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God’s Grace in the Old Testament

Though we may deny the commonly held opposition between the wrathful, judging God of the Old Testament and the gracious, loving God of the New Testament, we may still be guilty of propagating it by neglecting the Old Testament’s own witness to God’s character, and especially to his grace. Too often, preaching from the Old Testament (if we hear it at all) either presents the relationships its characters have with God as a foil for the one now offered in Christ, or focuses merely on the moral example of those heroes of the faith (“Dare to be a Daniel”). Recently I heard a student say that growing up, he knew that Noah had built an ark and Jonah had been swallowed by a fish, but he did not know who God was. The central figure of the entire Bible is God, and we must be attentive to the many ways he has revealed himself.

To attend to God’s character in the Old Testament, we should start with his self-description, a description which emphasizes his grace:

The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love [hesed] and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love [hesed] for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.
(Exod. 34:6–7) . . .

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Will Kynes

Will Kynes, is the Associate Professor at Howard College of Arts and Sciences’ Biblical and Religious Studies program, Samford University. He received his Masters in literature at the University of St. Andrews, his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, and taught at the University of Oxford. He has an M.Div. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has authored books including My Psalm Has Turned into Weeping: Job’s Dialogue with the Psalms and An Obituary for “Wisdom Literature”: The Birth, Death, and Intertextual Reintegration of a Biblical Corpus. He has also edited several collections of essays, including The Oxford Handbook of Wisdom and Wisdom Literature, and published a number of scholarly articles and essays.

 

COPYRIGHT: This publication is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.

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