There are many good reasons to read the Old Testament today. Paul the Apostle gives us as Christians the purpose of the Old Testament. When you read the Old Testament it’s always good to follow these five ground rules, while making sure we never become an Old Testament church. But the Old Testament doesn’t just tell us about our past, it tells us about our future, specifically the end of the world.
In the Old Testament we see a recurring pattern of God’s judgment on the world for its wickedness. God judged the world with a flood in Genesis 6 because of its wickedness. A few chapters later God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because their wickedness had reached His ears. God judged the wicked nations of Canaan through Joshua and the conquering Israelites. God threatened destruction on the ancient city of Nineveh and relented only when they repented. God even destroyed the nations of Israel and Judah because of their continued disobedience and widespread wickedness. The pattern is clear: God judges wickedness because He is the Sovereign Judge of all the nations.
But there’s another pattern we see at work in the Old Testament, one that we would do well to heed today: God’s judgment was always slow in coming and humanity never saw the judgment coming. Noah built the ark for decades before the flood came. Jonah prophesied for forty days before God’s judgment would come on Nineveh. In the case of Israel and Judah, the judgment of God was slow in coming, not out of indecisiveness or weakness but out of compassion. God gave the people time and time again to turn from their wicked ways. But after so many years of prophesied judgment and no actual judgment, the people began to assume that God would never judge them. Just because God’s judgment was delayed never meant it wasn’t coming. And that’s what we need to remember today.
Jesus himself gave this prophecy: As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:37-39
Since that prophecy nearly 2000 years have passed, humanity has grown and advanced, and now this prophecy is treated as ancient history. But just because judgment is delayed doesn’t mean it isn’t coming. God tarried for hundreds of years to execute final judgment on the people of Israel out of compassion. Doesn’t it make sense that God would tarry for thousands of years to execute final judgment on the human race out of that same compassion? But just because God chooses to tarry, that doesn’t mean a final reckoning isn’t coming. The Old Testament is living proof of that.