Do you find the Old Testament and New Testament difficult to recognize ?
I don't know about you, but as a new Christian I found it very difficult to see the Old Testament as inspired in any way, let alone authoritative. I found myself asking, "How could the same God be so angry and vengeful in the Old Testament, yet so loving andcompassionate in the New Testament?" I just didn't get it. I found myself wondering how any thinking Christian could ever equate the YHWH of Moses with the Father of Jesus.
So what happened? How come I see the Old Testament as authoritative now? How did I get from there to here? Well, an important part of my journey was learning that much of my understanding of the Old Testament and the God ofIsrael was deeply deficient; I learned that I had much to learn.
So, if you have ever struggled with this, if you have ever found the Old Testament and New Testament difficult to reconcile, I'd invite you to read and reflect on what the Old Testament says about God's mercy. Here is a sample:
You warned them to return to your law, but they became arrogant and disobeyed your commands.They sinned against your ordinances, by which a man will live if he obeys them. Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen. 30 For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you admonished them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention, so you handed them over to the neighboring peoples. 31 But in your great mercy you did not put an end tothem or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.
In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
He has showed you, Oman, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.
"This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassionto one another.
Personally I find the prophetic instructions from Hosea and Micah particularly arresting. Their words are not so different from how Jesus summarized the Law, as loving God and loving others. Yet here it is in the Old Testament.
How can we then reconcile God's apparent anger and harshness in the Old Testament and Jesus' Gentleness in the New Testament?
I think an answer might bein the types of people that He was dealing with at the time. During ancient times in the Old Testament, about the only thing that got people's attention was raw power. The most powerful warrior would conquer territories and become King. When a more powerful person came along, that King was killed and the new person became King. Authority was almost synonymous with power.
Given such a prevailingattitude, it makes sense that God didn't actually change. He simply presented a different view of Himself. He presented a spectacular Creation in Genesis, and He regularly "smote" whole armies in an instant to permit victory for His favored Tribes.
The Old Testament describes the sacrificial system God gave the Israelites to temporarily cover their sins. The New Testament clarifies that thissystem alluded to the sacrifice of Christ through whom alone salvation is found (Acts 4:12; Hebrews 10:4-10)
The New Testament clarifies that God gave those commandments to show men their need of salvation; they were never intended to be a means of salvation (Romans 3:19).
In summary, the Old Testament lays the foundation for, and was meant to prepare the Israelites for, the coming of the Messiah...