Preaching from the Pentateuch is a great need of God's people, many of whom have never heard sermons from any book of the Old Testament, let alone the Pentateuch. This is also an area of great need for preachers, who tend to shy away from the Pentateuch.
Despite the difficulties associated with it, I believe we must preach the Pentateuch for four reasons.
1. Its Need
First, there is a great need for preaching the Pentateuch in our churches to give our people a well-rounded diet of the "whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). No doubt many preachers' experience of their people's lack of Bible knowledge testifies to this. Several recent studies by various denominations have shown that while seventy-five percent of the Scriptures are found within the Old Testament, only twenty percent of sermons come from the Old Testament. Our people need us to do more than merely teach Old Testament Bible stories to our children in Sunday school. They need us to preach these stories to them.
2. Its Importance
Second, we must preach the Pentateuch because these books are the foundational books for the rest of Scripture. The doctrines of creation, sin, redemption, covenant, election, and the moral law of God are all revealed here. As the twentieth-century Swiss Reformed theologian Jean-Jacques Von Allmen wrote, "a Church which discards the Old Testament does not achieve a true meeting with Christ." We not only rob our people of vital truth if we do not preach the Old Testament; we rob them of the canvas upon which the Holy Spirit paints Christ in the New Testament.
3. Its Nature
Third, we need to preach the Pentateuch because the stories within it are exciting, riveting, and heart-pounding. This is the backstory to the drama of Jesus. We preachers need to ask ourselves: are our people clamoring for more application because they are tired of our dry, doctrinal sermons? Or are they tired of us preaching application with nothing to hang it upon? I am convinced one simple remedy is to preach on drama—the drama of God's redemptive story, that is. As we preach from the Pentateuch, God is put at center stage as the chief actor in all these stories.
4. Its Substance
Fourth, we need to preach the Pentateuch because our Lord taught His disciples that He is the sum and substance of these books (Luke 24:27, 44). He is the eternal Word who created in Genesis 1. He is the reality of circumcision given to Abraham in Genesis 17. He is the Lord of the covenant at Mount Sinai in Exodus 24. He is the rock that gave water to drink in Exodus 17 and the manna that was provided while Israel wandered the wilderness in Exodus 16. As one Dutch homiletician, Wilhelm Vischer, memorably stated, "Jesus Christ provides the vowel-points which give a sense to the consonants of the Hebrew text."