When I first read the Bible, I was struck by what seemed to be a contrast between the “Old Testament God” and the “New Testament God.” After all, it’s difficult to reconcile all of the death and destruction we so easily take notice of in the Old Testament (OT) with the loving figure of Christ in the New Testament (NT). Indeed, in the OT, people thought they would die if they saw God, and they were terrified of being in His presence. Quite the opposite way that we see Jesus since our desire, as Christians, is to be in His presence daily. 

You may have heard it said that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. This quote stems from St. Augustine who wrote, “Novum Testamentum in Vetere latet: Vetus in Novo patet – The New Testament is hidden in the Old, the Old is made clear by the New” (The Oxford Dictionary of Christian Art and Architecture. : Oxford University Press.). As I continue my study of Exodus and Acts today, I encountered some verses that confirm, if there was ever any doubt, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (cf. Hebrews 13:8). 

Love your Enemies

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

Mark 12:28 (NIV)

Jesus gives the teacher two commandments instead of the one the teacher expected.

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:29-31 (NIV)

Jesus isn’t making anything up with these responses. They both are from the OT. You can look them up here in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18. We know of a similar question asked by a teacher of the law in the Gospel of Luke. However, this person asks Jesus to define neighbor (cf. Luke 10:25-37). This is where we find The Parable of the Good Samaritan. 

Rather than re-iterating this parable, I’d like to share with you some verses from Exodus that answer the question of who our neighbor is. They also tell us about another teaching that Jesus pulled from the OT,  

4 “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it. 5 If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.

Exodus 23:4-5 (NIV)

While these are not set in the form of a parable, we can still extract the information we seek from them. Exodus 23:4-5 brings another “character” to the fold if you will. The enemy. Not devil, but one’s enemies. What does Jesus tell us about our enemies? 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,'”

Matthew 5:43-44 (NIV)

Here in Exodus, God is giving the law to Moses. The person speaking in these verses is God. God tells Moses in Exodus 23:4 to tell the people not to hate their enemies but to take care of their stuff. To treat their wandering ox or donkey as they would their own. God clarifies this in verse 5, but adds something to it, “someone who hates you.” This tells us that even if we love other people, they might still hate us. However, we are to still help them. Does this remind you of anything Jesus told us?

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”

John 15:18 (NIV)

God also gives this command to the Israelites. 

“Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt.

Exodus 23:9 (NIV)

Again we see the idea of thinking of others as we think of ourselves. The Israelites didn’t like being oppressed because they were foreigners in Egypt, so they shouldn’t oppress others because they know what it’s like. 

Although none of these verses are given in parable, they give clear examples of how to treat neighbors and enemies (as ourselves), and these verses of love come not from the NT but from the Old. 

Old Testament Wrath

Then there’s the story of the two people who God struck down because they denied Him to His face. No, this isn’t an event from the OT. It’s the tale of Ananias and his wife Sapphira who sold a piece of property and lied to the Holy Spirit about it. 

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Acts 5:1-2 (NIV)

It’s not a big deal to sell something and then give part of the proceeds to the church. Whenever we give a tithe, we’re doing something very similar. We’re taking ten percent of the money that God has given to us, and we’re giving it right back to Him. It’s Biblical, and as I said, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s something we ought to do out of thanksgiving. 

When Ananias gives the money to the church, Peter has something to say about it.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

Acts 5:3-4 (NIV)

Some people think Ananias and Sapphira kept back part of the money out of pride or a lack of trust in God. Pride, because they wanted to appear to be more important than they felt they were, a lack of trust in God thinking they needed to hold back some of the money for themselves in case they needed it later. I can see issues of pride and trust getting in the way. However, it goes far beyond pride or trust in God. 

I don’t even think it was so much as not trusting God. I don’t think they really believed God. Or in the power of God. Think about it. When we lie to someone we do it because they don’t know the truth. So, we present them with our version of the truth. We can lie to God, but in doing so we are denying the power of God. We are denying God. When we lie to God, we say, You don’t know everything. You are not all-powerful. Essentially, you are not God. I assert that we can only knowingly lie to God if we really don’t believe in Him in the first place.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

Psalms 14:1 (NIV)

What happened to Ananias and Sapphira when they lied to God?

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Acts 5:5 (NIV)

At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband.

Acts 5:10 (NIV)

Ananias and Sapphira conspired together to lie to the Holy Spirit, and the wrath of God smote them. In the New Testament

We’ve looked at a couple of examples today of how we can see God is the same in the Old Testament and the New. We’ve taken a peek at His love in the OT and His wrath in the New. I agree that it can be challenging, sometimes, to reconcile some of the things we see in the OT with a loving and caring God. We need to remember some of His other traits. He is also a just and jealous God.

I want to end today’s devotional thoughts with some praise and worship.

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away. 

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.