The Old Testament: What’s in it for me?

My understanding of the Old Testament has gone through a drastic transformation within the past few weeks!

I used to think that the New Testament was the only place to go if I were looking for direct application. I did think that the Old Testament contained application for the believer, but only in some sort of indirect way. The Old Testament to me was only a bunch of pictures that foreshadowed the reality, just a bunch of types and antitypes. Or maybe like one big living parable that was supposed to help us understand how to live our story better when we examine the similarities and contrasts it has to the New Testament. To put it in other words, I saw the Old and New Testaments as separate stories that somehow aided each other, ours being the real and true story, and the other being only an imperfect allegory. Obviously, since God made the allegory a living one (that is, a true story with real people that took place in history), it was not supposed to work. It had to fail so that Christ would be the only and true way in the real story.

I’m not trying to say for certain that there is no element of allegory there. There may be. I only want to say that I’ve come to see the Bible on the main very differently than this. I no longer see two separate yet connect stories, but only one story. I see it as a story that preaches the gospel from the beginning, and that is entirely a part of the gospel message itself. I will give the Apostle Paul the credit for what I’m going to say here. If you want to read His own words look at Galatians 3. Near the very beginning of the Bible in Genesis, God makes an everlasting covenant with Abraham. God preaches the gospel when He promises to Abraham that “in him all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Paul makes it clear that the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. “He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And to your seed,’ that is, Christ.” So this promise is that all the nations will be blessed in Abraham and Christ. Abraham then “believed God and it was reckoned to Him as righteousness.” 

If we jump forward in time until after the Ten Commandments have been given we read a lot about blessings and cursings. We read that those who obey the Law will be blessed and those who disobey will be cursed. There are always two options, either you will be blessed or you will be cursed. On Mt Ebal the final curse given is this: “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law to perform them.” No one is able to do this, so all who seek to gain righteousness by obedience to the Law fail and receive the curse and not the blessing. But, remember the gospel promise given to Abraham? All the nations will be blessed in the seed (Christ)! How did Abraham become righteous? He believed the promise. We receive the blessing of Abraham by faith too. Habakuk confirms this, telling us that “the righteous man shall live by faith.”

How does this work though? First take a look at Deuteronomy 21:22-23: “If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile you land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance.” Paul says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse by becoming a curse for us.” He hung on a tree and was accursed of God for the sins of those who put their faith in Him. He deserved the blessing and we the curse, but He took the curse so that we would receive the blessing.

All the stuff in the Old Testament about blessings and cursings relates directly to me! Not as a foreshadowing picture of something, and not as requirement to obey the Law. No! It relates to me because it speaks of the very curse that Christ redeemed me from and the very blessing that I receive!

I wonder if it would right to say that the Old Testament applies more directly to me, the believer, than it did to the Israelites to whom it was written.

So this is now how I view the Old Testament. I may not be right about all of it. I still have many questions about it, especially questions about whether we as converted Gentiles fit in exactly the same way a converted Jew would. So, my understanding may change and become clearer as I continue to study, but I wanted to share this as an encouragement to dig deeper into the Old Testament (perhaps being guided by its connected commentary (the New Testament) in passage like Galatians 3) to learn how it really relates to us personally through Christ.

The Bible is the best book out there! Keep diggin’ deeper!

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