A Testament of Mercy and Hope

Sometimes I can be a little odd. One thing that I have always felt different about is that I LOVE the Old Testament. So many people ignore it or think it is harsh, difficult or boring. But I think it has some of the best stories in the whole Bible, and so much insight. I love the stories of Moses, David, and Job. The prophets are great; Isaiah, Ezekiel and Joel are among my favorites. There is nothing like the Psalms anywhere else! Pretty much the only book i don’t really enjoy is Leviticus.

The thing that has always confounded me is that people seem to think that the OT is all about wrath and judgement. They ask questions like, “how can we reconcile the wrathful God of the OT with the merciful God of the NT?” But He is not 2 different God’s! The OT is just as full of mercy and love as the New. From the very beginning when man falls, God already has a plan laid for our salvation (Gen. 3:15). God calls Abraham and honors his faith. God turns the horrible situation of Joseph into salvation for an entire region. He delivers His people from captivity and they complain. He gives them peace and prosperity, and they beg for a king. He gives them what they want and they follow their kings away from Him. So He brings them back.

Ezekiel 16 is a great summary of the entire Old Testament, I think. It is very vivid. God finds his people discarded and alone, and he saves them, gives them the very best–all they could ask for. Then they turn from him, chasing ‘other men’ and destroying themselves. God is angry; what lover would not be? But his conclusion is that he will still honor his covenant, still love them, still save them. This is the God of the OT. He is the lover of the unloveable, the same God who sits with tax collectors and lepers in the NT.

Anyone who knows me knows that one of my favorite things is hope. I consider it to be one of the great things about our God that He gives us hope. (And it makes me giddy.) Christ gives us the hope of heaven, and it is easy to see hope after the sacrifice of the cross. But what people often miss is the hope that fills the Old Testament as well. At the very worst of times He always offers hope that he will deliver. Even in the flood, he saves 8 people to begin again. In captivity they had a little baby in a basket. When they fall away and are destroyed because of their actions, He is quick to offer hope that they will return to Israel, the temple will be rebuilt. The day of the Lord is a day of hope and many prophets look forward to it. The promise of the Messiah to save all nations springs up all over the place. Even in the OT God is not limited to saving only Israel. His plan is love, hope and salvation for all nations. It was His plan all along.

I guess what I am saying is that the OT is a Testament of love and hope, rather than wrath and judgement. We have been mislead by fire and brimstone preachers and a public that does not understand His word. Our God has always been a God of love and deliverance, and He will always be.

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2 Responses

  1. Yes, Well said. The foundation of hope is throughout the Old Testament. This is the story of redemption, reconciliation, and love and it also affirms why it has stood the test of time as a story of hope.

  2. If there were no message of hope, there would be no point. We are human and that is shown time and time again when the Israelites break covenant after covenant with God. We have no way to do this on our own, no hope of success on our own, so if God did not bring hope to us, there would be no point in trying.

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