What Relevance does the Old Testament have to Our Lives Today?

The Bible is a unique book among all of the writings in this world. It is without a doubt unequaled by any other book. The Bible speaks to the central questions of humanity. Sometimes we may not be ready, or willing, or able to hear the answers that it gives, but it does indeed speak to our questions.

While this list may be guilty of oversimplification, it is my attempt to identify a main question that is addressed in each of the books of the Old Testament. Expect a similar list for the New Testament next week!

Genesis: Who is God, who are we, who is Satan, and where do we all fit?
Exodus: What is the nature of our deliverance from bondage?
Leviticus: What is the nature of sacrifice?
Numbers: What is the importance of faith?
Deuteronomy: How can society be blessed, rather than cursed?
Joshua: What happened to the Jewish people in their early history?
Judges: How do humans tend to behave?
Ruth: What is an accurate and pure definition of love?
1 Samuel: What does the LORD desire?
2 Samuel/1Chronicles: What is God’s heart like?
1 Kings: What was Israel like at it’s all time high, and how did it decline?
2 Kings/2 Chronicles: What happens when we forsake God?
Ezra: Where to start when thing are in shambles?
Nehemiah: How should we go about doing important work?
Esther: How can we be brave in dire circumstances?
Job: Why do we suffer?
Psalms: How should we pray and how should we sing?
Proverbs: What is true wisdom?
Ecclesiastes: What is the meaning of life?
Song of Solomon: What does God have to say about courtship, marriage, and sex?
Isaiah: What should concern us, and what should give us hope?
Jeremiah: What does God say to those who know and love Him, but then drift away?Lamentations: Is there any hope for those who suffer the grave consequences of sin?Ezekiel: What are God’s past, present, and future plans for His rebellions people?
Daniel: How can we remain faithful in a world that does not share our beliefs?
Hosea: How much does God love us?
Joel: What is “the day of the LORD” and how should we feel about it?
Amos: How should we feel about injustice?
Obadiah: What happens to those who hurt others?
Jonah: What if I don’t like God’s instructions?
Micah: What does God say to a nation that is corrupt?
Nahum: Just how bad can things get when we stray from God entirely?
Habakkuk: Why does God let injustice happen?
Zephaniah: What does it mean that God’s people are a remnant?
Haggai: How can we give God first priority in our lives?
Zechariah: How can God’s people prosper?
Malachi: What is the nature of acceptable worship?

Is the Bible a Reliable Source of History?

We know with great accuracy what the books of the Bible originally said.

It amazes me that I still hear people claiming “the Bible has been retranslated and rewritten so many times. We cannot really know what it originally said.”  The example of a game of “telephone” is given, as if the Bible was translated from Greek to Latin to German to French to English in a series of translations that each may have substantially altered the meaning.  Those who make this argument reveal their ignorance.

The truth is that all of our newest translations have been translated directly from manuscripts in the original languages.  For the Old Testament, this is predominantly Hebrew with some sections of Aramaic.  For the New Testament, this is Koine Greek. Modern translations are produced by large teams of linguists and scholars from various backgrounds in order to accurately convey the ideas of the original authors.  The Bible has been put through no game of “telephone.”

In fact, our manuscript attestation for the New Testament is far better than that of any other work of antiquity.  To throw out the Bible on claims of unreliability and remain consistent we would have to throw out… every single historian and piece of literature in antiquity.

The Bible is consistent and historically accurate.

Many of the supposed historical inaccuracies in the Bible that were once concerning have been debunked by emerging historical knowledge.

Take for example the discrepancy between Daniel 1:1, which states that Nebuchadnezzar became king of Babylon in the 3rd year of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and Jeremiah 25:1, that states that it was the 4th year. Much was made of this problem until scholar R. Thiele highlighted two different systems for counting reigns in the Ancient Near East: the accession year system and the non-accession year system. Jeremiah counts the king’s accession year, Daniel doesn’t.

Take for another example the existence of the Hittites. Though mentioned more than 50 times in the Bible, there was no archaeological evidence of their civilization until a series of discoveries beginning in 1876.  Until that time, their inclusion in the Biblical narrative was used as proof of the fabrication of much of the historical narrative of the Israelites.  We now know that the Hittites were a prominent Near Eastern civilization in the 15th and 16th centuries B.C.

This example highlights the fact that proof for Biblical claims may not always be readily available, but this does not mean that the Bible is in error. Instead, man is.

Another popular example is that of Sir William Mitchell Ramsay, who set out for Asia Minor in order to prove that the historical details in the book of Acts were fabricated. After decades of research and archaeological discovery, Ramsay concluded that the details in the book were completely accurate. He recorded his findings in a work entitled The Bearing of Recent Discoveries on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament.

The truth is that the Bible is historically accurate in every detail. This is a feat that is humanly impossible, and demonstrates one of many unique and perfect qualities that the Holy Spirit has embedded in the word of God.

Do Christians Have Blind Faith?

A Biblical definition of faith is given in Hebrews 1:11, “now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

It is certainly true that Christians feel sure of many things, even though they have not yet come to pass, and that we are convicted of many things that we cannot currently see. Take Christ’s resurrection from the dead for instance. We have not physically seen this event, but we are sure that it happened. For that matter, consider the very existence of God. John 1:18 says plainly enough of humanity, “no one has seen God at any time.” And yet we believe.

So does this mean that Christians have blind faith? After all, you would have to be pretty stupid to believe something without any evidence, right?

Not so fast. There is a big difference between not being able to see something, and not having any evidence for it at all. Did you see George Washington in person? Yet we believe he existed based on historical evidence. Can you see gravity? Yet we believe in gravity because we can see its effects all around us.

Very well, someone might say, but we can prove those things and you cannot prove that there is a God.

Do you believe that other minds exist outside of your own? There is actually no way to prove it. Do you believe that the past actually occurred? It is impossible to prove that the entire universe, including the memories in our brains, did not pop into existence one second ago.

Faith is the conviction of things not seen. But it is also a conviction that is based on reasonable evidence.

Romans 1:20 states, “since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” We may not be able to physically see God, but we can see all of the signs that are pointing in His direction. Signs pointing to God are all over our world, in nature, human history, science, philosophy, art, psychology, personal experiences, and the Bible.

Of course, if you do not want a God telling you what to do, there is always a way to convince yourself that He either does not exist, or does not care what you do. John 3:19-20 puts it this way, “this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”

When you point out that the universe is fine-tuned for human life, atheists theorize that there are actually an infinite number of universes, so one of them was bound to be just like ours without a creator making it that way.

When you point out that life could not have arisen from non-life without a creator, they suggest that aliens may have put life on earth, but certainly not God.

When you point out that objective morality is evidence for God’s existence, many admit that they believe murder and rape are not actually objectively wrong, they are merely unpleasant and unhelpful.

When you point out that consciousness is not explainable by physical phenomena, they insist that consciousness is really just an illusion.

Yes, there is always a way to get out of believing in God if you want to. But you will have to be an Olympic level mental gymnast to jump through the necessary hoops. In the meantime, the God who is love patiently offers you His hand.