Can Christians get by without the Old Testament?

It’s very easy for Christians to forget about and disown the Old Testament isn’t it? I mean, I know I’ve done it countless times. Surely everything we need to know about Christ is in the New Testament. It’s just so boring at times! It’s so… irrelevant considering what Jesus came to do. And what about the so called contradictions between OT and NT? These are the all too familiar objections to valuing the Old Testament as much as the New Testament.

I’m not going to focus on the objections that people have to the Old Testament as such in this post, but what I am going to look at is Christ in the Old Testament and the Big Picture. To do this, here is a table of the prophecies and metaphors of Christ which can be found in the Old Testament…

Book

Example

Verse

Genesis

Seed crushes serpent

3:15

Innocent blood covers sin

3:21

King/Priest Melchizadek

14:18-20

Covenant requires blood sacrifice

8:20; 15:10

A substitute sacrifice

22:13

Christ’s kingdom to come

49:10

Exodus

Moses as deliverer

chapter 3

Aaron as the high priest

28:1

Making intercession

30:1

Passover/Lamb of God

12:1-22

Bread of life

16:35; 25:30

Light of the world

25:31-40

Leviticus

The sacrifice

chapter 1-7

The high priest

chapter 8-10

Numbers

Nazirite vow

6:1-8

Passover celebration

9:1-14

Unblemished sacrifice

19:1-10

The rock

20:7-10

Israel’s king

24:17

The six cities of refuge

35:6-15

Deuteronomy

Moses prophecies about Christ

18:15

Joshua

Scarlet cord

2:18, 21

Ark of the Lord

3:6

The “Commander of the army of the Lord”

5:13-15

Fulfilled promise

23:14

Judges

Judge

(Ps 75:7)

Savior

(Is 45:21)

Ruth

Boaz as the redeemer

chapter 4

1 Samuel

Samuel as the prophet

3:20

Samuel as priest (combining offices of prophet & priest)
David, God’s king

16:1

David as shepherd

16:11

2 Samuel

His eternal kingdom

7:13

Son of God

7:14

1 Kings

Greater prophet than Elijah

(Matt 17:1-5)

Greater king than Solomon

(Matt 12:42)

2 Kings

Superior priest

(Heb 7:22-28)

Greater king

(Matt 12:42)

Final king

(Rev 19:16)

2 Chronicles

Temple

3:1

Ezra

Ezra does the will of God

7:10

Ezra as the priest

7:11

Ezra’s spiritual reform

chapter 10

Nehemiah

Nehemiah’s courage

2:18

Nehemiah as a prayer warrior

2:1-10;6:9-14

Nehemiah’s dedication

8:9, 10

Esther

Ester’s submission & dependence

2:20; 5:4

Esther’s intercession

4:16

Esther’s sacrifice

4:16

Job

There are no direct references to Christ in this book, but Job demonstrates a type of Christ in his suffering, persecution and restoration

Psalms

God’s son will rule the nations

2:7-8

Messiah comes from David’s lineage

110:1

Christ’s zeal

69:9

Christ’s suffering

69:9

Christ’s parables

78:2

Christ’s rejection

118:22

Christ’s priesthood

110:4

Christ’s betrayal

41:9

Christ’s crucifixion

22:1-18

Christ’s resurrection

16:9-11

Christ’s kingdom

8:6

Proverbs

There are no direct references to Christ in this book. However, the qualities of a life wisely lived – obedience to God, right behavior patience and wisdom illustrate Christ.

Ecclesiastes

Christ’s view of materialism

2:1-11, 18-26; 4:4-6; 5:8-14

Christ’s view of obedience

11:7-12:14

Song of Songs

Christ is the Husband of His bride, the church

(Rev 21:2)

Isaiah

Emmanuel

7:14

Davidic ruler

9:6, 7

Branch of Jesse

11:1-5

Precious cornerstone

28:16

Shepherd

40:11

Lamb of God

53:7

Servant of God

42:1-4; 49:1-7; 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12

Redeemer

59:20

Jeremiah

Wept for the people

13:17

Suffered injustice

37, 38

Jesus refers to several passages

(Matt 21:13); 5:21 (Mark 8:18); 6:16 (Matt 11:29); 50:6 (Matt 10:6)

Lamentations

Our hope

3:21, 24, 29

Christ reveals the mercy of God

3:22, 23, 32

Our redeemer and judge

3:58, 59

Ezekiel

Ezekiel as the son of man

2:3

The Messiah prophesied

17:1-0 (Is 11:1; Rom 15:12)

