An emerging reality is sadly becoming the norm. Many Christians no longer read the Old Testament. They have been groomed to believe it no longer applies to our time and reflects an angry and vengeful deity. While there are cultural issues we need to understand and a unique historical context through which we should wisely interpret some verses, that is not a valid reason to shun its beauty and truth. It should motivate a deeper study.
When Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, He was tempted by the devil. In each temptation, He challenged the tempter with Scripture from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy. When He left the temptation, He traveled to His hometown of Nazareth and spoke in the synagogue. He quoted from the book of Isaiah declaring His earthly mission just before the citizens ran Him out of town. I have always felt if Jesus could use the Old Testament to reveal the truth about His life, so could we.
A great deal of Western Christianity has been molded by our isolation from the original context. Some of our theology has been diluted by a liberal, revisionist theology that tells us to look away from the Old Testament to craft our worldview.
Jesus said “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose” (Matthew 5:17). The rejection of the very Scriptures Jesus used is a mistake and clear evidence that something other than the truth is crafting our understanding of Jesus and His mission. My advice would be to not believe in such a limited understanding.
The Old Testament is not a testimony of a people who faithfully obeyed every jot and tittle of the Law. They failed miserably. It is a story of God’s grace – the grace of the God who faithfully led them to the Promise Land. We cannot fully understand the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross unless we study Old Testament blood sacrifice. If our understanding of creation is limited to the New Testament, we have little information from which to draw a conclusion.
The entirety of Scripture is a story of salvation. We cannot fully understand the heart of God and His love for all people unless we interpret Him through both testaments. There is not one God for the Old and another God for the New. That is an error being promoted in our day – a promotion that makes sense to an unrenewed mind.
The biblical scholar J.A. Motyear said so poignantly “If you think the Old Testament is the book of a wrathful God, have you read Revelation lately?”