Tag Archive | old testament

Parables in the Old Testament

We know and love Jesus’ New Testament parables. Here is the parable of the mustard seed.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed
And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade”. (Mark 4:30-34)

The seed is the word of God.

The work of grace is small in its beginnings, but comes to be great and considerable at last (v. 30–32); “Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God, as now to be set up by the Messiah? How shall I make you to understand the designed method of it?” Christ speaks as one considering and consulting with himself, how to illustrate it with an apt similitude; With what comparison shall we compare it? Shall we fetch it from the motions of the sun, or the revolutions of the moon? No, the comparison is borrowed from this earth, it is like a grain of mustard-seed; he had compared it before to seed sown, here to that seed, intending thereby to show, Source: Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible

The illustration is, that the smallest seed takes root and grows to something that is strong and fruitful- even mighty. Who doesn’t look on a strong, tall, might tree and feel awe and marvel at its strength, symmetry, and beauty? The seed does not do this of itself, the Grower grows it.

I stopped on my way to work at dawn to admire this tree in the pasture, cows around it, ground mist rising, pond glittering, sky just pinkening:

dawn in ne ga

The parable/allegory of trees is seen in Old Testament texts as well. Yes, the OT has parables! The use of the words parable and allegory are specifically stated in Ezekiel 17:1-2 (NIV). Then the LORD continues after verse 1 in relating to Ezekiel the parable Ezekiel is to relate to the Israelites. From Ezekiel 17:3-10 the parable of the tree continues, with the trees representing kings. In the latter part of the chapter, the LORD explained the parable to Ezekiel (and us!)

There are still other symbolic comparisons to trees in the Old Testament. In Ezekiel 31 in its entirety reveals Assyria’s fate. Here, the tree is likened to nations. In Ezekiel 17 the tree was likened to kings.

Daniel 4 also has a parable of a tree. This time the LORD did not say it as a parable but gave it in a dream to King Nebuchadnezzar. The king did not understand it. He called for Daniel to interpret the dream, which Daniel graciously did, thanks to wisdom from God. In this case, the tree was Nebuchadnezzar, whose kingdom had grown strong and tall, will be cut down, but the stump is banded, and will grow strong once again.

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. (Psalm 92:12 NKJV).

I have seen the wicked in great power, And spreading himself like a native green tree. (Psalm 37:35 NKJV).

When we say we would like to “dig deeper”into God’s word, this is one way. We can ponder the symbols and parables and allegories in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Did you know there were parables in the OT? The Bible is rich in learning for us, lyrical as a written form, full of depth and power.

Most important of all, it is where we find truth and life.

Old Testament Briefs: The Ark was a box

I love the Old Testament and I study it a lot. I’m blessed with a great teaching pastor who loves it too. He frequently exposits chapters from the OT. When he’s in the NT, he always makes connections to the Old. As a matter of fact, our church held a community-wide seminar last Saturday called “Christ in Context”, where our teaching pastor and one of our elders led us in three sessions that connected Christ from the OT to the New: Continue reading

A Tale of Two Gods?

In this corner, with the wizened face and long white beard, God, also known as Ancient of Days and sometimes as simply I AM. Aged, ancient, and some say, outdated. Audience, give it up for God in the white robe, the Old Testament God!

In this corner, with the scarred face and hands, smallish stature and nothing beautiful or majestic to attract us to Him, don’t underestimate this Humble Servant, the Man of Sorrows, whose name is Jesus! Give it up for the man in the crimson-stained robe, the New Testament God!

Through this playful anecdote I hoped to bring to your mind a vivid picture of what I see as a problem today in the mainline churches. They try to say that there are two Gods, an “Old Testament God” and a “New Testament God.” This reveals a basic misunderstanding of who God is in both testaments. He is the same God. The Old Testament God as He has revealed Himself is a holy God concerned with sin, redemption, and righteous living for the sake of His holy name. In many, many OT chapters, He reveals His profound love for His creation, man, in promising a better future and adhering to those promises again and again.

In the New Testament, God as He has revealed Himself through Jesus is a holy God concerned with sin, redemption, and righteous living for the sake of His holy name. While throughout many, many NT chapters, His Spirit reveals Jesus’s profound love for man, His creation, in promising a better future and adhering to those promises again and again by dying on the cross and resurrecting, He also promises wrath. Just read Revelation. It could be just as factually stated that the ‘OT God’ is a God of love and the ‘NT Jesus’ is a God of wrath. Think about it.

In the entire bible there is wrath and there is love. There are plagues and there is redemption. There are covenants kept by God and broken by man. There are prophesies made, fulfilled, and to come and there is a hope and a future. There is no Old Testament God and there is no New Testament God. There is just I AM.

In the New Testament we see that the wrath of God is still “being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18). The God who came to earth and cleansed the Temple with a bullwhip (Mark 11:15-19) is the same God who in the Old Testament “abounds in love and exceeding patience” (Exodus 34:6).

Though the Jesus of the New Testament is depicted all too unfortunately as a meek and mild, politically correct good teacher holding love-ins on the hill while making daisy chains, He was not. He directly confronted evil, He pointed fingers, He spoke hard sayings, and when the people left, and they did, (John 6:66) He let them go.

God is the same God as He lovingly and compassionately reveals Himself throughout the 66 books of the bible. He is love, He is wrath, but utmost, He is HOLY. His concern for His people is of our sin, and repentance. There is no comparative religion, there is only the superlative religion (L. Ravenhill). There is no OT God and no NT God, there is only God. He is unchanging.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change”. (James 1:15.)

And deep down, aren’t we relieved that there is no difference in our God from one covenant to the next?

He reveals Himself to us in various ways. We know of Him through the the creation (Rom 1:18), directly person to person (Gen 3:8, Gen 5:22, Ex 33:11; Adam, Eve, Enoch, Moses), through the prophets, (Heb 1:1), through Jesus (Col 2:9), through his Spirit (2 Tim 3:16), through the Word (John 1:1-5). But though He reveals Himself in various ways, the qualities inherent in that revelation of Himself do not change from covenant to covenant, testament to testament. He remains the same.

If you find yourself saying “Old Testament God” stop for a moment and ponder the gravity of those words. He does not change. He reveals Himself to us as He does and as He will. Is it fair to say ‘OT God’ and ‘NT God’? Is it right? