Old Testament God Vs. New Testament God: Jesus Clears the Confusion
For centuries Christians have been trying to reconcile the discrepancies in God’s nature we often see between the Old Testament and the New. In some cases the character changes seem so stark in contrast that a few have, erroneously, suggested they were two different Gods.
Even in the Old Testament though we witness two different natures in God that seemingly are at odds with one another. We see a God who can demand unspeakable atrocities be carried out (rape, slaughter of men, women, and children) as well as God extending incredible compassion and mercy. (Hosea 11)
God Shows His Glory
A couple posts back a Beyond the Pale reader commented that the perception of God the Israelites had was always viewed through a veil and obstructed. In Exodus 33, Moses makes an unusual request; he asks God to show him His Glory. What Moses is really asking God is to ‘let me really SEE you and KNOW you as you really are because I’m a little confused!’
Isn’t that what we all really want…to know God!
God answers the request and after the encounter Moses’ face radiated so much he had to keep a veil over his face when he was with the people of Israel.
Whether in the Holy of Holies or on Moses’ face, the Glory of God, the revelation of the Lord’s nature and being, was never perceived directly. It was always obscured. So it wouldn’t be a stretch to see that sometimes the gaps in people’s understanding of God’s nature would be filled in with understandings of their own nature. As Beyond the Pale reader Claude suggested to me recently:
With the pure you will show yourself pure; and with the froward you will show yourself froward.
How we see God often reveals a lot about our own nature.
My brother Andrew says in a post he wrote on the subject:
So which is the accurate view of God? I am fond of saying the bible is a Rorschach test if you are religious. What you see when you read it, the parts of it that stir you, the verses you want to live by – they are all just a mirror, showing you what you look like inside.
Compassionate merciful people find a compassionate merciful God…legalistic, judgmental people find their God as well with an arsenal of Biblical scripture to back up each viewpoint.
But then….there is Jesus!
But God (thankfully) doesn’t leave us with an obscured view of himself. Jesus comes and tears down the veil (Mark 15:38) that gave us a shadowy and distorted picture of God. Jesus proclaims that when you have seen him, you have seen God. (John 14:7-10) Want to know how God REALLY responds in a given situation?
Look no farther than how Jesus responded.
In fact every time Jesus had a choice to validate either the wrathful punishing God described in the Old Testament or the compassionate merciful one…
…he always came down on the side of mercy and compassion!
Jesus states something interesting in the Gospel of Matthew;
From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.
John the Baptist represented the last of the Old Testament prophets. Jesus is saying that from that time up until now, violence has been mixed with His Kingdom, not by Him, but by others with violence in their nature.
But the days of people filling in the gaps of their understanding of God with their own twisted violent natures are over!
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being,
Hebrews 1: 1-3
Jesus is loving and compassionate extending mercy and forgiveness wherever he goes. He reveals God in his totality and, by doing so, clears the confusion about just what sort of God he is.
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