“The Bible has extraordinarily little practical value for the modern human being, beyond knowing some trivia to successfully do crosswords or answer questions on game shows.”
“Biblical references to family lines, virginity, and fear of God were relevant cultural concepts in biblical times, but they have little relevance in the Twenty-first Century.”
“The Bible was outdated even before it was printed for the first time.”
THESE comments were recently taken from an Internet site that discussed the topic “Is the Bible outdated and irrelevant?” How do you feel about those opinions? Do you agree?
You might disagree with such sweeping dismissals of the Bible but still wonder if everything in the Bible is relevant. After all, the Bibles used in most churches are divided into what are commonly called the Old Testament and the New Testament, giving the impression that over 75 percent of the Bible is old, outdated.
No one still offers the animal sacrifices prescribed in the Mosaic Law. So, what is the point of preserving all those details regarding sacrifices in the book of Leviticus? (Leviticus 1:1–7:38) And what about the opening chapters of 1 Chronicles, which consist almost entirely of genealogical lists? (1 Chronicles 1:1–9:44) If no one alive today can trace his or her lineage directly to anyone mentioned in those chapters, what good are such lists?
Suppose that you pick an apple from an apple tree. Once you have the apple, is the tree that produced it irrelevant? Not if you want more fruit! In some ways the Bible is like that apple tree. Certain parts of the Bible, such as the Psalms or the Sermon on the Mount, might seem to be readily accessible and especially “tasty.” While we may treasure those parts—as we might our favorite fruit—should we disregard the rest? What does the Bible itself say on the matter?
About the year 65 C.E., the apostle Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, reminding him: “From infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through the faith in connection with Christ Jesus.” Paul next stated: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:15, 16) When Paul wrote that “all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial,” was he talking about just the New Testament?
Notice Paul’s reference to Timothy’s having known “the holy writings” from “infancy.” If, as some believe, Timothy was in his 30’s at the time this letter was written, then he was an infant about the time of Jesus’ death. That was before any portion of the New Testament, or the Greek Scriptures, was written. Timothy’s mother was Jewish, so the holy writings that she would have taught him as a young child must have been the Old Testament, or the Hebrew Scriptures. (Acts 16:1) Paul’s reference to “all Scripture” doubtless included the entire Old Testament, containing sacrificial regulations and genealogies.
Over 1,900 years later, we still benefit from those portions of the Bible in several ways. First, we would not even have the Bible if God had not seen to it that it was written and preserved by a people whom he had chosen. (Romans 3:1, 2) In ancient Israel the Mosaic Law was not just a sacred relic to be preserved for future generations but was, in effect, the constitution of that nation. Details in the Law that may seem unnecessary to us today were vital to the survival and proper functioning of ancient Israel. Moreover, the genealogical records in the Bible were necessary to identify the Messiah, who was foretold to be a direct descendant of King David.—2 Samuel 7:12, 13; Luke 1:32; 3:23-31.
Although Christians are not under the Mosaic Law, they need to exercise faith in the foretold Messiah, Jesus Christ. The ancient genealogies preserved in the Bible prove that Jesus was indeed the promised “son of David.” And details regarding sacrifices deepen our appreciation for the far more important sacrifice that Jesus made, building faith in its value.—Hebrews 9:11, 12.
To the first-century Christian congregation in Rome, Paul wrote: “All the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) This text reminds us that the Bible was written for our benefit but not our benefit only.
For over 3,500 years, its inspired words have directed, instructed, and corrected God’s people—in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Promised Land, in Babylonian exile, in the Roman Empire, and now earth wide. No other book can rightly make such a claim. Like the roots of an apple tree, the value of certain parts of the Bible might be hard to see at first. A little digging may be required to reveal that value, but the effort will be handsomely repaid!