Some church pastors and leaders are questioning whether teaching the Old Testament is necessary, that seekers might be confused or put off by details of history. I understand. My parents took me to church when I was a child. I liked the Old Testament “stories”, but didn’t have a clue who Leviticus was and why the begats were important. And then all those kings and prophets, all the wars. I had the misguided impression God was wrathful in the Old Testament and meek and loving in the New.
Then I left for college, left church, left faith behind. Life teaches hard lessons. Eventually I was willing to try anything, even church, to ease the pain. A friend gave me the ONE YEAR BIBLE. Each day I read a portion of Old and New Testaments, Psalms and Proverbs – not pieced together, but straight through the texts in a year. And I was amazed! Every day, I saw connections between the Old and New Testaments. I found explanations for concepts I didn’t understand. Though the Bible was written by many men over thousands of years, each with a unique voice, it was God’s Voice I heard daily. My heart and mind opened this time. I grabbed hold of salvation and fell in love with Jesus. My soul drank in the Word. God is God. He is the same in the Old and New Testaments. His faithful love endures forever. Equally enlightening and oft-times painful was seeing my sin nature, where it came from, how I strayed, swallowed lies, rebelled, blinded by pride, mistakenly believing I could be my own god. All that self stuff that keeps banners waving in our culture; self-esteem, self-aware, self-sufficient, self-driven, self-made, self, self, self, self, selfish.
Why read the Old Testament and the New? Because God makes Himself known to those who seek Him there. He meets us where we are. He reveals applicable lessons from the history of real people. He draws us closer to Himself.
When Jesus did spiritual battle in the wilderness with Satan, he spoke Old Testament scriptures. The law, the prophets, the offerings and feasts are all about our need for a Savior, how to live a life pleasing to God, how to deal with current trials and tribulations. The Passover is all about Jesus. John the Baptist called Jesus “The Lamb of God”. Why? The Old Testament explains. Isaiah wrote of the suffering servant Messiah; Daniel – the coming of the Lord in the end times. The Old Testament is packed with history, science, behavior psychology, poetry, the passion of God for His creation, where we came from and why we’re here — and all of it has everything to do with God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Dismissing the Old Testament is dangerous. Consider this: Nazi ideology considered the Old Testament a “Jewish book” and wanted it eliminated. The “German Christian” movement ceased using the Old Testament in worship in 1935. The death of millions followed.
By all means, speak the simplicity of the Gospel message to seekers. But don’t forget to teach the endless applications of the Old Testament and how the two testaments are one in Christ.