Things Written Before :: By Nathele Graham

Many people won’t study the Old Testament. I’m not sure why. They might read Psalm 23 just for comfort, but other than that and a vague knowledge of the creation account and the flood, they turn right to the New Testament. The Gospel of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus, but did you ever wonder who those people are? Then, when you get to the Gospel of Luke, the genealogy seems different than listed in Matthew’s account. If you understand who the people are by studying all of Scripture, you will understand that both Joseph, Jesus’ stepfather, and Mary, Jesus’ human mother, descended from King David but through two different sons of David. The story behind each person is very interesting and can be read in the Old Testament.

Each of their stories will help you to understand that God uses people in spite of our imperfections.

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

There are many lessons to be learned in Old Testament Scriptures, and prophecy has been given for us to understand the times in which we live. Do you base the future on a fortune cookie or on God’s truth? Nostradamus was no prophet of God Almighty, so turn to Scripture and learn truth.

The world today is a very scary place. In this time of crisis, the Old Testament will make it clear that persecution isn’t new. Read about how Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego chose to obey God rather than bow down to false gods of gold. They faced death rather than bow their knees to heathen gods.

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).

They knew God was able to deliver them from death, but even if He allowed them to die in the furnace, they wouldn’t serve demon gods. God did deliver them, and their testimony was powerful.

Daniel wouldn’t compromise his faith either. The political advisors of the day were corrupt. Does that sound familiar? They hated Daniel because of his faith. They plotted against him and came up with a law making it illegal to ask anything of any god or man; the man asking would be thrown into a den of lions. Daniel loved and served God Almighty, and he openly continued to pray to the only true God in spite of the evil decrees of men.

“Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God” (Daniel 6:11).

They went and tattled to the king and had Daniel thrown to the lions. But God had a greater plan. Daniel’s life is a testimony to the power of God, and even the king knew the penalty would be useless.

“Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee” (Daniel 6:16).

Today, as Christians are being told to compromise our faith and stop worshipping openly, the faith these men had is encouraging. Daniel wouldn’t stop worshipping God and praying to Him in spite of man’s laws forbidding it. Study all of Scripture and be sure that your choices are consistent with Scripture, then stand firm on God’s word.

Another example of faith from the Old Testament is Job. He faced the loss of his children, his fortune, and disease riddled his body. All evil comes from Satan. God may allow bad things to happen, but Satan is always to blame. Job never lost faith in God Almighty. Job heard no encouraging words from his wife.

“Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die” (Job 2:9). Then a group of friends came to visit him, and they went on and on about how all of Job’s troubles were his own fault. Job finally listened to God and was able to say, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:25-27).

That’s faith we can admire. Long before Jesus walked the earth and gave His life to redeem humanity, Job knew his redeemer lives. Do you have that faith? Do you profess it with your mouth but deny Him by your actions? Take a lesson of faith from Job.

Old Testament Scripture gives examples of faith. In the letter to the Hebrews, there is a long list of people who accomplished great things because of their faith.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:1-3).

The author of Hebrews starts at the beginning and tells us that by faith we believe God created all things. The creation account is found in Genesis chapter 1, and John chapter 1 reveals that Jesus is the Word made flesh and the Creator of all things. Then the writer of Hebrews goes through a long list of men and women who lived their lives day by day but had faith in God and served Him. Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain; Enoch was Raptured prior to God’s judgment; Noah took God seriously and built an Ark. The list goes on, but if you read the history of each person listed in the “Hall of Faith,” you will learn more about your own faith and how believing God is always better than believing sinful man.

Old Testament Scripture is very important for examples of holding fast to faith in spite of what our eyes can see.

Elisha, a prophet of God, and his servant were in a bad situation that brought fear upon the servant. Elisha had thwarted the plans of the king of Syria to destroy Israel because he listened to God. The king of Syria came after Elisha with an army. The servant saw the army and felt fear.

“…Alas, my master! How shall we do? And he answered Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire around about Elisha” (2 Kings 6:15b-17).

Elisha kept his eyes on God and saw His power. What about us? We have more than chariots of fire; we have Jesus. Keep your eyes on Him, and fear not.

Jesus was Jewish and mostly spoke to a Jewish audience, so as Gentiles, we need to study the Old Testament to gain understanding of the New Testament and what Jesus accomplished for us.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).

The Law was given by God to teach about sin and sacrifice. Blood had to be shed in order to cover sin, but animal blood could never take sin away. Read about Passover in Exodus and understand that Jesus, God incarnate, was the Lamb of God who shed His blood for our salvation. Faith in His death, burial, and resurrection takes sin away. We have the fulfillment of Job’s words and know that our Redeemer lives. Jesus fulfilled hundreds of Old Testament prophecies by His birth and by His death. We should never take His sacrifice for granted. Like Daniel, we should never stop openly worshipping our God.

Paul’s letter to the Romans contains about sixty quotes from the Old Testament. This letter was written to a Gentile congregation, but still the Old Testament was cited. Scripture, from Genesis through Revelation, is inspired by God. Men wrote the words that the Holy Spirit dictated.

“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, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Unless you study all of Scripture, you’ll miss many important points in New Testament teaching.

The letters written to the congregation in Corinth contain a long account of Jewish history. Paul talks about their wandering in the wilderness. Why would this bit of Jewish history be important to a Gentile congregation? The Old Testament is filled with many “pictures” for us to see Christ more clearly.

“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).

The Greek word translated “ensamples” is “typos,” which here means to show a pattern or a picture of something. The Israelites wandered for 40 years because of their lack of faith, but God was always there to lead them and care for them. God provided manna, which is a type of Christ.

“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world” (John 6:32-33).

When Moses struck the rock, and life-giving water flowed from it, that was a picture of Christ.

“And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4).

If you still have doubts as to the importance of Old Testament Scripture, listen to Jesus. On the day of His resurrection, His disciples were extremely confused and fearful. Two of those men left Jerusalem, walked to Emmaus, and discussed the events of the past week.

“And it came to pass, that while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them” (Luke 24:15).

These men had great sorrow, and instead of looking for Jesus, their grief blinded them. The Living Lord was walking with them, but they couldn’t see. Makes me think of Elisha’s servant. Jesus asked what they were talking about, and they gave an account of the problem; they thought Jesus was the One who would deliver them, but He was crucified.

“But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done” (Luke 24:21).

Some women had been to the tomb, but it was empty. These men forgot Old Testament prophecy… they forgot to study things written before. Jesus called them fools.

“Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scripture the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27).

What a Bible study that must have been! It’s found in the Old Testament, but we have to study things written before in order to understand.

We live in a time of great turmoil and uncertainty. There are many “experts” who confuse us with secular answers to a spiritual attack. How will it all end? The book of Daniel gives a very concise answer that Jesus confirmed. There will be a final 7-year period of time in which God’s wrath will be poured out upon non-believers. The only way to avoid this time of tribulation is to put your faith in Jesus Christ. He is our Redeemer. In Him there is forgiveness of sin and the hope of eternal life.

The signs of the times are becoming very clear, and if you haven’t given your life to Jesus yet, do it today. If you have accepted His sacrifice for redemption, then don’t take your eyes off of Him. Find God’s peace in Scripture… both the Old and New Testaments.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

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All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.

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