“Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (I Cor. 10:11).
All of the instruction Paul gives to the church at Corinth in this chapter is taken from the Old Testament. Drawing from its rich history, he makes parallels between the story of the Exodus and the subsequent wilderness wanderings and the Christian life. Paul is indeed right to do so for he himself says these things were “written down for our instruction.” That means the entire Old Testament was written to serve as a treasure house of spiritual wisdom so we could learn from its history how to live the Christian life.
That being the case, there is no excuse for the Church to ignore the Old Testament, yet for the most part it does. That’s not entirely true: we use it to teach certain moral lessons or spiritual examples. We study the life of Abraham because it teaches us faith or the story of David and Goliath because it teaches us about spiritual courage. Yet few read the Old Testament for its wealth regarding salvation in Christ and the purpose of God for the Church. We have reduced it to a book containing moral examples and personalized it without understanding it was the treasure house of early church theology.
It is important to remember the First Century Church did not have a written New Testament but only the Old Testament from which to read and learn. We are thankful we now have the New Testament. But could we base all of our beliefs on the Old Testament if that was all we had? Are we learning valuable lessons about the Christian life from the Torah? (the first five books of the Bible written by Moses). Are the Psalms shaping the way we pray and learn to meditate? Do we understand the glories of the New Covenant from reading the Prophets?
The story of our salvation begins in Genesis in a Garden; it ends in a city. This is the story of redemption and when we begin to grasp the flow of this history, it makes the Scriptures come alive. We must read the Bible not only devotionally, but in order to grasp the story. Sadly few do, and the result is they do not view the Old Testament as important. After all, it’s old so why really bother with it? But if we have that attitude we will miss out on the rich treasures, which are ours in Scripture. Remember, when Paul said: “every Scripture is God-breathed” he was referring to the Old Testament since the New wasn’t written yet (II Timothy 3:16). Are you taking the time to learn from what is written in the Old Testament?