Bible Studies

How to Make Sense of the Old Testament

Brian Williams


Are you lost or intimidated when you read the Old Testament?

Here are some helpful thoughts to make reading the Old Testament less of a struggle.

Are We Making It Harder Than It Needs to Be?

It’s tempting to feel that the Old Testament is irrelevant to helping us live in the modern world. It can seem filled with dated customs and rules.

Many of the Old Testament rules were given to specific people in specific situations. Some of these no longer apply (instructions for building an ark, priestly duties, dietary restrictions).

The reason for our struggle is a flawed assumption about the Bible. The Bible isn’t primarily a rule book or even a book of wisdom for navigating life, though it has its share of both rules and wisdom. It’s mainly a story that points to the person and work of Jesus Christ.

If we begin with this true assumption, we can’t fault the Bible for reporting past customs, rules and history any more than we can fault any other story that tells us what happened in the beginning.

The beginning of a story sets the stage for things to come. We won’t fully understand or appreciate all that we discover in the New Testament if we have little to no grasp of the Old.

Why Some Parts Are Tough to Understand

When you watch a movie for the first time, you don’t catch everything. You miss some key details. You might not recognize vital plot connections. Important pieces of dialogue slip past you. But on your third, fourth, seventh time through, you catch much more. The same is true of our reading the Old Testament.

Parts of the Old Testament are difficult to understand because we stand far removed from the time, language and cultures. If we want to understand it better, we need to breathe the air, take in the sights, sounds and smells, and steadily get our bearings in the ancient world.

Explore the Old Testament

©1994-2020 Cru. All Rights Reserved.