To avoid reading the Old Testament is to miss out on both rich theology and the infectious excitement of discovering the details of the merciful Master plan for our salvation. I often long to share important elements of Old Testament Scripture with Christians who routinely consider its contents to be little more a “history lesson” and turn exclusively to the New Testament for “in-depth” or “serious” Bible study. Without a doubt, we are free of the responsibility to eat food, purify ourselves and offer animal sacrifices for our sin today because Christ fulfilled those Old Testament laws for us through His death and resurrection; however, we remain bound to the underlying principles set forth in them. Author and Bible scholar Grant Osborne drives this point home by reminding us that “we need holiness and a proper relationship with God as much as [Old Testament Israel] did. The legal regulations properly understood help us center on those critical areas of [principle] in our Christian life.”
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Tim. 3:16
Take a few minutes this week to read the following Scriptural passages and consider, for example, the spiritual principles hovering just beneath the surface of each:
· Lev. 1:1-14: When we realize that the incarnate Christ became sacrifice for us and underwent the atoning process graphically detailed herein, we realize both the seriousness of each sin we commit as well as the depth of the grace and mercy that God through Christ provides us. Once we repent and turn from a given sin, “large” or “small,” the images of this passage and Christ’s substitution should be more than enough to keep us from slipping back into old patterns.
· Lev. 4:1-31: Ignorance is no excuse. When we do not realize we have committed a sin until after the fact, we have still committed a sin and need to ask forgiveness once convicted. By studying God’s Word on a daily basis, we submit to His teaching and guidance which in turn gives us a sensitivity for recognizing and avoiding future potential sins.
· Lev. 11: God uses the details of this chapter to call Israel to be holy, separate from the idolatry and wickedness of the world. He calls us to follow suit in our spiritual lives. Today we face potential wickedness and idolatry in the workplace, through the Internet, on our TV screens, and sadly sometimes even in our social and spiritual circles; this is why it is so, so important that we ask for daily filling from the Holy Spirit as we seek to live righteously in obedience to God.
· Deut. 22:8: As Christ-followers, it is imperative that we take protective measures for our spiritual and natural lives. Consider that the house here represents the foundational faith and spiritual growth of a person. The principle therefore is to make our faith and testimony strong and secure, protected against stumbling blocks that may cause us or others to lose spiritual footing.