People have asked me from time to time how I interpret the Old Testament as a Christian. There are a lot of commands to keep and festivals to partake in, making it incredibly confusing for a Christian to discern what the point of the Old Testament is. I like to respond to them with a more in-depth challenge:
- Go see how the New Testament writers used the Old Testament in their context and that should help you with the problem.
After Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead, he was walking on the road to Emmaus with a couple of men (Luke 24:13-35). Jesus hid his identity from them somehow and spoke with them about what happened in Jerusalem just a few days prior. After they told them about this messianic character who they believed in as a mighty prophet and that he was executed, Jesus decided to broaden their understanding. Jesus told them, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (v 26). After that he expounded on how Moses and all of the Prophets pointed towards this person who was crucified. According to Jesus, all of the Jewish Scriptures it seemed to point to this crucified Christ. So the task for us centuries later is to see how a passage might anticipate Christ.
Looking at the sermon of Peter at Pentecost you can also see how their Scripture was being used to point to these “last days” before the return of Christ (Acts 2:14-41). When Peter preached these words and that Christ has reconciled them back to God (despite the unjust execution) they were all cut to the heart (v37). The good news of reconciliation prompted them to repent and receive forgiveness, being baptized in Christ.*
I will affirm that Christians ought to look at how NT writers used OT sources and look to their interpretations as a type of guide for our study. So tread carefully in the OT, see what the passage says in context and then try to make faithful connections to Christ in humility, understanding that you may make a poor interpretation.
*(Free: Interesting to see that even the chosen people of God needed Christ!)