The Old Testament was not just meant for the Jews of Old. In fact, some passages say that the Old Testament was written for Christians in under the New Covenant (including us!). The Old Testament is both helpful for instruction, edification, and encouragement. For example, Paul says, “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom 15:4). We can learn what to do on account of what was written in the Old Testament, and in that way it can be for our instruction. For example, after Paul recounts the the rebellion in the times of Moses, he says, “Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did” (1 Cor 10:6).
Even the Old Testament stories are helpful and set an example for us. For example, when “the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle,” (2 Chron 20:1), he was afraid. But in his fear, he acts in a way that we should act. He “set his face to seek the Lord” and assembled with the peoples and prayed, asking for help. When we are in trouble, we often tend to be act in self-sufficiency, but Jehoshaphat provides for us an example to follow: seek God and ask for help. In this way, reading the Old Testament can also be instructive.
Further, Paul writes to Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16–17). Once again, all Scripture is profitable for us. And it is not only profitable for instruction and equipping, but for encouragement and reminder of God’s ongoing faithfulness and steadfast love. For example, Nehemiah 9 reminds us of God’s kindness and faithfulness to his promises and people even through their rebellion: “Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God” (Neh 9:31).
Recalling the stories of old thus reveals God’s faithfulness to his covenantal promises, which gives hope and encouragement, and thus reminds us that if we are now under a “better covenant,” as Hebrews calls it, how much more will his faithfulness be for those bought with his own Son’s blood. Through reading the Old Testament, we are instructed, encouraged, and edified.