Many Christians, however, entertain a negative view of Old Testament History; of its usefulness and even of its accuracy. It is often regarded as “far away” and “distant” chronologically, geographically, socially, and theologically.
Shakespeare wrote that each person’s history is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” The Christian view of personal and world history is quite a contrast; we believe God ordained it, organizes it, and moves it towards a meaningful, definite, and certain purpose.
Many Christians, however, entertain a negative view of Old Testament History; of its usefulness and even of its accuracy. It is often regarded as “far away” and “distant” chronologically, geographically, socially, and theologically. “What can it do for me?” and “Why study it?” are common questions. Here are five reasons to study it and benefit from it:
1. OT History is True History
Israel’s neighbors expressed their beliefs through fantastic, elaborate, “out-of-this-world” myths. In contrast, Old Testament narratives about Israel describe real events in real time involving real people and a real God. The reality of Israel’s faith rested on the reality of Israel’s history.
Similarly, if we lose or give up the truthfulness of the Biblical record, we lose and give up the Truth. We also lose our Christian faith because it is founded not on detached philosophical speculations but on God’s acts in human history.
Approaching Old Testament narratives with unshakeable confidence in their accuracy and truthfulness will build up unshakeable faith.\
2. OT History is Selective History
No matter how much they deny it, every historian has an agenda. Though often unspoken, that agenda can often be deduced by analyzing his selection, arrangement, and editing of events. Old Testament writers also had an agenda that guided the selection, arrangement, and editing of their accounts. The only difference, and it’s a major difference, is that their selectivity was divinely inspired and, therefore, in no ways diminishes their truthfulness.
Therefore, when reading Old Testament history, ask yourself why the author selected these events and that particular angle on them. It will get you much closer to the message he intended to convey to his original audience.