Knowing God Through The Old Testament


Discovering The Old Testament
The Riches Of The Old Testament
Knowing God Through The Old Testament
1. Beginnings
2. Settlement
3. Kings
4. Exile
Chart Of The Old Testament Books
The Names Of God In The Old Testament
Jesus Christ And The Old Testament
The Message Of The Old Testament
The Old Testament And You

Managing Editor: David Sper
Cover Photo: Images of Nature/T. Mangelsen
©1990 RBC Ministries--Grand Rapids, MI 49555 Printed in USA

Every person who truly wants to know God must read the Old Testament. Its 39 books introduce the reader to a world of fascinating people, amazing history, lofty poetry, and profound prophecy. The center of it all is not a system of laws and ideals but an infinite, personal God--a God we can know.

This booklet has been written to help you know this God as He has made Himself known through the Old Testament. We encourage you to read this publication, written by David Egner, with your Bible open and pencil in hand. Our prayer is that as you work through these pages your knowledge of God will grow and flourish like a young tree planted beside a sparkling brook.

Martin R. De Haan II, President of RBC Ministries

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The Old Testament story begins before time began. It begins:
  • before there was man.
  • before there were animals, trees, or flowers.
  • before there were planets and stars.
  • before there was water and air.
  • before there was sound.
  • before there was light.
  • It begins with God.

    The Old Testament story emerges like a tiny shaft of light way off in the distance, races toward us through the darkness, and bursts over us in a crescendo of light, color, and sound. It fills our minds, our emotions and our spirits with the majesty and presence of Almighty God Himself.

    It's a marvelous story as it unfolds. It's Adam's story. It's Noah's story. It's Israel's story. It's our story. But most of all, it's God's story. It's the opening of His book, the explanation of His character, and the record of His mighty deeds among men from the beginning of time.

    The Old Testament is a book of great spiritual and personal value. This is because:
  • it tells us about God.
  • it answers questions about how life began.
  • it tells how evil came into our world.
  • it prophesies of the Messiah-Redeemer.
  • it inspires us to holy living.
  • it fills our hearts with gratitude and praise.
  • Even so, the Old Testament has been undiscovered by many people. To them its wealth lies hidden, like a vast vein of gold under someone's backyard.

    Except for a few familiar passages cherished by millions--Genesis 1, Psalm 23, Isaiah 53--it remains a closed book even to many Christians. Comments like these may be heard:

    The Old Testament is not relevant to today's world. Its ideas are old-fashioned and its language is obscure. Who needs to know about old Jewish kings and outdated laws? We need a book for today.

    The Old Testament is filled with things that sound more like myths and legends than realities--serpents that talk and fish that swallow people whole. I'd rather read about things that can be proven scientifically.

    I've tried to read the Old Testament but I find it boring. My mind wanders and I just can't get interested It's pretty dull reading.

    Frankly, the Old Testament scares me. It's too big. Besides, there's so much killing and war. And God seems so mean. The New Testament is more full of love.

    Admittedly, to a new reader the Old Testament does seem overwhelming. It does have sections that are hard to read. And it does contain violence. But once a person grasps some basic facts about it, the Old Testament is not nearly as imposing or old-fashioned as it may seem. It's exciting. It's dramatic. It's realistic. It tells us things we need to know about ourselves and our world. And most of all, the Old Testament tells us about God!

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    Once you discover the Old Testament and begin to read and study it, you will find that it is filled with great riches. Here are some of the reasons it is a treasurehouse of wealth to its reader.

    1. The Old Testament provides the foundation for the whole Bible. The Bible is made up of two Testaments--Old and New. Both are equally part of the Bible. Both tell us about God. Both inform us about basic truths we need to know. But without a grasp of the Old Testament, the New Testament cannot be fully understood or appreciated; without the New, the Old is left incomplete. The Old Testament establishes the foundation of truth, the New Testament then builds the superstructure.

