The Old Testament (OT) is a fascinating read. Story upon story, together they weave a rich tapestry. With many fantastical stories, lists of laws and all the fire and brimstone many leave it wondering, what does this have to do with me? What does this have to to with Jesus and the New Testament? Why do we even bother reading it and not just live off of the New Testament alone?

Those are good questions. I know I found myself wondering these same things. Besides some obvious answers: to gain a better understanding of the NT and better understand the need for a messiah. The fact is it shows us how God wants us to live and gives the history of the struggles before Christ.

There are a multitude of very in depth answers, an important one being that it shadows the coming of Christ and God’s promise to us showing us that Christ was his plan all along. That was a fact I struggled with, I mean, then why didn’t God just send him already? While the thousands of years of struggle and turmoil?

The Old Testament shows us how great God is.

Time and again we are shown the stories of sinners- right from the beginning we are given the story of Adam and Eve. God promised them death if they disobeyed, but in his infinite wisdom and grace he let’s them live. Story after story we are shown this. When sin has become so much, when it has taken over nearly every way of life God sends the rain to wipe clean the earth. As far as the eye can see (an perhaps more) the earth is flooded and people die. When Noah survives the flood on the ark God sends him a rainbow as a visual reminder, a promise, that he will not do this again. His greatness is not evidenced simply by his ability to take away, but to grant grace as well.

As we follow Moses, we see story after story of people turning from God. These are people who firsthand saw his miracles, who time and again saw his cloud following them across land, and Him parting the seas! When you hear people say, “Why doesn’t he just come and fix things?” or “If we could only see him” well guess what, been there done that! God rescued His chosen people from Egypt and slavery. They watched as God sent the ten plagues on Egypt. The saw the parting of the Red Sea. Their response? When Moses was taking too long on the top of Mount Sinai in his commune with God they decided to throw in the towel and build an idol to worship instead. When God’s people were starving he sent them manna from heaven. Their reply? “Where’s the beef?” (Numbers 11).

Again and again we are given story after story of God’s greatness, but it was never enough to keep Israel’s faith. Though we would like to think we are different, I don’t know that we are. Have you ever had something happen that can only be attributed to directly answered prayer? Yes. Do you find yourself looking for other ways it may have happened? Yes. I do the same thing. And why do I do this when it is signs of God I am always looking for? Why do I look to undo Him?

The Old Testament shows us how great our sin is.

If anything, the OT is filled with blood. The blood of sinners, the blood of animals, the blood of God’s chosen. It is a horrific set of stories. However, it is important to see blood for what it represents- LIFE. Blood is life. Sin is the opposite- the loss of life. Sin is equivelent to death. When God commanded that sacrifices be made for our sins it was a very purposeful choice. We were worthy of death because of our sin, but he would let us live. He made it clear that these sacrifices were to be made of the best of one’s property, not just the old, beaten down ox that should be put to sleep anyway. God asked his people to sacrifice only their best for Him.

Think about what sacrificing an animal would be like? Even to people who were accustomed to killing for their food could not mindlessly sacrifice their animals. They went into each sacrifice knowing that they had done wrong, they had disobeyed God and his laws. This was to be their blood, their loss of life because sin was so detestable to God. However, he spared them. They watched as the knife slit throats, as rivers of blood pooled and flowed, and heard the sounds of these animals dying to cleanse their wickedness, sometimes by the hundreds. It was a powerful, visual way to remind us again and again what sin cost.

The Old Testament shows us there was no other way

God’s greatness was evident. The price of our sin was visible. Neither of those things seemed to change hearts. Instead, people followed the law to follow the law because of fear or out of pride and self righteousness, not out of some great love or service to God. For thousands of years people served the Lord in this manner, often forgetting or forsaking him when he was not evident, but nothing really changed. Some people were brought to the Lord through witness and testimony of what He had done (think of Rahab the prostitute who hid the soldiers in Joshua 2). Yet many of God’s people continued in sin day after day and wonder away to worship false idols. Yes, this is much like us now, but I still very different. God has shown me through the sacrifice of His Son that I am not worthy, can never be worthy, but nonetheless I am loved. So much so he sent His Son to die for me and only through Jesus am I whole. The ultimate sacrifice was made and no further blood is needed. Only faith, repentance, and a desire to emulate Christ. Because I have been showed the ultimate gift of love and sacrifice I move forward in awe and my heart is changed forever.