Many Christians hesitate to read the Old Testament. Some even carry pocket New Testaments with them and hand them out to others, glossing over the presence of the Old Testament (although many of these pocket Bibles do include Proverbs and Psalms). This attitude is understandable; the Old Testament can be complicated and messy. However, there are many reasons why Christians should read it.
Understand Jewish Roots
Many Christians don’t know they have Hebraic roots. Some are even surprised to learn Jesus was Jewish. Reading the Old Testament gives us a remarkable glimpse into Jewish history and culture. It lets us know why the Jews are seeking their Messiah and exposes us to prophecies about Jesus. This can make it easier to find common ground with Jewish people, whether or not we’re talking about our beliefs.
Learn God’s True Character
Many people, Christian and non-Christian alike, consider the God of the Old Testament intolerant and scary. Taken out of context, many Old Testament stories seem to condone genocide and intolerance. Remember, though, that these stories are only part of God’s epic about His relationship with humanity. They point to how God balances wrath and mercy, and why humanity craves redemption.
The Old Testament contains many prophecies that could only be true if the Bible is God’s Word. Many of these point to Jesus; others talk about the end times or eschatology. The prophets themselves, along with other Old Testament figures, are also incredible character studies on how humans interact with God.