Those with a basic familiarity with the Bible know it is divided into two portions- the Old Testament and the New Testament. For many Christians the Old Testament poses problems and challenges. The Old Testament is obviously written about and to the Israelites. How are these ancient Jewish books relevant to American Christians today?
The New Testament mentions several particular benefits of the Old. The stories of the Old Testament are examples and admonitions to modern day Christians (1 Corinthians 10:11). The stories of the Old Testament teach the blessings of obedience to God and the dangers of disobedience. The Old Testament is a treasure trove of truth lived out. Except for the gospels the New Testament is mostly concerned with doctrine and application. The Old Testament gives stories of the people of God that teach Christians today how to live.
The Old Testament was written for our learning to give Christian’s hope. (Romans 15:4) The rich doctrines of the Old Testament encourage believers to endure and they give comfort in difficulties.The Old Testament gives many examples of faithful men and women that encourage believers to be faithful today. The Old Testament shows how the saints of old dealt with problems and trusted in their God.
The Old Testament points to Jesus. (Luke 24:27) On the road to Emmaus Jesus taught two of His disciples what the Old Testament said about Himself. Jesus’ teaching points to the vast body of material in the Old Testament that describes the work of the Savior. The work of Jesus did not end with His death and resurrection. His work will continue until all the promises of the Messiah’s kingdom are fully accomplished. Revelation reveals some details of this kingdom, but it is the Old Tesetament that gives a fuller picture of the reign of the Messiah.
The Old Testament is profitable for doctrine, correction, reproof and instruction in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16) For example, the Old Testament is the primary source for our doctrine of God. The Old Testament vividly displays the person, work and character of God. Through the histories, the commands, the psalms and the proverbs the reader is given a picture of the nature of God, particularly of God the Father, as He works in the world and with His people. The theology of the Old Testament is taught through proposition and experience. The proposition that the Lord is holy becomes plain when God destroys Nadab and Abihu for offering strange fire. The proposition that God is merciful becomes real when He repeatedly delivers rebellious Israel from her captors. The Old Testament is a practical theology that teaches through living illustration.
Paul says in Romans 4:24 and in 1 Corinthians 9:10 that the Old Testament was written for our sakes. The early church only had the Old Testament for at least the first fifteen years. Though they had the teaching and preaching of the apostles the only written Word of God available to the earliest church was the Old Testament. The Old Testament was written to Israel and it was written for us.