The Old Testament can be a daunting read. There are so many strange names and places and events. How do you fit it all together? Why does God seem so severe in the Old Testament? Why couldn’t the Israelites get their act together?

            We need a key to help us unlock the Old Testament. Thankfully, Jesus gives us one! Jesus says in John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” In other words, many Jewish people in Jesus’ time believed that the Scriptures showed them the path to eternal life by living according to God’s Law. Jesus is saying, “You’re missing something. Ultimately, the Old Testament Scriptures are all about Me!”

            That’s the key to reading the Old Testament: look for Jesus!  No, the Old Testament doesn’t directly describe Jesus’ ministry and His death and resurrection in the same way as the books of the New Testament. However, the Old Testament is filled with prophecies about Jesus, and oftentimes, the writers of the New Testament are telling us how Jesus fulfilled these ancient prophecies. For example, in Peter’s sermon on Pentecost Sunday, he preaches from the Old Testament books of Joel and the Psalms, showing how Jesus is the Risen Savior foretold by the Old Testament (see Acts 2). Peter was doing what Jesus taught him to do. Jesus taught His disciples, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). All of the major parts of the Old Testament prophesy about and foreshadow the coming of Jesus and the deliverance He brings us.

            In Old Testament times, God provided forgiveness for His people’s sins through the sacrifice of animal offerings. In the New Testament, we hear the Good News that all those sacrifices were foreshadowing the one sacrifice for all sins of all time: Jesus Himself on the cross. In the Old Testament, we see that God provided numerous prophets and priests and kings to speak His Word to Israel, to offer sacrifices on their behalf, and to reign over them. In the New Testament, we see that Jesus Himself is our Prophet, Priest, and King. He is the One whom those Old Testament offices were pointing toward. He is the Word of God. He is the Offering for our sin. He is the King who brings us into His kingdom of grace.

            There are other practical things you can do to gain a better understanding of the Old Testament. Using a reliable study Bible such as the Lutheran Study Bible or the Today’s Light Bible from Concordia Publishing House can help you navigate the various books and themes and historical backgrounds of the Old Testament. 

            Our Sunday morning Bible study will now be focusing on one of the most prominent books in the Old Testament, the book referenced more than any other in the New Testament: the book of Isaiah. As we read Isaiah’s words together, we’ll not only be seeking a better understanding of life in Old Testament times, but we’ll especially be looking for Jesus! I invite you to join us as we discover all the ways that Old Testament prophets like Isaiah show us our Savior.

            Peace in Christ,

                        Pastor Kory Janneke