Often today we hear that times have changed and that the Bible is no longer relevant for our day. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible, being God’s perfect, infallible Word is extremely relevant for the day we live in. It is composed of two parts, an old and a new, referred to as the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Many teachers today abandon the study and teaching of the Old Testament because it seems antiquated and somewhat restrictive. Often they point to the new covenant ushered in by Jesus Christ, thus claiming that we are no longer subject to the old covenant law or even the study of it. To do so is a great misunderstanding at best, and dangerous as a worst-case scenario.
Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, came to the earth in order to pay the penalty for our sin, a payment that could only be made by a perfect sacrifice. In order to better understand this sacrifice careful study of the Old Testament should be considered.
Often people who have questions about God and faith will ask questions like, “I want to know more about God, where should I start reading?” Certainly, it would be wise to begin reading the first five books of the New Testament, also known as the gospels, since this is where one can obtain the most information about the life and work of Jesus Christ during his time here on earth. While this is important, it is also critical to have an understanding of what Jesus came to fulfill. In order to do that, careful study and adherence to the teachings of the Old Testament is necessary.
We know from the very beginning that God created the heavens and the earth and that he also created man (Genesis 1). God made man in his own image, and he gave man dominion over the earth. He created man to be in a perfect relationship with him, yet man’s sin destroyed that relationship. All throughout the Old Testament, God provided a sacrificial system to atone for the sin of man, but the sacrificial system of animals was a temporary system until once and for all sin would be covered by the blood of Jesus Christ, the perfect, spotless lamb of God.
In the Old Testament, the law and the prophets continually pointed to the coming of Christ and his final sacrifice. When Jesus stated that he did not come to destroy the law or the prophets, he was placing the law alongside the prophets as finding their fulfillment in him. However, fulfillment of the law doesn’t mean that it abolished the law. The Old Testament law and the writings of the prophets remain authoritative as God’s Word and demands followers of Christ to study and respect them.
When we study the Old Testament, we begin to grasp the enormity of Jesus’ life, death, burial and resurrection, thus providing a perfect payment for the penalty of our sin. In obedience to God the Father, Jesus Christ fulfilled all that had been written before he entered our world to change our lives and mend our brokenness. The law and the prophets provide a piece to the bigger picture.