It is not unusual to see small copies of the New Testament in circulation. Often it has been the first bible that new believers are handed. Naturally, this has prompted a discussion on how much weight the Old Testament carries and the importance (or lack thereof) that we place upon it. “It’s all about Jesus” is the message we hear and we are under the “new” testament or “new” covenant of grace so other than giving us a history lesson, how much should we focus on the writings of the Old Testament? Plenty! I think we’ve actually done a disservice to new believers by only giving them half the story with the pocket-sized New Testaments. Beyond the obvious record of history, the Old Testament is filled with the richness of our ancestry. Everyone is curious about where they’ve come from and seeks to define their family tree—this is ours! From Genesis to Deuteronomy (Pentateuch) we have an explanation of our beginnings (something many faiths are unable to provide) and we learn about Israel’s Patriarchs. We read of the mighty salvation from the slavery of Egypt, the trials of desert wanderings and the leadership of remarkable servants in Moses and Joshua. Throughout the changing face of the Ancient Near East we see how Israel is split into two territories, and then ultimately ends up in exile. We can learn much from the rebellious hearts of God’s people and the graciousness of God to forgive them time after time as He gives them the promise and hope of restoration.
Having an understanding of the events in the Old Testament times actually brings clarity and understanding to writings in the New Testament as many old prophecies are fulfilled. The Old Testament teaches us about the fallen nature of man, the sovereignty of God, and His love to provide salvation for those in slavery. The New Testament reminds us that man is still in desperate need of a savior.
From Genesis to Revelation we see the unchanging character of our almighty God and we develop a Holy fear of the One Whom holds all things in His hands. John 1:1 refers to the Word as being with God “…and the Word was God.” I’d say it is clear that we must give equal weight to the whole counsel of God studying both the Old and New Testament so we can begin to understand some of the mysteries of God as revealed through His Word of Truth. My experience has been that it fosters a hunger to know Him even more.