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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Why study the Old Testament?

A question has been asked of me recently by a student in the church I work at:
If we are a New Testament people, why study the Old Testament?

I felt it was worthy of a post because this is a question that plagued me before and a question that I think plagues many believers today.

The fact is, the Old Testament gives us the foundation of our theology. Every story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. Without the OT, without understanding the OT, all we have is the end.
The OT creates enough angst within the reader that when Jesus comes... It truly is the most wonderful thing! Like a story that has a deliberate and beautiful plot twist!

We begin with a tree.
Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made. The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. -Genesis 2:8-9 NLT
We fall because of a tree.
The Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” -Genesis 3:11 NLT
We cannot get back to the tree... though we try so hard we continue to go further and further from it.
After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. - Genesis 3:24 NLT

The tree of life beckons us even still...

It is a tree that gives Noah the wood to save creation from the flood.
We see images and metaphors of what trees mean throughout our story.

The Old Testament isn't just a collection of really old writings from a really old civilization.
It is a story.
Israel's story.
God's story.


I find myself facing the same kinds of fears, the same kinds of doubts, the same kinds of desires that the Israellites faced.

Their story gives me hope... that I am not alone.

And then the story turns...
There's another tree that stands on a hill outside of Jerusalem.
On it, there is a bloody remnant of a man crucified upon it...

That tree paves the way for us... to get back to the tree of life.

Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month.
They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life.  -Revelation 22:1-2; 14 NLT

The truth of the matter is that we can learn as much about God from the blunders of Elihu, the failures of the patriarchs, the crying of the psalmist, the sin of the Israellites as from the theological treatises of Paul, the word pictures of John, and the sermons of Christ.

ALL Scripture is God BREATHED.


Nathan Bryant

is a pastor and currently a Resident in the Leadership Institute in Phoenix, AZ. As a student at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri he majored in Biblical Leadership, New Testament Studies, and Missiology. Nathan has a combined passion for unity and discipleship in the global church.

Christ's Kingdom is bigger than our causes.
Christ's Kingdom is bigger than our boundaries.

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