The Grace of the Old Testament God
Pastor Walt Groff
It is easy to separate God as revealed in the pages of the Old Testament from Jesus as the revelation of God in the New Testament. It is a huge mistake to do so. The New Testament book of Hebrews gives a very specific description of Jesus.
Hebrew 1:3 – The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. … (NLT)
So imagine when you hear the voice of God through the prophets, or speaking the commandments from Mount Sinai, that you are seeing Jesus. I know that probably stretches your mind, but that is the Biblical truth. So it is up to us to stretch our minds around it.
Cultures are so different then and now. The way those humans described God and understood their world is very different from ours. They did not have the blessing of living on the global timeline after the entrance of Jesus. So as we reflect on the things of the OT through a lens informed by Jesus we have to see that they did not.
Yet there are moments when it is clear that the God of Israel was different. There are little comments like, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” As the flood was about to rescue the salvation opportunity from extinction. — Yes, that is a different lense from, “I’m sad that I made man and I am going to destroy everything.”
But it is just as accurate to the facts. God sees the evil of man, teaches one man how to be saved and give the rest of humanity 120 years to accept the opportunity as that man preaches and builds a giant boat. He marches animals right past the watching mob, and then when they still won’t believe He closes the door of the boat.
In my reading last week I ran across another of the revelations of God’s heart in the text, “Hazael king of Aram badgered and bedeviled Israel all through the reign of Jehoahaz. But GOD was gracious and showed mercy to them. He stuck with them out of respect for his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He never gave up on them, never even considered discarding them, even to this day…” 2 Kings 13:22-24 MSG
God the God of the Old Testament was gracious. We zoom into the pages of final pronouncement too quickly. We often neglect the counting of the days that pass. For example, from the time the ten tribes of Israel split off from the two tribes of the South to the time they are attacked and removed from their land by Sennacherib the Assyrian is about 200 years. During that time there are thirteen Biblically noted prophets that addressed the problems of Israel!
These are not small issues either. The mass murder of God’s faithful prophets. Building an idol of God. Worshiping gods in all manner of lurid and heinous ways.
They are rebuked but the nation is not rejected for two centuries. God demonstrates His amazing patience, His grace and His commitment to them. Just as Jesus did.