Reading the Old Testament
The Dundonald Kids team have produced this helpful little video which explains how we should read the Old Testament today.
This page features the video, a transcript and some suggested places for further reading.
Illustrated by Ellie Blight – https://www.eleanoramycalligraphy.com/
God tells us that the whole Bible is spoken by God and written for us to help us as Christians. Including the Old Testament. So it is pretty important! But, the Bible was written a long time ago.
This means we have to be careful when we read the Old Testament. We need to be careful to work out what it means for us.
When we read the Bible, we read all the stories about the main characters, from Adam to Joseph to Ruth to David. God says lots of things to the main characters, lots of big and important things.
We might think that everything the main character learns is what we should learn. But this can mean we get muddled.
We are not the same as the people in the Old Testament. We are not the main characters. Most of us don’t have camels and donkeys, and we aren’t living in the middle east.
For example, when God tells one of the main characters to move house and go somewhere else, should we move there too?
We need to remember that the stories about the main characters were written down through God’s Holy Spirit for real people to read. It was written for the first readers. They are the people God was speaking to first through his Word.
In the Old Testament, they are often God’s people Israel. We need to think about what God was saying to them. This will help us.
If we remember the first readers, but then try and learn exactly the same things as them, we can also get all muddled up. Lots of the things they were told by God have changed for us.
For example, they had a special temple where God’s presence was, and they had loads of animal sacrifices to do to say sorry for sin.
What’s changed? I’m sure you know the answer – Jesus!
Jesus changed everything. He tells us that the whole of the Old Testament was written about him. The Old Testament was written looking forward to him. So now that he has come things have changed for God’s people.
Jesus means that what God says to us from the Old Testament can be different from what God was saying to the first readers.
This is how we can read the Old Testament:
We think about the main characters and what God was teaching them.
We think about who the first readers were and what God was saying to them through his Word.
We think about Jesus and what God is telling us about Jesus and how Jesus changes what God is saying to us as Christians.
And this is how we can know what God is saying to us through his word. This is how we can know what it means for us.
Suggested Further Reading