God is the same wonderful God of both the Old and New Testaments. His character has never changed. Some people however, have a misconception that the God of the New Testament is more loving than the God of the Old Testament.
The Bible is both simple and complex. The Law can be summed up in 2 commandments “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Luke 10:27
For those who wish to search for God and not just their own happiness now, there is a need to be “born again”. Jesus said to Nicodemus “Are you Israel’s teacher and you don’t understand these things?” So a teacher in Israel should have seen below the surface of the teachings of the Old Testament in the same manner as the The ‘Beloved Disciple’ who wrote the 4th gospel and left us the story of Nicodemus. They wrote the entire gospel from the perspective of ‘a disciple’- why was it written from this perspective? They made the point it doesn’t matter if you are male, female, Jewish or whatever natural descent you are – “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:10. See: “Under the Banner of Love” https://alsowritten.wordpress.com (Feb ’13 archive)
On the surface, to the Jews, it mattered that you were born a Jew and descended from Abraham. It was important to trace your lineage and identify what tribe you were from. But John the Baptist said “Don’t think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.” Matt. 3:9. This was not a new teaching from John the Baptist – the Jews should have always understood this. See “Last Events of the Old Testament – Right or Wrong” https://alsowritten.wordpress.com/2014/10/
To those who could see, being a child of Abraham was never about the blood line, or gender, it was about the faith, even in the Old Testament. Caleb – the Kenizzite – represented the tribe of Judah as one of the 12 spies. He was no longer a Canaanite but an Israelite by faith. Rahab also was no longer a Canaanite, she was a descendant of Abraham by faith, of the family of Israel.
Isaiah said the house of the Lord should have been a place of worship for all nations, but by the time of Jesus there was a sign baring Gentiles on pain of death.
“Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for ALL nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’ Mark 11:17 quoting Isaiah 56:7
The Law of Moses became a stumbling block for the Jews. They didn’t understand what God really required. “They pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works”. Rom 9:32
The Law and the prophets were proclaimed until John and then the good news of the kingdom was preached. Yet how hard it was for people to let go of the Law of Moses –
Luke 16:17 It is easier for the earth and the heavens to disappear than for an apostrophe from Moses’ law to fall down.
Even Christians who read the Law superficially, often misjudge what God actually wanted. Jesus taught never to take a passage in isolation. When tempted to do this in the wilderness He said “It is also written”. God wants us to search things out and understand why His ways are right.
OLD TESTAMENT PASSAGES CONTRASTED
|Under the Law Adulterers to be stoned
Lev 20:10 ‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife – with the wife of his neighbour – both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.
|JOSEPH COMMENDED FOR BREAKING THE LAW & SHOWING MERCY
Matt 1:19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
|Specific details for sacrifices and Offerings
Lev. 1:3 ‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the Lord. You are to lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you. You are to slaughter the young bull before the Lord, and then Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and splash it against the sides of the altar at the entrance to the tent of meeting. etc
SACRIFICES NOT REQUIRED
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have opened, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Psalm 40:6
Hosea 6:6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. Lev 12:3
A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Rom 2:28
They ask me for just decisions
| TRUE FASTING
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
|History by Ezra – DIVORCE FOREIGN WIVES
Ezra 10:2.. “Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these (foreign) women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law….15 Only Jonathan son of Asahel and Jahzeiah son of Tikvah, supported by Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite, opposed this.”
| God via His prophet – GOD HATES DIVORCE
Mal 3:16 “The man who hates and divorces his wife, ” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty.”
|History by Nehemiah – SHUT THE DOORS ON FOREIGNERS
Neh. 13:19 “When evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered the doors to be shut and not opened until the Sabbath was over. … Once or twice the merchants and sellers of all kinds of goods spent the night outside Jerusalem. But I warned them and said, “Why do you spend the night by the wall? If you do this again, I will arrest you.”
|God Via His Prophet – OPEN THE DOORS TO FOREIGNERS
Mal. 1:10 “Among you the doors shall be shut, and one will not kindle the fire of my altar for nothing, I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord Almighty, and I will not accept a sacrifice at your hands. 11 For from the rising of the sun even to the going down thereof my name has been glorified among the Gentiles; and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering: for my name is great among the Gentiles, says the Lord Almighty. ” (Septuagint)
FOREIGNERS EXCLUDED FROM BUILDING THE TEMPLE (History from Ezra’s perspective)
Ezra 4:3 Zerubbabel, Joshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the LORD, the God of Israel,
|FOREIGNERS WILL HELP BUILD THE TEMPLE
Zech 6:15 “Those who are far away will come and help to build the temple of the Lord.”
