TODAY’S SIGNATURE VERSE ••• Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (Matthew 5:17 ESV)
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• It’s Day 4 of 14 days of hard questions that both believers and nonbelievers ask. Goodness, this is hard. I’m doing my best to write these based on what the Bible says, but as I’ve frequently said for the last three years – seek answers yourself too. Go straight to Scripture and see what God has to say! I’m not a theologian, but I have a tremendous wealth of resources I pull from, including my dear friend and prayer partner, Sandra, who is helping me out with this project. She is a graduate of seminary school and works in ministry. I’m running everything about these hard questions by her after I write them to make sure I’m presenting things from a Biblical perspective. Today, our hard question is, “Why does God seem so angry in most of the Old Testament and then, all of the sudden, He’s a loving Father in the New?”
I think to answer this question, we have to look at the history of mankind. Adam and Eve messed up God’s perfect world when they succumbed to temptation. Then, we have a series of defiance and disobedience, including a world that grew to be so bad, God expressed His regret for even creating it (Genesis 6:6). So, He commanded Noah to build the ark, and essentially, destroyed everything to start over with the only righteous man in the world (Genesis 6-7).
After the flood, we met Abraham and his family, including his nephew, Lot. Lot was living in Sodom when things got so bad again, that God destroyed both Sodom and neighboring city, Gomorrah, with sulfur and fire (Genesis 19). After that, Lot drunkenly impregnated both his daughters which is a whole level of gross while in the meantime, Abraham’s wife, Sarah, in a moment of doubt about God’s promise to give her a son, took matters into her own hands and had her husband sleep with her servant… It was a situation that frankly, would be a scandalous plot twist for reality TV.
Beyond that – we have Pharaoh of Egypt abusing the Jews; Moses leading them out to the wilderness; the Jews’ whining about the food, complaining about the rescue, and generally being annoying even though they had just been rescued from 400 years of slavery.
Then, let’s get into the fact that Israelites demanded a king, even though God was their leader. We have a succession of kings who were all over the place: Saul (bad), David (good), Solomon (good at first, then bad decisions). For the sake of everyone’s sanity I’m summarizing the rest — a series of kings with largely unpronounceable names that included 8 good kings and 31 bad kings who represent the full spectrum of bad to really sick, twisted, and evil. And through all that back and forth of good and bad kings, a nation that worshipped God and then, a nation who worshipped idols. Reading the books of 1 and 2 Kings is a frustrating yo-yo of “The people repented and turned to God… The people got distracted and turned to idols… Enemies showed up and the Israelites got into trouble… The people cried out to God… God rescued them… The people repented and turned to God… The people go distracted turned to idols…” and the cycle continued.
Frankly, I don’t really blame God for being angry. I’d say that humanity has given Him really good reason to be mad.
But why the difference between the often-angry God of the Old Testament and the loving Father of the New? I think it comes down to Jesus. Before we go there though, let me just say that God demonstrates His love in plenty of ways in the Old Testament. And it’s important to remember that while God is love (1 John 4:16), He is also just. He said, “For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them” (Isaiah 61:8). There’s nothing wrong with that. For instance, you may think I’m a kind and nice person, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not about being fair too. It’s funny how we accept those multiple attributes in people, but we can’t seem to reconcile them with God’s character.
Anyway, as I said, I think the transition from seeing so much of the just side of God’s character to the God of love is because of Jesus. Jesus as God’s Son.
Let me paint an illustration for you. Imagine you are back in school… you may have a new friend who talked about strict rules and regulations at home. You may have begun to form an impression about your friend’s parents, and especially their father. You may have thought – “Wow, he sounds like a real jerk.” You may have wondered, “How does my friend stand that?” And then — you met the parents. And Dad was just a big ‘ole teddy bear. Yes, he had his rules, and you may not have understood all of them, but suddenly, you saw him from a different perspective. You saw the family dynamics of how he was really a loving father to his children. Your previous perception was all about the rules, without bothering to understand the relational side of things. And best of all, the more time you spent with your friend, the more your friend’s father began to treat you like one of his own.
I think that when Jesus was born, it was a similar thing. Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). In the Old Testament, all we had were the rules. The rules that the chosen people of God continued to disobey. And then, after Jesus arrived, we met His Father… His Abba. And we saw the familial relationship Jesus shared with God. We saw the God of love. We saw the justice, yes… But we also saw the mercy and grace.
And when we invite Jesus into our lives, His Father becomes our Father. We get to experience that perfect Father’s love, mercy, and grace first hand. We get to appreciate the rules because He gave them to protect us. And we can love Him all the more for them.
Jesus revolutionized everything, including our ability to connect to His Father. Not only did we get the gift of salvation, but we’ve been given the gift of adoption. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
So with that said, hopefully, you can reconcile the God of rules in the Old Testament with the God of love in the New Testament. They are one and the same and I’m so grateful to be His child.
Today, as you pray, thank God for being both loving and just. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you recognize that God’s justice is a part of His incredible love for humanity. Ask Him to help you see both sides of His character as being part of what makes Him a good, good Father.
SHARING ••• Please share with others! Visit www.MyGraceFullLife.com to read past blogs. ***Unless noted otherwise, all Scripture references are from the ESV translation.