Have you ever noticed that God in the Old Testament seemed to be angry a lot? He didn’t just seem angry, He appeared to be trigger-happy. Now, He seems more graceful. Did something happen? Let’s examine the evidence:
1. God had a conversion experience. God became a man. He went from being the Creator of all mankind into becoming one born of a woman. God converted into a man. If you think the conversion of a sinner becoming a saint is wondrous, consider the conversion of God becoming a man. But, before you think about this too much, there is another process which goes far beyond these comparisons.
2. Beyond conversion, God underwent a phenomenal, altering transformation. God became Sin. Although the scripture tells us that there is nothing new under the Sun , you may want to rethink your understanding of this scripture because the transformation of Christ becoming Sin was a NEW experience that had never occurred before the Cross. We often think about how we were transformed by the power of the Cross, but have we stopped to think about the possibility that the traumatic experience of the Cross may have left an indelible imprint upon God? This was a Father-sized judgment that ended up on the back of the Son. Now the scriptures tell us that God never changes. It also says that He is always the same. What is your understanding of these scriptures? You may have to re-think your understanding of these passages also. Why? Well let me ask you this: Do you think Jesus was born with nail-marks in His hands from all eternity, or do you think that the experience of the Cross forever CHANGED the appearance of His hands and side? The evidence that Jesus presented after the Cross tells us emphatically that His body was forever changed by the experience. So, not everything about God was the same AFTER the Cross. Now, was the experience of the cross purely physical, or was it more of an inward trauma? Was the experience of the cross simply an outward physical experience that only changed His hands and side? Or, are those permanent, outward scars an indication of a certain level of permanent inward transformation that can help us to better understand the nature of God in the New Testament vs. the seemingly trigger-happy nature of God in the Old Testament? Although the basic nature of God never changes, do the scriptures teach us that God was in some sense ever so slightly made aware of things that were previously unknown to Him and that actual changes took place? Although God never changes, can He be “magnified”? Could Christ become sin for us, experience the feelings of separation from the Father and remain forever unshaped by this? As we will see later, I believe the scriptures have clear answers. Believe it or not, the root of this answer comes in what you believe about the Omniscience of God. So, what does “all-knowing” mean to you?
3. The scriptures make a Confession about God that some of us have not heard or understood. Here is the Confession: God didn’t know everything.
A. The scriptures confess that God did not know sin. Although God had a perfect academic understanding of sin, he did not have an experiential knowledge of sin. For example: The character of Dr. Sheldon Cooper on the TV show “Big Bang Theory” (this is an observation, not an endorsement) has a thorough academic knowledge of “coitus” and can explain it on levels that goes beyond most minds. But until Sheldon experiences “coitus”, he really doesn’t “know” it. That is the difference between academic and experiential knowledge. Although Christ never committed sin, He later experienced and then knew the ravages of becoming literal, utter sin in order that we could become literal, utter righteousness. Previous to this, God did not know sin.
B. Before the Cross, Jesus never “knew” the feeling of separation from the Father. Jesus had a perfect and thorough academic understanding of what separation from the Father would be like. His foreknowledge of this was so perfect that He sweated profusely in anticipation of this event. His foreknowledge was so perfect that you would think that He would have such great understanding that He would never have any compulsion to ask questions. Nevertheless, when He was in the midst of the experience, He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me???” If He understood it all, why was He crying out like this? Because until you have an experiential knowledge of something, you really don’t “know” it, do you? Before the Cross, no one in the Godhead truly knew what it was like for a man to be cut off from God. God in the Old Testament did not know.
C. Before living as a man and experiencing the Cross, God did not know true personal feelings of deep shame. There is no scripture showing that God ever experienced these feelings placed upon His very person until the Cross. He bore our shame. During Old Testament times, God did not truly know our shame and sorrows until He lived as “one of us” and bore the despised Cross.
D. Until Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac, God did not “know” or had never experienced what it was like to have a man put so much faith in Him. Until that moment happened, God only had academic foreknowledge of what Abraham would do. When the event actually happened, God had quite a revealing reaction! He said, “NOW, I know that you fear God!” Although He foreknew what Abraham would do, it was quite another thing to actually experience it.
In the Old Testament, God did not “know” sin, The Son did not “know” separation from the Father, God did not “know” feelings of deep shame, nor did He “know” our weaknesses, nor did He “know” what it was like to be tempted in every way. God did not really understand humanity until He became a human. Understand this: Before Jesus came, God didn’t really “know” humanity and could easily go to great lengths in one moment to convince Moses that he was the one to lead Israel out of Egypt, and then turn around the next moment actually seeking to kill Moses before he even got to Egypt because Moses forgot to circumcise his kids. This is just one example of how God appeared to be trigger-happy before the Cross.
JESUS CHANGED EVERYTHING including the way God deals with us now. You may find this hard to swallow, but there is a certain light in which we see that the unchangeable God…changed. How? Before the cross, we did NOT have a God-Man interceding between God and us. Jesus did not start out as our High Priest, the Bible is clear that he BECAME a high priest AFTER His Incarnation…not before. Read this carefully: It wasn’t until after He LEARNED OBEDIENCE THROUGH THE THINGS HE SUFFERED that the Father would allow Him to be our High Priest. Learned? Yes, there were things that until God suffered, He would never truly “know”. It was through the experiential knowledge of the Cross, it was through the learning experience of the life, death, burial, and resurrection that Jesus was transformed into the Great High Priest.
Now I see more clearly that one of the greatest messages to come out of the Gospel is that God through His experiences has undergone a transformation at the Cross where He is no longer revealed as just the trigger-happy, quick tempered God of the O.T., who was at times deeply sympathetic, but as a result of the Cross has made a change in the Godhead going from sympathetic to having an empathetic High Priest put in place who is not just academically knowledgeable, but NOW really KNOWS us from an experiential viewpoint and still loves us!!! On top of that, it was the same God of the Old Testament who decided to implement this change. The O.T God is a God of great love!
When you read the Old Testament and wonder “who is this mean ole grumpy God? Do I really know Him? How does this fit with the New Testament? Perhaps you’ll remember the Conversion, Transformation, and Confession of God and be able to put it all together. Jesus brings it all together in that He is both 100% Grace and 100% Truth at the same time that can’t be completely figured out. It makes Him both a tension and harmony.
I am so thankful for Jesus! Hope this helps when you are reading the O.T.