Most Christians, whether they’ve recently joined the faith or have grown up religious, know that it’s important to read the Bible. However, many shy away from the Old Testament, especially if they’re recent converts. The Old Testament is an intimidating read, so people often wait for pastors or other religious educators to teach them about it rather than exploring it themselves.
But it’s important to read the whole Bible, including the Old Testament, to grow in your faith. Keep reading to learn three reasons why Christians should read the Old Testament beyond growing in their faith.
The identity of Jesus as the son of God and savior of fallen mankind is the most important part of Christianity and distinguishes it from other world religions. That means that no matter how long you’ve been a Christian or what your conversion story is, Jesus is involved. And Jesus is in the Old Testament, too, even though you may think it’s less obvious than in the New Testament.
While the New Testament tells us about Jesus’s life, ministry, and the influence of His ministry after His ascension into Heaven, the Old Testament is prophetic about Jesus’s life, ministry, and influence. The more you read the Old Testament, the more you will see the foreshadowing of a coming savior, the savior you believe in, and how He will change the world.
Let’s be honest; the Old Testament is full of horrific scenes. From flooding the world in Genesis to the impending judgment in Malachi, the Old Testament seems more focused on bloodshed than on offering us inspirational and encouraging content. But that’s only the surface of this part of the Bible.
There are influential passages throughout the Old Testament reminding us of how God can turn terrible situations around (Genesis 50:20), how deeply He cares about every moment of our lives (Psalm 139:14), and how He rejoices over us (Zephaniah 3:17). While there are similar encouraging verses in the New Testament as well, you’re cutting yourself off from this encouragement by not reading the Old Testament.
While the Old Testament is great for seeing Jesus foreshadowed and getting encouragement, it also provides important context for the New Testament. The book of Matthew was for Jewish believers who grew up learning the stories and information that Christians now call the Old Testament; you’ll better understand this book if you’ve read that same information.
Hebrews 11 lists many heroes of the faith, some of which are from the Old Testament. To have context on their stories and better understand why they’re faith heroes, you should read the Old Testament. And to better understand Revelation, the complicated apocalyptic book depicting the end of the world, you can go back to the beginning in Genesis. When reading the Bible, context is key, and the Old Testament provides that.
There are many reasons why Christians should read the Old Testament, but three of the most important ones are to see Jesus foreshadowed, be encouraged, and get context for reading the rest of the Bible. Whether you’re a recent Christian convert trying to grow in your faith, or you were raised in this world religion and are trying to better explore your holy book, the Old Testament has something to offer you.