Can Modern Day People take Comfort in the Old Testament?
Does the Old Testament have little to offer modern Christians? Was the book only written for an ancient people in an ancient time so that we should therefore disregard it for the New Testament?
Though the Old Testament can be hard to get through at some points, and can be confusing at others, it is a terrible mistake to conclude that there is nothing there to offer modern people.
And yet some are preaching that, because it is hard and sometimes confusing, we should simply leave it, as if the validity of the gospel lies alone in what the New Testament teaches.
This has caused many questions and theological debates among Christian’s and we could obviously be here all day listing and addressing each one. But don’t worry, I’m not going to get into that just now.
Here’s the Comfort I Found
While reading Exodus 6:6-8 I suddenly realized what a shame it is for those who believe there is nothing to be learned or believed in the Old Testament.
“I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the Lord.”
I found the passage to be such a comfort for many reasons, but specifically, because it shows us the character of God. The promises He made His people in a time when they were hopeless – such thorough and complete promises of “I will!” God had been silent (as in He hadn’t sent prophets to speak to them) for centuries. They cried out for relief, and now here is God saying, “I will give you that relief!”
Is there anything you’ve been praying about for a long time? For someone to be healed or saved, for a way out of trouble, relief from trials and pain, a direction for your future? Now imagine what it would feel like if God said to you plainly, “I will do such-and-such.” I will heal that person, I will give you the future you desire, I will save that person, etc.
Is there any doubt then that He will do what He has promised? He did indeed save the children of Israel, just as He said.
And yet I think of those who disregard the Old Testament, as if God then is not the God of today. God was too cruel, they say, not like the loving God I believe in. As if He were like a young king who had not yet learned the importance of compassion and a gentle hand.
God is Unchanging
But the simple proof that says it is nothing but falsehood lies in the passage that says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8)*. Notice how that changes the previous perspective! If you can believe God now then you can believe God then. If all that He says is true in the New Testament then all that He says in the Old must be true as well.
So the supposed hardness of God in the Old Testament — such as when He demands widespread annihilation or allows His people to suffer greatly — all those things that we refuse to believe of our self-proclaimed “loving” God, are in fact a part of the nature of the present God we claim to be true as well. How do we reconcile that? We can’t explain it away by changing the nature of God, we must accept it.
The Source of the Problem
The reconciliation of the “hard” God and the “loving” God lies in better knowing the One we call our God. He is complex. His gospel is simple, but the understanding of His power, His authority and truth are beyond inexhaustible. If we can believe Him, we can (and must!) believe all He says. Thus He is both – the “hard” God, so called, and the “loving” God.
Here is the crux of the matter: the problem does not lie in God but in us. He is what He is, we are the one’s who must search for the whys and wherefores. So if you want to know answers to the confusing parts of the Old Testament, trust God to be right and search for the truth within His word.
Will He Show Us?
And if we wonder whether we can ever know these things for certain, the answer to that is prevalent throughout scripture, and more specifically, can be found in the Psalms.
“No good thing will He withhold from those who walk up uprightly” (Psalms 84:11b)
“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry” (Psalms 40:1)
“For you will light my lamp; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness… As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him” (Psalms 18: 28, 30).
So to answer our question of before, can modern day people take comfort in the Old Testament? Is the Old Testament still applicable today? Yes it is, give it a try.
* More verses on how God is unchanging: Psalm 55:19, Psalm 102:27, Malachi 3:6, James 1:17