The “Trivial” Old Testament?

An Old Testament Theology: A Canonical and Thematic Approach Do we really need to read and study as well as preach and teach from the Old Testament?  Can’t we just stick with the Gospels and Paul’s letters? To answer these questions briefly, it would be unbiblical and unchristian to avoid and ignore the Old Testament.  I appreciate Bruce Waltke’s words on this topic:

“The Old Testament contains much that seems trivial to the modern Christian.  That is because we fail to understand the functions of these texts.  Aside from teaching us about God, sin, and the need for redemption, a significant portion of the Old Testament recounts the history of the people of God.  These are the narratives that constitute the memories of the Christian community.  These memories inform our identity as Christians.  Thus, Abraham is our spiritual father.  His story becomes part of our past.  The exodus, the monarchy of Israel and Judah, and the exile cease to be ancient tales of a distant people, but the triumphs and tragedies of our own history.  Moreover, its ceremonial laws, such as abstaining from ‘unclean’ foods are ‘visual aids’ to instruct God’s people of all ages to be pure.”

“…In this fashion the stories of the Old Testament communicate at a level beyond cognitive propositions.  They challenge us to identify with Abraham as our father, to share his faith that rejoices to see the day of Jesus Christ, and to look forward to a heavenly city whose builder and maker is God.  They engender a transformed self-perception and an altered worldview.  This is one of the most powerful functions of the Old Testament; unfortunately, it is also one of the least understood among the community of faith” (p. 14).

Bruce Waltke, An Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007).

shane lems

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