Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
While we may understand the importance of God’s word for our lives, we might also wonder, deep down, why we should study Old Testament stories. What can modern people gain from such a study? Why not focus on the New Testament and the stories of what Jesus and His apostles did and said?
Here is the answer: these ancient segments of history are significant not just for the biblical characters or for Israel but also for you and me—and, indeed, for the entire world! Such a sweeping claim may sound like hyperbole. But if we approach our study of the Bible with certain convictions in mind, we will begin to understand and be convinced, as the apostle Paul was clearly convinced, that the Old Testament was written for us, that it was written to instruct, and that it gives us hope.
The first conviction is that there is unity to the Bible, from creation in Genesis to the new creation in Revelation. In between is the record of humanity’s fall and the chaos and brokenness of the universe that flowed from it. Through it all, we discover the story of redemption and the plan and purpose of God to put together a people of His very own. We need to read the whole of that story, from start to finish.
The second conviction guiding our study of God’s word is that this biblical unity exists not because it is a collection of religious documents but because it is the word of God, written by men who “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). We need to read all of what God has chosen to tell us.
Thirdly, there is the conviction that we need our Bibles to understand human history, our own little histories, and our place within history. Much of what is happening within us and around us does not make sense apart from an understanding of human nature and God’s sovereignty at work as revealed in Scripture.
Finally, we hold the conviction that the Bible, including the Old Testament, is a book about Jesus. If we take our eyes from Jesus, then we don’t just lose our way around the universe; we also lose our way around the Bible. The Old Testament points us to Christ, prepares us for Christ, and shows us pictures of Christ. One of the questions we ought always to be asking is “How does this record of things show me good news about Jesus Christ?”
With these convictions in mind, we can have confidence as we study the Old Testament that it is instructive. But not only that: it is full of hope, for it shows us our Savior. The more we read the parts of the Old Testament as books written by God, through His Spirit, about His Son, the more we grow in hope, in understanding, and into the likeness of our Savior.
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Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.