    2. The Old Testament tells us about Jesus Christ. We cannot fully know about Christ and His purpose for coming into our world without studying the Old Testament. It tells us about Him in word pictures and types. It predicts His coming. It puts His ministry into focus. It gives graphic previews of His sacrifice for sin. It goes beyond today to tell us of His judgment of the world and His coming kingdom of peace. In fact, the Old Testament tells us so much about Jesus that some Bible teachers have said Christ can be seen on every page.

    3. The Old Testament provides the foundation for faith in Christ. The Christian faith is built on the Old Testament, Erich Sauer, in his book The Dawn of World Redemption, said this:

    The Old Testament is promise and expectation, the New is fulfillment and completion. The Old is the marshaling of the hosts to the battle of God, the New is the triumph of the crucified One The Old is the dawn of morning, the New is the rising sun and the light of eternal day.

    If Christianity, the "religion of Christ," may be likened to a magnificent cathedral, the Old Testament is its unshakable foundation.

    4. The Old Testament helps us to know God. More than anything, the Old Testament tells us about God. It makes Him known in these ways:

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    The story of the Old Testament begins at creation and ends about 400 year before the birth of Jesus Christ. Its primary setting is Palestine, but its events take place in a variety of locations--the palaces of Egypt and Babylon, the deserts of Sinai and Arabia the mountains of Ararat, Nebo, and Carmel. Although its primary emphasis is on the Jews, its story involves many peoples of the world: Egyptians, Hittites, Babylonians, Canaanites, Syrians, and a host of smaller groups. It tells of migration, military campaigns, political intrigue, and romance. It has heroes and villains; servant girls and queens; prophets and poets; judges, priests, and kings.

    The Old Testament was written over a period of 1000 years (1400-400 BC) by about 30 different authors. Its historical record extends from creation to the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon. It is made up of 39 books, which may be divided into three major sections: history, poetry, and prophecy. The following chart shows you how the numbers 12 and 5 will help you remember the main segments of the Old Testament:

    In this booklet we would like to open the door of the Old Testament to you. We will do so by simply walking through the pages of its history. We will use the four major stages indicated in the diagram below. As we do, we will stop along the way to see how the 39 books of the Old Testament fit into this historical pattern. We will also pause to consider two vital factors that relate to us today.

    First, we will see how God is made known through the four phases of Old Testament history by looking at representative incidents from each phase. As we see how God worked directly in the lives of the people in a supernatural and life changing way, we will learn more about His nature and character.

    Second, we will show you how you can see yourself in the Old Testament. God has not changed, and neither has man. Therefore,what happened in Old Testament days is representative of what happens with us today as well. In that sense, the Old Testament is neither old-fashioned nor outmoded. Rather, it is a book with a great deal to say about God to contemporary man.

    In today's world of stunning scientific advances and tense world conditions, we need to know all we can about God as He is made known in the Old Testament. We need to know a God who is bigger than our world and more powerful than any ruler in it, a God who keeps His Word, a God who rescues the lost, a God who meets the deepest needs of the mankind He brought into existence.

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    The Bible opens with the words, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."1 The first two chapters of Genesis tell how God made the world in six days and rested on the seventh.

    The crown of creation is man. Adam, the first man, was placed in a garden paradise called Eden, where he was to care for the garden.2 The animals were created in pairs, but Adam was alone.3 So God made him a woman4 and told them to have children and to populate the earth.5

    The Garden of Eden was theirs to enjoy--with one exception. They were told not to eat of one tree called "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."6 But Eve gave in to the temptation of Satan, God's adversary, and ate of the forbidden fruit.7 So did Adam, and they fell. They were driven from the garden:8 Eve to have sorrow and pain in childbirth,9 Adam to a life of hard toil to produce food from the earth.10

    Sin had entered the race and would be part of all mankind.11 Yet God promised salvation through the seed of woman12 and pictured that salvation through the provision of coats of skins.13

    So man began to live outside the garden. The tragedy of the fall was demonstrated early when one of Adam and Eve's sons, Cain, killed his brother Abel.14 As the race increased in number, it became more and more wicked.15 Finally, God destroyed it in a great flood.16 Only Noah found grace in God's eyes,17 and through the building of an ark he and his family were spared.18

    From those eight people, the race again multiplied.19 At Babel, man sought to defy God by building a tower to heaven, but God scattered them and gave them different languages.20

