Old Testament Vs. New Testament God
The following are Five emails I received from a Indonesian
brother, with my response
I think you may want to take a closer look and you will discover that the God in the OT and NT are not as different as you think. You made a point of asking "Why God in the NT seems to be more loving compared with in the OT ?" But is this true? How is He more loving?
Lets take the idea of stoning someone to death for a transgression of the law. Is God's standard any lower in the New Testament? If you recall, Jesus Christ bore the full wrath of God on the cross. God ordained that Jesus be brutally murdered in our place. He lived the life we should have lived (sinlessly, law-keeping) and died the death we justly deserved. We all, just like the Israelites of the OT, justly deserve to die and, the fact we do not, is purely God's mercy in Christ. He took the punishment - so while we deserve to be stoned to death for worshipping a false god, He took that very punishment on himself for this sin, for we have worshipped false gods. So God's character is no different in the two Testaments. The only difference is that revelation has been progressively unfolding in an organic fashion, and we now relate to the law through a mediator, the person and work of Jesus Christ.
> Why God's law in the OT seems to be so complicated and sometimes
The demands of God's law have not changed, even a little. He still demands modern people perfect obedience to His law. Jesus coming did not change God's demands. Instead, Jesus fulfilled all of God's demands in His own person. He was the only human being to ever have perfectly, sinlessly fulfilled God's covenant. Because of this He is a perfect Savior. The blood sacrifices of bulls and goats in the OT were necessary to show how awful sin was to the Israelites. This demand has not disappeared. But those sacrifices only pointed forward to the true once for all perfect and sufficient sacrifice in Jesus. They had no saving power in themselves. But know this!!! God still demands the entire law be kept even now for all persons. Unbelievers must keep the whole law if they have any hope to be saved. But of course, such a demand is beyond the possibility of any man ... it is an impossible supposition because we are bent on rebellion ... and this is God's purpose in the Law, so that we might be conscious of sin (Rom 3:19, 20) and so that He might show mercy to us (ROM 11:32). Christ met the laws demands and so those who are in Him, who are united to Him by the Spirit, are accepted by God AS IF they themselves had fully kept the law. He counts us righteous in Christ because He obeyed all of those "ridiculous" laws. His life of perfect obedience to the law and His death which He was a lamb without blemish, were given for us, in our place. Otherwise we would be judged and receive the resurrection of the unrighteous.
Regarding slavery, Exodus 21:16 says
Deuteronomy 24:7 likewise says,
In other words, slavery was not the same thing as the kind we saw in 19th century America where people went to Africa, kidnapped people and brought them home to sell them to the highest bidder. Such would be a capital crime in the OT, according to these passages. Instead, persons who were slaves were either paying off a debt, or persons who attacked Israel and captured in battle. You may have some problems with this but it is not the type of slavery we usually think of today.
Also, regarding polygamy, you may want to differentiate between what
someone does and what God's law is. God nowhere gives us a law saying
that polygamy is His will. But we do find some persons, even some godly,
who engage in this practice. David was said to be a man after God's
own heart (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22), but he did a variety of things
that were not according to God's heart, i.e. he murdered Uriah the Hittite
after committing adultery with his wife Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:27).
The Israelites moral system was intended to show that they were set apart from the nations who burned their children in the fire, engaged in sorcery, divinity, had orgies for worship, worshipped idols etc. When we look back from the 21st century and think we are somehow morally superior now, we are usually impressing upon our view of that time with our current erroneous ideas. We need to go back and see the reasons for things at that time rather than infusing our 21st century concepts backwards. We also need to look more closely at ourselves, because our behavior is not an improvement over any past era of history. If people think it is then they need to take a much closer look ... but I fear that our blindness will keep many of us from seeing it.
We all, without exception, deserve to be cut down, but God has shown mercy to us in Christ. Those who ultimately fail to acknowledge His righteous reign over them will still suffer the same fate as the Law required in the OT. Only now, God is exercising patience toward us, desiring that no one perish but all to come to repentance. God is not obligated to wait another second before executing His wrath.
