The Old Testament is also called the Old Covenant and it is about God’s relationship with man before Jesus. A covenant is a sacred or special agreement. Before Jesus, the agreement God had with His people was that if they completely obeyed His law, He would be with them and bless them. The Old Testament is a long description of how this agreement worked out, which was not well at all. It is an endless stream of stories and people who fail, and fail, and fail. Not one among them keeps the law. Some do better than others, but they all fail.
Therein lies the first purpose of the Old Covenant and the key to understanding it better. The Old Covenant and all its laws are there to show us that no one, not one human being ever, can be “good” enough to be with God. During this Old Covenant time, God tries everything to get people to follow Him and His laws. God tries extreme power and mercy (the plagues of Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea through Moses) and extreme blessing (Garden of Eden). He tries extreme punishment and testing (slavery, wars, exile). But in every situation, his people sinned.
The second purpose of the Old Covenant is to foreshadow God’s plan to save us all through Jesus Christ. When you read the Old Testament with a knowledge of the New Testament, there are just thousands of places where you see Jesus’ death on the cross being hinted at, or sometimes shouted about.
- The rules God gave them about how to sacrifice an “unblemished lamb” as a sin offering
- The story of Abraham almost sacrificing his son Isaac
- The first Passover in Egypt where the blood of a perfect lamb protected the Israelite families
- The red heifer, Noah’s ark, etc. etc. etc.
Of course, the better you know the New Testament, and really, the better you know Jesus, the easier it is to see the references to Him in the Old Testament. That is why we will start reading the Bible in the New Testament, not the Old Testament.
- If the Old Testament speaks about Jesus and his sacrificial death on the cross, what does that tell us about the true author of the Bible?
- Do you see in your own life that you sin, whether God is blessing you or punishing you, in good times and bad?
- Can you learn from the Old Covenant, or do you, like me and most people, need to prove to yourself you can’t be “good enough” by failing over and over?
Beginner’s Online Bible Study *obbs*
The Old Testament gives me A LOT of hope, however!!! God loved His people no matter what they did or how badly they messed up!! He constantly looked for ways to bring them back. They are rich stories of God’s love and desire to be in communion with his people, but you are right — they make sense through the eyes of the New Testament and Jesus’ incarnation! It is a love that is truly beyond human understanding, but the privilege of seeing glimpses of it is a true blessing and joy!!!!