    Genesis 12 marks a change in God's dealings with mankind. The Lord singled out one man, Abram, who lived in the city of Ur in Chaldea, and designated him and his offspring as His special people.21 God would make Himself known through them.22 Abram's name was changed to Abraham,23 and he was instructed to journey to a land God would later reveal to him. That land was Palestine, and God gave it to Abraham and his children forever.24

    Abraham and his descendants--Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph--lived as nomads, much as the bedouins of today. Their homes were tents. They raised cattle and sheep. The sense of family was strong, with the oldest living male member serving as patriarchal leader and family priest.

    For a long time it seemed that Abraham would die without a son--in spite of God's promise. But in their old age, Abraham and Sarah miraculously had a son--Isaac.25 Isaac's son Jacob continued the family with 12 sons, men who became the heads of the tribes of Israel. The family stayed in Palestine until a famine drove them to Egypt. One of the 12 sons, Joseph, had risen to prominence in Egypt, and he became their protector and benefactor.26

    The family stayed in Egypt 430 years and multiplied rapidly. Gradually, however, they became enslaved. The future of the family, now a sizable nation, was threatened by a royal order for all male children to be killed.27 God called a man named Moses, who had been raised in Pharaoh's court, to lead Israel to freedom.28 After a bitter contest with Pharaoh, they marched across the Red Sea (which God parted miraculously) and into the wilderness, heading for Canaan, the Land of Promise.29

    On the journey, Moses received the Law of God on Mount Sinai,30 as well as instructions for building a tent of worship.31 They arrived at the edge of Canaan and sent in spies.32 But the courage they had when they confronted Pharaoh left them, and the people refused to undertake the conquest of the Promised Land.33 Because of their unbelief, God sentenced them to wander 40 years in the desert wilderness until the entire generation had died.34

    As the first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch) conclude, Israel is assembled on the banks of the Jordan River. Moses, their great leader, is dead; but a new leader, Joshua, is ready to lead the march into Canaan.35

    Seeing God. Now that we have reviewed the history recorded in the Pentateuch, let's go back for another look. Remember, our goal is not merely to know the story of the Bible but to know the God behind the story--and to see ourselves in relationship with Him. The first five books are packed with information that helps us know God, so let's look at one representative incident: the story of Noah in Genesis 6--8. As you read the account of Noah's rescue from the flood, you will see these truths about God:

    For further study. Look up the following passages from the Old Testament. Using the example we just gave as a pattern, ask yourself what the following incidents reveal about God.

    Seeing Ourselves. In the early chapters of Genesis we are told of Adam and Eve's decision to disobey God. In that act we see our own willfulness and our readiness to break His commandments. Here are several other ways we may see ourselves in the first five books of the Old Testament and Job:

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    When the section of "Beginnings" ended, Israel was positioned on the bank of the Jordan River, ready to invade Palestine. Israel's leader, Moses, was dead; but God had raised up Joshua, a new leader, to take the people into Canaan.1 Their first obstacle was the Jordan River.2 Walking behind the Ark of the Covenant, the entire nation moved forward. When the feet of the priests carrying the Ark touched the river, the waters "piled up" and the people crossed into the land promised to Abraham.3

    Directly in their path was Jericho, a walled and fortified city. By a miracle, the walls fell flat and the city was conquered.4 After a brief delay at Ai because of Achan's sin, the armies marched into Canaan.5 In a brilliant military campaign, they conquered most of the Promised Land.6 The tribes settled in the regions allotted them by God, and tribal leaders ruled the people. Conquered cities became tribal strongholds and the people became craftsmen, farmers, and shepherds. After Joshua died, the tribes became more and more independent. There was little central government. Judges arose to give regional leadership--men like Othniel, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson7 --but conditions generally deteriorated until Israel was in a state of anarchy. We are told that "everyone did what was right in his own eyes."8

    A beautiful little love story is told about Ruth, a Moabitess widow of an Israelite, who was rescued from poverty by Boaz.9 Because he was a relative through her mother-in-law Naomi, he could marry her and thus buy back her husband's land for her inheritance.

