Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 13, 1958

The Value Of The Old Testament

Bill J. Humble, Louisville, Kentucky

There are two extreme ideas which people have about the importance of the Old Testament. Some believe that the Old Testament is still God's law today and that we can learn the plan of salvation from the Old, just as easily as from the New Testament. Some say, "I can find out what to do to be saved by studying Psalms just as readily as I can by studying Acts." This idea ignores two basic facts: (1) The Old Testament law was given to the Jews only, never to all mankind; and (2) Christ fulfilled the law and nailed it to the cross. Paul taught that Christ "blotted out the bond written in ordinances . . . and he hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross." (Cor. 2:14.) The law was simply a tutor, a schoolmaster, to lead us to Christ, and now that Christ has come, "We are no longer under a tutor." (Gal. 3:25.) Christ came to fulfill the law (Matt. 5:17); and he is the mediator of a better covenant which is based upon better promises. (Heb. 8:6.)

When some learn that the Old Testament law is no longer binding upon man, they jump to the opposite extreme and assume that it has no practical value for the Christian. However, we learn that "whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might have hope" (Rom. 1:15-4), and this refers to the Old Testament. The experience of the Israelites were examples for us and were "written for our admonition." (1 Cor. 10:11.) Thus, the Old Testament is valuable to Christians! But how is it valuable?

(1) The Old Testament is the greatest of all historical records. It is our only reliable account of the origin of the world and the origin of man. When we reject the Genesis account of creation, man loses the image of his Maker and becomes "just another animal" without spiritual and moral capabilities, a more highly developed brother of the beast. The Old Testament contains the historical records of man's spiritual development from his creation till about 400 BC. Also, the Old Testament contains a vast library of accurate secular history, telling of the rise and fall of many empires. Scholars have sometimes scoffed, as in the case of the Hittites, only to have archaeology confirm the historical reliability of this book.

(2) The Old Testament aids in a study of the New. "The Old Testament is the New concealed; the New is the Old revealed." While the New is our only rule of faith and practice, many of its statements would be meaningless without the light of the Old Testament. How could we explain the priesthood of Melchizedek, that of Aaron, the more perfect tabernacle and the blood of the covenant, without reference to the Old Testament?

(3) The Old Testament introduces us to Christ. We catch our first Biblical glimpses of the Savior in the promises, prophecies and types of the Old Testament. We see him in the Passover lamb, the Lion of Judah and the suffering servant of Isaiah.

(4) The Old Testament provides undeniable evidence for the deity of Christ. Since he is the perfect fulfillment of the more than 300 Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, we conclude that he is the Christ, the son of the Living God. Jesus himself asserted that the Old Testament scriptures bear witness of him. (Jno. 5:39.) Thus, how easy it is to begin at any of the Messianic prophecies and preach Christ!

(5) The Old Testament is a book of examples. It contains warnings against unrighteousness and examples of faith and obedience. Though the Israelites were saved, they sinned and fell, their fall warning us to take heed lest we also fall. (1 Cor. 10:12.) When Saul failed to carry out all that God commanded, he taught us that to obey is better than to sacrifice. The faith of Abraham, the patience of Job, the courage of Daniel — 'seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witness, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking into Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith." (Heb. 12:1,2.)