Should we ONLY be focusing on the New Testament? Do we need the Old Testament at all?
NLT - 13 When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear.
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The Old Testament was written for multiple purposes -- to make God's identity and actions known to humanity; to record His requirements for human behavior (the Law); to give a history of the people He chose; and to prophesy future events (particularly the coming of the Messiah). Although the Law has been superseded as the means of salvation by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ (as the verse cited in the question indicates), and although many of the prophecies of the Old Testament have been fulfilled, knowledge of the Old Testament is still important for Christians. The Old Testament remains a standard for human actions (now performed out of gratitude and love to God for a salvation that has already been accomplished, rather than as a means of being saved); a proof of the fulfillment of prophecy, and of God's faithfulness in doing so; a source of end-times prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled; and a cautionary message to Christians on avoiding the sins and the consequent temporal consequences for committing them that Israel experienced. As Paul said to Timothy (after Jesus had already come, but before the writings that we call the New Testament had been completed and compiled), "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16-17) The "scripture" of which Paul was speaking was what we call the "Old Testament", and is just as valid and useful for those purposes today as it was Paul wrote those words.
Hebrews 8:13 - In speaking of a new covenant, He makes the first one obsolete. Should we ignore the Old Testament now that we have a new agreement with God? No! We would not know the Testator and His thoughts toward us if we did that. His ways are not our ways, neither are His thoughts our thoughts Isaiah 55:8, so we have no clue about Him if we skip the Old Testament. Also, without the Genesis story, we don't have a clear picture of how we got on His bad side because of our ancestors' disobedience, even though they were forewarned and knew the risk involved. Leave that out of our reasoning and the grace of God, the key to our forgiveness, doesn't carry the same meaning. He moved quickly to implement His plan to restore us to an eternal relationship with Him. God has put eternity in the heart of every man Eccl 3:11, meaning being that dying is not our idea of a good ending. We want and need a way out of that awful curse, and the Pentateuch lays a solid foundation for a spiritual toddler to learn to crawl, and eventually, attempt to BEGIN to walk toward the Way out, the Lord. Next we're told the history of the people who were the first students in this new school of spiritual restoration, the people who would introduce the rest of the world to our only Hope, Joshua 1 through Esther 9. Without these the promises of God as told through the prophets would be without merit due to an incomplete story, Isaiah1 through Malichi 4. The New Testament believer whom the apostle Paul describes as an athlete running a race set before him, Heb 12:1, was once a babe who learned to crawl in Genesis or maybe Exodus. The Old Testament is like grammar school. High School is impossible without it, not to mention college. Someone might think that we've gone past the Old Testament (grammar school), well I can't. I learned the alphabet in grade school, so every word I spell here, I refer back to my early education, without being aware of it, but that's how it works. It's the same way with running my race (New Testament), I can do it because I refer back to learning to balance myself without being conscious of it (Old Testament).
The covenant which has been made obsolete is the Aaronic covenant (Num 18:19), which, being a covenant of salt, could be terminated, since salt can lose its savor. Replacing the Aaronic priesthood is the new and more perfect Melchizedek priesthood, being based on the blood sacrifice of Christ's crucifixion. The Mosaic covenant was of blood, and eternal. The priesthood and prophethood functions of this covenant have been removed and given to Christianity, but the covenant is still in force. Both the Mosaic and Christian covenants will be changing at Christ's second coming to judge the nations. The revelation of the Law through Moses is the foundation of righteousness, and so the study of the Old Testament remains fruitful for many purposes, as indicated in Tim Mass's answer above. In Christianity we are given enlightenment in the New Testament and by the Holy Spirit as to the full meaning, spirit, and intention of the Mosaic Law.
As far as the righteous requirements or demands of the O.T. law go, they have been met or fulfilled in us who believe when God sent his own Son as a sin offering and condemned sin in the flesh, sin being the very transgression of the law. (Ro 8:3-4; 1 Jo 3:4) But according to the apostle Paul, the law and commandments are excellent in revealing to a sinner the very nature of sin and thus showing the need for a Savior. (Ro 3:19-20; 7:7, 13; 1Tim 1:8-10; Gal 3:23-25) Once we come to faith in Christ, we have become dead to the law through the body of Christ and are no longer bound to bound to its threats or demands or its supervision. D.L. Moody said, "The law can chase a man to Christ, no further". We have died to the law through the resurrection of Christ in order to bear fruit unto God, something we could never do while under the law, since violation of even one command makes us guilty of breaking them all. (Ro 7:4-6; Jam 2:10) Now we serve in the new way, by the leading of the Spirit. The O.T. should not be discarded though, as Paul said those things were written down for us as "examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did", that we might avoid falling into the sin of idolatry. (1Co 10:6-7) The book of Hebrews also warns of this temptation but also encourages us to the way of faith which is to place our trust solely on the finished work of Jesus' cross. (Heb 2:3; 3:12-14; 9:11-10:18) I believe we should focus on the new covenant as believers, because that's where God's love and grace and our true identity in Christ are revealed, but not ignore the lessons from the old and definitely not mix the old covenant with the new. Jesus compared mixing O.T. law with N.T. grace as putting new wine in old wineskins, both are ruined because each is taken out of its proper context. And Paul warned the Galatians that mixing the two would bring a curse upon those who do and make the cross of Christ null and void.
John 5:46-47 (ESV) - "For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
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