Are You Intimidated by the Old Testament?

The Word of God: Old Testament and New

Do you find the Old Testament more than a little bit daunting? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Many, many people do. And really, it’s no wonder.

The first part of our Bibles is a large book; it often seems remote from our present-day needs and ways; not all its material is easy to grasp; it even gives the impression of lots of wars; and when we come to grips with its main characters, we find rascals among the saints. Besides all this, the real question arises: why bother about the Old when we are the people of the New?

Should we not prize—and go all out to understand—what was so precious to our Savior?

But all those first impressions give the wrong idea. The Old Testament is not really like that at all. Actually, it is a rather spectacular piece of countryside, full of interest, and (wonderfully) speaking directly to us, our situations, and our needs.

Did you ever notice a striking thing Stephen said in his speech in Acts 7:38, that Moses “received living oracles to give to us”—the vital Word of God itself relevant to each successive generation right up to “us”? Paul insisted on the same truth in Romans 15:4: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction.”

And when we turn to the highest authority of all, the Lord Jesus Christ, what do we find? Well, if we had asked him, “Why do you keep quoting the Old Testament?” he would have replied, “The Old what?” And when we explained, he would have corrected us: “You mean ‘the Word of God’ (Mark 7:13), ‘the Scriptures’ (John 5:39)”—nothing “old” about that as far as Jesus was concerned, for it is actually the applicable truth of God by which he was content to plan his life and accept his cross (Matt. 26:53–54).

The big word he used was “the Law” (Luke 10:26), a word that actually means “the Teaching,” the living directions of a caring parent to a beloved child (“instruction,” Prov. 4:1)—in the case of our Lord, his heavenly Father’s voice in his ear. Should we not prize—and go all out to understand—what was so precious to our Savior?

This article is adapted from 6 Ways the Old Testament Speaks Today: An Interactive Guide by Alec Motyer.

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