Bible in a Year – Day 138: God of the Old & New
When people think about God, many think of two different “versions” of God. There is the Old Testament God – inflexible and sometimes cruel – and the New Testament God – gracious and compassionate. And, perhaps, if you just glance at the Bible or only read the most popular verses, it might be easy to draw that conclusion. However, we’re reading through the entire Bible and as we do, I think we’re getting a clearer picture of the full nature of God.
I’ve already talked about God’s willingness to be flexible and meet the people in ways that they could understand. But check out these verses from 2 Chronicles, chapter 30:
Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone who sets their heart on seeking God—the Lord, the God of their ancestors—even if they are not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people. (2 Chronicles 30:18-20)
Do you see what happened there? These people hadn’t followed the rules. By eating the Passover meal while they were unclean, they had defiled the Passover, according to the law. A “by the book” king would have banished these people and begged God to forgive him. But Hezekiah somehow understood the heart of God. And so, rather than trying to save his own hide (and his kingdom), he went to God on behalf of the “lawbreakers,”
Hezekiah understood that the desire of the heart is more important than the outward acts. As God would later tell Samuel, people look on the outside, but God looks on the inside. Or, as Jesus would put it when criticizing the Pharisees:
“You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” (Matthew 23:25)
You see, God wanted the people to “clean the outside of the cup,” (he had given them orders to do so) but the more important thing was the inside. To put it another way, God would rather get his hands dirty (on the outside of the cup) than to drink filth (from the inside). And so, God gave the “unclean” people a pass. He showed the kind of grace and flexibility that most people associate with the “New Testament God.” In fact, when you read through the New Testament (I know, we’re a ways away from that in this reading plan) check out how many times “New Testament grace” is linked to the Old Testament.
The fact is, there is one God and his nature is and has always been the same. He is a God with high standards, but he also is and has always been a God who is eager to offer grace to those who seek it and to those who seek him.
- Holy Spirit – The Missing Piece of God
- Les Misérables and The Kingdom of God
- Bible in a Year – Day 364: Payback
- Bible in a Year – Day 361: Burn, Baby, Burn
- Bible in a Year – Day 359: A Personal Visit
- Bible in a Year – Day 357: True of False
- Bible in a Year – Day 353: Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing
- Bible in a Year – Day 352: How About Jew?
- Bible in a Year – Day 347: One More Time!
- Bible in a Year – Day 344: Dreams, Dreams