> The status of women in the OT. Women are not allowed to testify
That is a good question. I think the answer is in the fact that God
progressivly reveals Himself. In the Old Testament God also excluded
Gentiles from the covenant with a few exceptions, and even they had
to worship in an outer court. Nonetheless, the ontological relationship
of humans as male & female has always been one of equality based
on the premise that both are image bearers of God but there has always
been a different economic relationship (functional equality) between
the sexes; the roles have been different. Man is still made head of
his family & the woman is positionaly subordinate, but man is to
love the woman as a servant (as Christ did the Church). Christ came
not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.
Any interpretation of man's leadership which goes outside this understanding
of headship clearly violates the spirit of God's intent. But indeed
the results of the fall distort and complicate the relationship between
male & female. Of course, most feminists understand subordination
to mean denigration, hence, they are totally opposed to the notion of
the woman been a subordinate helper to the man. But even today in the
New Testament, women are not given a position of eldership, not because
they are not ontologically equal but simply because their role in the
church is different than man. In the same way, on another level, we
all have different functions in the church. Do we complain to God because
we are not an eye but an ear? It is not about our rights but about God's
will. If we would cease our rebellion and listen to God sometime then
maybe we would understand why he has given us different roles and we
would not complain that ours is somehow lesser than others in the church.
Every part of the body has its function and is as important as another.
Hope this helps
One more thing I forgot to ask you. In the OT God demand a Theocratic
So those who now recognize Jesus Lordship are, even now, under his theocracy (others are also under His government but are in rebellion). The word Kingdom means his reign. While in the OT God established his rule over Israel, his covenant people, He now has made the Gentiles a part of the kingdom, in various cultures of the world. From all eternity God has graciously chosen unto Himself "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, ... before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, ..."(Re 7:9) We are not to be particularly interested in political power now. He is glorified when persons willingly give themselves to Him. The Church, not the civil magistrate now are the community of His Kingdom. If we instituted all biblical laws among unbelievers what good would it do accept perhaps restrain some evil. But it would save no one. We are here not to make people moralists, but to help them recognize their wretched condition and come to an end of themselves. Obeying some law is not enough but will only condemn them further, since they can't obey it. Now I am not suggesting that we do not promote the gospel in every area of life, including the political realm, but I suggest that this be done though gentle persuasion, rather than coercion.
In the end, people need to see that they are utterly helpless to please God, blinded and in bondage to the truth of their condition and their need for God. The gospel says that what we could not do for ourselves, Christ does for us. As we proclaim the gospel, God loosens the chains, plows the heart and puts salve on the eyes of those who He came to make His own. To those persons, His theocracy is real, even now. But God only makes a covenant with his elect. The New Covenant in Jesus blood is only for those in the Church, recreated in Christ's image. The rest who are not a part of His kingdom, are in rebellion against Him and set up their barricades to fight and rebel against Him. We tell them that He now has all authority in Heaven and Earth and rejoice in all who become a part. But when Christ returns He will utterly destroy the rebels with the breath of his mouth, for He is rightfully their king even in their refusal to recognize it.
Thanks for your answer. i would like to tell you about the background
I am aware that Muslim believed that Quran is the final revelation
One thing that I pointed out was the treatment of Apostates in
The same thing happened when we pointed out our disagreement regardng
Well, that is the background of my struggle. I hope you can understand
Thanks a lot. God bless you
May I suggest that specific acts of morality are really not a good place to debate against a Muslim (or anyone). This is because both Christians and Muslims believe in absolute truth - so what is considered more moral will be different according to each person's Scripture. It is, therefore, an argument that cannot be ultimately won by either side. May I suggest the place to begin is with God ...
You should focus on the fact that neither you nor your Islamic friends have ever kept the Law of God perfectly. To imagine that anyone has, you should say, is self-delusion. So the conversation with the Muslim, I suggest, should be focused on God's own moral character and we will use our highest presupposition, which is Holy Scripture, to find out what that is.
