“Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction” 1 Corinthians 10:11
Why should we read the Old Testament? Well, Israel’s history is like an instruction manual. It reveals who God is, what pleases Him, and how the faithful are to live. One evidence of the Bible’s authenticity is that it records failures of faith as well as victories. The lives of the Old Testament saints serve as both examples and warnings for believers today. In fact, the Old Testament illustrates what the New Testament teaches.
For instance, God delivered Israel from slavery so they could enter His land of promise. What the Old Testament illustrates in a place of promise, the New Testament reveals in the person of promise. Salvation through Jesus brings forgiveness of our sins—an exit from bondage (Romans 6:17–18). Salvation is also an entrance into the life of Christ—the Messiah.
Most believers focus on what they’ve been saved from more than who they’ve been saved to. Consequently, they understand their salvation but not their sanctification. But we’re not just escaping eternity in Hell. We’re also escaping slavery to sin here and now. Why then do we fail so often?
Paul points again to the Old Testament. Israel’s history is an example for us, “so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved” (1 Corinthians 10:6). Even though God positioned His people to enter the promised land victoriously, they were not in the right condition to do so. Things such as idolatry, immorality, and ingratitude stood in the way of victory (1 Corinthians 10:7–10). They were defeated physically because they were first defeated spiritually.
Likewise, as born-again believers we are positioned in Christ—a fact that never changes. But our condition is determined by our submission to the Lordship of Christ, or the lack thereof. So, if we’re not experiencing the conditions of our position, then some area of disobedience is standing in the way.
So, why should we read the Old Testament? Because every part of God’s Word is beneficial for believers. What light does Israel’s experience shed on your own life? In what area do you need to heed Paul’s warning to avoid Israel’s mistakes? Remember, while your salvation is secure in Christ, the condition of your faith can fluctuate. Why not live today in the victory Jesus has already won?