Author: Ron Graham
—In the Old Testament
In the foregoing lessons we saw that to lack the Old Testament is to lack God-breathed words of wisdom to profit and equip us for salvation. We don't obey the old law system, because Christ replaced that with a new law-covenant. The Old Testament scriptures are, however, still necessary for us.
We have so far considered two elements of the Old Testament which are very valuable to Christians: (1) The historical facts the Old Testament records; (2) The Messianic prophecies the Old Testament makes. Now we continue, and our topic for this lesson is (3) The good examples of faith recorded in the Old Testament.
Old Testament Examples in New Testament Teaching
The New Testament is peppered with examples of faith and obedience in the people of whom we read in the Old Testament scriptures. The Hebrew writer cited many such examples in Hebrews chapter 11. The Old Testament is a sourcebook of true stories of men and women of God who serve as patterns to encourage us. In this lesson we can note just a few instances of how the New Testament makes use of these examples:
James says, "As an example of suffering and patience, take the prophets... " We could not obey this instruction if we did not have an account of the acts of the prophets of old.
Paul refers to the account of Abraham’s justification, and says it was written not just for Abraham’s sake, but "for our sake also" because we can be justified by following Abraharn’s example. But we have to be able to read what was written about him.
Paul shows that even bad examples are good for us. Speaking of the disobedience of Israel in the wilderness, Paul says, "Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction...
Jude condemns apostate Christians: "Woe to them, for they have gone the way of Cain, and ... the error of Balaam, and ... the rebellion of Korah." This would not mean much to us, and we could not prof it from these examples, if we had no Old Testament to read.
Peter refers Christian women to the godly example of Sarah, but to get the most out of that, Christian women need to be able to read the stories of the holy women of old, like Sarah. For that matter, so do Christian men need the example of these godly women for it was their godliness not their gender that counted.
The writer to the Hebrews speaks of "a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us" who can encourage us to run the Christian race well. But who are these witnesses? The previous chapter (eleven) names several men and women of the Old Testament. The Hebrew writer didn't have time to tell of them all (verse 32). But we can take the time ourselves to go back and read all those stories, and more, and it would be a great pity and loss if we couldn't.
Let’s appreciate and learn thoroughly these precious Old Testament true stories!