When confronted with the God of Scripture we, at once, are brought to our face before the holiness of God (Isaiah 6) and recognize that we cannot even stand before His holy presence, that we justly deserve his everlasting displeasure and wrath and that there is nothing we can do morally to save ourselves since we are an abominable stench in His sight... only then do we even begin to see that we are utterly spiritually bankrupt in ourselves to attain to God or His blessings. Our efforts at pleasing God are futile. We only deserve His curse.
The fact that the Muslim god Allah can accept sinful corrupt human beings simply because they did more good deeds than bad deeds without perfect holiness of life, itself shows the inferiority of such a man-made god. It reveals that their god is not holy enough in Himself that he must, by nature, strike all human beings dead for their sin on one glance. No human being can stand before YHWH. We violate God's holiness - and is the reason that the Israelites were stoned and why we deserve to be also. Anyone who sees this aspect of God (people being killed) as immoral actually has it turned around. It is because God is holy that people must die. That reality is that it would be immoral for God to accept any sinner ... it would be the height of injustice for God to set free any persons who has even sinned once in their life. The only just response of God to us is to cast us into the lake of fire. The Islamic god is not moral and just like this. The Islamic god receives unjust, corrupt persons and overlooks injustice. But can a perfectly holy God overlook any injustice? If God is perfectly/infinitely just then all transgressions must be judged. The very fact that Islamic people think some persons are good enough to keep the law well enough to please their god, in itself shows the inferiority of their god's morality. How can a mere man be pleasing to a holy God? The Christian recognizes that God's law is so perfectly holy that no person has the capacity to keep it. God requires holiness of us, but we all fall woefully short. In ourselves we are doomed before the holy judge. There is no way the Islamicist can argue against that. Ask them how their god can receive unjust sinners - those who have violated his law?. Only God himself can keep the Law and that is why He mercifully sent the Eternal Son to become flesh in order to fulfill the covenant from our side by keeping the whole Law - to live a sinless life. Jesus endured the full brunt of the punishment we deserve. Only God has such a capacity.
Do you see the train of argument here? If you want to argue morality, don't stand around and try to figure out whose commands are more moral. Instead show that in Islam, man can come to a point (or reach a capacity) where their god may accept them for their works etc. ...While in Christianity our morals are never good enough to please or obligate a holy God. This in itself should be sufficient to prove that the god of Islam cannot stand before the One True God. But Jesus Christ came, not for the righteous, but sinners. He is the only human being to have pleased God and all who trust in Him are counted righteous in Him. Our sin is no longer counted against us. God must punish all sin but He has already done so in Christ - there is no condemnation for those who abide in Him.
Grace and Peace
thanks again for your answer. You have shown me a different approach
Anyway. Back to my question below. I was confused and unable to
If Jesus brought a very beautiful teachings which emphasize on our
I hope you can shower some light on this matter.
Thanks alot . God bless you
It may be worth your while to spend time studying the presuppositional method of apologetics. I find it is both simple and devastating to opponents in debate. It merely points out the first principles, the foundation of what their particular worldview teaches and reveals to them its internal inconsistency. Every worldview that rejects the true God will at some point be internally inconsistent. This is better, in my view, than trying to spend time trying to answer every particular question about evidences which usually tend to go in circles.
You asked why "God did not introduced those beautiful principles to Abraham, Moses and OT prophets ?"
