Many people consider the Old Testament irrelevant. What can we gain by reading about gory battles, plagues of frogs and problems the Israelites faced in the wilderness? What does Gideon’s fleece have to do with people who make decisions according to what they hear on social media?
I am here to tell you . . . plenty! We might start by considering why we read the Bible in the first place. The Bible is God’s revelation to us. Scripture offers information we need to understand God. And He can only be understood if we start reading in Genesis.
There we have the first hint of the Person of God, the Trinity. God says “Let us make man in our image.”
There we find the Promise of God for a Savior to deal with the seed of sin sown by Eve and Adam (Genesis 3:15).
In Genesis we learn of God’s Presence with us in all circumstances, as Hagar in her distress calls Him “the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13)
In the Old Testament we see God’s Plan unfolding as he provides a redeemer for Ruth, as he offers Protection to the Jews through Esther’s intervention with the king.
Through Psalms and the prayers of Old Testament saints we learn to Praise our God.
The prophets tell us of God’s Patience with his people as He calls them again and again to repentance.
The amazing thing about scripture is that although it was written by many people over a 2000-year period, the message is consistent. There is a God. He is active in our world, and He cares about us as individuals. He loves us so much He sent His Son to die on the cross to take the punishment we deserve for our sins.
The Old Testament gives us God’s law, and while there are many who say that’s irrelevant, I disagree. The law shows us God’s values. And while we no longer are judged by the law, it points us to right and wrong.
The Old Testament shows us the reality of sin in our lives. David, a man after God’s own heart, sinned by committing adultery with Bathsheba and then murdering her husband (2 Samuel 11). Elijah despaired so that he wanted to die, in spite of the fact that God had just done a major miracle through him (1 Kings 19:4). Such examples offer hope that we, too, may be restored after our failures.
The Old Testament shows us the attributes of God. We learn of His omnipotence as He parted the Red Sea and sent plagues upon Egypt. He learn of His compassion as He provided for a widow through Elisha. We learn of His love for His people, the people of Israel, and how His heart grieves for them when they push Him away. And we also learn of the consequences of sin, the heartache it causes God.
Recently I read a devotional in Our Daily Bread by Elisa Morgan, who mentioned a children’s book titled: The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name. I like that. It reminds me that the thread of salvation through Christ that began in Genesis is echoed through the history, the poetry and the messages of the prophets that we read in the Old Testament. It’s true. Every story whispers his name.
So find a readable translation. (Right now I’m using the Contemporary English Version with notes by Don Wilkerson.) Dig in. Spend 15 minutes a day reading, and you’ll read through the Bible in a year. It won’t be long until you too will be a fan of the Old Testament.