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Discovery Magazine 4/1/1998

What Use is the Old Testament Anyway?

After Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God set in motion His plan for a Savior. He planned for the Savior to be not only the Son of God, but also the Son of Man. God planned for the Savior to be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (also known as Israel). Because the Savior was to come through the Israelites, God wanted them to be a special people who were set apart, and different from all the other people of the world.

To help the Israelites be a special people, and to prepare them for the coming Savior, God gave them unique laws and guidelines. Taken together, these laws were called the Law of Moses. For several hundred years after giving the Law of Moses, God continued to reveal messages to the Jews through His spokesmen, the prophets. Our Old Testament is a combination of the history of the Jews, the Law of Moses, and God’s messages to His prophets. Throughout the entire Old Testament, God’s main message was this: "A Savior is coming."

Sadly, the Jews often were very stubborn. Many times, they decided not to follow God’s rules, or listen to His prophets, and so they were not ready for the Savior when He did come.

God did not plan for us to follow the laws of the Old Testament after Jesus died. But the Old Testament still is important and valuable to us. In the New Testament book of Galatians, Paul wrote that the Old Law was a "tutor," or "schoolmaster," to lead us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). In his letter to the Christians at Rome, Paul wrote that what had been written before (the old Law) was "written for our learning" (Romans 15:4).

If you have trouble with your schoolwork, you might need extra help from a tutor. Paul tells us that we can avoid making the same mistakes as the Jews if we pay attention to God’s "tutor," the Old Testament. Learning from the Old Testament can help us understand the New Testament and its message that "the Savior is coming again."

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