Wednesday, November 26, 2014

HOW DO YOU RECONCILE THE HARSH GOD OF THE OLD TESTAMENT WITH THE LOVING GOD OF THE NEW TESTAMENT? Some people assert that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are very different. They might ask which one we should imitate. They suggest that those two representations of God are very different. Although the God of the OT is obviously very powerful and sometimes compassionate at least to certain people, they assert that at times He seems to be arbitrary, angry, wrathful, judgmental, legalistic, and unpredictable. The God of the NT, on the other hand, is loving, kind, merciful, and forgiving. The God of the NT seems a lot more friendly and approachable than the God of the OT. While many people buy into this dichotomous depiction of God, the truth is that the God of the OT is the same as the God of the NT. When the Scriptures are rightly interpreted, they reveal a God who is sometimes mysterious and incomprehensible to us (after all, He is GOD!), but whose character and actions display the perfect blend of holiness, righteousness, love, mercy, and justice. Because a finite human is not able to fully understand the infinite God, does not mean that God is inconsistent or contradictory. The problem may well be with our finite knowledge and understanding rather than with God’s character or actions. It’s important to recognize that to understand the God of the OT, a person must understand the story-line. Most of the OT focuses on God as He acted in covenant relationship with the nation of Israel in order to carry out His eternal plan to redeem and to restore His sin-ruined creation. Israel was a theocracy – a nation ruled by God. It was totally unique in history as were God’s actions in dealing with it. Many of God’s actions in the OT were to prepare and to preserve the nation of Israel so that through that very flawed people He could bless all peoples by by giving the world the Scriptures and the Savior. Often we misunderstand God because we don’t understand what He is doing, we don’t have His perspective, we can’t see the big picture, and we can’t see how He is going to bring it all together in the end. We’re like the man watching an artist who criticizes the early dark and incomprehensible brush strokes on the canvass. The artist might well turn to his critic and say, “Wait till I’m finished.” Even more importantly the Scripture makes it clear that if we want to understand God, we must look at Jesus. He is, as Colossians 1:15 and 2:9 assert: "Jesus is the image of the invisible God . . . For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form." Jesus said: "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." John 14:9. Jesus is God in flesh so that we can know Him and know that He knows and identifies with us. God became a man and lived among us (John 1:14). Jesus is GOD – God in a human body; God who became a man and lived with broken people in a broken world so He could experience everything we do, and so that we could know what He is like. He lived in a family, lost his step-father to death, grew up with half siblings who mistreated him, experienced poverty, had a job, ran a business, was let down and betrayed by His friends, was slandered and falsely accused, was severely tempted in every way we are, had an unfulfilled sex drive, was wrongfully arrested, tortured, tried, and executed. He is Immanuel, "God with us." To know who God is, don't just consider the distorted picture some manufacture from the Old Testament or the New. Look at Jesus!

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