Photo by Huangdan2060 From Wikimedia Commons

Numbers 14:17–23 ‘Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: “The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished”’ (vv17–18a)

Many struggle with an apparent contradiction between the God of the OT contrasted with the NT. Marcion (cAD 85–160) attempted to distinguish between the NT’s ‘benevolent’ God

and the ‘malevolent creator god’ of the OT. His early canon was rejected, and the ministry of Jesus accepted as the fulfilment of the OT narrative. So we are left with the picture of a God who exercises judgment and to whom the whole of creation is accountable. There are consequences to sin, as well as the means for forgiveness in Christ Jesus. The gospel was made available through Jesus, and so those living in OT times, whilst glimpsing what was to come, were unable to receive redemption in their time.

The purpose of God is worked out over time and Israel’s deliverance from Egypt is a picture of the promised redemption established through Jesus. God is consistent in His message, and in our own day that same plan is unfolding, most often out of sight. The character of God is unchanging and dependable, forgiving the repentant sinner, whilst bringing judgment to those who reject His love. We do not have the capacity to determine who is forgiven and who is judged by God (Deut. 32:34–35), yet we do exercise responsibility to discern how best we can respond to God through our lives and as the Church. This is revealed through Scripture (both the OT and the NT), the story of God’s unfolding revelation from creation to the end of time itself.

SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: Num. 27:12–23; Ps 82; Matt. 7:1–6; 2 Cor. 5:1–10.

AN ACTION TO TAKE: We may have questions about our Christian faith. Many have been raised and considered throughout history. You may find some good answers to yours have been found already.

A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, help me to think through the consequences of my decisions before I take action. Amen.’

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.