If the Old Testament law no longer applies to us (as I’ve discussed in my last two posts, February 3, 2012 and February 6, 2012), what is the point of reading the Old Testament? It takes up approximately ¾ of the pages in your Bible. There must be some reason why people keep printing it and buying it.
When God made a covenant with the people of Israel, He made it through His representative, Moses. It was only by going to Moses, or later the priests and judges appointed by him, that the people could know what God was saying to them or what His requirements were. Now, with the coming of Christ, and specifically His death on the cross (Colossians 2:14), we have been freed from the Mosaic Law, and more importantly, we can go directly to God through Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 8:6-11 which quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34)
So what purpose does the Old Testament now serve? II Timothy 3:16-17 gives us the answer. All scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, reproof, correction, training and equipping. The history and prophecy of the Old Testament allows us to understand the significance of the New Testament, beginning with the genealogy listed in Matthew 1 and continuing to the death and resurrection of Christ. (I Corinthians 15:3-5) When Jesus walked on earth, the only scriptures that people knew were what we now refer to as the Old Testament. Those were the scriptures that Jesus quoted and prayed. Those were the scriptures that He used to teach the disciples and the people. (Matthew 22:29, Luke 4:21, Luke 24:27) Every time Jesus said, “It is written…”, He was referring to the Old Testament scriptures.
Although we are no longer under Mosaic law, the principles and facts that are written in the Old Testament are still true. We can still find hope and encouragement from the Psalms. We can still find good advice in Proverbs. We can still learn from the experiences of the Israelites. We can still find evidence of God’s faithfulness in His interactions with the people of Israel, and in the very fact that He made a new covenant that includes all of us.