One of the biggest struggles Christians have is reconciling the God of the Old Testament with Jesus' claims of the goodness of the Father God.
And then there are believers who fear for their salvation because of their image of the Old Testament God. Jesus they love, the Father they fear and keep at a distance.
One Baptist told me their pastor taught God blesses with the right hand, and punishes with His left, and you never know which one is coming into your life. He was telling me how he had been set free from his fear and had received overwhelming peace about his salvation, because I had taught him how to understand the Old Testament in context.
This is what I hope to do with this study. We will look at what the writers of the New Testament told us the Old Testament was for, and we'll set in context some difficult to understand passages along the way.
This put the fear of God into the hearts of many 6th graders
Back in the day when I was a 6th grader, corporal punishment was still in practice (spanking). The method was a wooden board applied 3 times to the bottom of an offending child. In 6th grade my class had just such a child.
To this day I remember when he was called out of class, and just outside the closed door, punishment was applied. Each whack reverberated through the halls of the school. I'm sure all twenty something of us in that class noticeably jumped with each 'smack' when the paddle found its target. We all behaved the rest of the year, none of us certain exactly where the line was between just getting detention after school and 3 whacks with the paddle.
That's how many see the Father God of the Old Testament. Class, stay in line or else - and you don't really know what you might do that in His mind rises to the level of getting that left hand of punishment the Baptist talked about.
Mommy, daddy, where do babies come from?
That question from their 4 year old has caught many a parent by surprise. It is a wake up call that their adorable little toddler has become their own little person with all sorts of questions about life.
Consider your answer to that 4 year old, and then consider how you would answer that same child now 12. Then consider the talk you will have with them when they begin dating. How you answer the 4 year old will be very different than the talk you have with them when they start dating.
Why is that? Because they haven't matured in their understanding and life experience to handle the intimate details at age 4. They have all the same body parts they will have as a teenager, but they don't have the maturity and ability to understand the subject, nor are they yet able to handle the responsibility that comes with that knowledge.
Why don't we give drivers licenses to 4 year olds? They have all the same body parts required to drive a car:Hands, feet, their senses. But they don't have the maturity required to handle the responsibility that comes with that knowledge.
What it shows is that knowledge is progressive.
While knowledge is progressive as a child grows, the framework in which their parents guide the household and family are never changing. Their love will never change. Their love for the child will never change. The basic rules of how they run the house will never change. Within that framework of never changing, a child progresses in knowledge and maturity.
Those parents pick up the dirty clothes and put them in a hamper. They train their toddler to do the same, which is new to that child at first. They will keep (trying) to train that child when they are 10 to do the same. They will keep trying when they are a teenager to do the same.
The rules of the house don't change, but the progression of knowledge within that house, within those rules, will change over time. The toddler may go around the house throwing everything from their clothes to some toys to the pet cat into the dirty clothes bin, and come to mommy with a beaming face at the good job they did. And mommy will cheer them on and praise them, then go rescue the cat.
But 4 or 5 years later they are no longer throwing the cat in the dirty clothes hamper, they are perhaps doing their own laundry as mom and dad train them to become responsible adults. Knowledge is progressive within the set framework of mom and dad's personality and rules of the house.
God never changes, but revelation of Him and His ways is progressive
"In many portions and many ways God in times past spoke to the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us in His Son whom He appointed heir over everything, and by whom He also made the ages."
Here we see progressive revelation of the Father God within the framework of His never changing character. He spoke in times past in 'many portions' and 'many ways'. The Greek of these two words is interesting.
Translations struggle with the word 'polymeros'. The 'poly' means 'many', and 'meros' means 'parts', but carries with it the 'parts' included various methods over a period of time about how something is communicated. Some translations say 'sundry times, and 'many ways', while others say 'many portions', still others 'many (different) parts'.
The Greek word translated 'various manners' is 'polytropos'.
'Poly' for 'many', 'tropos' means 'ways'. Combined it says:"God spoke in many parts over time and many ways in times past to the father by the prophets, but in these last days has spoken to us in (through) His Son...."
God treated mankind like that 4 year old who asked where babies come from. He had to speak to them in many parts over time, using various methods, on their primitive level and culture in the Bronze Age (3300BC to 1100BC).
Paul wrote another revelation about Old Testament times
In I Corinthians 10:6 and 11, saying of Israel:"Now all these things that happened to them are for as examples to us, upon whom the end of the age has come."
This reveals God made an example of Israel for the rest of the world to see, sometimes with severity, sometimes with tenderness, but always fair within the context of their primitive and ungodly cultural setting. They were like the kid getting spanked as an example for the rest of the kids.
They were called in Exodus 19:6 to be a whole kingdom of priests to God, and were treated with that expectation. They were given a revelation of wise moral and dietary codes, and even instructions how to approach Almighty God. No other nation got that, so they were treated differently.
It is the reconciling those differences within their OT culture, and through our eyes living in New Testament times, that we will look at next week. Until then, blessings,
http://www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org