If you only read the Old Testament of the Bible, you might end up concluding that God is mean and wrathful toward His creation.
Admittedly, there are many instances in the Old Testament where God exacts some form of punishment. Throughout its narrative, Israel is constantly sinning and making God angry.
Up until the time I accepted Christ as a teenager, I had read Genesis more than any other book of the Bible.
The reason is because it is at the beginning and you always start reading a book at the beginning, right? Every time I would decide to read the Bible, I would open it at the beginning, Genesis.
Consequently, my view of God was strongly shaped by what we find in the book of Genesis. I naturally grew up seeing God as a stern authoritarian.
While God is certainly all about law and order, there is also much more to Him. He is full of love and compassion for His people. Over and over, he forgives the Israelites for their sin and helps them out of predicaments they get themselves into.
For the most part, it is more difficult to see God’s love in the Old Testament, but it is there. You just have to look a little harder to see it.
Of course, it’s easy to recognize God’s love when we read the New Testament. References to His love for His creation are abundant, with the crucifixion of His son depicted as the epitome of this love.
It is almost as if there are two different Gods — the stern God of the Old Testament and the loving God of the New Testament.
There is of course just one God, the one Creator of the universe. The two testaments of the Bible emphasize different aspects of the nature of God. To get the true picture of God, you have to read both parts of the Bible.
In fact, the New Testament completes the image of God that is begun in the Old Testament.
In the Old Testament., the law is given, and in the New Testament, we see how it is impossible for man to keep the law and that there must be a penalty for his sin.
Christ’s death and resurrection satisfy the penalty of man’s sin.
With the two sections of the Bible taken together, we get the full picture of God and His plan for mankind. You have to read the Bible in its entirety to understand God’s love and see the full scope of His plan.
So why is God seemingly presented so differently in the two testaments of the Bible? I don’t have a good answer to this question.
The Jewish people, of course, only recognize and read the Old Testament. Does this skew their perception of God?
As a Christian whose Bible-reading time focuses more on the New Testament than the Old, I can’t help but think that the answer is yes.
I believe that as a believer in Christ, we are supposed to read the entire Bible. Doing so will help us develop our faith and become the people that God wants us to be.
If we read only one of the two testaments, we will not end up with the right foundation.
We have to see the judicial side of God depicted in the Old Testament so that we can fully appreciate the loving side of God that the New Testament gives us. Christ’s death and resurrection complete the law and put the believer in right standing with God.
As we’re told in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
The Father’s loving nature shines through in this verse, as He provides a way (the ONLY way, in fact) for us to become righteous in His eyes.
He loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus as the once-for-all-time sacrifice for our sins.
Love doesn’t get more intense or deeper than that.
And if you read only the Old Testament, you’ll never even begin to grasp the idea of this love.
However, if we don’t have the foundation of God’s justice laid in the Old Testament, we’ll never fully understand and appreciate how wonderful a gift it is that through Jesus’ sacrifice we stand forgiven in God’s eyes.
The two parts of the Bible work together to give us the full message from God. This message is that He loves us and has provided a way for us to spend eternity with Him.
All we have to do is use our free will to accept this gift by asking Jesus to be our Lord.
And that is the simple truth of the gospel.