Does it ever seem like the Old Testament and the New Testament present two very different, almost contradictory pictures of God? Like He’s filled with wrath in the Old Testament, and full of love and grace in the New Testament? Why the difference? What is He really like?
When Jesus was on this earth, He showed us what God was really like. He only did what He saw His Father do (Jn 5:19). He showed us how much God loves us, and how strongly He desired a relationship with us. Jesus’ death and resurrection was not only the dividing point of all history (BC and AD), but also between two different covenants, or ways for mankind to relate to God.
Adam and Eve committed the first sin in the Garden of Eden. Everyone since then has continued to make mistakes, causing division between mankind and God. God is holy, and can’t tolerate sin. Therefore, in the Old Testament, we see demonstration of His anger against wrongdoing, and punishment coming upon those who did wrong.
In the Old Testament, God gave many rules. Obedience resulted in blessing. Disobedience resulted in punishment. This was how mankind related to God in the Old Testament – by trying to be good enough to earn His acceptance. This didn’t work, because no one could be good enough. In fact, the whole purpose of the Law was to show us that we couldn’t save ourselves, setting the stage for a Savior to appear.
He was Emmanuel – God in the flesh. He came to establish a new way for us to relate to God. God didn’t want us to have to suffer the punishment our sins deserved, so He sent His Son to take that punishment for us. Christ took our sins upon Himself, so that we could receive His right standing with God. God’s acceptance of us is no longer based on what we do, but what Christ did, and whether or not we are willing to put our faith in Him. God still can’t tolerate sin, but He dealt with our sin when Jesus died at the cross. It no longer stands in the way of us drawing near to Him!
The Old Testament took place before Jesus died, when it was all about our performance. All our actions could ever bring about was punishment, however, for no matter how hard we try, we can never be perfect. Because Jesus, the Perfect One, died in our place, God can now show us the love and grace that was His real heart for us all along. Even throughout the Old Testament, we can see reflections of His grace and mercy in many different instances, such as when He sent Jonah to warn the people of Ninevah about what was to come upon them, and how they were spared when they turned to Him. Now that Jesus has come, we can fully experience His grace, mercy, love and forgiveness. We can be confident that because Christ bore our punishment, God will never again be angry with or rebuke us (Is 54:9)!
My name is Emily Hockenhull. I started Called and Created as a way to share the good news of the gospel of God's grace with others. Come join me on the journey!