Many preachers simply avoid the Old Testament. Ignorant to the reality that they are limiting the distribution of the treasures untold for the people of God to gaze at the types and shadows which are now open for us to see. They are withholding the knowledge of Christ from the Scriptures. How impoverished is that preaching and how undernourished are those congregations which can’t look back to what Abraham saw ahead. The Old Testament is not merely a collection of stories that we are able to derive its morals. One has to realise that the Gospels in the Old Testament that of Jesus Christ is so bountiful wholesome for one’s spirit-man to feast upon.
Malnutrition are the many for the “Bible Stories” that are taught to us from a tender age moralises the Old Testament. Stories of Samson, David and other favourite “stories” that make good bedtime soothing. We are not realising that we implying that these and other stories of Snow White, Mickey Mouse and the entire Looney Tunes are of same genre. Thus, weakening the Scriptural authority to portraying the Bible as similar one dimensional lessons which make us indoctrinated to the worldly worldviews.
Look at the Bible story books for children. Most of them are aimed to provide the amusement to gain the child’s interest and imagination with a moral lesson to conclude. Dare I ask the question, where is Christ? Where is Jesus Christ in your Bible Story – Parent? And you Teacher? It is as if the Old Testament is our Jewish-Christian form of Aesop’s Fables: do this; do not do that. It starts at the parent’s knee, and then continues in Sunday school and the wayward Child. The trouble is that we are no longer thinking, we merely assisting the world to show that Jesus is in a mere storytelling and not at all relevant.
So, when we arrive at the period of adolescence, we discover that the basic belief system of most of our adolescents is moralistic therapeutic deism. Well, that is what they received from us, and not just from our preaching of the Old Testament; moralising is what they heard from virtually all our preaching. In fact, if there is any period of life that tends to be subjected to moralising in the most eccentric and intensive ways, it is adolescence.
There are moral lessons there, and we are wrong to ignore them. Even the New Testament sometimes cites the Old Testament in terms of moral lessons we should learn. When it does, we must learn them. However, it is wrong to think that moralising is the main point of the New Testament’s use of the Old. It is tragic to make moralising the main thing.
Moralism is the default mode for preachers. It’s second nature. But it misinforms the congregation. Why do it then? Maybe it tells them what they really want to hear, which is that they can please God through moral improvement. But moralising cannot save. We must do better than this if we are to escape the rebuke of Christ: “If you believed Moses, you would believe me” (John 5:46).