Three times in the last three weeks a professing Christian has made reference to the “Old Testament God” in conversation with me. In the first example, the person was discussing the Cambodian people whom he had just visited. They were, in his words, “an amazingly peaceful people guided by Buddha.” But, he then added, many of them had a character flaw based upon their idea of extreme retribution when done wrong—that they felt the need to repay a wrong 10 or 20 fold. He likened it to the “Old Testament God.” I said that revenge in this manner was not Biblical. He struggled to agree.
I was conversing with another professing believer (a military man) who found it odd that I could support the concepts of a national defense while pursuing a Master’s in Divinity. He mentioned that warfare was such an “Old Testament God concept.” And yet, he served on active duty. I said the OT God is the same God in the NT. He said nothing in reply.
If you dig a little bit into history during the “years of silence” between the OT and NT, you will find that Plato and his followers discussed the concept of a lower god, or Demiurge, who created the material world. While Plato saw this god as a benevolent god, not all after him agreed. In fact, many Gnostics saw this Demiurge as malevolent. They were fond of seeing the material world as evil and the spiritual world, the one of the highest god, as good. This led to no end of nonsense where some even thought they could sin in the material world while retaining some semblance of righteousness in the spiritual world independent of the actions of their bodies.
This thinking has not gone away it seems. There are many today who rightly long for the return of our King, but refuse to see the importance of claiming the crown rights of Jesus now in every field. They think it is very important to have our prayer or church life in order but fail to see the link to the Kingdom in their daily toil. Why is it that many people have had a bad experience when dealing with a Christian businessman? I personally have been taken by a Christian auto mechanic and had a bad experience with a Christian general contractor. And why is it that many Christians think a Christian businessman should not charge them the going rate for work accomplished? Christians need to perform their work “as unto the Lord” to a high standard of excellence and we all should recognize that the “laborer is worthy of his wages.” We need to be the BEST engineers, the BEST carpenters, the BEST auto mechanics, the BEST insurance salesmen, the BEST soldiers, the BEST homemakers, etc. Do not ask your Christian businessman friend for an unreasonable break just because you are a Christian. It is true that Christians are to love and we need to be kind especially to the household of faith. But, these men and women are providing for their families just like you.
When we retreat into the Christian ghetto and flake around waiting for our Savior to return, we give a bad reputation to our King. I firmly believe in eminency, or the idea that Christ can return at any moment. Some will disagree. I also know Jesus gave us a command in Matt 28 in the Great Commission—“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”
This Jesus is the same part of the Trinity in the New Testament, or better Covenant (Heb 8:6, Heb 12:24), as in the Old Testament. He is not a different God! He affirmed the law and fulfilled the law and told us to love God and love our neighbor, summarizing the 10 Commandments. Paul restated that we do not sin (by breaking the law, our tutor) so that grace may abound—by no means!
The God who flooded the earth, had Israel take the Promised Land, sent Israel into exile, and killed Ananias and Sapphira in the book of Acts is the same God who came in the flesh and dwelt among us and died on a bloody cross for us. The same grace through faith that saved the OT saints in Hebrews 11 saves us now. The same law the shows us the mind of God in Exodus 20 is the standard we are held to today. But, as you know, we are unable to keep the law (try as we might rightly do so) and hence we plead the blood of Jesus who justifies us with His blood, not our actions.
The next time somebody says something to you about the OT God, please remind them that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the same God today. He was perfect then and He is perfect now and He does not change with the years. So, we must get about obeying and teaching His commands to our children so they do not become like Gnostics or followers of Buddha.