How to understand the Old Testament

It’s not uncommon to hear people say they have a hard time understanding the scriptures.  This is especially true of the Old Testament, which is practically out of reach for most people.  Personally I have found that the only way to really understand the Old Testament is to view it in the light of Jesus Christ.

When the Lord appeared incognito and walked with two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus, he began with Moses and the prophets and went through the entire Old Testament and showed them how it all spoke of Him.  He told them the story they already knew, but He cast it in the light of Himself.  And as He did their hearts were opened and they understood the Old Testament for the first time.  It was such a powerful experience that it caused their hearts to burn within them.

Think about it!  While He was here on earth the Lord gave His own personal Bible study.  And the only subject He spoke on was the subject of Himself!  And as He spoke, suddenly all those histories, prophecies, and laws began to make sense.  It was like a whole new book to those two disciples.  Only now it was no longer a book to them.  Now it was the revelation of a Person, the revelation of Jesus Christ!

And as they saw the Lord in the scripture, or rather, as they came to see for the first time the true meaning of scripture in the light of the Lord, their sorrow over the cross was turned into great joy.

How many people are there today, even Christians, whose apprehension of the cross is a very sad thing?  It’s like they have only half a gospel.  They know that Jesus died for them, but they don’t see that Jesus rose for them!  That He is alive, that He is the living Christ, and that His death only has meaning in light of His resurrection. 

I’m getting off on a bit of a tangent here, but I think it serves to demonstrate my point.  Somewhere in Acts it says that the religious rulers in Jerusalem never saw the true meaning of the scriptures they heard proclaimed every week in the synagogue, and because of this they eventually fulfilled them by condemning Jesus.  All they had was a letter, you see.  They had no revelation and no living encounter with Him of whom the letter spoke.   Thus they never understood what the scriptures were really saying, because that is the only way to understand your Bible, to have a living encounter with Christ.  The voices of Moses, the prophets, and the psalmists are clear, and they speak very plainly of Jesus Christ. 

Try this.  The next time you open the scripture to read, approach it with this prayer in your heart: “O Father, show me Your Son.”  And as you read, view everything in the light of Christ.  Make Christ your point of reference.  The Holy Spirit will lead you in a Bible study on the only subject He majors in-Christ (John 16:14)!  And your testimony will be like the testimony of those two disciples:

“Did not our heart burn within us while he talked to us on the way and opened to us the scriptures?”

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About Joshua

Writer, husband, father, friend. View all posts by Joshua

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