Are The Old Testament and New Testament That Different?

Before I’d read the Bible, I was very confused between what I had heard of God from the Old Testament and what I had heard of God from the New Testament. Was God full of wrath or love? Was God merciful or judgmental?

Were believers in God to be weapons or servants? How were they related? As with many questions I had, the answers were right there in the Bible.

From Genesis to Revelation, we see the story of God, a perfect, holy being who is just and loving. Before one can even attempt to understand Christianity, one must overcome the preconceived idea that one who loves doesn’t punish. One must overcome the preconceived idea that one who is just lets people do whatever they want. One must overcome the preconceived idea that the choices we receive are a gift, not permission.

In the beginning, God created paradise for man to live in. He gave us a perfect world with a perfect body. He gave us dominion over the land. In this paradise, he gave one, simple rule. Don’t eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge.

Humanity made the choice to eat that fruit. The consequences of that choice are death and pain. This isn’t an unfair punishment; it is the predetermined result of our crime. Yet even in that punishment, there was mercy, a promise, right there in Genesis, that God would deliver us. In this we see God is holy, he is just, he is merciful.

We started off this book asking why bad things happen, but we forget that we make choices all the time. Are you making choices for God or not? When one lives for ones self, they’re turning from God. Turning from God in itself is just a bad plan. Even setting aside God’s holy right to hold us accountable for our actions, if one walks away from God, there is only one other alternative.

People talk about the flood. They mention the rain and the death. I don’t personally recall many references to the reason for the flood.

But are there mentions of devastation and pain in the New Testament? Yes, even setting aside the entire book of Revelation, look at Matthew 24. Jesus himself, the symbol of love, humility, kindness, and compassion, is also the symbol of judgement, power, and righteousness.    

His life was a ministry offering us a very simple choice, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Matthew 16:24).”

There again, lies the choice that should affect all other choices. Just as God made plain the consequences of Adam’s choice, so too did Jesus make clear the choice we have.

Over and again in the Old Testament God tells his people to follow him. He delivers them heroes and prophets, judges and kings, and for a time they obey, but as they turn more to their own desires, their hearts harden against God. Just one quick search online reveals 22 instances of the clause “ … the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.”

Over and again God performed miracles and wonders, and those who saw them rejoiced and obeyed for a time, but they would eventually turn to their own hearts and desires.

Over and again in the New Testament, Christ performed miracle after miracle, and some would be amazed. Others still saw an opportunity to gain what they wanted rather than submit to do what he wanted. I’ve often wondered, “How many people who observed Christ’s crucifixion were also present for any one of his miracles? How many people did Christ grant a miracle to then stood there watching as he died on the cross?”

Thematically, I wanted to begin this chapter with what I believe is the most important connection between the Old and New Testaments. In both, a loving, merciful, holy and just God tells us very plainly what we must do to obtain his promises, and in both, a rebellious people turned away. Those who do so make their choice.

The New Testament isn’t a replacement for the Old. Instead, it is a fulfillment. Exodus and Deuteronomy foreshadow Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. The book that ties these together most beautifully is Hebrews. You see, everything about the ark of the covenant was a preview of what Christ did for us.

Yes, early Jewish people offered the blood of rams, goats, and pigeons in sacrifice to God. But no animal’s blood could permanently wash away the sin of man. But Christ, God in flesh, holy and perfect, his blood, one time, can wash all mankind clean.

Blood must be shed for sin, so Christ came down and offered up His.

One of the quips I hear most often is, “love your brother.” Of course you should love your brother. Half of the ten commandments are all about how to love one’s neighbor. But usually, when I hear someone shout out that particular commandment, they’re making a demand. “Give me what I want. Let me do what I want. Leave me alone to do whatever I want.” 

I usually do. But please consider for a moment if what you want is about you or about God. I leave the choice to you. I won’t shout at you or ridicule you. What would be the point? If you insist to do what you want, what would me telling you what you’re doing is wrong accomplish? I’ve made plenty of bad decisions, and several people I love tried to warn me. I did it anyway. Why? Because I wanted to do what I wanted to do. That rebellious attitude might very well be more condemning than any accusation another person could offer. I knew from the beginning what I was doing was wrong. I had people tell me as much. I chose to do it anyway.

But what does it mean to do as Christ said and love your brother? Again, love is sacrifice. It is the giving up of ones self for others, so to demand others capitulate to your desires is the antithesis of love. It is, in fact, selfishness. This culture doesn’t want to see it that way. They want everyone to endure every decision, action, and choice of another person regardless of how it might make one feel.

Reading social media, I see plenty of people demanding something from someone. They demand money from the government. They demand respect from other people. They demand recognition for their work.

What I hardly see is anyone who remembers the rest of that phrase: “Love your brother as yourself (Mark 12:31).”

This isn’t really too difficult to understand, but people demand the first half without any regard to the second. They want others to permit or ignore or get over things without offering the same. They want others to give of what they have “because they need” but they don’t give in faith for others. They want to be loved, but they’re not so willing to be loving. 

This is as true in the Old Testament as it is in the New. The Israelites wanted deliverance, a king, wealth, and prosperity, but they weren’t willing to be ruled, keep themselves from danger and trust in God to provide. Christ offered life, food, love, and mercy, but people wanted validation, to rule themselves and do as they wished rather than what Christ said was right.

God is the same God. Christ is the same Christ. Our choice is our same choice. The reward for that choice (good or bad) is still the same. 

For our panel: Are there other thematic parallels between the Old and New Testament you’d like? There was a lot of focus on thematic parallels, but would you be willing to discuss Hebrews more in depth as it relates the Old to the New Testament? What are some observations you would make that display the character of God is the same between the Old and the New Testament? What are some observations that display the character of man is the same? Why is it do you think that people want to create so much separation between two parts of the same book?

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