I would argue that God did introduce the same principles to the OT prophets, Abraham and Moses. What principles do you find lacking in the Old Testament? The persons in the OT were also saved by grace alone, just like us. No one was saved by the law or law keeping. The levitical sacrifices, the law and the like were all shadows, types which pointed to the reality of the coming Messiah. The grace that was available in the OT was promised to Abraham and his descendants. The law was never meant to be an instrument of salvation unless kept perfectly. The Israelites obeyed the law BECAUSE they were God's covenant children already. God chose them to be His own and THEN gave his law. Just before the 10 commandments in Exodus 20 God says "I am the Lord your God" which is the promise of his love to them as a nation which derived its source from the promise to Abraham which said "I will be your God and you will be my people" The Covenant formed the very basis of their relationship to God. This covenant was based on promise, not law. That promise was to Abraham and his descendants ... so no Jew who truly understood this covenant therefore, ever believed that God blessed them first because they were somehow innately more holy than others.
Galatians 3 says to Christians,
In other words, the gospel existed in the Old Testament but was not consummated until in the time of the New. None of the Jews could keep the covenant perfectly but trusted, in faith, in what the OT pointed toward. In Hebrews 11 it shows the hall of faith and said that Moses for the sake of Christ was willing to give up the treasures of Egypt... They had a latent idea of Messiah, and God saved them through the future work of Christ on the cross. So in the Old Testament no one was saved by a legalistic holiness. Anyone who teaches you that they were has not really understood even the basics of ancient Judaism. The Text says, "These [the elect Jews] were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect." (Heb 11:39-40) The covenant of grace was promised to Abraham and we are children of THAT same covenant of grace which Jesus fulfilled.
Next, if you read carefully, the Laws in the Sermon on the Mount are even more severe than the laws of the Old Testament. The Old Testament said, "do not commit adultery", but Jesus in the the Sermon clarified and said don't even lust or you will be thrown into hell. The OT said do not kill but the sermon said don't even hold your anger against someone or you will be cast into hell. So any concept or idea that the NT is any less strict is in one's imagination. Jesus came and made the law even more severe than many people understood it. He did so, not because He thought some people might exert effort and finally obey it. No, he spoke the Law in this severe tone simply to help people understand that they have no hope in themselves.Paul once said that the purpose of the Law was to silence man's boasting and recognize they are sinners:
Notice that the first thing he says in thew Sermon on the Mount is "blessed are the poor in spirit" - this simply means that only those who recognize their own spiritual bankruptcy, their own inability and impotence to please God are blessed. Only those who are reduced to a beggar has hope. So long as we think we have the capacity to contribute anything to our salvation by mere lawkeeping, we have missed the boat. This is because a Christian is one who has been illumined by the Spirit to recognize that God is holy and we are not. i.e. One who comes to the conclusion that there is nothing we can do whatsoever to please God. Our only hope is his grace ... but that grace can only be made possible by first justly punishing our sin ... and this was accomplished in the person of Christ.
So I am perplexed as to how someone could conclude that the New Testament is any less severe than the old. God's law is the same and His demands on humanity are equally if not more severely presented in the New Testament. Those who fail to live perfectly holy lives, never once breaking a command will be cast into the lake of fire. It is as simple as that. That is the message of the law from the New Testament. How is this any less absolute and legalistic than the Old Testament? There really is no difference between the Old and the New in this respect. The demands of the law of God still stands from the time of Adam. The New has changed nothing with regard to God's requirements for us. We must obey them perfectly or die. Likewise we must remember that the Old Testament saints could only be saved by grace - by the lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world. God accepted the sacrifice of Christ for them, even though it was future
So my suggestion to you perhaps is to begin studying the Scriptures in a way that does not make such a huge separation between the Old and the New. While their are dispensations and progressive revelation, the truth is that grace and law have both been evident from the start (OT & NT). A good way to study this is to read up on Covenant Theology. I believe Dispensationalism has cast a great deal of confusion in this area and my guess is that is why you are seeing such a large gap between how God treated Israel and New Testament believers. The difference is really in fulfillment. We don't need sacrifices anymore simply because it was fulfilled in Christ. His sacrifice was perfect so we don't need them anymore. It isn't because God does not demand the law be kept. The demand remains the same ... and that is why unbelievers are still condemned. Since they rebel against the Law of God they will be judged. All of the various laws in the OT were fulfilled in the Person of Christ. Because He is perfect He counts his perfect life and death to us who are in Him so that the law required by God in the Old & New Testament might be fulfilled in us. So the reason that there are differences in Old and New is not because God has changed, it is because of Jesus. The demands we are given by God are met in Him. What we could not do for ourselves, Christ did for us. But the Law remains the same. But there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
Thanks for your answers and patience. My understanding about this
You said <<<God's law is the same and His demands on humanity
I assume that the Moral law remains the same but the ceremonial
law might be
For example the Mosaic dietary law. Eating pork was a sin in the
OT. but in
I hope by explaining this one specific dietary law to me. It will
Thanks a lot. God bless you.Dear ________:
>>>I assume that the Moral law remains the same but the ceremonial law might be changed or abrograted in the NT. Am I right ?.
