Updated: Nov 11, 2019
If you are like most Christians these days you aren't reading your Bible. And if you are reading it a little, you are spending the vast majority of your time in the New Testament. The Old Testament makes up roughly 2/3rds of the Bible. A lot of Christians (me included) think the entire Bible is God's Word to us. If you only read the New Testament, I believe you are getting the most important part of the Bible, Jesus came in human form to save the world. But oh, the wonderful things God wants to speak into your life, and you are missing out!
I'm listing some reasons to read the Old Testament. Not in any particular order.
Reason #1 - Read the Old Testament so you will understand the theological concepts in the New Testament.
(See post Reason #1 to read the OT.)
The apostle Paul tells us several times to live by faith. (Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Galatians 2:16, Ephesians 2:8 to name a few.) Paul is repeating this concept from the Old Testament. Paul gets this concept of living by faith from Habakkuk 2:4. The writer of Hebrews spends a whole chapter on faith. Hebrews 11 is called the Faith Hall of Fame. My Bible's chapter 11 title says "The Triumphs of Faith." Awesome examples from the Old Testament of people living by faith.
A big concept in the Old Testament is one on inheritance. 213 Scripture verses talk about this concept and 18 of them are found in New Testament verses! (I love the internet that I can look up things like that!)
Acts 26:18 for example. Jesus is speaking here.
'to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’
You can read Jesus' words and understand them. But if you have read the Old Testament, His words (and the NT authors' words) will have more significance and you will have a greater understanding of the bigger picture.
Reason #2 - It is fascinating!
Ha ha. I bet you thought I was going to say something profound. For the life of me I cannot understand why people think the Old Testament is boring. Yeah, there are parts that seem to repeat and go on and on listing the genealogy of the tribes (which by the way helped prove Jesus was heir to the throne.) But the majority is action packed!
I often wonder why Hollywood producers don't do more biblical movies. They have so much material at their fingertips! I'm sure you know the big accounts in the Bible - Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, Joseph sold into slavery in Egypt and rising to be second in command just below Pharaoh, Moses going to Pharaoh and saying, "God says to let My people go!", the fall of Jericho, Samson and Delilah, David and Goliath, Job and his great suffering, Jonah being swallowed by a great fish, and Daniel being thrown into the lion's den.
If you haven't read the Old Testament, how do you know about these accounts? Perhaps you went to Sunday School when you were little and the teacher told you them. You think a little more deeply now then you did then. At least I hope so. Perhaps you go to church and your pastor talks about some of them sometimes. He pulls out the main points and gives you an application for your life. Kind of like cliff notes. Again, I think your level of understanding is a bit deeper than just that. Perhaps you have seen the movie, The Ten Commandments, or the fairly recent movies Noah with Russell Crowe (which wasn't entirely accurate, but very interesting) or Evan Almighty with Steve Carell (which I thought was very funny.)
But you probably are most familiar with these accounts because of all the literary references to them. You may never have opened the Bible or even be Jewish or a Christian and you would know what "David and Goliath", "the wisdom of Solomon" and "my cup runneth over" mean. How about "fought the good fight", "a drop in the bucket", "go the extra mile", "the salt of the earth"? There are more than 1300 documented quotations and allusions to the Bible in the writings of Shakespeare! Read any classic novel and you will see many references to the Bible.
So you have picked up the main accounts just through life - through reading and hearing people speak about them and watching movies. Is that really as informed as you want to be?
Even if you do know about the main accounts, there is so much more fascinating stuff you are missing!
When God gives the Promised Land to His people - wow that is incredible! Consecrating themselves in preparation, crossing the Jordan on dry land, the taking of Jericho,... (See Joshua.)
Deborah, the judge of Israel, and Barak have a mighty battle with Sisera, the commander of King Jabin's army. Sisera's entire army falls to the sword and Sisera flees. He ends up in the tent of Jael the wife of Heber. She covers him and gives him a drink. Sisera falls asleep. And what does Jael do? She takes a tent peg and a hammer and drove the peg into his temple and kills him! Oh my! I wrote in the column of my Bible, "WOW"! Now that is worthy of making any middle school boy go "gross!" (See Judges 4)
You can't find more drama anywhere than in the books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings. (I find these books so interesting I developed a class on The Kingdom Books. Partly so people will understand the history of God's people which leads to our Savior being born. But mostly because they are fun to read!)
Elijah goes up against 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah on Mount Carmel. He beats them at their game - actually God beats them at their game. The people turn back to God. Elijah orders the prophets seized and killed. (See 1 Kings 18)
When I run down my history of the Southern Kingdom, Judah, I always say there were 20 kings - some good and some bad in God's eyes. That isn't entirely accurate. Did you know one of them was a queen? So 19 kings and 1 queen ruled Judah. Queen Athaliah was a bad queen. She had her own grandchildren killed so she could rule! Talk about a bad grandma. But she got hers. (See 2 Kings 11)
Zedekiah was the last king of Judah. He did evil in the sight of the LORD. Zedekiah made the mistake of rebelling against the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. Jerusalem is taken under siege. Famine was severe. When Nebuchadnezzar catches Zedekiah, he slaughters his sons in front of him and then puts his eyes out. Zedekiah is then taken to Babylon where he lives - blind and with his last sight being his sons murdered. (See 2 Kings 24:17 - 25:7)
I could go on and on.
Reason #2 to read the Old Testament:
It is fascinating!
Looking for some good books to read? Why not open your BIble?