Here is a topic that I have touched on before, but I think that I need to discuss it in a little more detail, as there seems to be a lot of confusion. I was reading the Bible the other day, and I spent a while reading, so I was jumping around and reading various books. Some of the books were in the Old Testament and some were in the New. However, I noticed a distinct difference. The Old Testament books were all about condemnation and God’s wrath, and the New Testament books were all about forgiveness, faith and love. Now please don’t get me wrong, I only read certain books. This is not necessarily an accurate analysis of the Bible. There is, however, a string of truth in this.
Let me start with an image, if I may. I may sound a little flippant when explaining this, but I think you’ll get the point. Think of a timeline image, starting with God and Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden, everything is perfect and humans are in fellowship with God. Then Eve decides to eat the fruit which she has been told not to eat (with some help from the devil) and Adam decides to join her. Next thing, they get thrown out of the garden and now they have been separated from God. They are no longer pure and holy, so God can’t have the fellowship with them that He had enjoyed before, the sin keeps them away from God. Now, we have the Old Testament. Do as you’re told or face the consequences, and the consequences often are not pretty. Then God decides that He’s had enough (which He actually knew He would from the beginning of time) and He wants to restore the relationship that He had with us (humans) in the past, so He sends Jesus. Jesus spends some time here, showing us how to do things here on earth, then He dies (and rises from the dead) and defeats sin. All so that God can have the relationship with us that He desires. We are made holy again in His sight! Before we get too excited, the plan is not 100% finished yet, but Jesus did say that it was finished, which means that the relationship between God and man has been restored. The problem is that we are still here and He is in heaven (although the Holy Spirit is here with us). The other problem is that satan is here with us, causing his usual trouble throwing sin into the mix (which still tries to keep us from God). One day, when Jesus comes again, we will be taken into heaven and will have a perfect life there, for eternity.
Now that we have established that, I would like to make two points. One, the Old Testament and New Testament have different functions and God responds to us differently. Two, our relationship has been restored with God, even though we don’t see it fully yet. As for my first point, we need to remember this when quoting scripture, or when reading the Old Testament. I have said to many people that they need to read the Old Testament in context, and they reply with a rather sarcastic, “But God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow!”. Yes He is, but His relationship with us is not. In the Old Testament, when He looked upon (most) humans, He saw sin, corruption, greed, hatred, immorality, idolatry and other evil. Now when He looks upon us, He sees Jesus. Huge difference. He hasn’t changed, we have. Not thanks to us, but thanks to what Jesus did for us. We need to read the Old Testament with that in mind. When we read about God unleashing His wrath, we can rest assured that we are saved by grace. We do need to understand what God’s attitude is to sin, so that we can understand what we have been saved from, so that we can appreciate what we have received from Jesus. This is why the Old Testament is relevant, not so that we can still try and follow all of the laws set. Paul states this in Romans 6:14, “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.”
As for the second point, our relationship has been restored. We may not see it to its fullest until we get to heaven, but it has been restored. We need to start seeing God in the light that Adam and Eve did before they sinned. We need to see Him as a Father and friend, but keeping in mind His majesty and greatness displayed in the Old Testament. We also need to keep in mind His attitude toward sin, all while remembering that even though we sin, we are forgiven.. thanks to Jesus!
I hope that this has cleared up what I mean by taking the Testaments in context. I know that I have taken a rather casual approach to this, but I think I make my point (without getting too serious).
All thanks to Jesus.