    As the 10th century opened, the tribes of Israel were threatened by the Philistines. Samson held them back for a while, but after his death the danger increased. The need for the tribes to combine their strength became evident.

    Seeing God. As we look back on the period of Israel's settlement, we can see God in a way that will help us know Him better. For an example, read the account of Israel's crossing of the Jordan River (Josh. 3,4) and observe these truths about God:

    For further thought. Using the approach we used above, read these incidents from Joshua, Judges, and Ruth, and ask yourself what those passages tell us about God:

    Seeing Ourselves. The people of ancient days were very much like us. Consider, for example, the following:

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    At the end of the previous section, we saw that Israel was at a spiritual low, in a state of anarchy, and in a weak military condition. The Philistines had risen in power and were threatening to swallow up the Jews, one city at a time, A clamor went up for a king to unite Israel and organize it for battle.1 So the prophet-judge Samuel anointed Saul as Israel's first king.2

    Saul's 40-year rule was turbulent and generally ineffective. He commanded people's respect because of his size,3 but he was hardly qualified to rule a nation. He had in his kingdom, however, a young man of tremendous abilities named David. Even before David ascended the throne, he captured the hearts of the people by killing the Philistine giant Goliath and by brilliant military and personal exploits.4 Gradually Saul lost his grip on himself and his kingdom, and when he died in battle5 David became king.6

    David quickly subdued the Philistines and began to annex surrounding nations. Israel grew in wealth, military power, and influence. David succeeded in uniting the north and south,7 captured Jerusalem and made it his capital,8 and encouraged the worship of God throughout the land. He was Israel's greatest king.

    One privilege was denied him, though. God did not allow him to build the temple.9 That was accomplished by Solomon, his son and heir to the throne.10 Israel reached its zenith at the dedication of the magnificent temple he had built. Through Solomon, however, the nation began to deteriorate. He brought in wives and concubines from many lands, and they carried their false religions with them.11 He lived luxuriously, wasting the nation's wealth.12 He did not prepare for the future. So when he died, the north seceded under his servant Jeroboam, and formed an independent nation.13 When Solomon died, the people came to Rehoboam, the crown prince, with the plea:
    Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will save you (1 Kings 12:4).

    But Rehoboam refused, and the nation divided.14 The Northern Kingdom, whose first king was Jeroboam, went its own way. Its rulers and many of its people served the pagan gods of the land. There were some good kings in Judah, the Southern Kingdom. Interestingly, the two nations later formed a political alliance to combat Syria and later Assyria.15 There was royal intermarriage, and wicked people ruled both lands: in Israel, the house of Omri;16 in Judah, the wicked Athaliah.17 The time of the kings was also the time of the prophets. These men fulfilled a twofold purpose:

  • Forthtelling--They pointed out the sin in the land and called for repentance.

  • Foretelling--They looked beyond the days of Israel's failure to the coming of her Messiah and the establishment of His kingdom.

  • In the days that followed, God raised up a number of prophets to proclaim His truths and call the nation to return to them. Some of these men spoke to Israel, some spoke to Judah, and others spoke to foreign powers.

    The day of God's judgment finally came. The two nations decayed from within, and each was defeated by a powerful outside force. The Northern Kingdom fell to the cruel Assyrians in 722 BC.18 Its people were forced to intermarry with other captives, and it soon lost its ethnic, political, and religious identity.

    The Southern Kingdom lasted another 150 years, with flashes of glory such as during the reign of Azariah19 and Josiah.20 It finally fell to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in 586 BC.21

    Seeing God. As we look at the period of Israel's kings, we see God at work in ways that help us know Him better. An example is the anointing of David as king and his activities before he ascended the throne (1 Sam. 16-31). We learn that:

    For further thought: Using the approach just followed, see how God is made known in these incidents from the times of the kings:

    Seeing Ourselves. The times of Israel's kings also show us ourselves. Observe how these incidents echo God's work in our own times.

