The Bible is relevant to all peoples, all cultures, all ages,” wrote Liz Kanoy for Crosswalk, “and it is relevant on its own accord.”
What Is the Old Testament About?
“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).
The Old Testament begins with the creation of the world and humanity. It tells the tale of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and how Eve’s sin sent humanity whirling into a curse we are still reeling from today.
Faith in what we cannot see does not mean God asks us to put blind faith in Him. The New Bible Commentary explains, “the very nature and character of God have been perfectly revealed in Jesus Christ; in him the invisible has become visible.” We read God’s repetitive restoration of His people, despite their consistent failure to follow His laws. Old Testament Scripture helps us understand humanity’s dire need for a Savior.
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5 Reasons the Old Testament Is Still Applicable for Christians Today
1. The Old Testament Illustrates Our Need for Jesus
The Old Testament reminds us of our need for a Savior, in Christ Jesus. The prayers of our Old Testament heroes and the miracles God performed in their lives, the stories of redemption and the compassion of our great God on display, all point to the coming of Christ Jesus.
In Christ, we get to read ancient prose still alive and active in our lives, today. Many of the New Testament authors refer to Old Testament texts as they began to make the connection between what they originally understood of the Scripture, to how it had changed their individual lives through Christ.
2. The Old Testament Reveals God’s Faithfulness
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
The Old Testament accounts remind us our humanity and God’s divinity! God sits sovereign over the world as it spins out of control, but He is also present with us, personally. Old Testament Scriptures help us understand why Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross was both necessary and final. Humanity falls short of the glory of God. There is nothing we can do to earn God’s love, grace, or forgiveness.
“Jesus fulfilled the moral law by His perfect righteousness,” wrote Dr. Roger Barrier. Our salvation is a gift. The choice is ours to receive salvation through Jesus Christ – a choice that didn’t exist in Old Testament times.
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3. The Old Testament Gives Relevant Advice for Modern Life
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
The divine, supernatural power of the Word of God to remain relevant today was described by the author Hebrews as living and active. “When Jesus Christ came into the world as the long-expected Messiah of the Old Testament, a profound and dramatic change happened in the way we handle the Old Testament,” wrote John Piper. “This is
because Jesus was the fulfillment - that’s the key New Testament word, the fulfillment - and the goal of so much Old Testament religion.”
God, who knit us in our mothers’ wombs, knows our hearts better than we ever will. King David wrote, “For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness” (Psalm 33:4). We can rely on the truth of His word, Old Testament and New, to meet us where we are at, each day.
4. The Old Testament Connects Us as God’s Family
A thousand generations is hard to comprehend, just like the faithfulness and compassion of our great God. In the Old Testament, God’s family were a chosen people. Jesus came, not only for the God’s chosen people. “How could we understand the new covenant that God instituted with His people the Jews in Jeremiah 31:31, if we didn’t have the records of the prophets who wrote about it?” wrote Diane M. Hoffman for Belief Net.
Christ Jesus came to swing the doors wide open, to both Jews and Gentiles. Paul wrote to the Roman Church, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, besting his riches on all who call on him” (Romans 10:12). The rich history of the Old Testament reminds of the gravity of our freedom in Christ, who came for all of us. A thousand generations!
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5. The Old Testament Allows Us to Understand the New Testament
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-19).
Jesus came so we would have a complete understanding of our salvation. Neither the Old Testament or the New, alone, give us a complete picture of salvation. But together, we see the full scope of God’s gracious plan.
“If space says anything, the OT matters to God, who gave us his Word in a book,” wrote Jason S. Derouchie for TGC. “In fact, it was his first special revelation, which set a foundation for the fulfillment we find in Jesus in the New Testament.”
Biblical scholars still study prophecies of Scripture that have yet to come to pass! We can know they will, because of what has happened so far in the history of the world. God has never failed to keep a promise. Jesus will return again, as written in the pages of Scripture.
Jesus Christ makes the Old Testament relevant today because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Paul wrote, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). God’s plan all along was to rescue His beloved, and when we read the Old Testament Scriptures in the context of the Father’s love, we get to experience the relevant wisdom of our great God.
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Meg, freelance writer and blogger at Sunny&80, is the author of “Friends with Everyone, Friendship within the Love of Christ,” and “Surface, Unlocking the Gift of Sensitivity,” She writes about everyday life within the love of Christ. Meg earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University but stepped out of the business world to stay at home and raise her two daughters, which led her to pursue her passion to write. She has led a Bible Study for Women and serves as a Youth Ministry leader in her community. Meg, a Cleveland native and lifelong Browns fan, lives by the shore of Lake Erie in Northern Ohio with her husband, two daughters, and golden doodle.