The Immutability of God---Why is God behaving differently in the NT from OT?


Why is God behaving differently in the NT, compared to the OT? Why were priests and prophets as mediators? Why does God command faith and belief in Christ in the NT while there were a lot of killings in the OT?


I. The attributes of God


God’s attributes include: Independence, Unchangeableness, Eternity, Omnipresence, Unity, Spirituality, Invisibility, Omniscience, Wisdom, Truthfulness, Goodness, Love, Mercy, Grace, Patience, Holiness, Peace, Righteousness, Justice, Jealousy, Wrath, Will, Omnipotence, Perfection, Blessedness, Beauty, Glory.


A. Immutability (unchangeableness)


“God is unchanging in His being, perfections, purposes, and promises, yet God does act and feel emotions, and He acts and feels differently in response to different situations.”

(Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 1994)


"For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” (Mal 3:6)


Only God is pure being and not becoming, but man is subject to continually becoming. God never changes, yet we are changing all the time.


God is unchanging in His being, in His perfections, in His purposes, in His promises.

“For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.” (Eph 1:4)


“My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure… I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.” (Isa 46:10-11)


Therefore, God does not change in OT and in NT. He is both righteous and grace in OT as well as in NT. Someone said, “the OT God was cruel, the NT God is gracious.” This is not true.


God’s major judgments in OT:


1. God’s judgment on Satan (Gen 3:14-15), on Eve (Gen 3:16), on Adam (Gen 3:17-19)

2. Noah’s global flood on the entire mankind (Gen 6-8)

3. Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed (Gen 19)

4. The Ten Plagues of Egypt (Exod 7-12)

5. The Israel armies slaughtered and exterminated the Canaanite peoples

6. Tens of thousands of Israelite people were killed in the wilderness due to their sins

7. The northern kingdom of Israel was captured by Assyria and the southern kingdom

Judah was exiled to Babylon.


God’s grace in OT:


1. God’s salvation plan for the entire mankind (Gen 3:15)

2. God’s grace towards Noah, Abraham, and Lot’s family

3. God bears with the sin of Amorites for 400 years (Gen 15:16)

4. God prepared Joseph to treat his brother kindly, meanwhile rescued and preserved

the nation of Israel. By the way, Joseph was the type of Jesus Christ. (Gen 42-50)

5. God provided food and drink for Israelites for 40 years in the desert.

6. God blessed Ruth the Moabite according to her tremendous faith and granted her

honor to be on the family tree of Jesus Christ. (Ruth 4; Matt 1)

7. God graciously withheld His threat to overthrow the city of Nineveh.


“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jer 31:3, NKJV)


“'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?'” (Ezek 33:11)


In the New Testament, apparently, we see God’s love and grace a lot, for Jesus Christ died on the cross for all the sinners of the world, so that everyone may receive the forgiveness of sins from God through the blood of our Lord Jesus. However, if someone is stiff-necked, stubborn and does not repent, there will surely be final judgment waiting for him. This is clearly recorded in the last book of Revelation; billions of people will be killed in the battle of great tribulations.


B. Unity


“God is not divided into parts, yet we see different attributes of God emphasized at different times…. God’s whole being includes all of His attributes. Every attribute of God is true of all of God’s being, and every attribute of God also qualifies every other attribute.”


It is wrong to say that “God is a God of justice in the Old Testament and a God of love in the New Testament. God is and always has been infinitely just and infinitely loving as well, and everything He does in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament is completely consistent with both of those attributes.” 


"The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished." (Exod 34:6-7)


C. Love


“God’s love means that God eternally gives of Himself to others.” 


“God is love…. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:8;10)


“God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8)


“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)


D. Holiness


“God’s holiness means that He is separated from sin and devoted to seeking His own honor.”


In the tabernacle or temple, “The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.” (Exod 26:33)


“God Himself is the Most Holy One, He is called “The Holy One of Israel.” 


Holy, its root meaning is “to set apart.” 


“And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exod 19:6)


(“Separation from evil and sin, devotion to God is serving Him and in obeying His statues.)


E. Righteousness (Justice)


“God’s righteousness means that God always acts in accordance with what is right and is Himself the final standard of what is right.”


“Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen 18:25)


“All His ways are just, a faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.” (Deut 32:4)


F. Mercy


“God’s mercy means God’s goodness toward those in misery and distress.”


“God’s grace means God’s goodness toward those who deserve only punishment.”


“God’s patience means God’s goodness in withholding punishment toward those who sin over a period of time.”


“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.” (Ps 103:8-13)


II. The Servants of God


In the Old Testament, God used kings, priests and prophets as His servants. Usually a king was to rule the nation righteously on behalf of God; the priests usually deal with religious things, the matter between the Holy God and sinful man, and priests serve as mediator between God and man; the prophets mainly proclaim the Words of God to nations and peoples, he declares the message of blessings and curses as well as life and death from God to man, and exhort them to repent to God.


