[img_assist|nid=6013|title=Archie England PH D NOBTS Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=73|height=100]Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, many similarly ask, “How is this relevant for us today?”
Too often a question I field about the Old Testament. If it is so relevant (and it is) why then do believers intentionally avoid so much of the Old Testament?
Since all the Bible is the authoritative, inspired Word of God, all should be studied.
Otherwise, biblical literacy will wane, becoming dwarfed by a radical, passionate praxis based upon a ever-dwindling knowledge of God’s word.
To answer this question, I use four major periods of the Old Testament to show how it genuinely prepares a person to understand the message and meaning of the New Testament.
This organization focuses upon periods, people, and major ideas/themes.
The first period begins with Abraham and ends with Moses. During this time (ca. 1900-1400 BC) God establishes the covenant (Genesis 15) with one person.
Moses functionally closes the period with the giving of the Law. But law here is best understood as covenant instruction (which Israelites call Torah). This law of the covenant becomes foundational, in fact, the normative standard governing all aspects of life – for the people of God.
Thus, it is revelatory (who God is) and regulatory (what God commands) of the relationship that each Israelite was expected to have – as a result of an Abrahamic-like faith (Genesis 15:6).
The second period begins with Joshua and ends with Samuel (ca. 1400-1052 BC).
Fulfillment of the promise of God is the emphasis here (Genesis 12:1-3). God kept His Word.
The third period begins with Saul and ends with Solomon (ca. 1052-930 BC). It represents the glory days of the united monarchy of Israel and receives an amazing sixty-six chapters of coverage (1 Samuel 1-1, Kings 11).
The building of the temple serves as the focal point. Again, God keeps His promise to the family of David (2 Samuel 7), establishing and honoring the line of David.
The once small clans of Israel had truly transformed into a powerful nation, worshiping the One True God in a magnificent structure.
The fourth period begins with Rehoboam and ends with exiles returned from captivity (ca. 930-400 BC). This period of thirty-eight (or so) kings plus one queen, I designate as the period of anarchy. The Israelites fail in their relationship with God, neglecting covenant law. Prophets sent from God denounce such failure and repeatedly, pointedly demand repentance. Little occurs, judgment comes, and captivity ensues.
All is lost. Well, not all. Those returning from exile exhibit a new kind of faith – faith in God alone. That’s the result of this period, a faith never again to be polluted by false gods or idols.
These four major periods prepare New Testament readers for (1) a grace relationship, (2) a hope for heaven, (3) a new temple (body of Christ), and (4) faith in Messiah, Jesus the Christ.
So go back and read the Bible of Jesus once again – for in it (the Old Testament) you might just discover these things are so (Acts 17:11; Luke 24:25-27).