Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The God of No/The God of Yes

One God. 
That's what we have. One God. Unchangeable. Forever.
But which one is He?
Is He the God of the Old Testament--the one who punished and destroyed and slaughtered?
Or is He the God of the New Testament who saves and forgives and loves?

The simple answer is that He's both, but that's the problem. It's not simple. It doesn't make sense. Unless we toss out the Old Testament in the face of the New, our God does not appear unchangeable. He seems almost schizophrenic.
Let God be God, some say. Trust Him today and you will understand Him later. After all, He is the God who said to Moses,
I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and compassion on whom I will have compassion.--Romans 9: 15
And it's true. He has that right. He's God.
Why, then, am I still not satisfied?

Take sacrifices, for instance.
In the Old Testament, God set up an complex system of sacrifice--a calf for this, a pair of doves for that, incense, grain--an unending stream of them so that the courts of His tabernacle ran red with blood and stank with entrails every day. And then, after Jesus, they stopped. Just like that.
Old Testament/New Testament.
One God....or two?

Was the coming of Jesus as revolutionary as all that? Really?
Well, as it turns out, yes, it was.
 As it turns out, I need to see both sides of our God, the old and the new testament sides. Otherwise, I will not know Him at all.

The God of the Old Testament is the God of No.
 After men sinned, He had to be. We lost our connection with Him. We would no longer walk with Him in the cool of the day. We could no longer share His heaven. We would die. From that day on, His answer would be No.
Do you hear me, God?
Can I satisfy you, God?
Can I properly worship you, God?
Can I draw near to you?
Will you forgive me?

All the sacrifices....they were never enough. The prayers...they could not pierce the veil.
Mankind needed the one thing they could not provide. They could follow all the rules, perform all the sacrifices, say every prayer, celebrate every feast day, but everything fell short.
In the Old Testament, men learned their hopelessness before a holy God
Nothing they could do was good enough. The answer was, and always would be, No.

Then Jesus came. And died. And rose. And established Himself as not only the perfect sacrifice, but as the perfect and eternal intercessor between sinful man and Holy God.
In that moment, God's No became Yes.
Do you year me, God?
Yes, through Christ.
Do you forgive me, God?
Yes, through Christ.
Will you take me into your eternal presence?
Yes, through Christ.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all--Ephesians 4:4-6
One God.
Old Testament and New. Not schizophrenic--just what God's perfection looks like with and without Christ. 

And that is why we have them both. Jesus may be our friend, but He will never be our buddy. He may be fully human, but He will never be like us. Never.
Christ Jesus is the only One who makes possible any rejoicing, who allows us hope in the face of our own corruption. Christ Jesus lived and died so that God would not have to destroy us, too. His own creation. The ones He loves.

Without the Old Testament, the New Testament has no real purpose. Jesus came to save us from the justifiable wrath of His Father. Without understanding of the coming wrath, His salvation has no meaning.

The temple sacrifices taught us that God meant business. And then He swept them away with the only sacrifice that could actually accomplish its purpose.
In Jesus, God's forever No became a forever Yes.

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