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    Happily, the story of the Old Testament does not end with Jerusalem in ruins and her people exiled in Babylon. Rather, it concludes with the return of the Jews to Jerusalem, the rebuilding of the walls, and the restoration of the temple. It also tells of the spiritual rebirth of the people and their willingness to trust in the leading of God.

    This portion, which we have labeled "Exile" on the graphic, actually covers two subjects: (1) the exile in Babylon, and (2) the return to Jerusalem. Two different nations ruled Judah in exile. Babylonia was crumbling and in 536 BC (50 years after the Jews were deported, the kingdom of Medo-Persia succeeded in conquering her. The new ruler, Cyrus, allowed the Hebrews to return to their land.1 Under Zerubbabel, 42,360 Jews made the long journey back to Jerusalem2 and immediately began work on the temple.3

    Opposed in their project by the Samaritans, the people became discouraged.4 Work on the temple ceased for about 10 years, and the people slid back into spiritual complacency. But the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah, as well as the spiritual leadership of Ezra, caused them to take up the work again.5 They completed the temple in 515 BC.6

    About 50 years later, Nehemiah, still in Babylon, felt a great concern for the Jews of Jerusalem.7 As one of King Artaxerxes' important servants, he was able to approach the monarch for permission to lead a procession back to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls of the city.8 Permission was granted and funding supplied.9 In record time the walls were rebuilt.10

    After 12 years,11 Nehemiah returned to the court of Babylon.12 In his absence, the people and priests took up their evil ways once again.13 The prophet Malachi was raised up to point out their sins14 and warn them about the judgment of God.15

    Seeing God. Read about the decree of Cyrus in Ezra 1. And as you do, observe the following truths about God that can be seen:

    For further thought. Using the same line of thinking demonstrated above, consider how God is made known through these incidents from the days of Israel's exile and return:

    Seeing Ourselves. We can see ourselves in the era of exile and return in the following representative ways:

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    Major Events

    Genesis Beginnings Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph Eden, Palestine, Egypt Creation, Fall, Flood, Call of Abraham
    Exodus Redemption Moses, Pharaoh, Joshua Egypt, Sinai, Wilderness Contest with Pharaoh, Wilderness Wanderings
    Leviticus Holiness Moses, Priests Wilderness Day of Atonement
    Numbers Journey Moses, Joshua, Caleb Sinai, Wilderness Census, Spies, Failure
    Deuteronomy Remembrance Moses Wilderness, Moab Commands Given






    Major Events

    Joshua Conquest Joshua, Achan, Caleb Jericho, Ai Conquest of Canaan
    Judges Anarchy Gideon, Jephthah, Samson Palestine Conflict with Enemies
    Ruth Kinsman-Redeemer Ruth, Naomi, Boaz Moab, Bethlehem Ruth Marries Boaz
    1 Samuel Israel's First King Samuel, Saul, David, Jonathan Palestine, Philistia Saul Anointed, Goliath Slain
    2 Samuel Israel's Second King David, Joab, Absalom Palestine, Jerusalem David's Sin, Absalom's Rebellion
    1 Kings Kingdom Divided Solomon, Jeroboam, Elijah Jerusalem, Samaria Temple Dedicated, Kingdom Divided
    2 Kings Kingdoms Fall Elisha, Jehu, Hezekiah Palestine Invasions
    1 Chronicles David's Reign David, Nathan Palestine David's Rule
    2 Chronicles Collapse Solomon, Ahab, Hezekiah Palestine Decline, Exile
    Ezra Restoration Cyrus, Ezra, Zerubbabel Babylon, Jerusalem Return, Temple Rebuilt
    Nehemiah Building Nehemiah Babylon Walls Rebuilt
    Esther God's Care Esther, Mordecai, Xerxes Babylon Israel Rescued






    Major Events

    Job Suffering Job, Friends Uz Job Afflicted
    Psalms Songs David, Asaph, Others Jerusalem Worship, Praise
    Proverbs Wise Walk Solomon Jerusalem Wise Sayings
    Ecclesiastes Futility Solomon "Under the Sun" Musings
    Song of Solomon Love Song Husband, Bride Palestine Lover Returns






