The Old Testament illustrates the New Testament in high definition

The Old Testament illustrates the New Testament in high definition

When the movie Jaws was released in 1975, the tagline was “you’ll never go in the water again”. And it seems that the movie succeeded for many people. The reality of sharks being near swimming beaches did change the behaviour of many. There are those who cannot go for a swim at the beach without thinking about the possibility of sharks, who hear the distinctive soundtrack from the film resonate in their ears as they look out over the ocean.

Why was Jaws so effective? After all, it is not like it provided a lot of new information. Most people were already aware that sharks lived in the ocean and occasionally people died through shark attacks. The majority of people already knew this to be true, but the movie gave a feeling, pictures, and a sense of fear and dread that connected far better than simply knowing the facts.

I think that this helps us to understand the difference between the New Testament and the Old Testament. Think of sin, for example. Jesus and Paul both taught about the danger of sin. Jesus said that to lead others into sin was so bad that it would be better to die a horrible death than to do this (Matt 18:6). Paul tells us that the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). It is no surprise to most Christians that sin is bad, and that we needed Jesus to deal with our sin on the cross.

Yet we react quite differently when we see God’s judgement on sin illustrated in the Old Testament. In 2 Kings 10, we see Jehu bring about the promised judgement on Ahab’s family. It is a gruesome passage, with seventy children beheaded, travellers killed, and all who worship Baal deceived then killed. Yet this passage is teaching the same thing Jesus and Paul taught: God hates sin and will punish it. If not for the grace of God, all of us deserve the same and worse.

The narrative of 2 Kings 10 impacts us emotionally and not just logically. We recoil at the horror of so much death. We find it terrible to contemplate. And that is precisely how we should feel about sin and judgement. These are not abstract, intellectual constructs but realities we should understand and run from. The Old Testament makes the truth that sin leads to death so much more vivid. It gives us pictures and examples that drive the point home.

The New Testament is like truth written on a page; the Old Testament narratives are like that same truth illustrated in a movie in high definition.

Don’t write off the Old Testament as being full of ancient, irrelevant stories. God’s record of His work with His people is full of richness, helping us truly understand things with all our hearts rather than simply knowing them in our minds.