The Old Testament sets the stage for the New Testament.

WHY WE SHOULD STILL READ THE OLD TESTAMENT

The word ‘testament’ means covenant, pact, contract or deal. In plain language, the Old Testament is God’s old deal with mankind. The New Testament is his new deal.

That raises questions: Is the Old Testament outdated and irrelevant? Should we now read just the New Testament?

Answer: The New Testament contains everything essential for us to know today. However, we can understand the New Testament much better when we have the background information contained in the Old Testament. For best comprehension of God’s plan, the two should be read together.

GOD CHOSE JEWISH RACE FOR SPECIAL ROLE

Although Jewish people account for less than half of one percent of the world’s population, they have had the leading role in God’s revelation of himself to mankind. The Old Testament is essentially the story of what God taught the Jews before the birth of Jesus Christ.

He chose them as a special race to convey to the world the following basic spiritual principles:

  • THERE’S ONLY ONE GOD. This view was contrary to the religious notions of other people at that time who believed in thousands of deities arising out of pre-existent matter of unknown origin.
  • GOD DEFINES GOOD AND EVIL. God gave the Jews moral and religious laws (like the ten commandments) so they would know the difference between good and evil. The laws defined and revealed sin.
  • EVERYONE SINS. The laws showed that it’s impossible for anyone to live a life acceptable to God without God’s special help. Everyone sins, and sin is man’s biggest problem.
  • GOD REQUIRES A BLOOD SACRIFICE. God understands our sin nature and will forgive all our sins, but his forgiveness is not automatic. God has decreed that forgiveness can be obtained only when a blood sacrifice is made to prove that the sinner recognizes the gravity of his sin and is truly sorry for it. (Blood is the essence of life, the highest price.)

In the Old Testament, people received forgiveness for their sins by sacrificing a lamb on an altar. Knowing this, we see the significance in the New Testament of Christ’s death on the cross, which was the once-and-for-all sacrifice for everyone who believes and personally appropriates it.

Many statements in the New Testament which would otherwise seem strange now have potent meaning, as when John the Baptist first saw Jesus and exclaimed, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’

OLD TESTAMENT SAID A SAVIOR WOULD COME

A key concept running throughout the Old Testament is that in due time God would send a ‘messiah’ (someone who would save people from their sins.) It wasn’t clear when or how he would come, or what he would do, but it was clear that he would be the great savior and that quality of life after his coming would be much better.

Now, with the New Testament and with our personal experience, we know that the messiah (savior) is Jesus Christ. When he came to earth, how he came, what he said and what he did – as recorded in the New Testament – now makes perfect sense to us because of all the background information recorded in the Old Testament. Jesus Christ is the central theme of the entire Bible.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

  1. CREATION – God created the world, with man and woman as his crowning
  2. FIRST SIN – Man disobeyed Sin became man's biggest problem.
  3. FLOOD – The earth became so wicked that God destroyed everyone in a gigantic flood except Noah and his family. They escaped by building a huge 3-story raft, following God's detailed instructions. The eight survivors, plus animals brought on board, re-populated the earth.
  4. DISPERSION – People became very wicked again. They tried to build a tower to reach the heavens but God thwarted the project by causing them to speak in many different languages. They could no longer communicate with each other, and they dispersed by linguistic group into other parts of the world.
  5. CHOSEN PEOPLE – God called Abraham to become father of a special race of people to teach the world important spiritual concepts (like one God, not many gods). Abraham settled in Palestine.
  6. EGYPT – Abraham's grandson, Jacob (renamed Israel) and his family moved to Egypt, where they multiplied rapidly. But the Egyptians used them as slaves, and they were very oppressed.
  7. ESCAPE – With miraculous power from God to inflict plagues on the Egyptians, Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. Numbering about two million people, they headed back toward Palestine as free people.
  8. WANDERING – Because of their ingratitude and disobedience, God punished them by making them stay in the desert for 40 years. It was a harsh life, but God gave them special care and protection. Under his direction, they moved from time to time, camping ever closer to Palestine.
  9. LEARNING – During that desert experience, God taught them about himself. He also gave them many laws, including the Ten Commandments.Through a system of animal sacrifices, he showed them that sin can be forgiven only when life (blood) is given.
  10. CONQUEST – After 400 years of slavery and 40 years of wandering in the desert, God allowed the Israelites to return to Palestine. City by city, they conquered territory in bitter battles.
  11. DIVISION – Because of dissension, the Israelites split into two nations: Israel (northern) and Judah (southern). In the ensuing three centuries, Israel is ruled by 19 kings, some good, some bad.
  12. GOLDEN AGE – The Israelites subdued all their enemies and established themselves as supreme in the region. Under King David and King Solomon, the Israelites became powerful, affluent and Jerusalem become the holy city, with a magnificent temple and professional priests.
  13. CAPTIVITY – Both Israel and Judah were conquered by the Babylonians. Jerusalem was destroyed. God used prophets – like Isaiah and Jeremiah – to teach the people about God.
  14. RETURN – The Persians overthrew the Babylonians, and the Israelites were allowed to re-build Jerusalem as their religious center. The Romans conquered Palestine, and it became a Roman province.
  15. EXPECTATION – For over 1,000 years, the Israelites had been anticipating the Messiah (Savior) who God repeatedly promised to send at an appropriate time. (But they thought he would be for Jews only.) The grand theme of the Old Testament is that a Savior will come.

Here’s a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject. 

