People are confused by the old testament - people think the old testament God seems harsh, distant and impersonal. We don't like thinking of God as someone who would just strike us dead on the spot because we did something wrong. And because it's difficult, we often gloss over it, ignore it, or never try to actually understand it.
We like the nice side of God, the all forgiving, all loving, kind side. Which is of course all true, but without considering everything about the nature of God, the 'love' and 'forgiveness' we are thinking about is really just fluff and nothing. It loses any depth or meaning. We start to treat God like he's a nice little friend we can put in our pockets to pull out for help when we're in trouble.
The old testament tells us of a God who is absolutely, incomparably holy and righteous. A God who had to be hidden and who a very select few could even approach, only after very strict requirements were followed. A God who requires perfection beyond anything any human being can hope to even approach. Whose standards meant death to those who disobeyed him.
It's no wonder we don't like to think about this God so much - most of us already struggle with feelings of low self worth or inadequacy in our lives. Why am I reminding you how far short we fall of God's standards?
Because without grasping the righteous, holy and all powerful nature of God, how can we really understand the depth of his grace and love? If we don't realise how deep a chasm of sin separates us from God, how can we understand how utterly amazing the gift of Jesus was to bridge that chasm? If we don't get how sinful and far short we really fall on our own, how can we appreciate the gift of mercy? Without knowing the awesomeness, perfection and power of the presence of God, how can we even begin to comprehend the depth of God's love that he has provided a way for all of us, any one of us, to come personally into that presence?
If we don't see those things, and try to understand the God presented to us in the old testament, then we are missing half the picture - the half that provides us with the depth and gravity of what God has done for us. If you don't know why you needed redemption, how can you appreciate that you've been given it? Far from making you feel more unworthy and useless, it will convince you to your very core that God loves you, you personally, so much that he would save you. It will prove to you how much you are worth to Him.
Since God is the same yesterday, today and forever, the God of the old testament is the exact same God of today. Are we missing half the picture of who God is, in all his glory, majesty and righteousness, in all his amazing love and mercy, because we are afraid to confront those things that confuse, unsettle or challenge us?
Read Hebrews 10, which started me thinking about this post.