Many mainstream Christians assume that the Old Testament is archaic and therefore useless to them. They struggle against the laws of the Bible, since they've been taught to believe that keeping the law of God frustrates His grace. After all, didn't Jesus take on the sins of the world (John 3:16-17), suffering death for all humankind?
Many reason that since Jesus died for humanity's sins, and since we cannot keep the law perfectly, anyone who tries to keep God's law frustrates and negates the grace of God. Does the Bible support this rationale?
The Old Testament, including the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms (also referred to as Writings), bears witness to Jesus, first as a human being, and second as divine God. It also sets the stage for all prophecy.
The Old Testament Reveals Christ Jesus
Jesus shared an eye-opening revelation about Himself and the power of prophecy at the end of Luke's Gospel. It shows the importance of the Old Testament and reveals the breakdown of the Old Testament into three parts. It also supports the essence of and need for Bible prophecy.
Some Christians believe that Jesus Christ was never God before His resurrection. The Bible clearly shows that Jesus was the God of the Old Testament. "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds" (Hebrews 1:1-2).
The apostle John knew Jesus was God of ancient Israel: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:1-3, 14. See also John 5:37).
Again, John shared Jesus' final prayer where He identified that He was once God with the Father. "And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was" (John 17:5).
Luke's Gospel gets to the heart of the matter: "And beginning at Moses [the Law] and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the [Old Testament] Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27). "Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight" (verse 31).
Later Jesus provided the essential aspect to His fulfillment of the Old Testament. "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me. And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures" (verses 44-45).
Jesus Christ was revealed through the Old Testament. God revealed Christ through His law.
God revealed Himself through His laws. The first four of the Ten Commandments are all about God. The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17) are set within the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.
God's laws, the Ten Commandments, reveal the character of God, which are the moral characteristics He gave as a gift to humankind. Each of His 10 laws depicts how we can best treat Him and each other. They are spiritual laws (Romans 7:14) that can bless or break us.
The laws of God show us how we can enjoy the best life possible on this earth as physical human beings. Additionally, they help determine whether we will be in God's Kingdom (Revelation 22:14).
After God gave His laws, He then gave prophets and teachers to teach human beings about His liberating laws (James 1:25).
God called prophets throughout Old Testament times for a very important reason: to preach and teach His laws and to prophesy their automatic results. (Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 prophesy the blessings of keeping God's laws and the resultant curses if we don't. Notice Elijah the prophet's example of this: compare 1 Kings 17:1 with Deuteronomy 28:15, 23-24.)
New Testament ministers mirror Old Testament prophets, as the apostle Paul wrote. "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!'... So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:14-15, 17).
God's entire Word, the Holy Bible, is based on His laws, which provide the basis for prophecy. "And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts [Christ lives in us through the Holy Spirit and the truth, see Galatians 2:20 and John 4:23-24; Christ is our life, see Colossians 3:4]; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit [all based on God's Word and His laws]" (2 Peter 1:19-21).
Prophets prophesy and teach about God and His laws and specifically about the glorious role of Jesus as humankind's Savior (Isaiah 9:6-7). The focus of the Old Testament, through the Law, Prophets and Writings, seamlessly connects with and underpins Jesus' teachings and life (Luke 24:44-45).
The third part of the Old Testament is the Writings or the Psalms, which are a part of the Writings.
The Writings of the Old Testament are the books that show human examples witnessing how the holy laws of God work in an unforgiving world (Hebrews 11:32-38). The Writings include such books as Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth and others.
The Psalms inspiringly witness of God's greatness, including the superiority of His laws with prescient prophetic applications (Psalm 8:4-6; Hebrews 2:6-10).
Almighty God's master plan is to reproduce Himself through the human race, creating immortal sons of God out of mere mortals (1 Corinthians 15:50-54; 1 John 3:1-2).
In summary, He first gave His divine, spiritual laws to His nation Israel. Next, He called prophets to proclaim the greatness of His laws and inherited blessings through obedience. Finally God honors human beings to witness for Him through the blessings that come from keeping His spiritual laws (1 Peter 2:11-12).
The Law, Prophets and Writings constitute the Old Testament and, as such, teach us about the coming of Jesus Christ, His sinless physical life, His death and shed blood for our sins, and His resurrected life (Genesis 3:15, an early reference to Jesus' death and glorious resurrection; Isaiah 9:6-7).
The human life, death and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ were revealed through prophecy. Christ Jesus embodies the tripartite divisions of the Old Testament, fully representing the divine, holy law of God, prophesying as the greatest Prophet who has ever lived, and serving as the greatest witness for God from time immemorial (2 Timothy 1:9)! UN