Has anyone ever said that the Old Testament is just history or old stories? Yeah, I've heard that too. I've also heard people say that we can only learn from the New Testament because we are New Testament Christians.
I must disagree with this reasoning. And believe it or not, obviously those first church people also needed to know that the Old Testament was valuable to read and study. Paul actually writes to the church in Corinth in his letter from 1 Corinthians.
"Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, 'The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.' Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come."
Paul is referring back to what the Jewish people did and were punished for. He states that these things were recorded as examples for us. They were written for our admonition.
Admonition means counsel or warning against fault or oversight. The word carries the idea of alarm, alert, caution, and notice. Let's break down this definition a bit more. The word counsel means to give advice, to coach, to show, guide, tutor, shepherd or mentor. The word warn means to put on guard or caution, to give supportive advice to, or to notify especially in advance.
Thus the Old Testament is meant to be read and studied as an advance warning of sin's consequences. The stories are to be an example to guide us away from wrong and following what is right.
When I teach children from the Old Testament, I try my best to relate the story to them. Why? The story of Daniel in the lions' den or David and Goliath are not there for simple entertainment. These were included in the Old Testament to learn from. There is more of a purpose for the Old Testament than just as a history.
Think about your favorite Old Testament characters and stories. I just completed the book of Esther. Great story. But as I finished the last verse, I thought how something from her story could help me. Right now, in my current situation, the Esther story encourages me that even if I feel I don't understand why I'm in a certain position or place, I never know if God didn't plan it for me to be in this exact place for some specific reason. That's how it was with Esther. God planned for her to be in the exact place she needed to be when her people needed her.
The whole of the Bible is applicable to me and my life, not just the New Testament. God didn't have those scriptures penned just to entertain or provide a history. He included them for us to have an example and learn from them.
What was the last Old Testament scripture you read? What could you apply to your life from that story or passage?