Why Do Christians Use the Old Testament Tanakh?

by Tad Lindley

After all, the Old Testament is old. It covers events that took place thousands of years ago. Those people never saw automobiles or airplanes. Not only that, the Old Testament takes up about 80% of the Christian Bible. If we didn’t have the Old Testament, it would be a lot less reading that we would have to do to make it through the Bible.

“Old Testament” politically incorrect

The very term Old Testament may be unacceptable in our politically correct society. This body of writings is only known as the “Old Testament” to Christians. To those in Judaism, the “Old Testament” is really the only testament, there is no New Testament. The Old Testament is referred to as the Tanakh, or the Hebrew Bible.

Where did the Tanakh come from?

It came from the Lord. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (II Peter 1:20) The number of men that were used is unknown. Some are recognized, others are anonymous. All of them were Jewish except for one, King Nebuchadnezzar. His contribution to scripture is found in Daniel chapter 4. It is the testimony of his descent into madness, and God’s delivering power. The Lord moved on these men to write and they wrote. It was originally recorded primarily in Hebrew with some Aramaic.

Who were these men?

The first five books in the Old Testament are probably written by Moses. They are referred to as the Pentateuch, or the Law. When you hear Jesus refer to the Law and the prophets, he is saying, the first five books of the Old Testament, and then the rest.

Most of the books bear the name of the man that God used to write them. Sorry ladies, but Ruth and Esther were probably not written by Ruth and Esther. Kings and Chronicles have no name associated with them, although Jewish tradition assigns Jeremiah and Ezra as their respective authors. Psalms was written by a variety of men, including King David. Proverbs likewise is a compilation of sayings collected by King Solomon, Agur the son of Jakeh, and King Lemuel. Solomon also wrote Ecclesiastes, the testimony of his backsliding, and Song of Solomon, a love story. Jeremiah wrote Lamentations and the book that bears his name.

What’s going on with the I’s and the II’s?

Some of the books in the Tanakh are split into two. They are Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. Samuel is split into 1st Samuel and 2nd Samuel. When the Bible was being written, it was written on scrolls. Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles were too long to fit on one scroll. They each required two scrolls, thus 1st Samuel and 2nd Samuel.

Let’s get to the point, why do Christians use the Hebrew Bible?

There are three primary reasons that we use this ancient collection of writings. 1. It is God’s words to men. All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness… (II Timothy 3:16 NKJV) The all scripture that is referred to here includes the Old Testament.

2. Prophecy. …the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10) Literally this means, the evidence of Jesus is the breath of prediction. Within the Tanakh, we find a great many prophecies or predictions concerning the Messiah that are fulfilled in the New Testament in Jesus Christ. The magi used the Hebrew scriptures to find Jesus when they got to Israel. And you, O Bethlehem of Ephrath, least among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth to rule Israel for Me- One whose origin is from of old, from ancient times. (Micah 5:1 The Jewish Bible) And at the end of time we read the unfulfilled prophecy from Zechariah: And the LORD shall be king over all the earth; in that day there shall be one LORD with one name. (14:9 TJB)

3. Examples. Speaking of the Old Testament, the New Testament says, Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written down for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (I Corinthians 10:11) If you think you were the only one with family trouble, try Genesis 37 and 38. Is your hair falling out? You’re not alone, see II Kings 2:23. Want to know how to behave in Church worship? Read Psalm 150.

The Tanakh is an integral part of the foundation of our salvation. We are building on the foundation of the apostles [New Testament] and prophets [Old Testament], Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). The New Testament without the Old Testament is like nails without a framing hammer, or brick without mortar. That is why we need the Old Testament.

Tad Lindley is a minister at the Bethel United Pentecostal Church.