Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Lingering Stench of Marcion Part 5

I once again had intended on covering some of the clear prophecies of Christ that occur in the Old Testament. However, due to emergency toilet repairs, I once again felt I did not have time enough to tackle such a post. Instead I want to touch briefly on the idea that the God of the Old Testament is different than the God of the New Testament. I know, as I am sure everyone who reads this blog knows, that the Old Testament and the New Testament present the same God, but I have encountered several people who believe differently. For example, the professor I had for my upper division world religions class once challenged me on why in the Old Testament God is full of wrath and in the New Testament God is full of love and grace. I believe that such a question can only come from a lack of familiarity with the Bible because both the Old and the New Testament present a God who is loving, gracious and also just. I would like to look at two places in the Bible, one from the OT and one from the NT, in order to show that this dichotomous view of the Bible's portrayal of God is unfounded. Like all my other posts this is not intended at all to be an exhaustive examination of all the pertinent Scriptures. This post is just designed to get the juices flowing and encourage anyone interested to further explore on their own.

First I want to look at a passage from the book of Jonah. Jonah has preached to the city of Nineveh and they have responded in repentance. Repentance, unfortunately, was not what Jonah wanted; Jonah wanted them to be destroyed by God's just wrath. Jonah gets upset now that God is not going to bring disaster to Nineveh and he complains to God:

And he prayed to the Lord and said, "O Lord , is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. (Jonah 4:2 ESV)

Jonah had clearly known what kind of God he served. Jonah expected repentance and for God to relent because he knew that God was "...abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster." Whatever the reasons for people today thinking that the OT God is only a God of wrath and judgement, the people of the OT themselves did not share this view.

In the book of Acts we see an account of the early church. Believers were sharing everything in common and those who had land and property were selling their property and bringing the full amount to the apostles. Barnabas being the one that is specifically noted as selling his property and giving all the money to the church. We are then introduced to Ananias and Sapphira who decide, for whatever reason to sell their property and only bring a portion of the money to the apostles. However, they act like they are giving the full amount. Let us see what happens:

But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? "While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. (Acts 5:3-5 ESV)

When you read on in Acts you see his wife came in later and lied about the money as well and was also struck dead. Acts 5 lets us know that in the New Testament God is clearly still in the business of righteous judgement and wrath.

The same God is presented in the Old and the New Testament. God does not change and has always been and always will be perfectly loving and perfectly just. It is mind blowing to think that a book compiled of different authors over vastly different time periods gives us such a consistent view of God. Although, it makes complete sense if that book is God breathed.

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