Guidance to understand Scripture
How the Old Testament relates to the New Testament
G.S. from the US wrote to us with the subject line, “Can you help me?” He expressed his fascination with the Bible, but was seeking advice about how to deepen his knowledge and understanding.
Hi, I wanted to start with how engrossed I am with the Bible lately. I have been reading it daily and it is so well written, filled with history and lore! I love each section found within the book, from Genesis to Revelations.
Now, there is one thing I can say without a doubt. I LOVE the Old Testament much more than the New Testament. This is only my opinion, but to me I find that the Old Testament develops God as a much more powerful character than the New Testament.
Now, that does not mean I hate the New Testament. There a so many things that the sequel does unlike the original. First, the books focus on ONE prophet, not several. This is important for character development, as it is a lot easier to write about one amazing character than say twelve. The next thing is that Jesus is such a good person in the books, but requires more struggles in his life to spread his message to the world. The book should’ve had him exiled, banished, or sent away. Then, he would gain more of a relationship with God to fuel his desire to spread his word. They should’ve went into more detail about Jesus’ upbringing as he shouldn’t be like a normal child, quite the opposite. He would be able to do all sorts of amazing things if there were more character development to him. It’s sad, but there’s nothing we can do about it.
As amazing as the New Testament is, The Old Testament has soooo much to work off of. What about the burnt offerings? Doesn’t the Lord love those? Why don’t we do those often to please him? What happened to sacrificing drained lamb, cow, or grains to please the Lord?
Also, what about the Ark of the Covenant? The thing that is sacred? What happened to it? I wish there were more about it!
How about altars? What about the molten sea in first kings? How about Zion?
This is the problem with ancient literature, it brings so many amazing topics and subjects to explore and to develop, but it never branches out!
I wish I could learn Hebrew and learn about all the lore myself, taking it in to appreciate the various branched paths storytelling has taken.
I think I have ranted on long enough, please respond to me about what I could do to learn more about the amazing lore of the Bible and understand all of the delicate beauty it has.
Keaton Halley of CMI–US replied:
I’m glad you have a love for the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament. I think it’s fine to be drawn to the Old Testament more than the New in some respects. I myself find the stories interesting and the archaeological corroboration fascinating. I like the wisdom literature too, like Proverbs. So, in some ways, I also favour the Old Testament. I am glad you say though that you love the New Testament too, since that is where the Gospel is revealed most clearly, and where God Himself is most clearly revealed through Jesus. See Hebrews chapter 1, for example. I’d encourage you just to make sure you are not drawn to the Old Covenant system apart from Jesus, because that is not better. The Old Covenant points us to Christ and, as Paul says, Christ is the goal of the law (Romans 10:4). The reason we no longer perform many of the sacrifices from the Old Covenant is that Jesus Christ fulfilled the old law, and He is the final and perfect sacrifice. It would not be appropriate to go back to that old system now that Christ has come. Read Hebrews chapter 10. Jesus reconciles us to God, by God’s grace through our faith in Him. He made a single sacrifice to perfect believers for all time (Hebrews 10:14). To go back to burnt offerings, bulls and goats etc., would be to misunderstand how they pointed to Christ, and what He has done for us.
I don’t think it actually would have been better if the New Testament had been written differently either, with the details you suggest. Sure, it might satisfy our curiosity, but God has given us what He knows is best. The Scripture we have is sufficient for our needs. As 2 Timothy 3:16–17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Notice, Scripture is adequate to equip and complete a man of God in terms of God’s purposes for him. So God knew what He was doing when He breathed out (i.e., spoke) the Scripture exactly as we have it!
As for advice on how to grow in your knowledge and wisdom, I’ll suggest a few things. First, make sure you belong to and attend a Bible-believing church where the Bible is preached regularly. This could include participation in a Sunday school class or small group Bible study as well as the worship service. Second, just keep reading the Bible yourself. Third, you could read commentaries or other books alongside the Bible to help you understand it better, though you always want to have your critical thinking skills engaged since commentaries are not infallible. If you start with Genesis, you might enjoy our commentary on Genesis 1–11 called The Genesis Account. Fourth, you could take classes from a Bible-believing seminary. Fifth, do some reading on creation.com. Much of what we say is devoted to a defense of Genesis, but there is quite a bit about the rest of the Bible as well. For example, I bet you would enjoy my article on Belshazzar and my 3-part series on King Hezekiah. The search field on our website may help you a lot too, if there’s a particular topic you’re interested in.
I hope that’s enough to keep you busy a while. Thanks for the question!
Blessings in Christ,