What’s the purpose of the Old Testament – Part 1?

Many atheists consider the Old Testament to be the most vile, barbaric, immoral book in the world. And most of them use the Old Testament to come to the conclusion that God is immoral, or at least the God of Old Testament that is. For most Christians, the Old Testament is the portion of the bible they don’t want to be associated with, as it doesn’t fit in with the kind of God they worship who is supposed to be loving, kind, always smiling, and not vengeful. To these Christians, the Old Testament is like the doctrine of hell or the book of Revelations, they are an embarrassment to them. If these Christians had a choice, then the bible would only be made up of the New Testament without any mention of hell, and excluding the book of Revelations. Then there are those Christians who say the New Testament replaced the Old Testament, as such the Old Testament should not be taken literally or even seriously. But what is the purpose of the Old Testament, and why is it important?

One evangelist describing the correlation between the Law (Old Testament) and the New Testament said: “preaching the New Testament without going through the Old Testament first, is like a doctor prescribing medicine to a patient without a diagnosis. And when that happens then the patient will never appreciate the medicine because he doesn’t know if there’s a need for it or not”. The diagnosis is used to “determine the cause and effect relationships”. So the Law is the diagnosis, it’s supposed to tell people what’s wrong with them and what will happen if their condition persists. And that’s what the Old Testament tells us, it gives us a history of humankind and the effects of their diagnosis (when not cured) through history. The New Testament on the other hand is the medicine, and it’s supposed to cure the diseases identified in the Old Testament. So it is foolish for any Christian to push the Old Testament aside, and focus solely on the New Testament.

What does the Old Testament (diagnosis) tell us? Firstly, the Old Testament tells us that the world was perfect and humankind was perfect, meaning we were perfectly healthy. In Genesis we are told that “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). So every kind of evil we see today was not in existence at that particular point in history, and there were no natural disasters we see today. All this means that the world we see today is only a reflection of the world that existed then, and we should not use this world to criticize God’s ability to create. Secondly, the first humans (Adam and Eve) sinned against God in a perfect world by disobeying His commands. This was the first rebellion people had against God, and people have been rebelling against God since. Thirdly, sinning against God comes with consequences. The Old Testament tells us plainly that “you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23), and because the first humans sinned then they had to face the consequences of their sins. Their sin caused the first death, when an animal had to be killed so they can have clothing. Their sin caused enmity between humankind and animals. Their sin caused ground (crust of the earth) to be cursed, and this opened a door for natural disasters. Their sin caused labor pains, and caused death to all humans. But most importantly their sin caused separation between humans and God.

Fourthly, God punishes sin severely. It is through the Old Testament that we learn of the world-wide flood that killed the world’s population of the time, because God was angry with them for their sins. This highlighted the severity with which God is able to apply against all who sin. We learn that all who sin will also be punished this severely if they fail to repent from their sins, as we have seen with Sodom and Gomorrah and many other nations that were wiped off the face of earth, including women and children. The Old Testament shows us that God cannot be emotionally manipulated into ignoring sin by not punishing it, and it also shows that God is not willing to compromise His stances against sin for anybody. If He punished Moses for his sins, then it’s clear that we are not immune to His punishment. Fifthly, the Old Testament shows us that we are unable to keep God’s commands in our own strength. To highlight the failures of humans to keep God’s commands and walk righteously in His ways, there needed to be a daily sin sacrifice to atone for the sin of the nation. This was people’s way of saying we are incapable of being good enough to meet God’s standard of holiness, a such we are at God’s mercy. Lastly, the Old Testament tells us of the hope that was to come, the hope that we could one day be reconciled with God. Describing this hope, the Old Testament says: “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).

One thing for sure, nobody wants to be told that they are an offence to God through their actions, and that’s what the Law does. It tells us straight in our faces that we are sinners who deserve death, as Leviticus 20 testifies. But most importantly, “through the law we become conscious of sin” (Romans 3:20). The Law is not meant to tickle our eyes, it’s meant to be a mirror that we can use to see our own sins, before we can see the sins of others. Any preaching of the love of God that doesn’t involve using this mirror is misguided and will only lead to temporary conversions. Until you understand that you are a sinner who offends God, then you will never value what Jesus has done when He died for you on the cross. Being an atheist is an offence to God, as much as being a fake Christian is also an offence to God. You offend God by your homosexuality, just as others offend Him by their lustful thoughts or fornication. Most importantly, you offend God by your rejection of Jesus Christ and the grace given through the cross. God might not annihilate you like He did with people who lived during the flood, or those who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah, but there’s hell to pay for offending Him.



  1. ding said



  2. I thought the outro was a bit intense, but good article overall. Learned a lot.

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