“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Timeless Benefits of the Old Testament (Tom Edwards)
Timeless Benefits of the Old Testament
Even though we are not under the Patriarchal nor Mosaical Laws today, and we live in a different time and culture, yet does not a reading of the Old Testament, and the seeing of God’s dealings with His people and what He required of them, also help us in developing the right attitude toward God and spiritual things? For does not the reading of that also enable us to have a deeper understanding of the Lord, to be more aware of His reality, to realize more the seriousness of sin and the need to obey God by not adding to nor taking away from His word, to be more humble in view of the Lord’s far-surpassing greatness, to be more reverent, to be more concerned for spiritual things, and to be more submissive to the will of God for our time?
We are to be mindful of the things above – to set our affection upon those things (cf. Col. 3:1-3); and looking to the Holy Scriptures helps us to do just that! And is it not spiritual thoughts that are required to help us be spiritual people? In writing to the Corinthians, Paul acknowledges, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words” (1 Cor. 2:12,13). By our reading, we are acquiring those same divine truths that had been miraculously revealed in time’s past (cf. Eph. 3:3-5). And that same Spirit also led men into writing the Old Testament. For “no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Pet. 2:20,21). Paul also wrote that “All Scripture is inspired by God” and went on to say that it is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16,17). In the same context, Paul had previously told Timothy “…that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (v. 15).
The Old Testament is filled with numerous prophecy that came to fulfillment in New Testament times and, thus, indicates the divine inspiration of the Bible. It has been said that there are about 332 prophecies in the Old Testament concerning Christ alone! Some of these are specific, such as the place of Jesus’ birth being in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); the exact amount of 30 pieces of silver that He was betrayed for, and the potter’s field it ended up going to (Zech. 11:12,13; Matt. 26:14-16; 27:3-10); and the piercing of His hands and feet (Psa. 22:16; Mk. 15:25; Luke 24:36-40), etc. These prophecies and their fulfillments are one of the evidences that help us to believe in God and in His word.
And for those who think we should not study that part of the Bible, the Old Testament is actually quoted or alluded to hundreds of times in the New Testament! For example, in 1 Corinthians 10, Paul is referring back to Israel, shortly after they came out of Egyptian bondage, and points out specific sins they had so soon become guilty of. He then declares, “Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved” (v. 6). He then gives a similar statement in verse 10 and includes that these Old Testament examples “were written for our instruction…”
God’s word – even in the Old Testament — can help us in many ways. For one of those, have you ever felt a little depressed, but then began reading the book of Psalms, that hymn book of ancient Israel, and soon found your spirit uplifted and joining in with the psalmist in praises and appeals to the Almighty God?
In reading of the miracles in the Old Testament, do you do so with unbelief or with a humbleness, a childlike faith, and a somewhat amazement in taking to heart these supernatural events that God had brought about? To the believer, these miracles bring to our attention and help us realize that “all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27) and “Nothing is too difficult” for Him (Jer. 32:17) – and this is the God to whom we His children pray!
In the Old Testament, some major questions are answered. Here are three of them:
1) “How did the universe, man, and all living things come about?” The very first chapter in the Bible answers this: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (v. 1); and chapters 1 and 2 show that it did not take eons of time for Him to do so. For it was “in the beginning” that God created the heavens and the earth; and that “beginning” is not the beginning of God – for He is eternal – but it is the beginning of creation itself. For time, as we know it, is accurately regulated by the creation (cf. Gen. 1:14-16). We also note that the earth was not formed more than 9 billion years after the beginning of the universe. Nor did man (as more like humans today) first come into existence more than 4 billion years after the earth was made (or more than 13 billion years after the universe began). For man was made on the 6th day of creation (Gen. 1:24-31). And hear how Jesus refers to this in Mark 10:6: “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.” How could it be said that man was made at the “beginning of creation,” if he didn’t come to exist until more than 13 billion years later? You can believe what men may hypothesize and say about this or you can believe the words of Jesus, but who do you think is right? I would advise you to go with the One who knows what He is talking about – Jesus Christ the Creator (cf. Jn. 1:1-3,14; Col. 1:15,16).
2) “What is the reason – if there is a reason – for our being here?” The Old Testament also makes that clear: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13). Man was made for God (cf. Isa. 43:21), for His purpose (cf. Prov. 16:4), and for His glory (cf. Isa. 43:7).
3) “Will we exist beyond the grave?” Job rhetorically asks, “If a man dies, will he live again?” In the same verse, he then continues by saying, “All the days of my struggle I will wait Until my change comes” (Job 14:14). Yes, Job knew that death does not end it all. For he also declares, “Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:26). King David also believed in life after death. In speaking of his deceased child, David explained, “But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Sam. 12:23). Though our body dies, yet we (our eternal souls) will always exist! Those Old Testament believers referred to in Hebrews 11:16 also believed in the hereafter in that “better country, that is a heavenly one” where God had prepared them a “city.”
And how else does the Old Testament help in our relationship with the Lord? What about in reading of those whose faith in God and love for Him enabled them to take such a strong stand for His ways and maintain an unwavering commitment toward the Lord – and regardless of the jeopardy, the physical pain, or even the death which that could lead to? Are we not encouraged and motivated by them? Is our faith not strengthened? Such as in hearing the case of the three friends of Daniel — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego — who chose to be thrown into the fiery furnace, rather than sin against the Almighty God by bowing down in idolatrous worship to the 90-foot golden image that Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, had made. Are we not moved by their dedication? The command had been given: “that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire” (Dan. 3:5,6). When it was brought to the king’s attention that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego would not comply, Nebuchadnezzar was infuriated and ordered that those three be brought before him. The king was willing to give them another chance to save their lives. But they responded, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Dan. 3:16-18).
That is truly commitment! Maintaining a right relationship with God meant something of great importance to these three loyal and dedicated followers. To them, it was a top priority! And it should be that to us as well. Reading of their example can also increase that kind of incentive in every true believer.
As we read the Old Testament, even in silence, God sees our hearts, knows our reactions, is aware of our devotion toward Him. Like some type of spiritual umbilical cord, these positive reactions — including our reverence, our worshipful respect, our admiration, and our faith and love toward God — stem from our hearts all the way up to the heart of God in heaven. As His children, we are connected to Him.
In speaking of the Old Testament, Paul says that it was “written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). And now we are also seeing various other benefits from it.
So let us not neglect our study of the Old Testament, realizing that much good for our spiritual development and well-being can come from that as well.
(All Scripture from the NASB)
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)