The last two semesters at seminary have been, well… let’s just say eventful. Last semester I enrolled in a two-part course on the Old Testament. There’s a good chance you’re probably thinking how boring that sounds. But I have news for you: it’s actually pretty great!
While there is a fair amount of “x the son of y, the son of z,” there is so much that we can take from the first half of our Bibles. First and foremost, the Old Testament provides us the prequel to Jesus’s story. By that I mean that Genesis gives us our understanding of human and societal sin, where they came from, and sin’s effects on human history in the context of the Ancient Near East (Just read 1 and 2 Kings. You’ll see what I’m talking about). Ultimately, the Old Testament displays humanity’s deep need for salvation and the introduction of the concept of the messiah (Micah 5:2, Zechariah 9:9, and Isaiah 52-53, for example). In other words, the Hebrew Bible shows us why we all need Jesus.
That should be reason enough to pour through and love the Old Testament. But there’s more! The Old Testament has something for fans of nearly every literary genre. Like historical/political dramas? Read Judges or Esther. Big fan of epic poetry? Read Job or the Psalms. Enjoy reading existential philosophy? Ecclesiastes is the book for you. You romantics out there will love Song of Solomon (just make sure you find yourselves a good commentary to help you make sense of all the poetic language, otherwise you’re going to be very confused).
It’s important to remember that although God directed the writing of the Old Testament, it is still a collection of 39 books that were penned (or chiseled) by dozens of authors over several centuries. Each word ultimately points us to Christ, but each writer has his own particular writing style, unique vocabulary, and preferred genre that he uses to reveal God’s word.
I hope this can encourage those of you who avoid the first half of your Bibles in your personal scripture reading. The New Testament is the greatest, most impactful collection of books and letters ever assembled. But without the Old Testament, we lose so much context, so much history, and so many beautiful sonnets that were composed in order to help us fall more deeply in love with our Savior.