Skip to comments.7 Reasons the Old Testament is Neglected
Posted on 07/06/2014 3:19:13 AM PDT by HarleyD
Youll find our text this morning in the Old Testament I know this is a rare announcement on a Sunday morning, but when you heard it last, what did you think? Oh no! Not another historical lecture. Were going to get a whipping with the law today. Why? I came to church to hear about Jesus. Whats Israel and Babylon got to do with my family struggles?
Or maybe you didnt just think it. You said it or emailed it to the pastor afterwards. And pastors are feeling the pressure. Some surveys put the ratio of Old Testament to New Testament sermons at 1 to 10. Some would like it nearer 0 to 10.
But might this imbalance in the spiritual diet of most Christians explain many of the spiritual problems in the modern Church and in modern Christians? Or as Gleason Archer put it: How can Christian pastors hope to feed their flock on a well-balanced spiritual diet if they completely neglect the 39 books of Holy Scripture on which Christ and all the New Testament authors received their own spiritual nourishment?
Where did the Old Testament go?
It wasnt always like this. The Church used to have a much more balanced diet. So how did we get here?
1. Liberalism: The sustained attack on the Old Testament by liberal scholars has shaken many Christians confidence in this part of the Bible.
2. Ignorance: It is almost impossible to understand large parts of the Old Testament without knowledge of the historical context and geographical setting. But, while this knowledge was once widespread, many now know little or nothing of biblical history.
3. Irrelevance: Some look at the historical and geographical details of the Old Testament and wonder what possible relevance can events and places from thousands of years ago have for me? And anyway, the New Testament teaches that many Old Testament practices have stopped. So, why study them?
4. Dispensationalism: Although unintended, the dispensational division of Scripture into different eras tends to relegate the Old Testament to a minor role in the life of the Church, and of the individual Christian.
5. Bad Examples: Bad examples of Old Testament preaching and teaching are easy to find and even easier to ridicule. The malpractice of some, however, should not lead to the non-practice of others.
6. Laziness: Studying the Old Testament is often more intellectually demanding than the New Testament. The familiar paths of the Gospels seem much more inviting than Leviticus, 2 Chronicles, or Nahum!
7. Christ-less preaching: Perhaps the greatest reason for so little interest in the Old Testament is that there has been so much Christ-less teaching from the Old Testament. At a popular level, Old Testament preaching has often degenerated into mere moralism (e.g. Ten lessons from the life of Moses). At an academic level, there seems to be a determination to downplay and even remove any possibility of Christ-centeredness in the Old Testament. Little surprise then that many turn away from the Old Testament and towards the New in order to find and enjoy Jesus.
How do we get the Old Testament back?
How can we fight and even reverse these trends? Well, we must combat liberal theology by treating the Old Testament as the inspired Word of God. We must patiently study biblical history and geography, and learn how to profitably connect the past to the present. We must avoid the weaknesses of dispensationalism. We must identify and avoid bad practice, as well as search for, value, and learn from good preaching and teaching models. And we must be willing to put in the hours, the sweat, the toil, and the tears, as we break up the long-untilled ground of the Old Testament.
Above all, despite the prevalence of Christ-less moralism and the pressures of Christ-less academia, we must strive to find and enjoy Christ in the Old Testament. That alone is what makes Old Testament study profitable and enjoyable. It also produces the wonderful blessing of Christ-centered spiritual heartburn (Luke 24:32).
Adapated from Jesus on Every Page by David Murray.
Also because folks assume that the OT belongs to the Jews just as the NT belongs to the Christians.
Another reason is the falsehood that EVERYTHING was nailed to the cross. A more thorough reading of teachings in the new testament in the Greek would be very beneficial. In the old testament see the Hebrew words for “throughout your generations” and “forever” in reference to how long we are
To keep Yahovah God’s commandments.
I think that would fall under the ignorance column.
Even better, have an excellent English translation of the OT.
I agree with almost all of this article. I also like Ligonier Ministries and R. C. Sproul. However, I think the attempt to blame Dispensationalism is misplaced. Dispensationalists see the study of Biblical history as an adjunct to learning about God and the various ways He has dealt with man.
