One Purpose of the Old Testament

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

The Old Testament comprises about 2/3’s of the Bible, yet some Christians who aren’t sure what to do with it and therefore have not read much of it. The main purpose of the Old Testament is to point us to Jesus. In John 5, Jesus himself said that the Scriptures (at that time: the Old Testament) all testified about him.

The Old Testament sets the stage for where we find ourselves now in the story of God and his plan to rescue humanity from our rebellion against him. The books and stories of the Old Testament drip with truths about our need for a Savior and how God is the only true Savior and the Great King.

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10, gives us another purpose of the Old Testament. He speaks of stories of Israel’s failure, especially in their wilderness travels, and says, “Now these things took place as examples for us, so that we will not desire evil things as they did” (1 Corinthians 10:6).

In addition to showing us our need for Jesus, the Old Testament is meant to give us examples of what it means to be faithful to God and what it means to not be. The examples of faith, we embrace and emulate (like described in Hebrews 11); and the examples of faithlessness show us things to avoid.

Several examples of faithlessness to avoid that Paul gave include: idolatry, sexual immorality, and complaining, especially against God’s provision or our perceived lack thereof (10:7-10).

Paul also warned that we must keep careful watch on ourselves, after all we are prone to face the same temptations as those in the ancient past. But Paul gives hope of God’s faithfulness–he supplies ways out of temptation, if only we will seek them by seeking God and following his ways. (10:11-13)

Even though the Old Testament might contains things that seem foreign to our culture and the modern mind, it is very relevant to our lives. The Old Testament, after all, is God’s word, inspired, profitable, and able to correct, rebuke, and teach (2 Timothy 3:16-17). So, let us not fail to embrace the Old Testament as well as the New as we seek to grow in Christ through a devotion to his word.

All scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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