The Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man. Wherefore there are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet, notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.
I’ve always had a bit of a yen for the Old Testament. I remember the gross boyish joy with which I read Judges 3 and the idea of King Eglon meeting his fate in the ostensibly in the bathroom. I remember playing a game with some teens on a camp, when we had to find the best pick-up line in the Bible (Song of Solomon was prime territory for that.)
But, like many, my early years were dominated by the idea that the God of the Old Testament is the “Smiting” God, and the one in the New Testament is the “Loving” God. It’s so easy, with such a large tome, written in different styles, by different authors over a large amount of time, to cherry pick bits & pieces of the narrative & then imply that this shows the shape of the whole thing.
When you really spend a little time, you realise how the God of the OT really is the God of the NT. How the OT is a story that is about Sin, and the inevitable (and appropriate, we who love our legal systems would say) judgement that comes from direct disobedience of the God who made us. Yet, the most powerful narrative throughout the OT is that of Love. Of a God who loves his people, who is committed to redemption, and who promises to care for his people. We learn throughout the OT, that we can’t earn it ourselves, because we tend to love our way more than God’s way, but we also learn that God promises to deal with the problem of Sin in a powerful & absolute way.
What a Joy it is for us as Christians to be able to read the OT in the light of the news of Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection. That great hope, the final answer that the people hoped for has been revealed!
I’d like to think I’ve got past Eglon (thought I am sharing the love with my Youth Group boys), but I’ll never get past the OT. I can read about Israel, and it gives me a picture of the rebellion that I see within me.