The Old Testament Warnings vs. The New Testament Gospel
THE OLD TESTAMENT WARNINGS vs. THE NEW TESTAMENT GOSPEL
Amos, Noah, and other First-Testament prophets warned of doom to come if the people didn’t turn back towards God. Their message produced dire prose, colorful metaphors, and qualified as fair warning, but it was completely ineffective and futile. Except for Jonah and maybe one or two other rare cases, the message wasn’t compelling. It was easily dismissed and just annoyed the audience. (In Jonah’s case, the resulting Nineveh repentance was brief.) The prophet was noble, but a hopeless failure.
Sorry, but I have to notice that God failed to reach his audience. It wasn’t fatherly just to be able to say, “I told you so,” when the tragic consequences showed up. Frankly, God was unable to connect with his people.
Then, turn to the New Testament. Jesus, God with skin on, bypasses mortal prophets and does the job himself. His message is radically different – get on board, don’t miss out, the kingdom of God is about to get under way; God loves and accepts you, especially the hoi polio, unwashed masses… the common man. It’s the misrepresenting, self-righteous religious establishment that God is unhappy with. Except for a couple warnings about the fall of Jerusalem and day-of-the-Lord judgment scenes, the message is hope, inclusion, and blessings, not doom and destruction.
If the message of the First Testament was OBEY OR BE PUNISHED, the message of the gospel is BELIEVE AND BE BLESSED. Way different!
That message of hope continues today. No Old Testament prophet’s message had nearly the same relevance and staying power. Christianity has spread farther than Judaism ever did.
What role does the Holy Spirit – living among and in us – play in this more-effective marketing? Is God working inside us to make us receptive? It certainly seems more effective than bludgeoning from the outside as the prophets tried.
The message of grace – gospel, good news – is more attractive than threats. What changed to make the gospel possible?
The person of Jesus accomplished at least two purposes:
show humanity what God is like, andshow God what being human is like.
That God found a way to relate and identify with his audience, his people, helped make the message more effective. The gospel was designed to be more compelling, more appealing to us.
I suspect that the Father employs many more prophets today than in the days before Jesus. Today, it’s called “inspiration”, and I’m concluding that it’s much more common than before Jesus sent the Comforter.
Given that, how can we best affect and influence our world to turn to God? Repeating the mistakes of the ancient prophets may make us feel like noble underdogs, but it won’t help matters. So, how can we attract the world towards God instead of threatening them with consequences if they don’t?
What ideas does the Holy Spirit bring to your mind?