I know for some, this seems like a strange question. Jesus is God and Jesus actually said that if we had seen Him, we had seen the Father. This is true, but few would argue that the God of the Old Testament seemed quite different from the Jesus of the New Testament. We must be clear in our doctrine. Jesus is God and God is Jesus, but the doctrine of the Trinity also makes clear they are also unique to one another. In this way, God the Father, who is Jesus, is nevertheless unique to Jesus and vice versa.
In the current series that I am teaching, Undignified, I discuss the importance of understanding the uniqueness between the Father and the Son that we might have the right attitude in worship.
The foundation text of this series is found in 2 Samuel, Chapter 6 where we see the Ark of the Covenant which was the chosen place of manifestation for the Spirit of God to be with Israel is being carried on a cart. This had been forbidden by God, but David, in his zeal to recapture the Ark to its right place, overlooked or ignored God’s prescribed way of moving the Ark. Consequently, the oxen pulling the cart stumbled putting the Ark of the Covenant at risk of falling over. A man by the name of Uzzah reached out to keep the Ark from falling. His intent was to honor the Ark and the Presence of God. The need for him to steady the Ark came out of a deformed method of moving the Ark and consequently, God struck Uzzah dead. We never see Jesus striking anyone dead for what seems to be a very small infraction. After all, it was not Uzzah’s decision to put the Ark in a cart and he was only trying to help. Nevertheless, we see what we could characterize as an extreme reaction from the God of the Old Testament that appears to contradict the character of Jesus in the New Testament.
The Old Testament is full of times when God acts in this way. After the battle of Jericho, it was discovered that one man out of the entire army had taken some loot from Jericho after God commanded everything be destroyed. God’s command was for this man to be stoned along with his wife, children, and animals. Would the Jesus of the New Testament ever do something like this? Jesus brings to our mind the love, mercy, and compassion of God, not Judgment. In fact, Jesus said He did not come to judge or condemn, but to give abundant life.
Each person of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, reveals different traits that all belong to the one true God. Jesus reveals to us the compassion, love, kindness, and mercy of God. And the God of the Old Testament is all of these things. For example, when Uzzah touched the Ark, God could have condemned King David since it was his decision. Because David represented the whole nation as King, God would have been justified to destroy the entire nation, but instead, He was merciful. The God of the Old Testament is Jesus and has within all the characteristics we see in Jesus, but in the Old Testament, God, in the Old Testament, reveals a unique characteristic of God that can be found in Jesus, but it is not as prevalent. God reveals His unapproachable holiness.
Jesus is holy, but compassion and kindness are His forte. God, in the Old Testament, is compassionate and kind, but His forte is unapproachable holiness. He hates sin. In fact, Scripture says He cannot look upon sin. On the other hand, Jesus actually walked with sinful people, purposely engaged with sinful people, and became our sin on the cross.
The amalgamation of both persons of God reveals more of God than either would without the other. God is holy. He hates sin and He calls us to perfection, to perfect holiness. This is not hyperbole. God expects us to do exactly what He has commanded us and there are consequences, sometimes severe when we disobey. Jesus emphasizes forgiveness when we disobey.
If we only knew God through Jesus, it would be easy to compromise, to take Him for granted, to obey when it served our purpose, and ignore His commands when we could see no benefit. For example, God commands us to have no other gods. When Israel took other gods, the Lord let them be defeated, destroyed, annihilated. But when we put our trust in our own money, and our ability to make money by taking on extra work that keeps us from the command of gathering together with the saints, we really don’t expect any kind of punishment. Knowing God through Jesus alone deforms our worship where we give God less honor than He deserves.
The New Testament church is enamored with the Jesus of the New Testament but we have forgotten the God of the Old Testament. We must be reminded that God never changes. The God of the Old Testament who had a high standard for our worship did not change in Jesus. Jesus is the Good News that we are forgiven, but we can’t abuse God with deformed worship because of the grace shown in Christ’s forgiveness revealed on the cross. Our worship needs to be reformed so that along with loving Christ for His love and compassion, we do not take God for granted as if disobedience in what we believe to be small areas is not that big of a deal. Deformed worship causes distance between us and God and we lose some of all that He is.