Why the difference between the Old and the New Testament? Lessons for us today.


All Writings, Observations / Monday, February 27th, 2017

The undeniable fact is, an obvious difference exists between, what the Old Testament (Hebrew-Aramaic scriptures) and what the New Testament (Greek scriptures) speak of.  The Old Testament speaks of cruelty that simply defies human understanding, and the New Testament speaks of love that defies human imagination.  Yet, both are originating from the same God.  How can it be?

Keeping in mind why that difference appears to exists is important.  It helps us understand much about the people and the world that were, and also the people and the world today.

The Old testament (covenant) starts with creation and the ancestors of all mankind.  Later, it starts to narrow down to the early patriarchs and finally the start and development of the nation of Israel.  Much of the history recorded in the Old Testament is concerned with God’s covenant with His people, Israel.  The concerns addressed in these scriptures are of national identity, legal system, and how Israel functioned under its kings.  It also records events of Israel’s relation with surrounding nations.  Events of a personal nature are also mentioned.  Those are events in the lives of the kings, prophets, and some common people in and around Israel.

The New testament (covenant) addresses mostly the concerns and events of a deeply personal nature.  John the baptist, Jesus Christ, the apostles, and members of the early congregation after Pentecost are frequently mentioned.  In the middle of all these, focus is shifted to the entire nation of Israel in the 1st century.  The context is provided by the existing world power of the time, Rome and other regional powers under Roman authority.

The question of existing difference is understood when, one consider these factors:

  • What was the time period in relation to the original promise made to Abraham, the promise of a nation coming from him?
  • Is the message/action directed to the nation – Israel or otherwise – or is it directed to an individual/smaller group of individuals?

Answering these two questions can make amply clear why we see cruelty and dispassion in one case, but we see deep attention and concern in another case.  Just as a human leader cannot deal with a nation as he does an individual, neither does the Creator.  It is simply not possible.  There is still difference, though.  When social degradation permeates society to such a deep level that an entire nation appears corrupt, even then, the Creator is willing to show consideration to individuals whose hearts are true to Him.

“Governments act differently from individuals”

An individual who is given the responsibility to take administrative decisions for a whole nation or group of people, has to have a very wide range of view.  It simply conflicts with individual attention.  Otherwise no nation with human leaders could take any decision.  That is why we should be careful with ideas.

In the modern context, with the empowerment of the individual and social networking, the view of the leader is narrowed.  It takes away authority when, a leader is just another man among many.  The only way such a society can function is if, each individual takes personal responsibility for obedience to the laws so that the leader(s) can concentrate on major decisions of national interest.  If a leader is constantly pricked by little needles on social networks, how would he be fit to carry the sword when the time comes!

If a leader is constantly pricked by little needles on social networks, how would he be fit to carry the sword when the time comes!

It should be human hope, that no leader has to carry a sword against his own people or another leader and nation.  The realization of this hope is less dependent on the leader than, it is dependent upon the willingness of the individuals to fulfill their own duties.  In another setting, the leader is also an individual who must eat and sleep like any other person.  The case with a Spirit like God is different.  God never needs to stop or rest.  He does not get tired, or weary!  He can see an entire nation, and he can see a man on the street at the same time.  To expect the same of a mere human, is unreasonable.

By Poliphilo (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
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