The Bible is a giant book, one which we build our lives off of, but the truth of the matter is that many Christians these days are only reading the New Testament. I have been in that exact same position for years and years. I would try to read through the Old Testament time and time again, but often couldn’t get much further than Exodus. I didn’t see the value of reading the Old Testament. I thought the New Testament gave more practical advice and was actually applicable to my life. Little did I know, I was robbing myself of all the wisdom and guidance found in the Old Testament. I finally read through the entire Old Testament for the first time when I took the School of Biblical Studies at Youth with a Mission Grimerud in 2018. It was then that I found answers to some of my greatest questions about God and the world in general.
One major take away from the Old Testament is that the Bible is not all rainbows and sunshine. It’s so easy for Christians to read a verse or two and let it be just a word of encouragement for them. I’m not saying that this is wrong, but it is much harder to do in the Old Testament than the New Testament. The Old Testament is filled with murder, war, sin, divorce, and so on. It is not a pretty picture all the time. This forced me to think. I saw the world around me in the scriptures, and it changed how I thought about the current events. It forced me to dig deep and wrestle with God about why all of these horrible things continued to happen. Even today I am still wrestling with God about why He allowed these wars to happen, but now I know where to look. I have scripture references I can lean on when I get frustrated with what is happening. I have verses I can pray out to God, to remind him how He has shown up in the past and call on Him to do it again. I am now able to give a better answer than just “God is still good” when I face hard questions.
The Old Testament revealed more of the Holy Trinity to me. When reading the New Testament you learn a lot about Jesus. There are four huge books written just about His life and what He did on earth. In the epistles, the Holy Spirit is working with the apostles to spread the news God wants His people to know. In the Old Testament, God is the one directly speaking to His people. I learned so much about God the Father when I read the Old Testament. I saw how He communicated to His prophets with discipline in the most loving way, to Moses with encouragement and cooperation and to the kings with guidance. I saw how He can be just as close as Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Previously, I’d seen Jesus as a close friend and The Father as someone who takes more effort to get to, but that is so far from the truth. The Father is not stand-offish, but is there in the mess of it all just as much as the rest of the Trinity.
Going in depth with the Old Testament also allowed me to go even deeper with the New Testament. When we switched from the Old Testament to the New Testament during my School of Biblical Studies, I’m not going to lie to you, there was about a week’s worth of time that I really did not like Jesus. Reading through Mark I felt like a Pharisee. For the first time, I could see a glimpse of their side. I saw how Jesus really was stirring up the people. I saw why they were so frustrated with Him. I saw their hearts behind keeping the law. They didn’t want to go back into Babylon. They didn’t want to experience exile. They were afraid that Jesus would cause an uprising which would send the nation of Israel on a downward spiral once again. Jesus was not what they were expecting. He fulfilled the prophecies but not in the way they were expecting. Understanding their perspective allowed me to see their side of the story and understand Jesus’ response to them better. He was not writing them off and pushing them to the side. He was allowing them to think for themselves, to see how they were interpreting the scriptures. I learned how Jesus had so much love for the Pharisees and didn’t see them as His enemies. He wanted them to truly know him.
We cheat ourselves out of truth when we avoid the Old Testament. It is not a section of the Bible that should be forgotten, but should be read and studied just as much now as when it was first written. God’s word endures forever and I have personally experienced that even more since studying the Old Testament for myself during my School of Biblical Studies. I encourage you to take time to dig into the Old Testament and see what God is wanting to speak to you about through the books that seem the most intimidating.
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