do i *have* to read the old testament?

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Have you ever wondered, “Do I have to read the Old Testament? What does it have to do with me? It seems antiquated and irrelevant.” Some pastors today say that there is no need to read the Old Testament. Yikes! The short answer is, maybe you don’t have to, but you need to. This is not an exhaustive list of reasons why you need to read the Old Testament, but I hope it will encourage you to press in when it gets difficult!

All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2nd Timothy 3:16-17

All, means all. And trust me, it’s hard sometimes to understand how reading Leviticus is good for teaching, right? Hang with me here for a minute.

Greg and I are reading through the Bible chronologically together this year. Today I started Leviticus. Knowing it is going to be about laws, offerings, and all the things that seem irrelevant, I asked the Lord to show me what this had to do with me. Today was chapters 1-4, so let me give you a brief synopsis.

voluntary sacrifice

I learned of three voluntary offerings today: burnt offering, grain offering, and fellowship offering. Chapter 4 was on a mandatory offering: sin offering. My Bible has a lovely chart in it explaining what they were for and what was to be offered. Next to the burnt offering this is what it said:

“Voluntary, signifies propitiation for sin and complete surrender, devotion, and commitment to God.”

While we may not have to bring a literal burnt offering, this concept sure does sound like it still applies to us today doesn’t it? My mind went straight to Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

emphasis mine

God still desires for us to bring ourselves as a sacrifice. Voluntarily, significant of complete devotion and surrender to Him. Honestly, it brings tears to my eyes to even consider the great significance. No, I don’t need to bring an animal for the altar. I need to bring myself. Leviticus 1:9, 13, and 16 tell us that these burnt offerings are “a pleasing aroma to the Lord.” That my friends, is the desire of my heart. That my life, surrendered on the altar of God’s will, would be a pleasing aroma.

a living sacrifice

Alisa Keeton has said that the problem with a living sacrifice is it takes itself off the altar. The same way that the burnt offering was a voluntary, freewill offer, so are our lives. When we consider just what Christ has done for us, the desires of our heart change and we want to be that offering. Often the cares of the world creep in and we find ourselves slowly sliding off the altar, don’t we?

Reading Leviticus this morning made the weight of Romans that much heavier. No longer was God asking His people to bring animals to the priest, which by the way, was a dirty, messy, smelly job, but He is now asking us to bring ourselves. He is after our hearts. No longer does he desire the blood of animals. Christ has fulfilled the need for atonement. Now, He desires we commit our very lives to Him. There is a shift from the old covenant to the new covenant. Jesus blood and body was spilled and broken for us.

so, do I have to read the Old Testament?

Emphatically, yes. I do think you have to. The New Testament makes a lot more sense when we understand what was required of the people of God before Jesus came as the Lamb of God. I’m not saying it’s easy to understand, but is it important? Absolutely, it is. Prayerfully read all of Scripture. We have the Holy Spirit who can teach us all truth. Ask Him to help you understand the significance and importance of the Old Testament to those of us who are under the new covenant. You might be surprised at what you find!

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