"Those who cannot learn from history
are doomed to repeat it."
~ George Santayana
~ George Santayana
Since we have the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament, how pertinent is the Old Testament to us now?
from John B.
The Old Testament is sometimes considered either irrelevant or outright offensive. It portrays a God of wrath and judgment who directs war and destruction. The New Testament is filled with teachings of grace, and seems to portray a completely different God of love and mercy.
Human history was remarkably changed by Jesus and His followers, who presented teachings which challenged religious traditions and introduced an entirely different way of seeing God. To many people, the Old Testament is "good riddance."
Yet upon closer examination, there is nothing in the New Testament which contradicts the law of the Old Testament, nor has God Himself changed. The change is how we relate to God, because the death of Jesus Christ offers forgiveness for sins which completely alters our ability to have peace with God.
The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ,
that we might be justified by faith.
But after faith has come,
we are no longer under a tutor.
~ Galatians 3:24-25 (NKJV)
The Old Testament's 39 books comprise 78 percent of the Bible and cover some 3600 years of history. 27 New Testament books, written over a period of less than 40 years, depict less than a century of history.
The New Testament is the tip of the iceberg. To ignore the Old Testament is to miss most of the Bible's treasure. Not only is it a wealth of history, poetry and prophecy, the Old Testament:
• Accurately defines the holy, merciful, and unchanging character of God;
• Establishes a solid foundation for faith;
• Presents God's laws, which are for humanity's benefit;
• Explains the world's need for the Lord's Messiah;
• Prophesies the ministry of Jesus, giving us a solid testimony of God's plan and His ability to fulfill that plan;
• Evaluates the furious war between good and evil which still rages today;
• Provides vivid object lessons which the Lord authored to give us a graphic depiction of how Christians should live out their faith.
Here is an example of that last point. When the Israelites reached the Promised Land, they were commanded to be unrelenting and uncompromising in eliminating the pagan nations, lest wickedness pollute the people set apart to the Lord—and therefore defame His name. Allowing pagans to coexist led to immorality, brought the Lord's discipline, and the Israelites missed out on God's fullest blessings.
Believers in Jesus Christ are now citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. We are commanded to be unrelenting and uncompromising in eliminating the sin for which we have been forgiven, lest wickedness pollute people set apart to the Lord—and defame His name. Allowing sin to coexist leads to immorality, brings our Father's discipline, and we miss out on His fullest blessing.
And incidentally, while the New Testament puts new emphasis on God's grace, it likewise depicts His wrath.
© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
Image source: lal.tulane.edu