Many Christians believe that the Old Testament is no longer relevant for them. They presume, because we are partakers of the “New Covenant” (Jeremiah 31), the Old Testament has become invalid. They couldn’t be more wrong! But they confuse Old Testament with Old Covenant. These are two different things!
Yes, as believers in Jesus, we are included in the New Covenant (and not the Old Covenant) but God’s word is unchanging and everlasting (comp. Isaiah 40:8, Matthew 24:35). The Old Testament, also known as Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, continues to be God’s eternal word.
Jesus affirmed the Old Testament
Even Jesus himself and the Apostles affirmed the continued validity of the Hebrew Scriptures (in Hebrew “Tanakh”). By quoting countless passages from the Old Testament, they affirmed that the Hebrew Scriptures are the foundation of everything they taught themselves. The Old Testament underlines the credibility of Jesus, the Gospel and the entire New Testament.
Jesus said in Luke 24:44 that he had to fulfill what Moses (the Torah), the Prophets and the Psalms (the poetry books) wrote about him. And this is what many Christians miss: Jesus is the central focus of the Old Testament. Every book of the Old Testament points to him. So how can anyone claim it has become invalid?
The Old Testament speaks of Jesus
Every book of the Old Testament looks towards a future Messiah, a future King of Israel.
The Biblical Feasts that God appointed for Israel to keep annually, point to God’s plan of world redemption:
- The blood of the Passover lamb protected the Israelites from certain death.
- Israel’s Exodus from Egypt mirrors our salvation from sin and Satan’s rule.
- The giving of the Ten Commandments on Mt Sinai point towards the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out and God inscribed his law on our hearts.
What does Tanakh mean?
The Hebrew word for the Old Testament is Tanakh. It is an acronym of the words Torah, Nevi’im, Ketuvim, which reflects the order of the Hebrew Bible.
Torah, lit. “instruction”, corresponds to the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible.
Nevi’im, lit. “prophets”, are the prophets (except Daniel), plus the books of Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings.
Ketuvim, lit. “writings”, are all other books, most prominently the Psalms, but also Daniel, Ruth, Esther, Ezra, Lamentations and 1 and 2 Chronicles.
When Jesus says in Luke 24:44 that he had to fulfill what Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms wrote about him, he was referring to the Tanakh, in the above state order.
Jesus’ reference to religious but ungodly leaders perecuting God’s prophets (Luke 11:51) also has the Tanakh in mind. Abel was killed in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Tanakh. Zechariah was killed in 2 Chronicles, which is the last book of the Hebrew Bible.
Discover how the Old Testament speaks of Jesus
- God’s law inscribed on our hearts. Understanding Shavuot and Pentecost
- The blood of the Passover lamb
- Leaving Egypt – How Passover relates to Jesus
- Yom Kippur: He bore the sins of many.
- Who is a God like ours? The meaning of Rosh haShana