Sometimes, when people discover that the Old Covenant no longer has any binding force on people today, they overreact and decide that they should not bother studying it at all. This will prove far more than just unfortunate. Indeed, it will hinder their understanding of the New Testament greatly. Others may not go to this extreme, yet they do indeed neglect studying the Old Testament, and so miss many key background elements in the development of scheme of redemption, miss the context of many of the quotations from the Old Testament, and miss many allusions to Old Testament references completely.
The genealogy of Matthew 1:1-17 not only establishes Jesus’ lineage and therefore His fulfillment of the prophecies regarding both the seed promise and the kingship but also illustrates quickly the working of God to preserve that seed for His own purposes; however, this only stands out with accompanied with an understanding of the Old Testament. Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7 requires similar knowledge, connecting the seed promise to Abraham not simply to the nation of Israel but to David and the promise of the Messiah through Him. Jesus’ discussion in John 10 in which He says, “I am the good shepherd” (Jn. 10:11), refers to Ezekiel’s discussion of the failed spiritual leadership of Israel and God’s promise and prophecy to take over that leadership personally. The apostles’ arguments throughout the book of Acts to prove both the Messiahship of Jesus and His resurrection rest in prophecies and information contained in the Old Testament. The entire book of Hebrews anticipates a strong comprehension of the Old Law in order to appreciate the comparisons made to prove the superiority of Jesus Christ. You cannot understand the doctrinal arguments attempted by the various people who questioned Jesus, along with our Savior’s answers, without some knowledge of the Old Covenant. You would also probably think that the Jews were paranoid in their looking for the Messiah unless you are familiar with the prophecies of Daniel and Isaiah. You would likely miss the power of Jesus’ quotation of Psalm 22:1, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” unless you are familiar with the rest of that Psalm. Indeed, you cannot possibly appreciate the perfection of Jesus’ life without understanding and appreciating the precision of the Old Law (Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:21-22).
The Old Testament no longer functions as binding law because Jesus nailed it to His cross (Col. 2:13-15) to make peace possible for us (Eph. 2:14-16). However, while He did fulfill it in every way, both through His perfect obedience and His fulfillment of prophecies (Mt. 5:17), its examples, prophecies, and purpose all have great value in pointing to and supporting the gospel message found in the New Covenant (Heb. 8:8-13). How amazing that a work created over a period of a thousand years could work so seamlessly with a document written nearly five hundred years afterward that also supplanted it—by design! It is indeed amazing. But could you expect anything less from the wisdom and power of an Almighty G
Why Study the Old Testament?