Author: Ron Graham
Essential Historical Facts
—In the Old Testament
Our last lesson asked you to imagine that somehow the Old Testament Scriptures vanished and not a trace of them could be found anywhere in the world. Would we miss them? We saw that yes, they would be greatly missed, because they contain essential historical facts, messianic prophecies, great examples of faith, and timeless principles.
We look now at the value of the historical facts recorded in the Old Testament, which lend integrity to the New Testament and help us understand it better.
1 Comprehension of the New Testament
Many New Testament passages can be comprehended only in the light of the Old Testament record. For example:
- How would we know what "entertaining angels unawares" means unless we could be informed about Abraham’s experience, or about Samson’s father? (Hebrews 13:2, Genesis 18:1-8, Judges 13:16).
- "Remember Lot’s wife" would be a meaningless remark if we had no information about her (Luke 17:32, Genesis 19:26).
Hundreds of similar examples could be found. The New Testament refers to a great many things in the Old Testament. Through the Old Testament scriptures we get the essential background for comprehending and properly interpreting the New Testament and the story of Christ.
2 Confidence in the New Testament
The integrity of the New Testament depends upon the existence of an authentic Old Testament witness. This has withstood the test of time.
Take for example Daniel chapter 5. The Bible was for centuries the only ancient writing that mentioned a Babylonian king named Belshazzar (verse 1). Furthermore, only walls of glazed brick were known to have been used in Babylon, whereas the Bible refers to plaster on the wall (verse 5). One hundred years ago cuniform documents mentioning Belshazzar, and the throne room with plaster walls, were discovered, corroborating the Biblical witness.
A great many similar authenticated examples may be found in books on archaeology and the Bible, and Biblical apologetics.
This kind of evidence, about the veracity of the Old Testament in its historical facts, underpins our confidence in our New Testament.
3 Complement to the New Testament
The New Testament is not an addition to the Old Testament. Rather the Old Testament foreshadowed the New Testament as the better and greater covenant (Hebrews 8:6-8). The Old Testament is a complement to the New Testament.
Although it is no longer in force as law, it still furnishes a historical perspective, timeless principles, and a wealth of true stories that serve as examples. For instance, the Hebrew writer drew on examples from the Old Testament when he was teaching about faith (Hebrews 11).
The unfolding history in the old complements the unfolded mystery in the new.