This article was an email dialogue I had with a friend on the differences between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
He had asked me to explain some of the differences between what was occurring in the Old Testament as versus what was occurring in the New Testament. He brought up some real good points and I will answer each one of them under the appropriate captions below.
Atonement for Sins
The first main difference that you need to grasp and understand is what was going on with God the Father and the Jewish people in reference to them getting a temporary covering for their sins.
God the Father specifically chose the Jewish people to be His chosen people
. However, in order for them to be able to approach and enter into a personal relationship with Him, they needed some type of temporary covering for their sins since Jesus had not come yet to die for their sins.
So what God the Father arranged was that a blemish free lamb had to be killed and sacrificed to atone or give the Jewish people a temporary covering for their sins.
However, when Jesus came and died on the cross, He permanently did away with God’s chosen people ever having to sacrifice any more animals to get that temporary covering for their sins.
As a result of Jesus’ death on the cross, all we have to do is go to God the Father, confess our sin, and ask for His forgiveness. If this confession of our sin is sincere and from the heart, God the Father will honor the confession and our sin will be fully forgiven. No animals will ever need to be sacrificed again to get this forgiveness from God.
This is why Jesus is called the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He is an extension of the lambs used by His Father in the Old Testament to give God’s chosen people a temporary covering for their sins.
Here is where many Christians get confused. After Jesus’ death on the cross, we are now under a new covenant with God the Father. As stated above, no more animal sacrifices are needed to get forgiveness for our sins. However, there are verses in the New Testament that state that we are no longer under the law, but under grace.
Some Christians mistakenly think we no longer have to obey any of the basic laws and commandments set out by God the Father in the Old Testament since we are now operating under a new covenant with Jesus. But this view is wrong. Jesus Himself says that He did not come to do away with the law, but to fulfill it.
Here is the verse directly from Jesus Himself:
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17-18)
This verse right there tells you that all of the basic moral commandments set out by God the Father in the Old Testament still apply for all of us today. This includes all of the 10 Commandments, all the commands not to engage in occult, getting tattoos, etc.
Granted, many of the ceremonial type laws back in the Old Testament are no longer applicable in today’s world, but many of the moral laws that God had set out are still in full play today.
For instance, some Christians believe that since tattoos are not mentioned in the New Testament, but just in the Old Testament, that they no longer have to abide by God’s command on this issue from back in the Old Testament, and they are now free to be able get tattoos in this day and age.
However, the above verse from Jesus Himself tells us that those kinds of commandments are still in force and will be until “all is fulfilled” – which I believe refers to His second coming.
Jesus is referred to as the “fulfillment” of the law because His death on the cross gives us total and permanent forgiveness of all of our sins.
In the Old Testament, the killing and sacrificing of the lambs did not give the Jewish people total and permanent forgiveness. It only gave then a temporary covering for their sins until Jesus came down to die on the cross for all of our sins.
When the Jewish people died in the Old Testament, they did not go straight to heaven because Jesus had not come yet. Their sins were not totally forgiven until Jesus came and died on the cross. This is why Jesus is referred to as the “fulfillment” of the Law. That is why He said on the cross right before He died – “It is finished.”
Jesus did what the lambs could not fully do in the Old Testament. His death on the cross gave all of us who will accept it – full, final, and permanent forgiveness for all of our sins – all past, present, and future sins that we will ever commit.
When the Bible says we are no longer under the law, but under grace in the New Testament, what it is referring to is that we do not have to kill animals anymore for the forgiveness of our sins. We are now under God’s grace and mercy because His Son has now died for us, and we now have total and complete forgiveness for all of our sins.
We also do not stone people to death if they now commit adultery. It is now between that person and God to get their sins forgiven and if they do not, then God will judge them accordingly when they die and cross over. We no longer have a right to put a person to death for adultery and engaging in the occult.
This will now bring us into the next topic – the “eye for an eye” punishment that was enforced back in the Old Testament.
An Eye For An Eye
In the Old Testament, since Jesus had not come yet, God the Father not only arranged to let His chosen people know what His basic laws and commandments were going to be, but He also had to arrange for some type of punishment to occur if His people broke those laws. This is where the “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” comes in.
God had it set up if you killed someone else, then your punishment would be the same – you would be killed yourself. The punishment would thus fully fit the crime. God then proceeded to tell the Jewish people what the punishments were going to be per the crimes committed.
The two that have always bothered me were that you would be put to death for adultery and engaging in the occult.
