She’d attended church for decades, yet she seemed like a new Christian. Whether or not her spiritual immaturity reflected the quality of teaching in that church is inappropriate to speculate on today (though you can probably guess my opinion), but one remark she repeatedly made in Bible Study has troubled me for several years. Basically, this lady felt that Christians don’t need the Old Testament.
It amuses me that she gave me and John an anniversary gift containing an Old Testament quote. But I digress.
I understand some of her aversion to the Old Testament. Back in the 1970s, when I used my infantile theology as a rationalization for opposing the war in Vietnam, the genocide in Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua didn’t fit with my hippie image of Jesus. In the 1980s, teachers pacified my discomfort by emphasizing the supposed allegorical nature of the genocide passages (not a recommended hermeneutic, by the way). Additionally, the history of the kings was either boring or too full of war. And, though portions of Isaiah contained beautiful poetry, the prophets confused me.
The New Testament was much easier to deal with, despite books like Galatians and Hebrews, which directly addressed Jewish customs and theological practices. Although I’d dutifully read the Old Testament almost every year, I found the New Testament much more palatable.
As the Lord has matured me, however, He’s teaching me that fully understanding the New Testament depends on a working knowledge of the Old Testament. As we watch His dealings with both Israel and the idolatrous nations surrounding them, we begin to see His sovereignty, His holiness and His compassionate grace. For instance, as Joshua leads Israel to conquer the Promised Land (the part I’m reading now), we learn that the genocide is actually God’s judgment on the heathen nations (I can’t find the Scripture reference to substantiate this point right this moment, but maybe I’ll blog at length about it soon).
Today, I simply want you to start considering the idea that Christians need the Old Testament in order to more fully appreciate the new. As I think about it, I feel a little sorry for the poor lady in that Bible Study. She’s really missing out.