    Major Events

    Isaiah Salvation Isaiah, Hezekiah, Sennacherib Jerusalem Vision of God, Fall of Samaria
    Jeremiah Judgment Jeremiah, Baruch Jerusalem, Egypt Judah's Fall
    Lamentations Mourning Jeremiah Jerusalem Desolation Predicted
    Ezekiel God's Glory Ezekiel Babylon Prophetic Statements
    Daniel God's Rule Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar Babylon Lion's Den, Fiery Furnace
    Hosea God's Love Hosea, Gomer Northern Kingdom Gomer's Unfaithfulness
    Joel "Day of the Lord" Joel Judah Locust Plague
    Amos Judgments Amos Northern Kingdom Preaching of Judgment
    Obadiah Edom Obadiah Edom, Petra Destruction of Edom
    Jonah Missionary Outreach Jonah, King of Nineveh Nineveh Jonah Flees, Nineveh's Revival
    Micah God's Pardon Micah Samaria, Judah Predictions of the Fall
    Nahum Woe to Nineveh Nahum Nineveh Predictions of Nineveh's Fall
    Habakkuk Live by Faith Habakkuk Judah Judah's Fall
    Zephaniah Desolation, Deliverence Zephaniah Judah Judgment, Restoration
    Haggai Building Resumed Haggai, Zerubbabel Jerusalem Temple Finished
    Zechariah God the King Zechariah Jerusalem Prediction of Messiah's Return
    Malachi Sin, Grace Malachi, "My Messenger" Jerusalem Judgment, Christ's Return

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    People in Old Testament times believed that the most intimate knowledge of a person comes through knowing his name. For that reason, a study of the names of God in the Old Testament is a good way to learn what He is like.

    God made Himself known through many names We will look at the three most common ones in the Old Testament: Elohim, Jehovah, and Adonai. The compounds of those names, such as Jehovah-Jireh, will be studied in later booklets of The Knowing God series.


    This name for God appears 2,570 times in the Old Testament and 35 times between Genesis 1:1 and 2:4 The name "Elohim" speaks of God's mighty power and strength. We would expect it to appear often in the opening verses of Genesis because God's power as Creator is depicted there.

    The name "Elohim" tells us that there is no greater power than God in heaven or on earth. It also tells us of His self-sufficiency; that is, that His power comes exclusively from Himself and is not bestowed on Him by anyone else.


    This is God's personal name. It is what He calls Himself (see Ex. 3:15). It is composed of a four-letter Hebrew construct roughly equivalent to our YHWH. The name "Jehovah" occurs 6,823 times in the Old Testament.

    The ancient Hebrews regarded this name as being so sacred that they even refused to pronounce it, substituting the word "Adonai" whenever it appeared.

    The Masoretes, the 8th-century AD Jewish scholars who copied the Hebrew Bible, carried this same deep respect for the name "Jehovah." Before a scribe would copy it, he would go to his chambers, bathe, and put on a clean robe. In some chapters, such as Deuteronomy 28, he would have to go through this cleansing ritual 40 times!

    The name "Jehovah" is more personal than "Elohim." It describes God in His relationship with His people--His presence with us and His interaction with us. "Jehovah" expresses the love of God, His concern for the sins of His people, His pledge to keep His covenants, and His promise to redeem.


    This name, which is used for God some 300 times in the Old Testament, is made up of two parts: adon, which means "Lord" or "Master," and the ending ai, which means "my." Thus the name "Adonai" could be translated "my Lord" or "my Master." It suggests the relationship between the Sovereign Master and a submissive servant (see Gen. 15:2,8).

    To summarize: "Elohim" speaks of God's unlimited power, "Jehovah" speaks of His love and holiness, and "Adonai" speaks of His right to rule over us. These names and their compounds give us a clear picture of what God is like and how He wants to be known. When we acknowledge His unlimited power at work in our lives and in the world around us, when we come to grips with His untainted holiness and experience for ourselves His overwhelming love, and when we establish a servant-Master relationship with Him, we are truly on the way to knowing God.

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    If we are to know God through the Old Testament, we must spend some time looking at its relationship to His Son, Jesus Christ. That relationship goes two ways (1) the Old Testament teaching about Christ, and (2) Christ's use of the Old Testament.