In these crimes or sins, you were not killing anyone else. So why would God hand down a death sentence on these two crimes in particular? It does not seem to line up with the “eye for eye” rule that He had going during this time.
I can only give you my opinion as to why God allowed the death penalty for these two specific transgressions. I believe God the Father, in the Old Testament, was laying down serious groundwork for all the people that would be born from the New Testament on. He wanted to show the serious consequences involved for each person that would break many of His basic laws and commandments.
In the New Testament there is a verse that says that the wages of sin will lead to death! God is not only referring to possible early physical death as a result of serious sin, but also to the death of our souls if these sins end up keeping us out of heaven.
By setting the examples early on in the Old Testament, I feel God is making a powerful statement to the rest of the world.
He is basically telling us that not only must we become saved and born again through the acceptance of salvation through His Son and His sacrificial death on the cross – but we must also stay out of serious sin or risk losing our eternal salvation if we have already been saved through the blood of Jesus.
Some people do not believe this. But Jesus Himself said not everyone who calls Him Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of His Father!
The will of God is that you stay out of serious sin. If you do not, and you do not properly confess those heavier sins before Him, you could risk losing your salvation when you die and cross over. God will not be mocked!
A perfect example would be a Christian minister turning to the dark side, forsaking God, and worshiping Satan.
He knows perfectly well what he is doing and he is deciding with his own free will to change camps, probably for more material wealth and pleasures. Do you think this person is going to heaven when he dies if he never repents and returns back to God before he dies?
What about the Christian man who later in life decides to start doing heinous acts – like raping women, becoming the next famous serial killer, joining organized crime, etc.
I believe Christians who decide to enter in and perform these heavier types of sins are in serious danger of losing their eternal salvation if they do not pull out of it before they die and cross over.
I believe God may have allowed the death penalty for the sins of adultery and engaging in the occult for a very specific reason. If you look very closely at these two sins, they are both sins of betrayal.
Engaging in the occult is turning away from God and the guidance that He can give you for your life to demons who will also try to supernaturally guide and control your life.
I believe God is trying to tell us, with establishing the death penalty for engaging in the occult, is that it is a very serious offense and sin in His eyes, and that it could possibly lead to the loss of your salvation if you do not turn back from it before you die and cross over.
The sin of adultery is the betrayal of your vows to your spouse to remain faithful till death do you part. God holds marriage in high esteem and I believe it is literally something very sacred in His eyes. The committing of adultery causes severe, extreme pain to the one who is on the receiving end of it.
It can also lead to the death of the marriage if it is not quickly dealt with and corrected.
By establishing the death penalty for this sin early on in the Old Testament, I believe God is telling us that this too is a very serious offense and sin in His eyes. However, whether or not it could lead to the loss of one’s salvation is questionable.
They all got cast out of heaven!
This is why the apostle Paul says in the New Testament to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”
You have to stay out of these heavier sins or risk the consequences once you come before God on your day of personal judgment with Him.
I will be doing an another article on “Righteousness” and all the powerful Scripture verses in the Bible about doing the right thing, staying out of trouble, and not breaking any of God’s basic laws and commandments.
For some people, it will literally mean eternal death in the Lake of Fire and Brimstone as mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
Once you see all the Scripture verses about the importance of living a decent and righteous life before God the Father, no Christian with half a brain would ever want to tempt his eternal fate with God the Father by engaging in some of the heavier sins.
The risk and gamble is simply too great.
You are dealing with the eternal fate of your soul, and there is no second chance once you die and face your Maker. Your bed will have already been made. The verdict from God will come quick and sure once you personally face Him on your day of judgment.
You will not be given any kind of second chance to right all the wrongs you have done in your life. All you will be doing is waiting for your final verdict from God Himself as to where you will end up going.
Once you understand the “Big Picture,” and the seriousness of sin and the eternal consequences of it, you can better appreciate why God the Father came down so hard on His own chosen people back in the Old Testament. What He did with them back then was a foreshadowing of what each person will have to face when they face Him on their day of judgment.
This life is a “game of life and death” and how you “play” the game will determine your eternal fate and where you will end up at once you die and cross over. There is only heaven and hell when everything is all finally said and done. You will only end up in one of those two places.
Each person thus has to make their own choice as to who they will serve in this life, which God they will believe in, and how they will live out the rest of their allotted time they still have left down here on this earth. And then God will be their final judge once they die and cross over to meet Him face to face.
Bob, I know you made the comment that God seemed so mean back in the Old Testament. But once you see the big picture for what it truly is, you can better understand why God was a little rough back in those days.
