Preaching the Old Testament is not always easy, but it is necessary. I believe the OT books should regularly occupy every preacher’s pulpit. These books are a treasure trove of knowledge about God and His work to save His people. This list is not exhaustive, but here are seven reasons why every pastor should preach Old Testament books.
- It makes up the majority of the Bible: There are more chapters in the first five books of the OT and Psalms than the entire New Testament. Add to this number the rest of the biblical narratives; the prophetic books like Isaiah and Jeremiah; and the pages of Proverbs, and you can really see how much of the Bible is in the OT. Our sermons should use this massive resource.
- It was the Bible of the Apostles and the First Generation of Christians: Although we have the blessing of the New Testament books, the Bible that Jesus and His disciples read was the Old Testament. To know God’s character and works, they and the early church depended upon the OT stories, prophecies, and poems. We follow a biblical heritage when we preach about God through the OT.
- We Are Repeatedly Taught One Can Preach the Gospel from the OT: The gospel centers on the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. On the road to Emmaus, after His resurrection, Jesus teaches that the Scriptures are about Him. These Scriptures are the Old Testament! The OT is ultimately about Jesus. This means we can (and should!) preach the gospel from Old Testament books.
- There is Continuity between Testaments: The God of the NT is the same God of the OT. He does not change. His character and his work remain the same. When we preach from the Old Testament, we affirm this truth.
- It is the Beginning of the Grand Redemptive Storyline: The story that ends in a garden-city with God’s people dwelling in His presence begins with God’s people enjoying His person in a garden. Genesis 1-2 finds its “amen” in Revelation 21-22! In order to declare the full story of God’s salvation, we must preach the first half of that story.
- The OT is Filled with Narratives: If you have preached a sermon, you know that the parts often most memorable are the stories we share. The OT narratives help our people because they capture their attention and captivate their imagination. More than this, sermons on OT narratives teach our people that they can know God in more ways than only propositional statements.
- Prophecy finds fulfillment in Christ: In the NT, Matthew, in particular, teaches us that Christ fulfills a multitude of OT prophecies. Our sermons should guide our people to the pages where those prophecies reside. When we do this, we increase their knowledge of our Lord Jesus and teach them how to read the NT properly.
When we preach OT books, we magnify King Jesus and increase our people’s affection for Him.