The Old vs. the New

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). I have just begun a series of articles on the Beatitudes, but before Continuing I want to address a comment made to me by a reader yesterday. Basically, he stated that the Old Testament is not relevant. Now I do not usually answer posts because I receive hundreds of comments on different platforms and pages, but I noticed this one and decided to respond. I am not trying to embarrass anyone, but I think there is value in the conversation we had, albeit brief.

First, let me say this. I enjoy debating someone who has a different view of scripture from me. We can all learn from those conversations or debates, and I am not arrogant enough to think that I am beyond misunderstanding something. That said, let me continue. I replied by referencing Rom. 15:4 and thought that would satisfy his concern, and we could move on, but that was not to be. The gentleman responded by quoting Deut. 25:11-12, “When men fight with one another, and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, then you shall cut off her hand. Your eye shall have no pity.”

I am not confused about the value of the two Testaments. I am a New Testament Christian and live by the teachings of Jesus and the epistles. Col. 2:14, “…by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”  I understand what the sacrifice of Christ on the cross meant, and I am good with that. Heb. 8:13, “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” Again, I understand and accept that the convoluted laws and restrictions were removed by His work.  But, to accept the teaching of the New Testament at the expense of the lessons that can be learned from the Old Testament is short-sighted.

Tell me that Pro. 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” is not a great lesson for us. Or that the story of David and Bathsheba cannot be made relevant to us today. Adultery then was as wrong as it is today. There are literally hundreds of lessons we can learn from the Old Testament, and currently, our Sunday evening service is dedicated to learning from the OT. This was my response to his second comment, “You do not see the value of what can be learned from this? When I was young, my father drank a lot. I learned not to drink and ensure that I passed that on to my sons as well. Negative history lessons result in positive future behavior. Of course, history has valuable lessons, or we would still have slaves, etc.”

There is a vast difference between following the laws and learning from past mistakes and successes. If the Old Testament was merely meant to be a footnote in history, why was it included in the canon?  And why would Paul even utter the words of Rom. 15:4. Moreover, it does not escape anyone who has studied the New Testament just how many times the Old Testament is referred to or quoted by the writers. I trust that my answer satisfied the reader and that he will see the value, not in strictly following all those cumbersome laws, but in learning valuable lessons from our forefathers.

As the now famous saying goes, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” How would we prevent ourselves from repeating those mistakes if we never study them? We stand on the shoulders of the faithful in the past and should embrace everything we can learn from them. Don’t get stuck in a mindset that refuses to acknowledge the possibility of lessons learned from all of God’s precious Word.

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