God very powerfully and very plainly showed Himself not only to the Jewish people, but also to the rest of the world as to what He expects from people and how they should live their lives. Thus when they die and have to face Him for their own personal judgment – they will have no excuses.
They will not be able to plead any type of ignorance. They not only broke some of society’s laws in the committing of some of their heinous sins, but they also broke some of God’s laws, and they thus will be judged accordingly.
The Wrath of God
I will touch on one more subject that you probably picked up in reading much of the Old Testament. Not only was God the Father very strict with the laws and punishments enforced on those laws, but there also was quite a few displays of His wrath and anger that was released upon either certain peoples or the entire world at one time like He did with the flood of Noah.
The incredible release of His wrath and anger during those times have always scared many people, including many Christians. Many of His own people see Him as being a mean and vengeful God. As a result, many of His people have developed an unhealthy fear of Him to the point that some of His own people are too afraid to approach Him for prayer or to enter into any kind of close personal relationship with Him.
Let me try to explain this part of His personality so can see exactly where He was coming from in those days, and why His wrath and anger were so violently released at certain times during the Old Testament.
If you look very closely at the times that He would release His wrath and anger, it was always justified. I believe there is something called “righteous anger or righteous wrath.”
Every time God released His anger and wrath, it was always because the people who were on the receiving end of His wrath really did deserve it at the time that it was coming down on them.
1. The Flood of Noah
In the flood of Noah, God destroys all humans with the exception of Noah and his family because everyone was so wicked and evil back at that time. However, note that God did not destroy Noah and his family. Why? Because they were found righteous in His eyes.
If God was a mean and evil God, then He would have also killed Noah and his family – but He did not!
This right there shows that God will judge each one individually and that He is not releasing His wrath just to be mean and vengeful. His wrath is always released for a specific reason and a specific purpose.
The Bible actually says that God is “slow to anger“ and that it takes quite a bit to really get Him mad. But when you do, watch out. But it does take quite a bit to get Him to blow. Back in the days of Noah, the people were so evil and so wicked that He simply could not stand it anymore and decided that His judgment had to be released.
The Bible says that God even makes the comment that He was sorry that He even created man in the first place because man had become so evil and wicked during this time. Here is the specific verse that will give us this information:
“And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” (Genesis 6:6))
The Bible says that man was so wicked during this time, that all man ever thought about was evil things on a continual basis. Again, here is another verse on how evil and wicked people were back at that time:
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil CONTINUALLY.” (Genesis 6:5)
These people had become so evil and so wicked that they apparently were no longer salvageable and God simply brought them to their final destinations sooner rather than later. Bottom line – God’s wrath was fully released into this situation due to the severe evil and wickedness that was in this particular generation, not because He is an evil and wicked God.
2. The Jewish People
The next area where you see God’s wrath manifested was with His own chosen people, the Jewish people. The Old Testament seems to be nothing but a roller coaster ride in the relationship between God the Father and the Jewish people. When the Jewish people were walking in good stead with God the Father and had their act together with Him, God protected them from their enemies, they lived with abundant blessings, and life was very good for them.
But the minute they started to turn against God and worship and follow after other gods, God would then withdraw His protection, and from there, their enemies would then swoop down on them and a host of the Jewish people would then go into slavery and captivity.
Then after being in slavery, sometimes for hundreds of years, the Jewish people would start crying out to God for forgiveness and deliverance. God would then hear their cries, feel sorry for them, and then send someone down to get them delivered like He did with Moses.
The Jewish people would then once more turn back to God. God would then restore His protection and abundant blessings back on them and life would once more be very good for them – and then it would start all over again. They would then start turning back against God, start to follow other gods, and the same scenario would then repeat itself all over again.
I literally could not even begin to count the number of times this scenario kept repeating itself throughout the entire Old Testament. God could have easily washed His hands of His people after the 3rd or 4th time – but He did not. This right here shows you the incredible love and patience God really does have with not only His Jewish people, but with the rest of us as well.
Finally after the “150th” time this scenario repeats itself, God says that is going to be it as you get the near the end of the Old Testament. This is when His wrath starts to manifest. He tells the Jewish people they are going to be driven from their homelands and scattered throughout the entire world. He tells them they will be the most persecuted people throughout history because of their disobedience and refusal to accept Him and His ways for them.
