Is the God of the Old Testament the same God as the God of the New Testament? If He is, then why has He revealed Himself so differently between the Old and the New? In the OT everything was very physical. It was spiritual in nature but expressed very much in the physical. In the NT, the judgements etc. can be physical but dealings with God is manifested a lot more internally (hidden). This was actually prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah 31vs31-34. The law given to Moses in two tablets of stone as opposed to “My law within them and on their heart I will write it.” So, the question, why the difference? There are several aspects to this question which we need to look at.
First: How God reveals Himself at the beginning is very different from how He does it when the Full Counsel of His will has been set forth at the end. We are the beneficiaries of a few thousand years of God’s dealings and revelations of Himself to the Jewish people (Heb 1:1-2, 1Pet 1:10-12). For example, God at Mt. Horeb chose to reveal Himself with terrifying fanfare at the top of the mountain. It brought fear to the people. The reason for this? The Israelites do not know what or who their God is. As an introduction the Lord God needed to show the difference between who He is and the gods they were familiar wth. What is important to note is that Our God is this SAME TERRIFYING God now as at Mt. Horeb.
Second: We need to remember that in the OT, God was dealing with the Israelites as a Nation in the land of Israel. In the NT, God is not dealing with Christians as a nation. The nation of Israel had rejected God and God had ‘rejected’ Israel for a set period of time. For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery (Rom 11:25), so that you will not be wise in your own estimation. We in the NT are not a nation. We do not have a land called Israel. We are therefore not a political entity. The whole dynamic has changed. In the OT, God used Israel to judge other nations – militarily. God also used other nations to judge Israel when they were disobedient. So, the physical judgements were spiritual judgements. They were not separate entities.
Third: If such is the case, can we then in the NT era be more relaxed in our approach to God seeing that He is not so physical in His judgements? He is more loving, gracious, merciful and forgiving. Not so. That approach would be a grave error. Here is the reason why. The WARNING is in Hebrews (Heb 3:12; 4:7; 10:26-31). The language of Hebrews is very much in OT language. We cannot take God for granted just because He has adopted a seemingly DIFFERENT METHOD of operation. It is called DELAYED JUDGEMENT, like credit cards. Like credit cards, payment is required – but later!! Philippians 2:12,13 says “we need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” Look carefully at the language of Hebrews 10:26-31. For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of A fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much SEVERER punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. The judgement of the NT is MORE SEVERE than the OT, NOT LESS.
Brother Steve Yap