We emphatically believe that there are great benefits of reading the Bible in chronological order, taking the books of the Bible as God has given them, from Genesis through Revelation. In following this approach one will, of course, read through the Old Testament first. For many Christians, today the Old Testament poses challenges as far as clearly seeing its relevance to living a God-honoring life in the modern world. This need not be so. There are at least three purposes that the Old Testament advances in the life of the serious Bible student.
The Old Testament Reveals “Seed-Form” Christianity, NOT Judaism
We have become accustomed to seeing the Old Testament as ‘essentially Jewish.’ But, nothing could be further from the truth. The Old Testament reveals Christianity in ‘Seed Form.’ This means that in order to fully grasp the truth as it is revealed in fully-developed form in the New Testament, one needs to have a good grasp of the seed-form revelation of the truth in the Old Testament. If the Old Testament were essentially Jewish, the Lord Himself would not have so plainly said that it was all about Him. See Luke 24:27 and 44. Additionally, it is failure to see that the Hebrew writings of the Old Testament are all about Christ that has brought about centuries of suffering for God’s people, Israel. A firm grasp of this truth prepares one for the truth as it is revealed in the New Testament, since the truth revealed in both testaments is the same Christian truth.
The Old Testament Warns Christians of the Dangers of Presuming upon God
Israel was not ready for the coming of the Messiah [Jesus of Nazareth]. An appropriate study of the Old Testament reveals why this is true. From the call of Abram in Genesis twelve through the four-hundred-year period of Divine silence after Malachi’s ministry, the history of Israel’s relationship with God is a sad one. Perhaps the leading element of this failed relationship is Israel’s attitude of entitlement. The record of this in the Old Testament is invaluable in placing before Christians today the record of the danger signs of their deteriorating relationship with God. We must read and heed it well.
The Old Testament Provides Great Encouragement for a Life of Faith
Twenty-first century Christians are confronted with a great deal that can erode their faith. While the New Testament has its ‘heroes’ of the faith, the Old Testament places before us a great many men and women whose faith in the true and living God sustained them in very trying days. The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. For this reason, we may have our faith bolstered through exposure to the lives of the Old Testament saints. Since the Old Testament is truth revealed in simple seed form, it is especially helpful in teaching God’s truth to children or to those who are seeking God for the first time in their lives. It is extremely useful in reaching the lost on mission fields around the world.
For these reasons, together with numerous others, reading and studying the Bible in chronological order opens the way for God to use the richness of His Word in the most effective manner. No man can improve upon how God has given His truth. We do well to study it as He has given it.