27 March 2010

Question of the Week:
Value of the Old Testament?

by Anne Lang Bundy

"Those who cannot learn from history
are doomed to repeat it."
~ 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:


  1. i love the Old Testament as much as the New Testament. it surprised me to find/realize that Jesus was already there right at the beginning.

  2. Yes, Bud, the entire Bible is about Jesus. To use the iceberg analogy, Jesus is the visible representation of God. Through Jesus and the New Testament, we finally see and understand the more obscure Old Testament which is foundational to faith. The two form a complete picture of God. The New Testament contains the critical truths about Jesus and Salvation. It doesn't need to be as large as the Old, because of that foundation.

  3. Insightful, concise, and Biblical. Thank you Anne ... :-)

  4. hi anne.
    good questioin and answer.

    russell, pretty photo of the boats at dock and the sun on the water.

  5. Anne,

    Not having a lot of knowledge of the Bible, I thought your description below was really fascinating. It made me really want to know more. I am going to have a couple of my close Christian friends come and read your post, so we can discuss it more. Thanks for sharing :)!


    The Old Testament 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.

  6. JoAnne ~

    About the sweetest words I ever hear are that something I said makes someone want to dig into the Bible. Thank you!

    Some people think the New Testament portrays a very different image of our unchanging God than what the Old Testament presents. Since the stereotype is an OT God of wrath and judgment, and a NT God of forgiveness and mercy, I'll offer these verses for you to study and see that the Lord has always had great compassion, and remains a God of wrath to be feared. (Links are embedded.) I pray the Lord blesses your study!

    From the Old Testament:
    Lamentations 3:21-26
    Judges 10:16
    Ezekiel 33:11

    From the New Testament
    Matthew 13:41-42
    Romans 1:18
    Hebrews 10:28-31

    And finally, how the Lord describes Himself (OT):
    Exodus 34:5-7

  7. I am a great fan of the Old Testament. I think it is fascinating how they announce and explain Jesus so clearly once you have open eyes, and a seeking heart.

    I love the reading in Luke about the road to Emmaus, where Jesus spends 2 hours explaining everything to his followers, using the whole of the Old Testament.

    Oh, to have been on that road!

  8. In my opinion the OT and NT are like movements in a symphony; they belong together, yet each brings a distinctive sound and flavor to the whole. Genesis and John even have the same melody echoing throughout...if you listen close... ;)

    God bless you all during this Holy Week.

  9. We are studying Isaiah in church and I love how woven it is with words from the NT. It all points to how much God loves us.

    I also appreciate how the Bible is marked with very real people in very real living situations.
    ~ Wendy

  10. Appreciate your insight and knowledge ... and that you are so willing to share it.

  11. Well done and so many good points made in the comments.

  12. Russell,
    Favorite Fish,
    Patty ~

    Thanks for all the kind remarks. I pray you each come to increasingly greater appreciation for who God is in both OT & NT Scriptures, as I pray the same for myself.

  13. My one year bible has a portion of OT and NT as well as Psalms and proverbs. I DO so love the OT. It shows one side of the Lord's beautiful face and the NT shows the other.