Instead, I would point the finger at replacement theology which sidelines the Jews and teaches that the Church replaces the Jews in all of God’s promises.
Or because we live in the “new covanent times” and the OT represents the old covanent.
As good as the English translation may be it will never convey the full meaning the Hebrew does. Even a superficial study of Hebrew will reveal the amazing depth of this language.
“The New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old is unveiled in the New” (St. Augustine)
I agree with this article very much.
Growing up my Mother’s Bible had a middle column that tied almost every contextual verse back to its meaning or “reflection” within the Old Testament. I called it a “preacher’s” Bible at the time LOL.
Now I contemplate that old Bible, well over 60 years old and handed down to her grandchild, as an amazing Bible full of the Wisdom and contextual truths.
Too many Christians today like to live in snippets, blurbs, and single of half-line quotes and think they are living in The Word, when in reality they are living in only half the truth. Not so much here on FR, but in the real world and the heresy spouted from the mouths of politicians and liberals one often finds Satan’s misguidance. A few days ago I bumped into a liberal online as we discussed the forced redistribution of wealth through taxation verses Biblical Charity and how one is stealing and the other is Biblically moral.
They threw Proverbs 6:30 at me as proof we are not to punish a poor man who steals, but the verse ends with a semicolon. If one reads Proverbs 6:30-31 one realizes it is actually an admonishment to the poor man, NOT to steal from the rich. Which simply tails back to Thou shalt not covet as a starting point. There the conversation ended as I then was called the holier than thou woman.
So yes in our modern day world of progressive socialism, Pelosi Catholicism, and Islamic christianity it is of true vital importance to not only know the New Covenant, but also the Old Covenant, for within the Old we became renewed by the New. God’s wisdom didn’t die on the Cross, His Wisdom was renewed by the Cross(note the capitalization there).
Dispensationalism tends to highlight OT studies, rather than cause their neglect. Many of the same errors experienced by believers in other dispensations are repeated in this Church Age.
31"Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD.
The Old Testament should not be ignored, but if it is to be considered the current "Law of the Land", then Jesus need not have walked the Earth and died for our sins. The prophets need not have prophesied, and we should all be held accountable for being deserving of Salvation by our own merits. Can't have it both ways.
So it would be important then for one to know both the Hebrew and Greek?
Old school retribution. The Old Testament is dripping with it. It’s a reminder of the price to pay should they disregard the words of the New Testament.
Without the promise to Abraham there would be no sound scriptural basis for gentile Christians.
God is love. So every command, every punishment ever dished out was solely for our benefit and welfare. What the Old Testament shows is that no matter how God tries to entice us, either through encouragement or punishment, we simply don’t want much to do with Him.
That should tell us much of how “loving” we actually are when we want to reject perfected love.
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
“Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.”
It seems to be of opinion of the Christian’s deified rabbi and his student Paul for Christians the Torah (the five books of Moses) was a decent thing to pursue.
Psalm 119:160 “All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.”
Deuteronomy 4:2 “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.”
Deuteronomy 12:32 “See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.”
There are a few things that might need to be “re-aligned”, for lack of a better term.
1. You have to get rid of those teaching Dominionism, which is all that ‘new Jerusalem’ stuff. (D’ey’s only duh one and only!)
2. There is the fallacy, even taught among Pentecostals, that there is no need for the OT, except ‘to show where we came from, until the cross’.
3. There is the fallacy, even among Pentecostals, that the Jews have no chance of redemption, but when you look at the OT, and to ‘the letters’, it is written: ‘To the Jew FIRST, and then to the Gentile’.
4. There are too many churches that teach, (sorry) “Christ, yo’ buddy”. (How d’at to be, iffen dah woids ‘Lawd a lawds is d’ere?)
The God of the Old Testament was a lot of things, "yo' buddy" wasn't one of them...
That's how it is with many facets of modern worship, actually: it's all about having fun and feeling good. People don't want to worship God at a reverential service; they want to go to a service with rock bands and jam out like they're at a concert. They don't want to have a Bible study that covers OT historical information; it's far better to talk about familiar concepts from the New Testament because that makes for a fun social experience.
