Friday, June 22, 2007

Grace in the wilderness

For many people, the Bible reveals two different Gods. We have the likeable God of love in the New Testament, and the vindictive God of hate in the Old Testament, according to that opinion. Explore has been working through the early chapters of Deuteronomy recently, and the other day I was struck once again by the one true and living God, the gracious God, revealed in both Old and New Testament.

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharoah king of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 7:6-8)

Why did God choose the people of Israel to be his people and the objects of his love? Well, surely (we would think) it was because they were the strongest nation; or the richest nation; or maybe even the most populous people. No, no, no. To all our reasons of deserving mercy, God says no.

So why did God choose the people of Israel? Just because, he loves them! They didn't deserve it, but God, out of his grace, chose them to be his people; the people by whom the rest of the peoples would be blessed.

Similarly, why do people get saved? Why am I a Christian? Well, it's not because of my good looks, or my moral sense, or my good deeds, or my deserving to be saved. No, I am saved simply and only because of God's grace - giving me what I do not deserve.

On thinking about the Deuteronomy passage above, it triggered another passage in my head. Can you see the similarities with what Paul says to the Corinthian church?

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)

The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the God of grace, and in this, we rejoice!


  1. I agree entirely.

    The other side of the same coin is that the less fashionable God of justice, vengeance etc in the OT is also the God of the NT, dealing with Ananias and Saphira, and putting people in the lake of fire in Rev 20. This God of fire and brimstone was popular in the last few centuries but doesn't sit so comfortably with modern liberalism. And yet, while our concept of God fluctuates from generation to generation, God himself doesn't change. And if people don't understand this harsher side of him, they won't appreciate their need for the love and grace we prefer to preach on, and they won't see how amazing and bizarre it is thta in fact despite our sin his love does indeed rest on us, and how truly remarkable it is that the God of judgement and the God of love are both revealed in the cross.

  2. Yes, well pointed out, SaintSimon. Had I been more comprehensive, I should have went down that line too! 'Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.'(Heb 13:8)