How’s that for a title? Wouldn’t you rather talk about the Razorbacks, no matter how bad it is?
Back in February I went looking for a Bible reading plan for my iPad. I found two that interested me but I couldn’t make up my mind which I wanted to use. So I started both.
One does the whole Bible in three years and it started with the Gospels. The other does the Bible in one year and goes in roughly chronological order. I think it actually started with Job but it got into Genesis very early on. So a lot of the time I was reading a passage from the Gospels or some other part of the New Testament and a passage from the Old Testament.
Talk about spiritual whiplash. On one hand there’s the Jesus of love and grace in the Gospels. Jesus hung out with tax collectors and sinners. On the other hand is the wrath of the Old Testament God. And that’s how some people see it. There’s an Old Testament God and a New Testament God. Some don’t want to have anything to do with the wrathful God of the Old Testament. Some refuse to follow the New Testament Jesus because of the blood thirsty Old Testament God.
So what do we do with this? How do we reconcile the Old Testament and New Testament Gods? Well here’s what I think.
There is only one God. Not an Old and New. God does not change. But just look at the things that happen on the book of Exodus. God descends to the mountain to talk to Moses and He tells the children of Israel to stay away or they will die. Don’t even let livestock near the mountain. Worshipers of the golden calf are killed by the sword. People complain and poisonous snakes are sent into the camp. People rebel and a plague breaks out or the earth opens and swallows them up. Miriam tries to take over and she becomes a leper.
You could get the idea that God’s wrath is an almost involuntary thing, a reflex. Like slapping a mosquito. Not a good analogy but the best I can do for now. God even tells Moses once to call for repentance ‘…lest I break out in the camp’. God is exercising great restraint by not wiping them all out. Sin and God cannot exist in close proximity with each other. When a sinner comes close to God the sinner is annihilated. This does not mean that God is angry or unreasonable or just plain mean. It just means that sin cannot exist in His presence.
So what about the New Testament God? He’s the same, the same as the Old Testament God. Sin cannot exist in His presence.
That fact should elicit a response from us. First it should foster a new appreciation of what Jesus did for us. The Old Testament priests didn’t know if they would come out alive when they stepped into the Holy of Holies. An unconfessed sin could be their death. We, however, can come boldly before God because of the blood of Jesus. Do we take that for granted? Has it become a no big deal thing? A right instead of a privilege?
The other thing is sin. Where are we on that? We have our list, our list of the big ones. We’re good on that. But what about the ‘little’ ones? Do we laugh them off? (I’m saying ‘We’ because it’s just too painful to say ‘I’.) Do we say ‘Well, that’s just the way I am’? If we do we are disregarding the righteousness of God and treating lightly the blood of Jesus.
I don’t want you to get the idea that God is some supercosmic force. That carried to it’s natural conclusion leads us to an aloof, impersonal God who does not involve Himself in our daily struggles. No, He is more than an impersonal force. He is a person, the Person. But if we jump on that to the exclusion of the other we wind up with the capricious silly gods of Greek and Roman mythology.
I think the truth about God is somewhere in the middle between person and force. No, I think He is both, both peace and joy and love and awesome righteous power.
This is, of course, not some new theology. It’s nothing to form a church around. It’s just thoughts that get stuck in my head that I have to write down before I can move on. That’s all this is.
But it does seem to me…
It’s too easy to get cozy with my happy and comfortable, peaceful, undemanding god and forget about the reality of the powerful demanding all righteous God who expects, who demands that we be righteous as well.