Ditto. Raised as a Catholic I’ve never noticed any paucity of Old Testament reading. Jewish Tradition is also referenced very frequently.
Good point...... And may I add that is the case also in most evangelical bible-based Protestant churches. For instance in our presbyterian PCA church it is considered true that to properly study the New Testiment we MUST use the references in the Old Testiment for understanding in the full context.
That's called a concordance and is found in many good study bibles such as the "New American Standard". It is very handy to have .... Actually essential .
As a child I thought (mistakenly) that the Old Testament God was a cruel and angry God, and that the New Testament portrayed a kind a loving God.
Little did I know at that time how much the Gospel writers and Jesus used the Old Testament in their teachings. Especially Matthew. But all have some quotes.
“4. Dispensationalism: Although unintended, the dispensational division of Scripture into different eras tends to relegate the Old Testament to a minor role in the life of the Church, and of the individual Christian.”
Dispensational theology simply teaches that all the a scripture is for us, but it isn’t all about us.
The best verse-by-verse exposition of the OT I’ve ever heard is from dispensationalists.
Actually, I think he's referring to the cross reference index with regard to that "middle column" he refers to. The concordance is generally in the back.
The first Bible Study I taught was Exodus. It seemed easy because there was so much history in it.
When it came to teaching Isaiah, though, I had to do a lot more studying and preparation.
Genesis was fairly easy.
So were the Psalms — a two part series.
Women of the Old Testament opened my mind to life in those days.
In other words, I have learned so much from the Old Testament.
I would like to teach Ezekiel and Daniel for I think they tie into the Book of Revelation, which I have taught.
The Early catholic Church had the same Old testament as Jews from 70—90 AD
Catholic church still has the same old testament today!
Jesus didn’t have the New Testament. He lived the Old Testament. I also wonder about His ruling of the world as King of Kings, which laws will be enacted. The Old Testament law is the Father’s love for His children. My favorite book- Leviticus. Can’t read the New without the Old. Maybe we should change the name “Old.” The Word is living and timeless.
All my would-be Christian life was unsatisfactory until I visited synagogue and learned Torah and other Jewish literature over the year I spent there.
I’d recommend the experience to any committed Christian.
Without reading the Old Testament, it’s very hard to understand what Jesus and the New Testament writers are talking about. It’s like trying read modern English literature without being aware of Shakespeare.
My son and I observed that Isaiah is like “Hamlet”: the book that contains at least 50% of everyone’s quotations and imagery. Jeremiah is “Julius Caesar,” with the dirty political intrigue. Ezekiel is “The Tempest,” where you can’t really be sure what’s going on, but it’s cool.
The love of the Father to His children of Israel is missed by many. Today, even more so with the degradation of men and lack of fathers. Satan hates good fathers, because they are representative of the Father. The Pentateuch came to me as a law of love once I became a parent. I would not want anyone else but “Abba” being my buddy.
His choice of the tiny nation was not only because of their tenacity in keeping the copy of His Law intact for thousands of years but to glorify His Name through them and bring the knowledge of His love for all nations culminated in the life of His Son. Jesus did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. The laws prophesying His life, the sacrifices, etc., were fulfilled, but the laws concerning how we are to live, every one still stands.
This separation of meaning behind each Law will probably be revealed during His reign on earth. Will murderers who are unrepentant live on death row? I think not. Will adulterers live? I think not. Accountability is the greatest means of prevention. If you think you can get away with breaking the law, you will. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom [and IMHO love, joy, and peace].
Dear null and void,
As to: “4. There are too many churches that teach, (sorry) Christ, yo buddy.
The God of the Old Testament was a lot of things, “yo’ buddy” wasn’t one of them...”
Why do you think I said that? Because there ARE churches teaching that Christ is a buddy.
I always tell people who say “well that’s just the Old Testament” do you believe God is schizophrenic? He says something in the Old Testament and then changes his mind and says something different in the New Testament? Even Jesus said that the old laws were still valid. God does not change his mind. Whatever he says is forever.
I’m not disagreeing with you, I intended to emphasize your point, not contest it.
