On Preaching the Old Testament

I love to preach the Old Testament. I love the challenge and the treasure. Admittedly I also love it because, even though it is growing in popularity, it is not widely done today by Christian preachers.

Having preached through the books of Leviticus, Ruth and now most recently Ezra, I find the Old Testament preaching to be so very helpful to my New Testament preaching. It is probably something of an oversimplification but in the Old Testament you have many narratives that correspond to and illustrate New Testament doctrine.

If you are preaching on pastoral ministry (1, 2 Timothy or Titus) then you can’t help but take a look at Ezra the post-exilic reformer. His practice of studying, practicing and teaching the Law of God (Ez. 7.10) looks a lot like what 1 and 2 Timothy are all about.

If you are preaching on the atonement this Friday for a Good Friday service then you can plow through Leviticus and see the various offerings (chapters 1-5) and then the Day of Atonement (ch. 16).

If you are trying to make sense of the signficance of the genalogies then Ruth, the Moabites comes into play.

In fact the writer of Hebrews does this very thing when he is waring agains unbelief in Hebrews 3. He warns them to look back to Numbers to see a faithless people get destroyed. You see the same thing with Paul in 1 Cor 10 reminding us that the OT was given for our example and instruction (1 Cor. 10.11), that we may not fall.

I have found in my brief preaching life a tenacious pull to be fresh and relevant. There is nothing more relevant to our hearers than the intersection of God working in real time in real lives. In the Old Testament this is what we see.

A preacher would be much better served combing his Old Testament and understanding how it points to Christ for the good of his people rather than combing the newspaper for pithy illustrations that keep his peoples’ attention. There is far greater power in the intersection between Christ the Redeemer and his people.

I love the Old Testament and how it helps me as a minister of the gospel to proclaim Christ. I so wish other guys would do the same, it is not as hard as you might think and far more beneficial than you would think.