The Age of the Law has been superseded by the Age of Messiah. He does not abolish what is being constructed but completes it, bringing the OT to its appointed goal. His own person, teachings and action perfectly express all aspects of the covenantal relationship which God summoned his people through Moses. Jesus also Himself exemplifies perfect law keeping fulfilling the covenant from our side. So the ceremonial law is no longer something those who are in Christ need to do. It is fulfilled in Him so those united to Christ are actually fulfilling the requirements of the Old Testament in Him.
Jesus mission also accomplishes the true intent of the Law. The Old Testament is therefore of permanent validity. The new era has been inaugurated that requires a new definition of the role of the Law. No longer is this relationship to be mediated through the Law but through the person of Jesus Himself and the Kingdom of God breaking in through Him. Jesus viewed the entire OT movement as divinely directed and as having arrived at its goal in Himself. Therefore Jesus assumed authority equal to that of the Old Testament. His preaching was grounded in his own authority repeated introduced by the words I say unto you The righteousness of the Kingdom is no longer mediated by the Law but by a new redemptive act of God. Jesus taught the pure unconditional will of God without compromise and God lays this standard on human beings at all times. But we all know such conduct is only attainable by us in the Age to Come when all evil is banished, but it is clear in the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus expected us to practice his teachings in the present age. But if the Sermon is legislation to determine admission into the future Kingdom then all human beings are excluded. It portrays the ideal person in whose life the reign of God is absolutely realized. The Kingdom has come in Jesus in the fulfillment of the messianic salvation within the old age, but the consummation awaits the Age to Come. A righteousness that exceeds that of the Scribes and the Pharisees is necessary for admission into the Kingdom (Mt 5:20). The future Kingdom has invaded the present order to bring to human beings the blessings of the Age to Come. In the person and mission of Jesus it has become a present reality.
Now with that in mind, your question about pork ... recall that I said that the future kingdom has invaded the present order, ...additionally, as a result, Jesus has declared all foods clean (Acts 10:13-15). We are subjects of his kingdom community and all things are clean to us. These dietary laws are considered to be specific to God's covenant with the Jews. So why the change? One of the mysteries of the kingdom is that the Gentiles are also included in the covenant now that Christ has come. Recalling the verse in Acts 10 that I just cited, the removing of uncleanness also symbolizes God's acceptance of the "unclean" Gentiles. When God showed Peter that all food was clean He meant for Him to go into a Gentiles' house, previously forbidden to Jews. Peter was at first perplexed at what the vision might be but it soon became clear that the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles had been broken down.
Dietary laws were first and foremost given at the time to protect the Israelites from disease. For instance pork could cause trichinosis. But it was also meant to set them apart from the Gentiles as a holy nation unto God. So in some ways the unclean food seems to represent the unclean Gentiles themselves. But because of what Jesus accomplished:
...Those who used to be "...separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world....now in Christ Jesus ... have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. ...it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel." (Eph ch. 2-3)
So again, the laws are not done away with, only fulfilled ...which means they are completed in Christ. So the requirement remains the same but it is met for us in Christ.
Hope this sheds some light on it....