Once again, God pulls back His protection, and this time it ends up being for good. And then to add insult to injury, some of the higher-ranking Jewish leaders were the ones who ended up putting Jesus to death on the cross when He came down to our earth in the flesh. It was shortly after putting Jesus to death in the year 70 AD that the Jewish people were finally driven out of their homeland and scattered throughout the nations of the world.
However, to show you how great, awesome, and loving God the Father really is – God says near the end of the Old Testament after pronouncing the above judgment on the Jewish people, that He still will not forsake them, and that He will eventually bring them back to the land of Israel at the end of time shortly before Jesus returns back to us in His second coming.
He says that when all is said and done, He will still be their God and they will still be His people. God says that He will still honor the original pact and covenant that He made with their earlier forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in that He would never completely forsake them.
Anyone who has read the entire Old Testament can really appreciate what an incredible act of kindness and mercy this really is by God the Father.
He could have easily given up on these people long ago, but not only did He keep bringing them back to Himself, but when He finally reaches His breaking point at the end of the Old Testament and pronounces the above judgment on them, He still states that He will take them back, but not until the end of times.
God had given these people more than enough reasonable chances to get their act together with Him during approximately 2000 years of Old Testament times.
Once you see the big picture of this story and what was really happening, you can understand why God finally decided to manifest His wrath and anger near the end of the Old Testament and pronounce the above judgment on them.
It would be the same if an earthly parent would occasionally lose their tempers with a rebellious and disobedient child. Sometimes you just lose it and rightly so. Again, we are dealing with righteous anger and wrath being manifested by God for very good reasons on these people.
Bob, if you really study every time God got mad and released His wrath, there is not one time that it did not deserved to be released on whoever was on the receiving end of it. God is not like us humans who sometimes blow off for no good reason. The Bible says that God is slow to anger, and if He does manifest righteous anger and wrath, it is always for a very good reason.
3. God Defends the Jewish People
The other times you will see God manifest maximum wrath, anger, and vengeance is when He is defending the Jewish people from their enemies who are trying to attack and kill them.
When the Jewish people were walking right with God, God would literally fight some of their battles for them. We are talking about incredible displays of supernatural power and wrath being directed against Israel’s enemies. Some of these enemies were literally wiped right off the face of the earth.
I have 95 powerful battle verses from the Bible showing that God will come to your aid and help you fight against any enemies who may try to harm you. Many people do not realize that God the Father has an incredible War Side to His personality and that He will not hesitate to go into battle to protect His own.
The best analogy that I can give you on this is just imagine you were married, had several children, and then all of a sudden you found out that somebody was going to try to kill one of your children.
What do you think your first natural reaction would be? I have heard mother after mother say to me, without batting an eye, that if anyone would try to seriously hurt one of their own children – they would have no problems in literally killing that person dead if they had to.
This right here is the exact same type of wrath and anger that God Himself has when protecting His own.
This is why the Old Testament is so bloody in all of the battles that are described in it. Half of those bloody battles had to do with God the Father defeating all of Israel’s enemies in actual warfare and combat.
Bob, I will leave you with one last thought to think about regarding God’s anger and wrath being manifested so often in the Old Testament.
I feel that the Holy Spirit has conveyed to me that everything about God the Father is maximum intensity. All of His emotions are maximum intensity.
This is why Jesus says in the Book of Revelation that He will spew you out of His mouth if He finds you to be too lukewarm.
As a result of God’s nature and personality being of maximum intensity, all of His emotions will be of maximum intensity. The Bible says that God’s love for us humans is like a “consuming fire.” Those two words are again denoting maximum intensity.
Once you understand the maximum intensity of God’s personality, you can better understand some of the more intense reactions found not only in the Old Testament, but also in the Book of Revelation about what He will be doing in the last 7 years of the tribulation.
Again, the world is going to turn so evil and wicked during those last 7 years, that once again God is going to release His wrath and anger on this world in a way that the world has never seen before and will never see again.
But again, as I pointed out to you in my articles on end time events, God will once again have very good reason and very good cause to release His wrath and anger upon the earth during those times. This will be righteous and justified wrath and anger being released for a very good reason.
Bob, I hope all of the above has given you a little more insight into God the Father and why there was so much heavy action back in the Old Testament.
When I first read the Old Testament for the first time, it also bothered me with all the killings and judgments that were going on. However, I really feel like the Holy Spirit has given me a much better understanding of why all this was occurring per all of the reasons listed above.
Let me know if you have any more specific questions on the differences between Old Testament and New Testament, or if you need any more clarification on the captions discussed above.