How often we are asked or consider our own doubts about the unity of the Bible? Isn’t the tone and coherence of the Old Testament so very different from the New Testament? ♦
Have you ever doubted the unity of the whole Bible? At the heart of this is the common question: Why is God so mean and angry all the time in the Old Testament and so loving in the New Testament? While a fair question to raise, the mean/nice God summation is a lazy deduction that misses the absolutely viable and comprehensive unity and thread of love throughout the Scriptures. Don’t be deceived or settle for anything less.
Of course it doesn’t help that we still hear vague but misunderstood references to sermons like the famous Jonathan Edward’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” – which ironically strikes many modernists as anathema. Actually, this was a measured, logical, and brilliantly delivered sermon in 1741 that awoke a US community and region to conviction and transformation. The little town of Enfield, Connecticut was never the same.
But Why is God So Angry in the Old Testament?
He is unfathomably holy, good and loving. He created all things with His signature creation being Man. The Fall of Adam destroyed the fellowship (God and Man) and required reconciliation through perfect death (Christ, the perfect sacrifice) to restore reconnection with Holy God. The plan to inject the human solution (Jesus) into history required a line of people by which God would play out his love-plan to a lost world.
Abraham was the first Jew/Hebrew, a mere man plucked from human obscurity (see Genesis 11). His descendants, as promised (Genesis 12), eventually were as numberless as the stars. But as the entire Old Testament chronicles, the Hebrews were a disobedient and stiff-necked people (much like ourselves), who constantly tested God’s patience and steadfast love.
In spite of a long line of prophets amongst themselves, the people really had no clue what God was doing beyond their own generations.
A Holy Line of Descendants from Adam to Jesus
But God had a plan in spite of human evil, debauchery and rejection of his Word, precepts and scriptural directives delivered through his prophetic yet abused spokesmen. The human genetic line through Adam: Seth, Enoch, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Peleg, Terah, then Abraham: Isaac, Jacob, Boaz, Jesse, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Josiah, Zarubbabel, and Joseph, Mary’s husband – to merely cite the more famous ones (see Matthew 1 and Luke 3 for the full lists) – is a miraculous longview love-play that links the Old Testament to the New Testament’s introduction of the God-Man, Jesus, the ultimate gift (see 2/8/13 post Jesus, the Word and God Man). The rest of the story is modern New Testament history.
But Isn’t Jesus and the New Testament All About Love?
Jesus was all about the mission. His/God’s mission which was simply to die an atoning death as the Lamb of God, like the “Passover” covenant sealed in blood (see Exodus 12 for the instructions to the captive Hebrews in Egypt to kill a lamb without blemish as covering from the Lord’s Passover). It’s all connected. Jesus ushered in the Kingdom of God, the new Israel, His Church, led now by the Holy Spirit in a still broken earth that will one day be restored to original perfection.
Yes, Jesus is nice and loving to all the little children and poor people. But when read carefully, the New Testament’s early Church directives expounded by the miraculously transformed Paul (see Acts 9), goes way beyond niceties. As ongoing extensions of the first century Church begun at Pentecost (see Acts 2), we are warned, instructed, admonished, encouraged and prepared to be a set-aside people, much like the original Hebrews, to continue the work that was begun to completion. The Word throughout is from the same unfathomably holy, righteous, awesome, mighty, timeless, Old Testament God worthy of fear, worship and trepidation. Yet, through divine Christ’s time on earth documented in the 4 Gospels, we see His touching love, mercy, grace, brilliance and single-minded purpose to complete the Old Testament scriptural promises of God the Father, His and our Father.
An Amazing Book
The Bible can be read like a book with a definite cohesive narrative. But be warned. It is documented Jewish history, profound human law, typology, apocalyptical literature, poetry and the utter Word of God, Creator and Redeemer. It is not to be shirked, discounted, or disrespected as inconsistent documentation of human imagination. It is to be studied, cherished, devoured in spirit, mind and soul. Over and over again. To not do so is to miss out on the mystery and meaning of existence, the human plight and consistent love of an awesome God.
Are you clear on the unifying ties throughout the Holy Scriptures?
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I (Jesus) did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” – Matthew 5:17