Occasionally, I meet people who are a little bit confused by the purpose of the Old and New Testaments.
They tend to look puzzled when I agree with them and say that I find it difficult to reconcile the image of a God who calls people to reason together with Him to seek forgiveness and healing (Isaiah ch.1 v.18) with the one who sends religious people into eternal torment (Matthew ch.7 v.22). Perhaps it’s because they want to believe that quaint 19th Century notion that people’s religious ideas evolved from a faith in angry gods who needed to be appeased into a philosophy of a benevolent but transcendent deity who loves us all but won’t intervene. Sadly, for them, reality does not fit their convenient model.
Sometimes it is tempting to think that the entire Old Testament was rendered obsolete by the New. As if the Almighty decided to completely change his plans to suit the theology we think should be most fashionable.
While it is true that the Law’s purpose was served to bring us to Christ, helping us recognise our need of a Saviour, and to that extent it has now done its work; to think that God’s purpose and plans have radically altered from before creation is to have a shallow understanding of the text of the Old Testament.
Ezekiel ch.36 v.26 illustrates this well. It speaks of the heart transplant that comes from a living faith in the Messiah – something that the writers of the Old Testament texts looked longingly forwards to: a complete internal transformation of your attitudes and desires, made possible through a radical encounter with the Holy Spirit.
To have the eternal, all-powerful creator of the universe taking up residence in the deepest recesses of our being, guiding us to a life of purpose, fulfilment and power. This was no afterthought. To see whole communities across the globe reflecting the radiance of a life lived in harmony with the divine was not Plan B – this was the goal all along.
Go on a treasure hunt. Search the Bible for further evidence that this was the Good Lord’s original plan. I promise you, you will not be disappointed.