The Value of the Old Testament

By Donald P Ames

Sometimes we are accused of not believing in the Old Testament because we do not believe it is binding on us. Actually, merely to believe it is not binding on us today, is not one and the same thing as a total rejection of the Old Testament. To illustrate, most people do not believe God’s instructions to Noah to build an ark (Gen. 6) are binding on us today. Does this mean that they do not believe it has a part in the Bible? Certainly not! It simply means we recognize that God was giving specific instructions to Noah that are not applicable to us today since they were not intended for us. Nor does it violate Heb. 13:8, which affirms that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. God merely had a change of will regarding the rest of humanity. The same is true regarding the laws of the Old Testament. God never designed them for us, but rather for the Jews led forth from the land of Egypt (Ex. 20:1-2, Ezek. 20:10-12, Gal. 3:19). When Christ entered the world and fulfilled all that was written regarding Him, He abolished the law of Moses on the cross (Col. 2:14, Eph. 2:15-16, Gal. 3:2325, etc.) that He might establish a New Covenant (Heb. 8:8-13, 9:15-16).

But, if the commandments of the Old Testament are not binding today, of what value is the Old Testament? Should we discard it and go on as if it never existed? Certainly not, for God had a special purpose in it that also involved the New Testament as well. In fact, it would be literally impossible to understand the New Testament without the aid of the Old Testament in many instances. I would be unable to understand the reasoning of the order of Melchizedek and the priesthood (Heb. 7) were it not for the Old Testament. Of what value would the remarks regarding Jonah, Nineveh and the Queen of the South (Matt. 12:39-42) be without the aid of the Old Testament? And who would be able to understand the significance of the transfiguration (Matt. 17) without the benefit of the Old Testament; or for that matter, even the differences between the Jews and the Gentiles (Eph. 2:11f)? I am certain we all see a need for the Old Testament to understand much of what is recorded in the New Testament.

Wisely, someone has said that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed; the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. Just as we need the Old Testament to comprehend much of the New Testament, the New Testament opens many of the mysteries of the Old Testament and furnishes us with proof of the inspiration of the Scriptures as well. As we go to the Old Testament and find in Christ the fulfillment of all that was prophesied concerning Him as the Messiah (Acts 3:18-24, 1 Cor. 15:1-4, Luke 24:44), we know indeed he was the one of whom they were talking. Also, as we see these things prophesied so far in advance and fulfilled in such detail, we are convinced that such could not have been recorded so accurately except the hand of God guided those who so wrote (2 Pet. 1:20-21, 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Again, the Old Testament demonstrates its value to us in great measure.

Without the benefit of the Old Testament, we would be at a loss to understand the origin of mankind and the flood recorded in Genesis-and referred to on many occasions throughout the Word of God. We would have no details as to the nature of the creation, and be completely in the dark on this important subject regarding the origin of man.

Paul also refers to the Old Testament as valuable evidence of God’s dealings with His people, and His displeasure when they did not obey His will (1 Cor. 10:113, Rom. 15:4). Certainly this shows He meant for us to study and be familiar with His dealings in the Old Testament as an example to us today.

No, the laws of the Old Testament are not binding on us because we are subject to the law of Christ instead (Matt. 28:18-20, Heb. 1:1-2, 5:8-9); but that by no means indicates the Old Testament has no value to us. Let us learn to value it for the purpose God intended, and not try to subject ourselves to a law never designed for us, but given only to the Jews for a limited period of time, and now abolished through the death of Christ on the cross.

Truth Magazine XIX: 9, p. 140
January 9, 1975