The Old Testament is so important for us to read if we are to grow as Christians. I hope that in this series I’ve convinced you of that with my few examples (sacrifices, worship, social justice), but there is so much more to learn! That’s why I want to encourage you to get into the Old Testament yourself, to dig deep and seek to understand and appreciate this often-overlooked part of Scripture.
Here are four tips to help you:
1. Pray for guidance and understanding.
Prayer is always a good idea when you read the Bible, since you won’t be able to understand anything without the Holy Spirit’s work in your heart. But it’s especially important when you’re struggling to understand something.
Pray that God would open your eyes to see how the Old Testament, especially the law books, apply to you. Pray that He would teach you through them, teach you about Himself and about the gospel and about the Christian life. Pray that He would help you to understand the parts that you just can’t get through.
2. Don’t read too much at once.
If you read too quickly, skimming through the “boring” parts, you won’t get anything out of it. Don’t try to read more than a chapter or two at a time, and really focus your attention on that chapter or two. The less you read, the more time you have to think about each part of what you read, and being thoughtful as you read the Old Testament is incredibly important.
3. Make notes, journal, or something…don’t just read.
If you’re having trouble being thoughtful, write things down!
My understanding of the Old Testament shifted dramatically when I started reading with pencil in hand. The physical act of making notes and writing down my thoughts got me out of skimming mode and into thinking mode relatively quickly. You can write directly in your Bible (what I do), or use a separate notebook or journal. Whatever you choose to do, writing down the things you are learning will prime your brain to learn even more.
4. Look for application in everything.
And what are you supposed to be thinking about? Applications. Whenever you read the Old Testament, think about how it applies to you. What can you learn about God that will affect how you worship Him? What can you learn about yourself that will affect how you live? How does what you are reading connect with the New Testament, with the gospels? Why did God include this particular chapter in the Bible?
Everything in the Bible is there for a reason, and there is always something you can learn from any section. Read slowly, thoughtfully, and prayerfully, and search for the purpose of the text. In doing so you will discover the beauty of the Old Testament.
What do you think? How have you been able to find meaning in the Old Testament? Share in the comments below!