The Old Testament is the first two-thirds of the Christian Bible, with the last third being the New Testament. While the Bible is a unified book, there are differences between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is foundational; the New Testament builds on that foundation with further revelation from God. The Old Testament establishes principles that are seen to be illustrative of New Testament truths.
While the Bible is clear about God's invariable nature, many people question this when comparing the Old Testament to the New Testament. You may read the Old Testament and think God is violent and wrathful, which is a very different image than the loving God you see in the New Testament. Reading the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, we witness God’s terrifying wrath against sin, wickedness, and stunning love. Authors of the Bible agree that God’s love and judgment are two ways to look at God's nature.
The Old Testament contains many prophecies that are fulfilled in the New. The Old Testament provides the history of a people; the New Testament focus is on a Person. The Old Testament shows the wrath of God against sin, with glimpses of His grace; the New Testament shows the grace of God toward sinners, with glimpses of His wrath.
Jesus believed in the whole Old Testament. In examining the four gospels, we have a significant amount of information concerning Jesus’ view of the Old Testament. His view is stated in two words. “total trust.” Jesus accepted the Old Testament scriptures as being divinely authoritative – He never cast doubt on any of the accounts. Jesus assumed the people were actual people, and the events likely occurred. We never find Him giving the slightest hint of anything but the complete acceptance of the Old Testament as the Word of God.
The first thing we find Jesus confirming about the Old Testament is that the people mentioned on its pages indeed did exist. They were not mythical characters. As we look at how Jesus treated the Old Testament, we discover that He assumed the various stories to be factual. Also, Jesus confirmed some of the most ridiculed stories in the Old Testament. For example, Jesus believed in the Genesis account of creation – which includes the direct creation of Adam and Eve. Jesus also thought there was a flood that God sent to destroy the earth in Noah's days. Jesus also confirmed the traditional authorship of the Old Testament books – particularly Daniel and Isaiah. Finally, Jesus said that specific prophecies, recorded in the Old Testament, were fulfilled in His life and ministry.
The Old Testament is truly fascinating. It lays the foundation for the coming of the Messiah, who would sacrifice Himself for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). The following New Testament records the ministry of Jesus Christ and then looks back on what He did and how we are to respond. Both testaments reveal the same holy, merciful, and righteous God who condemns sin but desires to save sinners through an atoning sacrifice. God ultimately reveals Himself to us and shows us how we are to come to Him through faith.
The God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament. God’s character is even clearer revealed in the New Testament because He has taken on flesh through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Through reading all scripture, we see that God is love and that love is unbreakable. Nothing in all creation, in time, or space can alter the love that God has for you. Romans 8:37-39 reminds us of this: “No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, or anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Everything that has come into existence is a result of God’s love. Every one of us has been brought into existence by God’s love. Even during our struggles and difficulties, we can be confident of God’s love, and there is no limit to it.
God’s nature is unchanging. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” He loves us so much that He desires to welcome us into His eternal family as His glorified child. John 3:16 is the perfect example of God’s perfect love for you: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” No other verse in the Bible summarizes God’s relationship with humanity and His ultimate love for us. It tells us that the love God has for us and the extent of that love is so great that He sacrificed His only Son on our behalf. There is no better indicator of God’s nature than this.