Sorry I wasn’t clear on that.
Genesis was fairly easy.
Genesis is not easy. There's a lot going on (even if you're not into nephelim-obsessed nuttiness).
For instance, I've been through Genesis studies where it was walked through, a bare history. We never discussed anything the New Testament said about the significance of Abraham.
I would like to teach Ezekiel and Daniel for I think they tie into the Book of Revelation, which I have taught.
The more you read the prophets, the more you'll get out of the Apocalypse.
Every time I go through Revelation, I'm impressed by how much John drew from the Old Testament, esp. the prophets. It's almost like he's providing an authoritative NT commentary on the prophets.
Ezekiel is The Tempest, where you cant really be sure whats going on, but its cool.
Genesis wasn’t easy to do. It was just easier to understand some of the time. Yes, the mentioning of Abraham and all the other details were ones we spent quite a bit of time on.
We also used a timeline that tied into other Old Testament writings as well as to where various passages were quoted in the New Testament.
What is amazing about Christ’s teachings is how often he pulled on the Old Testament to teach the Pharisees and rich Sadducees, but they never seemed to grasp his teachings.
I think that is one of the reasons most people shy away from the Old Testament. Every commandment ever given was given for our benefit by a loving and caring Father. One should read the Old Testament with the view that since God is love, what are we doing that is making God so angry or for what purpose was a command given? (Yes, even in Leviticus.) It gives a whole different perspective.
We didn’t do comparisons for the Minor Prophets. Maybe next time we read through them we will.
Have any of you become tired of a Bible Study series and started to use other sources as you taught a class. This has happened to me. We had a left-leaning Adult Education leader who chose the Little Rock series. It is good for a beginning Bible Study, but takes a lot from Collegeville Commentary (modern leanings.)
To me it was good because it was basic and historic in most cases. I had some differences with it and used supplementary materials in Genesis, John, and one other study.
I just did a search on Little Rock and the Catholic Answers forums have three discussion on it, verifying my judgments.
I’m ready for something deeper and am thinking of Jeff Cavins or Scott Hahn or Ignatius. Tax-chick — any experience with any of those?
I think it's almost inevitable that guidance would be taken from additional sources. When someone claims they "just read the Bible", look closely. Usually, they're just unaware of their own presuppositions, and are unable to examine them.
Im ready for something deeper and am thinking of Jeff Cavins or Scott Hahn or Ignatius. Tax-chick any experience with any of those?
My understanding is Scott Hahn has done some writing in covenant theology, that (from the excerpted quotes I saw) looked interesting. Reformed protestant theology is thick with it. (See the link in my post earlier in this thread.) I've got no idea how that would integrate into an RCC worldview.
Several things that I plan on doing when I retire is go through the writing of the early church fathers and read some commentaries. I’ve often wonder why, if someone is going to study a book of the bible, they don’t take a commentary or even a topical study dictionary as the book to study? These are scholarly works rather than opinions and conjectures. Even if you took John Calvin or Anselm’s writings, there should be some nuggets there to agree or disagree with. And, choosing a Protestant if so incline, should make for a lively bible study.
Reading is one thing.
Exposition is another. The writer.is correct. Where it used to be that Christians we’re well versed in old testament history and geography they are no more.
I think you have a wise plan there.
I do have a fairly good study Bible but would love to find one for the Jerusalem Bible since it is used worldwide almost everywhere other than the U. S.
I also think that every person who teaches a Bible Study should have a concordance. I don’t take mine to class, but I always have it handy. Maybe I should change that, despite the weight of the book.
Scott Hahn writes a lot about covenant theology. Try “A Father Who Keeps His Promises” for an overview; this is a high-school level text, iirc, but gives an idea of what to expect from some of his other work.
I have the Navarre Bible commentaries. This set has the RSV text (English) and the New Vulgate (Latin), with commentaries that include simple historical explication, quotations from the Fathers, and modern European theologians.
The “New Advent” website has a substantial amount of early writings available online, iirc. If you want to read St. John Chrysostom’s sermons on the Gospel of Matthew, for example, they can be found there.
How about an electronic version? Not everything modern is bad ;-)