The Value of the Old Testament, Part 2

Mar 22, 2023 | Articles, by Luke Walker, Marrow Ministries Free Content

The Value of the Old Testament, Part 1

In order for the Old Testament to hold any value for the church, it must first hold relevance for the church. Does any such relevance exist? The Old Testament is relevant because it is the foundation of the New Testament Church. When Jesus rose from the dead, he said this to His disciples: “Thus it is written…that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:46–47). That is to say, the Old Testament (if this Rabbi is to be believed) is all about the creation of the church.[1]

The Old Testament lays out God’s preparations for the coming of Christ over the course of millennia. We see this in its covenants, which stack together as part of this foundation. “The Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic covenants do not present themselves as self-contained entities. Instead, each successive covenant builds on the previous relationship, continuing the basic emphasis which had been established earlier.”[2] All this works together to prepare God’s people and God’s world for God’s church.

Jesus is the promised Seed of the woman, of whom the God of the Old Testament speaks immediately following the entrance of sin into the Garden (Genesis 3:15). In fact, when we trace this theme down to its foundations, we find that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament. The little brother of our Lord pondered this mystery when he said this about Him: “Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe” (Jude 5). The person Jude grew up with as his big brother is the God of Israel.[3] When we read about God in the Old Testament, we read about Jesus.

The Old Testament is relevant because it is spoken by the same God as the New. God is not only the Subject of the Bible; He is the Author. The Bible is God’s word. If we love God, we want to hear His voice wherever He speaks. The whole Bible is one story. In his tome, A New Testament Biblical Theology, G.K. Beale writes, “The presupposition of this book is that the NT is the continuation of the storyline of the OT.”[4] Indeed, the presupposition is necessary in light of the doctrine of inspiration. Simply put, “If…God is the ultimate and original author, then [the Bible] does have unity.”[5]

Ultimately, the Old Testament is relevant because it is all about the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Click To Tweet

Jesus Himself grew up reading the Old Testament Scriptures. By all accounts, He was diligent in hiding them in His young heart. When He was called into the ministry and endowed with the Holy Spirit at His baptism, we find Him driven to the wilderness to do battle with Satan. His weapon? The Old Testament Scriptures. He found them profitable for making one wise and obliterating temptations.

Not only this, but Jesus read the Scriptures from a unique vantage point that cannot help but spark our wonder and awe. He grew up reading the Old Testament writings and learned about Himself from them. For instance, it is Christ who says in the Psalms, “Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me” (Psalm 40:7). If there is any doubt as to the speaker, Hebrews 10:7 is the end of controversy, which says “When Christ came into the world, he said…” and then proceeds to quote Psalm 40:6–8. “In a real sense,” write Beeke and Jones, “Christ learned about His messianic calling through reading the Scriptures.”[6] If He who so loved us so loved the Old Testament Scriptures, ought we not to love and search them as well?

Ultimately, the Old Testament is relevant because it is all about the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even in the face of clear New Testament Scriptures to the contrary (such as Luke 24:44), “Although few evangelicals would that there are some direct Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, it is becoming increasingly popular to reject the idea that the Hebrew Bible has specific predictions of Messiah.”[7] Christians must keep this message before them at all times, pondering its beauty and wondering at its immense goodness to them. The Old Testament is relevant because it showcases the same Christ as the New. He is the object of our faith. And He is found everywhere in the Old Testament. Christians who are not familiar with their Old Testaments have deprived themselves of the faith-nourishing sights of Christ. Our faith grows as we behold Him, and He is present when we read His living words, even those in the most obscure corners of the Old Testament.

[1] Not exclusively, but as the necessary fulfillment of all God’s promises to all his people.

[2] O. Palmer Robertson, The Christ of the Covenants (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1980), 28.

[3] Is there anything as wonderful as the incarnation of our Lord?

[4] G.K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011), 29.

[5] Dan McCartney and Charles Clayton, Let the Reader Understand: A Guide to Interpreting and Applying the Bible (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2002), 41.

[6] Joel Beeke and Mark Jones, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012), 344.

[7] Michael Rydelnik, The Messianic Hope: Is the Hebrew Bible Really Messianic? (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2010), 1.

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