The O.T. matters greatly today, it mattered greatly when it was first revealed and it will matter for eternity because the psalmist wrote, “Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens” (Psalm 119:89). Peter echoes this word to the attribute of the O.T. being eternal when he wrote, “The word of the Lord remains forever” (I Peter 1:25). Yes, the O.T. is relevant today, and here are some specific reasons that is the case.
First, the O.T. was inspired by God. The most central passage in the Bible on this claim is II Timothy 3:16-17 when Paul is about to encourage his young disciple Timothy to preach the Word, and he reminds him why he can boldly proclaim God’s Word. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16-17). The word “Scripture” refers to anything revealed from God – no matter if it has come or not. And Timothy would have no problem concluding the O.T. was a part of that revealed will of God inspired by Him.
Another text that shows us the inspiration of the O.T. comes from the opening verses of Hebrews. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets (the O.T.), but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son (the N.T.), whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrew 1:1-2). It took almost 2,000 years for the O.T. to be written and for the entire two millennia, God was speaking. No matter if it was through the poetry of the psalms, the prophecy of the Major and Minor Prophets or the history of Kings and Chronicles, God revealed His will through the inspiring of the O.T.
Second, Jesus Christ confirmed the relevancy of the O.T. In the Gospels, when Jesus asked the question to the religious leaders, “Have you not read”, He was referring to the O.T. In Luke 24:25, Jesus condemned these same men for not believing what the prophets spoke to them about. His concern was that by avoiding the O.T. prophets, they were not listening to God.
In Matthew 5:17, He confirmed the relevance of the O.T. when He said He came to fulfill the law and not destroy it. He came to give the O.T. a richer and fuller meaning to us – NOT to say, “You know what? Just pay attention to Matthew through Revelation. That’s where the good stuff is.”
In the narrative regarding His temptation by Satan, Jesus shows practically how relevant the O.T. is, because with every temptation, He not only quoted Scripture (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10) as a weapon to fight sin, but He quoted from the book of Deuteronomy. When you read the 39 books of the O.T., you are reading Jesus’ Bible. He would nourish His soul with Genesis through Malachi.
Third, the O.T. paves the way for the N.T. Without the message of the O.T., you cannot understand the significance of many subjects in the N.T. (e.g., the need for a sacrificial system, the insufficiency of anyone or anything’s blood, the system of covenant, etc.). Gleason Archer asks a needed question – “How can Christian pastors feed their flock on a well-balanced spiritual diet if they completely neglect the 39 books of Holy Scripture on which Christ and all the New Testament authors received their own spiritual nourishment?” Over 1600 references to the O.T. can be found in the N.T.!
Fourth, the O.T. has transformed people’s lives from slaves of sin to righteousness. As John MacArthur has said, the Bible is the only book that can change your nature. The O.T. can set the stage for a person’s literal salvation. When Paul told Timothy that the Holy Scripture was able to make him wise for salvation, he was referring to the O.T. (II Timothy 3:15). Here is what the psalmist said about this ability of transformation in Psalm 1119:97-104 – “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.”
The O.T. gives wisdom to the fool; the O.T. gives understanding to the ignorant; the O.T. leads the aimless; the O.T. nourishes the hungry; the O.T. gives life to the dead man.
Is the O.T. still relevant? Inside and out! Why else would God give us the O.T. as 60% of our Bible?
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