Has the Old Testament lost its relevance for today? A conversation with the average person would suggest that it has. Some have discarded it as inapplicable, others have relinquished it as fanciful allegories needing modern interpretation, and some have simply renounced it as a collection of stories.
Amongst ‘professing’ Christians the Old Testament fares only a little better. Within the confines of the church walls little discussion is expended upon the Old Testament. This growing trend suggests that within the boundaries of one’s home, even less effort is dispensed for the sake of understanding the story of salvation through the Old Testament. After all, if it is not important inside the church it won’t be important outside the church.
The trend towards the New Testament is to be understood. The significant difference the life of Christ makes understanding and applying the New Testament a far easier experience for believers. Yet the indifference many have towards the Old Testament does not mean that neglect is rightly placed. In fact, I would suggest there are three major reasons that should cause us to engage with the Old Testament on a more frequent basis.
- A Deeper Appreciation for Man: The Old Testament is revealing about the sinful state of man. A look into it reveals the catastrophic consequences of which none of us escapes. It causes a deep remorse over the gap that exists between who we are and who God wants us to be.
- A Deeper Appreciation for God: From the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of Malachi the activity and attributes of God are on full display. The Old Testament draws us into an awareness of who God is. It is the place that we see him as God with his complete holiness on display.
- A Deeper Appreciation for Man’s Need for God: One can hardly see a picture of God combined with an understanding of who man is and not be overwhelmed by man’s intense need for God. The Old Testament demonstrates the need for such a union to exist for the salvation of man; in other words it takes us to our need to Christ and points us to the relevance of the New Testament.
Ultimately, these three points could be summed up as teaching us anthropology, theology proper, and soteriology. The Old Testament teaches us theology, but it is a theology that is more practical than we often consider.
The New Testament comes into better focus when we see it through the Old Testament. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the Old Testament garners the attention it not only deserves, but that it necessitates. Certainly it can be a greater struggle for believers. Yet the commitment that it takes for the Old Testament is rewarded by capturing the mind, guarding the heart, and caring for the soul.