Isaiah 40:3
Old Testament prophesy that a Savior will come

Hebrews 9:22
There is no forgiveness of sin without shedding of blood

John 1:29
Jesus is lamb of God

Luke 24:27, 44-49
Jesus explained how statements in the Old Testament by Moses and the prophets were references to himself

For help, see Topic 29.

All of these events occurred in the countries we know today as Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and (primarily) Israel.

See Topic 36 for summary of the New Testament.

WHY WE SHOULD STILL READ THE OLD TESTAMENT

The word ‘testament’ means covenant, pact, contract or deal. In plain language, the Old Testament is God’s old deal with mankind. The New Testament is his new deal.

That raises questions: Is the Old Testament outdated and irrelevant? Should we now read just the New Testament?

Answer: The New Testament contains everything essential for us to know today. However, we can understand the New Testament much better when we have the background information contained in the Old Testament. For best comprehension of God’s plan, the two should be read together.

GOD CHOSE JEWISH RACE FOR SPECIAL ROLE

Although Jewish people account for less than half of one percent of the world’s population, they have had the leading role in God’s revelation of himself to mankind. The Old Testament is essentially the story of what God taught the Jews before the birth of Jesus Christ.

He chose them as a special race to convey to the world the following basic spiritual principles:

THERE’S ONLY ONE GOD. This view was contrary to the religious notions of other people at that time who believed in thousands of deities arising out of pre-existent matter of unknown origin.

GOD DEFINES GOOD AND EVIL. God gave the Jews moral and religious laws (like the ten commandments) so they would know the difference between good and evil. The laws defined and revealed sin.

EVERYONE SINS. The laws showed that it’s impossible for anyone to live a life acceptable to God without God’s special help. Everyone sins, and sin is man’s biggest problem.

GOD REQUIRES A BLOOD SACRIFICE. God understands our sin nature and will forgive all our sins, but his forgiveness is not automatic. God has decreed that forgiveness can be obtained only when a blood sacrifice is made to prove that the sinner recognizes the gravity of his sin and is truly sorry for it. (Blood is the essence of life, the highest price. )

In the Old Testament, people received forgive- ness for their sins by sacrificing a lamb on an altar. Knowing this, we see the significance in the New Testament of Christ’s death on the cross, which was the once-and-for-all sacrifice for everyone who believes and personally appropriates it.

Many statements in the New Testament which would otherwise seem strange now have potent meaning, as when John the Baptist first saw Jesus and exclaimed, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’

OLD TESTAMENT SAID A SAVIOR WOULD COME

A key concept running throughout the Old Testament is that in due time God would send a ‘messiah’ (someone who would save people from their sins.) It wasn’t clear when or how he would come, or what he would do, but it was clear that he would be the great savior and that quality of life after his coming would be much better.

Now, with the New Testament and with our personal experience, we know that the messiah (savior) is Jesus Christ. When he came to earth, how he came, what he said and what he did – as recorded in the New Testament – now makes perfect sense to us because of all the background information recorded in the Old Testament. Jesus Christ is the central theme of the entire Bible.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

  • CREATION. God created the world, with man and woman as his crowning
  • FIRST SIN. Man disobeyed Sin became man's biggest problem.
  • The earth became so wicked that God destroyed everyone in a gigantic flood except Noah and his family. They escaped by building a huge 3-story raft, following God's detailed instructions. The eight survivors, plus animals brought on board, re-populated the earth.
  • People became very wicked again. They tried to build a tower to reach the heavens but God thwarted the project by causing them to speak in many different languages. They could no longer communicate with each other, and they dispersed by linguistic group into other parts of the world.
  • CHOSEN God called Abraham to become father of a special race of people to teach the world important spiritual concepts (like one God, not many gods). Abraham settled in Palestine.
  • Abraham's grandson, Jacob (renamed Israel) and his family moved to Egypt, where they multiplied rapidly. But the Egyptians used them as slaves, and they were very oppressed.
  • With miraculous power from God to inflict plagues on the Egyptians, Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. Numbering about two million people, they headed back toward Palestine as free people.
  • Because of their ingratitude and disobedience, God punished them by making them stay in the desert for 40 years. It was a harsh life, but God gave them special care and protection. Under his direction, they moved from time to time, camping ever closer to Palestine.
  • During that desert experience, God taught them about himself. He also gave them many laws, including the Ten Commandments.Through a system of animal sacrifices, he showed them that sin can be forgiven only when life (blood) is given.
  • After 400 years of slavery and 40 years of wandering in the desert, God allowed the Israelites to return to Palestine. City by city, they conquered territory in bitter battles.
  • Because of dissension, the Israelites split into two nations: Israel (northern) and Judah (southern). In the ensuing three centuries, Israel is ruled by 19 kings, some good, some bad.
  • GOLDEN AGE. The Israelites subdued all their enemies and established themselves as supreme in the region. Under King David and King Solomon, the Israelites became powerful, affluent and Jerusalem become the holy city, with a magnificent temple and professional priests.
  • Both Israel and Judah were conquered by the Babylonians. Jerusalem was destroyed. God used prophets – like Isaiah and Jeremiah – to teach the people about God.
  • The Persians overthrew the Babylonians, and the Israelites were allowed to re-build Jerusalem as their religious center. The Romans conquered Palestine, and it became a Roman province.
  • For over 1,000 years, the Israelites had been anticipating the Messiah (Savior) who God repeatedly promised to send at an appropriate time. (But they thought he would be for Jews only.) The grand theme of the Old Testament is that a Savior will come.

All of these events occurred in the countries we know today as Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and (primarily) Israel.

See Topic 36 for summary of the New Testament.

Posted in Bible Survey.