Plenty of churches dismiss the Old Testament as irrelevant for modern Christianity. For instance, in the book of Leviticus, pork is deemed unclean to consume, yet many Christians still eat it today. So, how relevant is the Old Testament today?
Many people mistakenly think that the New Testament has replaced the Old. On the contrary, the Old Testament is in fact still prevalent in today’s modern world. The original 39 books of the Bible are just as important as the latter 27.
Jesus Studied and Quoted the Old Testament
The New Testament didn’t yet exist when Jesus walked the earth, so any references He made to the Scriptures were to the Old Testament, known to the Jews as the Torah. And don’t forget Jesus Himself was Jewish and followed the law of Moses! As a Jewish boy, Jesus would have been taught from the Torah and learned to respect it as reverently as any other Jewish person. Later, the early church (also mostly Jewish people) primarily studied the Old Testament as the New was still being assembled.
It’s also important to remember what the Old Testament foreshadows. Jesus would regularly reference the law and prophets to explain His actions or status as the Messiah. “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17) If Christians ignore the Old Testament, we risk losing the foundation that Jesus Himself considered very relevant and important.
Pro Tip: Christians can’t agree on how much of the Old Testament law still applies today. However, regardless of your position, be careful not to disregard the Torah as a whole.
Don’t Skip to the Middle of the Story
When you go to see a new movie, it wouldn’t make sense to buy a ticket halfway through and just watch the second half. You wouldn’t know who the characters were, what was happening, or even the main source of conflict. At that point, why watch the movie at all?
If we consider the Old Testament irrelevant, we run the risk of tuning into the story of the Bible when it’s halfway over. Through Old Testament moral law, prophets, and historical records, the Torah introduces God’s character and many key players in the overall biblical narrative.
A Unified Book
Both the Old and New Testaments, though written centuries apart and for different audiences, ultimately tell one continuous story. There is no distinction between the “Old Testament God” and the “New Testament God” because God never changes, and His word never changes. We should treat the Bible as the single, unified book that it truly is instead of two different narratives.
Read the Old Testament!
Traditional and Messianic Jewish circles maintain a very high level of respect for the Torah to this day. Unfortunately, traditional Christian circles have lost sight of how important the Old Testament is in today’s world. Focusing on the New Testament at the expense of the Old ignores crucial information. Keep yourself educated on the Old Testament and how it ties into the later Jesus-centered portions.
Looking for more ideas on Bible study and relevancy? Join the conversation and see how a more detailed Bible study helped others.