Grace For The Journey
The Bible says in Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” What are these “Scriptures” that Paul is referring to in this verse? I thought the term “Scriptures” was a term designated only for the sixty-six (66) Books of the Bible? Since the New Testament was not yet complete, Paul is referring to what could only be a reference to the Old Testament when he calls them “Scriptures.”
This is important for us to consider because I fear that we are living in a time when so much emphasis is placed on the “New Testament” to the neglect of the “Old Testament.” After all, it is old. Really old! And some would say it is therefore not applicable for our time. But the age of these “sacred writings” (2 Timothy 3:15) is exactly why we should place great emphasis on, not only reading the Old Testament, but treating these Scriptures the way the New Testament authors did.
Have you read every book in the Old Testament? I imagine, if you are like me, you have read Matthew’s Gospel more than Hosea. My question is, “Why is this?” Here are three reasons you should read the Old Testament.
1. The God of the New Testament is the same as the God of the Old Testament.
One of the reasons people neglect the Old Testament is because they do not like the God of the Old Testament. After all Jesus is so nice in the New Testament and God is so mean in the Old Testament, right? Let’s look at this a little deeper. The Bible says in Malachi 3:6, “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” Did you catch that? God does not change. He is the same in the Old as He is in the New. This is so comforting.
Also . . .
Notice in this verse that
The immutability of God
Is the reason
Why the people
Are not consumed.
The notion that
The Old Testament God
Is only a God of wrath
And the New Testament Jesus
Is only a God of love is
… Well … Just not true.
The grace and compassion of God flows out of every page of the Old Testament. There are also plenty of “woes” and warnings of God’s “judgment” cast from Jesus in the New Testament. Consider Jonah’s confession about God when he says, “I knew that You are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.” The character of God is exactly why Jonah fled! He did not want those wicked Ninevites to meet the real God who relents from disaster. You say, “But what about all the foreign armies God sent to destroy Israel, God’s chosen people?” Yes, that is indeed a part of the Old Testament Scriptures. Those same Scriptures also contain the record of the about the years of warnings of the prophets of God. God graciously gave Israel, and the pagan nations, time to turn from their sin. The loving thing for God to do was discipline His son Israel. Even in the mist of their discipline the declares in Lamentations 3:22-24, “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’”
If you have the impression
That God is only a mean-spirited God
In the Old Testament
Then you need to read it again
Or perhaps for the first time
With a new set of lenses.
2. If you neglect the Old Testament you are neglecting Jesus
The whole of the sixty-six (66) Books of the Bible is about Jesus. The Old Testament speaks of a coming deliverer and the New Testament looks back on His life and explains the significance of it.
Jews spoke of the Old Testament in three main parts; The Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets. Recall Jesus words at the end of the Luke’s gospel when he told his disciples, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44).
Did you catch it?
The Law, the Psalms,
And the Prophets
Were all written about Jesus.
Just a few verses earlier Luke tells us about Jesus talking to two disciples on the road to Emmaus and says, “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). In John 5:46 Jesus says, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.”
To the degree that
You neglect the Old Testament
Is the degree
That you are neglecting Jesus.
3. The New Testament explains the Old Testament.
What is the best commentary ever written on the Old Testament? You answered correctly if you said the New Testament. This is not to demean the New Testament to a level that is not Scripture. It absolutely is.
This is my simple way
Of making the point
That the New Testament
Explains the Old Testament.
You would have a lot of questions if you watched The Two Towers before you watched The Fellowship of the Ring, wouldn’t you? Why read book two before book one? The new does not replace the old. It fulfills it. Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-18, “Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to destroy them but to fulfill them. Verily, I say to you, til heaven and earth pass away, one jot, or tittle will by no means pass from the Law til all is fulfilled.” Read the old stuff my friends. Your passion for Jesus will increase if you understand the stage that was set for Him by God the Father. By reading and understanding the Old Testament you will gain a greater appreciation for New Testament. And as you read both, they will give you a complete picture of Who Jesus is and What He had done for us! And that is amazing stuff!
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The JournRest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”