Why does God need priests and prophets?


Because God is absolutely holy and man is sinful, the sinful man cannot see the face of God and survive. So the priests will first sacrifice animals for himself and then make sacrifices for the people. Same with prophets, generally speaking they are those men who fear God and obey the commands of God.


Even the priests and prophets cannot see God face to face. Remember, Moses is called the servant of God who can speak with God face to face, he was sort of a man who played the role of king, priest and prophet. Yet even Moses cannot see God’s face.

“Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory." And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence… But," He said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live." Then the LORD said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen." (Exod 33:18-23)


“But only the high priest entered the inner room (the most holy place), and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.” (Heb 9:7)


III. The progressive Revelation of God


Progressive Revelation: “God revealed Himself to His people over many centuries, periodically giving new information that built on but did not contradict or deny what came before.”


(https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/progressive-revelation/)


Progressive Revelation means that God did not unfold His entire plan to humanity all at once in the Old Testament. It means that Old Testament is incomplete, this does not mean that OT is less true, but from less information to full information.


“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John 16:12-13)


“Now to Him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” (Rom 16:25-27, ESV)


“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe.” (Heb 1:1-2)


“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming--not the realities themselves.” (Heb 10:1)


IV. Jesus Christ in the OT


There were a lot of prophecies and types of Jesus Christ throughout the entire Old Testament, this is also to confirm the progressive revelation of God.


The basic timeline: Abraham---Mosaic Law---The kingdom---The Prophets---Jesus Christ!


A. Major prophecies concerning Christ the Messiah


1. He is called to be the woman’s Seed, the gospel in the garden of Eden. (Gen 3:15)--

-1406 B. C.

2. He is Abraham’s offspring (Gen 22:18)

3. His is from the tribe of Judah and the time of His coming (Gen 49:10)

4. He is the Prophet like Moses (Deut 18:18)

5. He is David’s descendant (2 Sam 7:12-16)

6. Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection (Physically) (Ps 22)---1000 B. C.

7. Christ’s abandonment and sufferings (Ps 69)

8. Christ as the high priest in the order of Melchizedek (Ps110)

9. Christ’s virgin birth, a Child is born and a Son is given. (Isa 7:14; 9:6)---740 B. C.

10. Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection (Spiritually) (Isa 52-53)

11. Christ will destroy the final enemy of Death (Isa 25:8:8; Job 19:25-26; Hosea 13:14)

12. Christ will fulfill the New Covenant (Jer 31:31-34; Ezek 36:25-26)

13. The Seventy Sevens, the amazing prophecy of Christ’s first coming. (Dan 9:25-27)--

-605 B. C.

14. The amazing Birth place of Christ (Micah 5:2)---700 B. C.

15. Christ’s Second coming (Zech 14:2-5)---520-470 B. C.

16. The prophecy concerning the fore-runner of Christ (John the Baptist) (Mal 3-4)--

-450-430 B. C.


Therefore, the time span for the prophecies of Christ was as long as 1000 years throughout the entire Old Testament. The above-mentioned was only a short list, someone had calculated that there are over 300 prophecies for Christ in the OT.


B. Major Types of Christ in the OT (The Events, The Characters, The Rituals)


1. The Events:


1) Noah’s Ark (Gen 6-8)

2) Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac (Gen 22)

3) Jacob’s ladder in a dream (Gen 28)

4) The Passover Lamb (Exod 12)

5) Moses lifted up the brown snake in wilderness (Num 21)

6) Rahab’s Scarlet Cord (Josh 2)

7) Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights (Jonah 1)


2. The Characters:


1) Malchizedek (Gen 14)

2) Isaac (Gen 22)

3) Joseph (Gen 42-50)

4) Moses (Deut 18)

5) Joshua (Josh 5)

6) Boaz (Ruth 3, 4)

7) David and Solomon (2 Sam 7)


3. The Rituals:


1) Sacrificial System (Leviticus)

2) Passover (Exod 12)

3) Scapegoat (Lev 16)

4) The Festivals (Lev 23)


The Passover, the unleavened bread, the First-fruits, the Pentecost, the festival of Trumpets, the day of Atonement, the festival of Tabernacles.


5) The Structure of Tabernacle (Exod 26-27)


The ark of the covenant, the altar of incense, the table of Bread, the Lampstand, the bronze Basin, the altar of the burnt offering.


6) The city of Refuge (Num 35)

7) The Mana and the Rock (Exod 16; Num 20)


All these above-mentioned types of events, festivals, rituals, figures, pointed to Jesus Christ in the New Testament, and all these things happened in the OT histories over a long period of time.


V. What does it mean to us today?


“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Gal 4:4, NKJV)


“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Rom 3:21-24)


“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 6:23)


“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)


“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)


So, put your trust in Jesus Christ, for He had fulfilled the Law and the Prophets, He had completed the salvation on the cross. He is the only way to our heavenly Father, “for there is no other Name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)


Praise the Lord!



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