Can I Trust the Old Testament?

By Bayard Taylor

The Old Testament presents us with difficult sayings, laws, stories, and customs. Can it still be trusted as God’s Word? The quick answer is: Yes!

Here are some powerful reasons:

  • The OT was the Bible for the first-century Jews, for Jesus and the disciples, and for the early church. It’s the foundation for the New Testament.
  • Prophets, rulers, shepherds, priests, and scribes wrote the OT over roughly a thousand-year period from their own perspectives, within their own historical situations, and to their own audiences. And yet the OT isn’t just a human book of fables, superstitions, and wishful thinking. As the NT says, the OT is inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:20-21) and “inspired by God” (2 Tim. 3:16).
  • The OT is not just about God. Its major purpose is to point to Jesus as the promised Messiah through stories, prophecies, foreshadowing, allegories, the sacrificial system, and other literary hints and pictures. For example, the story in Genesis 22 of Abraham being told to sacrifice his son Isaac (and then being stopped from doing so) is a wonderful picture of what God would one day do in sacrificing his Son (although that sacrifice would not be stopped).
  • The OT directs us to worship the promised Messiah, the Son of Man and Savior of the world (Daniel 7:13-14).
  • Jesus didn’t come to abolish the OT, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17). He based his spiritual and ethical teachings on it and quoted from it extensively.
  • Jesus never bad-mouthed the OT, but held it in highest esteem as God’s authoritative Word (Matt. 5:17-20).
  • Like the ancient prophets of Israel, Jesus amplified and intensified the OT’s message (see Matt. 5-7).
  • Jesus called the God of the OT “My Father” (Matt. 7:21), “our Father” (Matt. 6:9), and “your heavenly Father” (Matt. 5:48). His whole ministry was devoted to teaching us to trust this God.
  • Jesus’ life, miracles, death on the cross, and resurrection — as well as the signs, miracles, and wonders done in His name by the early church — fulfilled OT prophecies, proving the OT is God’s Word.
  • The OT is not just about Jesus (see Luke 24:25:27; John 5:39,46); in a very real sense, its author is Jesus! We know this because John’s Gospel calls Jesus Christ “the Word” who was in the beginning (see Gen. 1:1) “with God,” who “was God,” through whom everything came to existence, and who at a certain time in history became a human being (John 1:1-3,14).
  • Israel’s scribes carefully preserved and transmitted the message and the words of the OT — the Holy Scriptures — to later generations. They made sure God’s words to people back then would be available for us today.

In other words, Jesus Christ (God the Son) is the uncreated, eternal Word of God through whom God the Father spoke the universe into existence. Jesus also is the uncreated, eternal Word of God guaranteeing the truth and authority of the written Word of God, both the OT and NT.

Therefore, we can put our confidence in the OT because Jesus Christ is not just its main subject. He, along with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, is its source and inspiration.

This post is an excerpt from the Apologetics Study Bible for Students by Holman Bible Publishers. It is used with permission. You can purchase this resource in its entirety here.

Published October 17, 2018

Bayard Taylor