Zechariah was no doubt murdered for this type of message – Matt 23:35 “Upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.”
|People of Land to be KILLED
“But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the LORD your God.
|People of Land BLESSED
“As for all my wicked neighbours who seize the inheritance I gave my people Israel, I will uproot them from their lands and I will uproot the people of Judah from among them. But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country. And if they learn well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’—even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal—then they will be established among my people. Jer 11:12
URIAH THE HITTITE – Fully accepted by God – became as an Israelite
|ESAU AND EDOM CURSED
Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals. Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.” But this is what the Lord Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord. Mal 1:3
|Righteous Job – Descended from Esau an Edomite
“Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Job 1:8
…Job 42:17 with ending from Septuagint “And Job died, an old man and full of days: and it is written that he will rise again with those whom the Lord raises up. This man is described in the Syriac book as living in the land of Ausis, on the borders of Idumea and Arabia: and his name before was Jobab; and having taken an Arabian wife, he begot a son whose name was Ennon. And he himself was the son of his father Zare, one of the sons of Esau, and of his mother Bosorrha, so that he was the fifth from Abraam. And these were the kings who reigned in Edom, which country he also ruled over…”
The Ezra way of thinking which interpreted the law on a surface level continued at the time of Jesus, it continues today. Too often people read a passage on the surface and demand it is taken literally without compassion, comparison or comprehension. Peter struggled with the Ezra way of thinking which elevated Jewish men alone and cast out foreigners. Jesus showed a better way. Surely He washed the feet of all his disciples, men and women – not just the 12 Jewish males who were a sub group of all the disciples at the last supper. The twelve got a special mention as it was “one of the twelve” (as opposed to the others present) who would betray Him.
Jesus said that if you want to be great you must be a servant of all. Mary the mother of Jesus taught her Son to be a servant by being one herself. “I am the servant of the Lord” Luke 1:38. She was also His ‘origin’. “In the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God.” 1 Cor 11:11 ( See: ‘Confusion at Corinth’ to untangle the dual dialogue of 1 Corinthians https://youtu.be/8DXX35p7kj4 )
The history recorded in Acts shows Peter choosing between men to fill the place of Judas. After they decided on two men they asked God to select between them as a witness to the resurrection. Ironic that Jesus had already chosen Mary Magdalene as a witness to the resurrection, and had rebuked the others for not believing her. It would take a vision of what was clean and unclean before Peter would begin to change his thinking.
Acts 10:28 “And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation (man made law) but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man (meaning human being: male or female) common or unclean.”
God wants people to search Him out, to think and not just be ‘told’. God gave us laws but He wants us to remember we are in need of mercy and to apply mercy over Law.
Even the ark contained the image of ‘Mercy over Law” – the Law was inside the ark but the mercy seat where God met between the 2 cherubim – was above it.
See: The Cherubim on the Ark https://alsowritten.wordpress.com (Feb ’15 Archive)
Israel was supposed to be a “nation of priests” which meant that men and women were all considered equal in God’s eyes and that the actual priest was just a symbol. Exodus 19:6 “and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
But the symbol of the priest became worshiped and the meaning became lost. Many women showed the real purpose of a priest eg Naaman’s slave girl.
It’s a human trait to take the easy route of ‘what is written’ on the surface and make a righteous stand about it. Is it ‘fair’ that God wants us to put in an effort to search Him out? The disciples asked Jesus this very question – His reply was to quote from the Old Testament.
The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
“He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.”
God’s message is the same in both the Old and New Testament – He has always wanted people who search for Him and understand with their hearts. Those who are prepared to be His servants, whose lives don’t just revolve around the here and now of happiness for themselves and their own family, but look beyond to others outside their circle and living as a servant of God.
The Bible is full of parables. The Old Testament opens with the parable of creation. Jesus expected Nidodemus as a teacher in Israel to understand what it meant to be born of water and spirit, a deeper way of understanding the story of creation. On a surface level it’s clear that species did not evolve, God made everything from the start according to its own kind.
Gen 1:11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. …v21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind.
As a parable the creation story is about God separating light from darkness and the production of fruit via light and water from heaven. The theme runs throughout the Bible and by God’s spirit is conveyed by many authors – it’s very clever and deep. It’s about those who are ‘earthy’ – who produce earthy fruit (by their fruits you will know them). The ones who produce earthy fruit are in darkness – and don’t seek God. Those who are ‘from above’ have the seed of spiritual fruit (the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Gal 5:22.)
The author of the 4th gospel perceived this and explains it further –
John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life (the good seed was in Him), and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not comprehended it.”
Those who walk in darkness will not understand the light of the world which comes from God or the message of those who “shine like stars” Dan 12:3. Rules and laws will triumph over love, mercy and true perception – the God of the Old Testament will remain obscured – men will rule over women – Jews will be elevated above Gentiles.
Daniel understood the parable of creation and the symbology of the lights of heaven –
“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” Dan 12:3
“And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness.” Gen 1:16
For those in Christ there is light and they are lights –
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, or all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Gal 3:26-29
BORN OF WATER
John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.
Nicodemus couldn’t have been expected to be born of water in the sense of being baptised into Christ literally – Christ had not died yet – thus being born of water is not talking of a literal dunking but of the water of God’s word which falls on the just and the unjust.
Baptism into Christ is the symbol of this, just as circumcision was the symbol of dedication to God. God’s message in the Old Testament, which a teacher of the law should have understood, is the same message made clearer by Jesus the light of the world – yet obscured by misunderstanding the Law of Moses. The God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New.
The Cinderella syndrome demands happiness and health now – God never promised it for this life. Jesus was “a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief”, and He died on a cross – God didn’t spare His Son from suffering – why should He spare us or our children? Too often we cause God to suffer by sinning, and too often our focus is on “Why does God allow suffering”. God’s ultimate promise of healing and joy is for the kingdom age and it’s for those who search for Him – this life is a test – See: “Why Aren’t the Sick Healed When we Pray for Them in Faith” alsowritten.wordpress.com (July ’12 archive)