Priestly character of the Messiah

45:22

Christ as the divine shepherd

34:11-16 (John 10:11-16)

Daniel

Fourth man in the oven

3:25

Son of man returns

7:13

Vision of Christ

10:5, 6

Hosea

Christ includes all in His family

1:6, 9 (1 Pet 2:10)

Christ as the husband / church as the bride

2:19, 20 (Eph 5:25-32)

Christ taken out of Egypt

11:1 (Matt 2:15)

Christ breaks the power of death

13:14 (1 Cor 15:55)

Praise to Him brings forgiveness

14:2 (Heb 13:15)

Hosea buys back his bride

3:1-3

Joel

Christ our saviour

2:32

Amos

No references to Amos. However, this book is quoted in the New Testament

Obadiah

Final day of the Lord

verse 15 (Isaiah 11:6-9)

Jesus as savior

verse 21

One Lord of the kingdom

verse 21

Jonah

God’s love for the whole world

4:10,11 (John 3:16)

Micah

Christ foretold

1:3-5

Christ the Word of God

2:2

Christ as King and Lord

2:12, 13 (Luke 4:18)

Christ born in Bethlehem

5:2

Christ as shepherd

5:4

Christ’s dominion

5:4

Prince of Peace

5:5

Nahum

Christ our peace

1:15

Lioness replaced by Lion of Judah

2:11, 12 (Rev 5:5)

Habakkuk

Came in the fullness of time

2:3 (Gal 4:4)

Foundation of Christ’s message

2:4 (Rom 1:16, 17)

Salvation through God’s Anointed

3:13

Zephaniah

The just hidden with Christ

2:3 ( Col 3:2, 3)

Rejoicing over the saved

3:16, 17 (Luke 15:7)

Haggai

Christ, the desire of all nations

2:7

Christ indwells human temples

2:7 (1 Cor 6:19, 20)

Christ, the Prince of Peace

2:9

Zerubbabela sing of the servant

2:23 (Matt 1:12)

Zechariah

The Lord’s servant, the branch

3:8

Both king and priest

6:11-13

The man – the branch

6:12

The meek king

9:9 (Matt 21:5)

The true shepherd

11:4-11

Sold for 30 pieces of silver

11:12, 13 (Matt 26:15

The pierced Savior

12:10 (John 19:37)

The suffering Savior

13:7 (Matt 26:31)

Christ’s second coming

14:4

Malachi

Messenger of the new covenant

3:1

Christ’s judgement

3:2

Son of Righteousness in victory

4:2, 3

 

Of course, just to leave the post at this table wouldn’t do the post justice. There is a reason as to why I’m just putting down a list of OT prophecies.

The point I’m trying to make is that the Old Testament is the story of Jesus. It is the massive sign that points directly to him. And the main reason why I think the Old Testament is important for Christians to know is because Jesus tells us that it’s about Him...

Luke 24: The Resurrection

1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8And they remembered his words, 9and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

On the Road to Emmaus

13That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

36As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish,43and he took it and ate before them.

44Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

The Ascension

50Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53and were continually in the temple blessing God.

The reason why Christians should value and know the Old Testament is because it reveals everything about Jesus himself. Excuses about overly long genealogies and boring battle facts and reading about a nation foolishly turning its back on God time and time again won’t cut it for Jesus. The Bible is God’s big, big story, with you and Christ at the heart of it. To cut out the Old Testament out is like starting the story half way through. How are we supposed to know everything about Christ if we don’t know the first thing about him?

EDIT: Here is a great article on the same subject by the National Catholic Register: http://www.ncregister.com/site/article/rhyming-covenants/ (Thanks Biscuitnapper for the heads up!)

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Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about

  • Great post and a timely reminder. People forget that the early Christians could have just collected the Gospels and the Epistles to make the Bible but chose to include the Old Testament precisely because they saw Christ as the fulfillment of it. Isn’t it interesting that in Acts, whenever Paul meets members of the Jewish community who were intrigued by his teaching, they always go through the Old Testament to see if what he was saying was true?

    One could say that the truth of Christ rested on the revelation within the Old testament. There’s a great article on this very topic that Mark Shea recently wrote here (no such thing as coincidences!) – http://www.ncregister.com/site/article/rhyming-covenants/

    • Thanks Biscuitnapper! And what an interesting thing… I will make sure to have a look at it! 🙂 Hope you’re well!