    1. The Old Testament Teaching About Christ. From the opening pages of Genesis through the Prophets the Old Testament predicts the coming of a Redeemer-King, Jesus Christ, and tells us of His work among men and before God. That teaching takes two major forms: prophecy and types.

    Prophecy. The prophecies about Christ touch many aspects of His life and ministry. Here is a brief sample of the more than 300 Old Testament prophecies about Christ.

    Types. The work of Christ was also predicted throughout the Old Testament in typology. Here are some primary examples:

    2. Christ's Use of the Old Testament. The way Christ used the Old Testament showed that He considered it to be the authoritative Word of God.

    He Accepted Its History. Jesus regarded the Old Testament record as a straightforward presentation of fact. In teaching or in conversation, He referred to the following people, confirming their existence:

    He Accepted Its Authority. When in controversy with the religious leaders of Israel--the Pharisees (Matt. 23:2,3) and the Sadducees (Matt. 22:29)--Christ turned to the Old Testament as His final court of appeal.

    He Used It as an Ethical Guide. Jesus used the Old Testament as authoritative in telling people how to live Examples are the rich young ruler (Matt. 19:16-22) and the lawyer who asked about the greatest
    commandment (Matt. 22:35-40).

    He Used It in His Teaching. The following verses are examples of Jesus' use of the Old Testament in His teaching:

    Sometimes the critics of the Old Testament claim that Christ actually refuted it during His ministry. They point to those occasions when He referred to Old Testament passages dealing with the Sabbath rules (Matt. 9:13; 12:7; Mark 2:28) or the cleansing of foods (Matt. 15:1-20). The "you have heard . . . but I say to you" section of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:21-48) is another example. On close examination, it becomes clear that Christ was not repudiating the Old Testament. Rather He was explaining or clarifying it. This is especially true of the Law, which He said He did not come to destroy but to fulfill (Matt. 5:17-20).

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    What, then, was the Old Testament written to tell us? What did its writers from long ago have to say that relates to our contemporary world?

    They told us about God. They said that He is not like the pagan gods. He is not carved from wood or hewn out of stone as a crude extension of man himself. The God of the Old Testament is a living God of tremendous complexity and awesome power--a God who is vitally interested in and concerned for every man, woman, and child.

    God made Himself known in the Old Testament as the eternal, self-existent One. He created our world and all that is in it. He made us to be independent people with minds to think, wills to make moral choices, and emotions to feel the heartthrob of life. And He made us with a deep thirst for a satisfying relationship with Him.

    When, in Adam, we made the wrong moral choice and disobeyed God, He would have been just in destroying us. But in mercy He began to reveal, with unfolding clarity throughout the Old Testament, a way of rescue. He promised the coming of a Messiah-King who would pay our penalty for sin and open the door to a restored relationship with Him.

    The message of the Old Testament, then, is that we can satisfy our thirst for peace with the true and living God. And the way to that peace is through faith in the Messiah-King He sent to redeem us from our sin.

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    In this booklet, we have been trying to make the Old Testament come alive to you and to help you know God. So now, what is your response to Him?

    If you are a Christian, you should be more eager than ever to know God as revealed in the Old Testament. You have seen that the Old Testament is not a book to be afraid of but a book that brings you face to face with God. He has made Himself known in the power of creation, the goodness of salvation, the grace of His covenants, and the righteousness of His judgments. The challenge before you now is to know Him better through digging deeper into the Old Testament, and to respond to Him by submitting to His will as revealed through the Scriptures.

    If you are not a Christian, what is your response to God as made known in the Old Testament? True, it shows Him to be a holy God who hates sin. But it also shows Him to be a loving God who accepts the sacrifices offered to Him. Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah of the Old Testament, came to be our sacrifice for sin. He died for us, paying the penalty we should have

    Friend, He died for you. Will you now receive Him by faith, trusting Him and Him alone as your personal Savior The Old Testament prophet said:

    All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all (Is. 53:6).
    Trust Christ as your Savior today It's the first and most important step in knowing God.

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