Do the atrocities of the Old Testament matter in the light of the New?

Whilst it doesn’t stop them rhapsodising about the beauty of their favourite psalms, praising the Ten Commandments, getting their children to colour in pictures of “the animals going in two by two”… many modern Christians seem (understandably) embarrassed by much of the OT, to the extent that sometimes when evangelising they give out copies of the NT alone.

When skeptics point to some bloodthirsty passage or other from the OT Christians are apt to say something along the lines of “Jesus changed all that, Jesus had a message of love”.

Such attempts to brush the OT under the carpet ignore the fact that Christians still claim that Jesus is the God of the OT only made flesh and in a better mood (albeit one in which he threatens people with eternal torture).

Jesus & other NT figures repeatedly refer to the OT:

Matthew 22:31-32 But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

The NT has Jesus reading from the OT to try and justify his claims about who and what he is:

Luke 4:16-21 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Jesus apparently believed in Adam and Eve and because of this disapproves of divorce:

Matthew 19:1-6 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan; And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there. The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Jesus believed the OT story of Jonah and the whale :

Matthew 12:39-40 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

At times Jesus seems really rather certain that the OT should not be tossed aside:

Matthew 5:17-20  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.

John 10:35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

Of course on other occasions he and other NT figures completely contradict this.

Jesus and other NT figures even cite OT atrocities and threaten people with worse:

Luke 17:26-29 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.

Hebrews 10:28-31 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Even if the NT didn’t state that Jesus was quite at ease with the slaughter of every man woman and child on the earth save 8 individuals, the fact is that Christians claim that Jesus is the god of the OT who carried out and ordered so much cruelty.

The central doctrine of Christianity – Jesus’ sacrifice of himself to himself so that he could forgive and redeem us for Adam’s sin is based upon the OT , as is Jesus’ claimed status as messiah prophesied in the OT.

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