Dear Light Group,
The God of the Old Testament can come across as a fierce, angry, scary, unpredictable God. He seems to be forever enraged by by the disobedience of the Israelites and by the worshipping of idols, whether that is being done by the Israelites or by others. For these transgressions, he smites large numbers of people or makes them suffer through ghastly plagues. The Old Testament is a tough place where a lot of people die.
Then we get Jesus. He, too, could be tough, but more for what he said than what he did. In our modern parlance, we might say that he “had a mouth on him.” Here is some of what he said: “Faithless and perverse generation.” “A wicked and adulterous generation.” “Ye have not the love of God in you. “Ye shall die in your sins.” “Did not Moses give you the law and yet none of you keep the law.” Tough words. No wonder people got upset.
When speaking of the law, he said he “came not to destroy the law and the prophets but to fulfill them.” And yet, wow, how he turned things upside down. Take, for example, the Sermon on the Mount, where he said several times, “Ye have heard it said by them of old time” – and here he appeared to be referring primarily to Moses – followed by something from the Old Testament, such as, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” which Jesus would counter with, “but I say unto you resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other.” Again and again, those things “said by them of old time” he changed into something of far deeper, far more profound spiritual meaning.
And through Jesus the nature of God changes. God becomes something intimate and close, rather than foreboding and distant. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one,” and “I am in the Father and the Father in me.” Far from the intensely judgmental God of the Old Testament, the God of Jesus is one that “judgeth no man.”
And then there is the love of the New Testament God, or at least the love of Jesus for this God: “I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, so I do.”
The lesson may be that the Old Testament is there to remind us of the perils and horrors of backsliding, and the New Testament is there to tell us that, having avoided backsliding, the God of Love, Light, Truth, and Spirit is accessible, is an intimate God, within us, and within everyone and everything.
You may want to give thanks for these lessons with a prayer such as, “Thank you, God, for keeping me on the straight and narrow path to Thee. Thank you, God, for showing me Thy Way, Thy way of Love, Light, Truth, and Spirit. Thank you, God, for showing us, through Jesus and through others, that there is no death: there is only everlasting life in Thee. And thank you, God, for making it so. Amen.”
Love and Light,