Presentation on theme: "Cafe Theology Old Testament, New Testament – A Different God?"— Presentation transcript:
Cafe Theology Old Testament, New Testament – A Different God?
Why the Question? VS
Opening thoughts... ‘People often point to the fact that the Bible seems to be an inherently violent book, and sometimes that has been used as an excuse for violence. The Old Testament certainly contains accounts of wars and the New Testament uses the language of battles. However it is important to read the Bible in the way it was written and to interpret it properly. The Bible is not a flat list of instructions and example to follow but rather a story. What Kind of God, Michael Ots, pg 66
Books to read to help us with the story
PROMISED The Anchor Point... God does not Change 6 ‘ “I the L ORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the L ORD Almighty.’ Malachi 3:6-7 8 ’ Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.’ Hebrews 13:8
‘Our Bible reading take us into what, for us, is quite a new world – namely, the Near Eastern world as it was thousands of years ago, primitive and barbaric, agricultural and unmechanised. It is in that world that the action of the Bible story is played out.... it all seems very far away. It all belongs to that world, not to this world...how can this sense of remoteness from the biblical experience of God be overcome...the crucial point is surely this....The sense of remoteness is an illusion which springs from seeking the link between our situation and that of the various Bible characters in the wrong place. It is true that in terms of space, time, and culture, they, and the historical epoch to which they belong, are a very long way away from us. But the link...is not found at that level. The link is God himself. For the God with whom they had to do is the same God with whom we have to do. We could sharpen the point by saying, exactly the same God; for God does not change in the least particular. Thus it appears that the truth on which we must dwell in order to dispel this feeling that there is an unbridgeable gulf between the position of men and women in Bible times and our own, is the truth of God’s immutability’. Knowing God, J.I. Packer Different worlds...
God’s Immutability ‘His immutability is not the changelessness of an eternally frozen pose, but the moral consistency that holds him to his own principles of action and leads him to deal differently with those who change their own behaviour towards him.’ Ferguson, S. B., & Packer, J, New dictionary of theology, pg, 276
A boffin’s quote ‘The doctrine of God’s immutability is of the highest significant for religion. The contrast between being and becoming marks the difference between the Creator and the creature. Every creature is continually becoming. It is changeable, constantly striving, seeks rest and satisfaction, and finds this rest in God, in him alone, for only he is pure being and no becoming. Herman Bavinck, The Doctrine of God
Making sense of the apparent OT / NT discrepancies? 1.The Consistent Holy Character of God OT & NT 2.The Extending Covenantal Goodness of God OT & NT
1. The Consistent Holy Character of God OT & NT
Holiness - the neglected aspect of God? 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for “Our God is a consuming fire.” Heb 12:28-29
‘Holiness - it runs through everything he does’
‘Our God is a Consuming Fire’ God’s Holiness seen personally 5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. Ex 3:1-6 6 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Is 6:15 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men Lk 5
‘Our God is a Consuming Fire’ God’s holiness seen corporately 9 The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.” Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said. 16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently.... Ex 19: After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. 4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground, terrified Mt 17:18
‘Our God is a Consuming Fire’ God’s holiness seen in Judgement ‘The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 12:5 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. 12:13 29 At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. 30 Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead. Ex 12: But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, 4 because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Heb 10:34 11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest (i.e. Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Heb 10: From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mt 27:45-46
‘Our God is a Consuming Fire’ God’s holiness seen in his Laws And God spoke these words..... I am the Lord your God.... You Shall not.... Ex 20:18-21 ‘Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you Holy’ Lev 20:7 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practises and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. Mt 5:17-20 “If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” Mt 19:17
‘Our God is a Consuming Fire’ ‘God’s holiness seen amongst us’ 8 “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. 9 Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you. Ex 25: Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Ex The Word became flesh and made his dwelling (Tabernacle-ed) among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Jn 1:14 Who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant’ Phil 2: Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Jn 14:23 16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. 1 Co 3:16-17
Reflecting a Holy God ‘Be Holy, because I am Holy’ 1 Peter 1:16
Reflecting a Holy God – A Holy Nation 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” Exodus 19: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter.
Reflecting a Holy God – Waging War Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains and on the hills and under every spreading tree where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. 3 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places. 4 You must not worship the Lord your God in their way. Dt 12:15 16 However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshipping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God. ‘If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Mt 5:29-31
‘If the manner of expression appears unusual, the underlying principle is valid, namely, that anything that tends to undermine Israel’s total allegiance to Yahweh is anathema and must be put away. The principle remained through the ages and obtains today in reference to a Christian’s loyalty to Christ. The expression of the principle has altered greatly. A Christian can be unswerving in his allegiance to Christ without resorting to the measures advocated in Deuteronomy. But in those far-off centuries it would seem that if Israel had been dominated by any less tolerant attitude towards her pagan neighbours, she might well have been swallowed up by them..’ Thompson, J. A. (1974). Vol. 5: Deuteronomy: An Introduction and Commentary.
‘The wars in the Old Testament were part of God’s specific judgement on the evil and wickedness of the surrounding nations. It was not arbitrary, but followed extended periods of God’s patience, where people were given the opportunity to turn back to him. The serious treatment was needed in much the same way as chemotherapy would be used on cancer. If evil is not removed, it spreads. We shouldn’t think though that God simply hated the other nations and gave special exemption to his own people. When the Israelites turned away from God, they too faced judgement at the hands of their enemies. When the other nations turned back to God they were spared the judgement they would have faced’ Michael Ots, What Kind of God, pg 66
If only they would turn to me... ‘23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?’ Eze 18:23
The Extending Covenantal Goodness of God OT & NT
The Trumpet of God’s Goodness OT Period OT Period – The Nation NT Period – The Church Goodness
God’s expanding Goodness through a better Covenant “The time is coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Je 31:3134
God’s expanding covenantal goodness has made the world a less brutal place ‘ 13 “You are the salt of the earth “You are the light of the world. Mt 5: years of Salt and Light as God’s New Covenant has expanded into the world
So what for us...an encouragement? ‘God’s immutability is a great source of comfort to the believer. Whereas God is constant in His wrath against sin, He is equally constant in His forgiveness in response to faith and repentance. God’s immutability grants the assurance that “He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Phil. 1:6). In a world that is in constant change, the believer finds peace in a God who does not change, knowing that truth and values are grounded in the nature and character of an unchanging God.’ Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (811). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
So What for us....a warning Hebrews 12:19-29 “Our God is a consuming fire.” Heb 12:29