How many times do you pick up the Bible and head straight to the New Testament? Do you often find The Old Testament to be confusing and strange at times? If so, you are not alone! Upon first glance, the Old Testament can feel like a bunch of long names, dates, battles, laws and creeds, kings, and lineages that span page after page. However, woven deeper into these stories is the fascinating story of the people of Israel and God’s story of salvation unfolding over the ages culminating in Jesus and the church, not beginning with him.
It has only been in the past one to two hundred years that biblical scholars have begun studying the New Testament in light of the Old by spending time examining the Jewish roots of Jesus in the Old Testament and their relationship and influence on Jesus in the New Testament. The results have been startling. Over the past few hundred years, amazing connections between prophesies and stories in the Old Testament pointing to and foreshadowing sometimes word-for-word what Jesus has to say in the New Testament are quite remarkable.
St. Jerome famously stated, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” In other words, if we want to know who Jesus is, we cannot sim
ply study him in the New, because the heart of his teachings came forth from the tradition of the Jewish people and their traditions and customs from of Old. Jesus was deeply entrenched in the Jewish culture and scriptures. To try and separate him from that by viewing his teachings in the New Testament as completely removed from or irrelevant to everything that had led up to that point in the history of the Jewish people would be to miss out on the heart of who Jesus is.
Jesus himself says in Matthew 5:17: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” In other words, Jesus intends for us to have an understanding of the history of the Jewish people, to understand the laws and the words of the prophets all the way back to the time of Genesis, to Abraham and Moses, through the time of the Judges and Kings, through the prophets, and the exile and return and how these stories, prophesies, teachings and traditions find their fulfillment within Jesus. Once you begin to understand how intertwined the Old and the New are, you will come to see the beauty and value that is the Old Testament.
So much could be said on the significance of BOTH the Old and the New Testament, but where might one even begin? I would encourage you, if you don’t already, to make scripture reading a daily practice in your life, even if just for five to ten minutes. Even if you don’t fully understand the stories, you can still invite God into your reading and look for how the Holy Spirit may be speaking to you through what you read. If you would like to formally dive deeper into scripture, I would encourage you to check out the Bible Study tab on Formed for many wonderful free videos and other Bible study resources and/or come to our weekly Bible study on Thursday afternoons.