Do you find the Old Testament and New Testament difficult to reconcile?
I don't know about you, but as a new Christian I found it very difficult to see the Old Testament as inspired in any way, let alone authoritative. I found myself asking, "How could the same God be so angry and vengeful in the Old Testament, yet so loving and compassionate in the New Testament?" I just didn't get it. I found myself wondering how any thinking Christian could ever equate the YHWH of Moses with the Father of Jesus.
So what happened? How come I see the Old Testament as authoritative now? How did I get from there to here? Well, an important part of my journey was learning that much of my understanding of the Old Testament and the God of Israel was deeply deficient; I learned that I had much to learn.
So, if you have ever struggled with this, if you have ever found the Old Testament and New Testament difficult to reconcile, I'd invite you to read and reflect on what the Old Testament says about God's mercy. Here is a sample:
You warned them to return to your law, but they became arrogant and disobeyed your commands. They sinned against your ordinances, by which a man will live if he obeys them. Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen. 30 For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you admonished them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention, so you handed them over to the neighboring peoples. 31 But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.
In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.
"This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.
Personally I find the prophetic instructions from Hosea and Micah particularly arresting. Their words are not so different from how Jesus summarized the Law, as loving God and loving others. Yet here it is in the Old Testament.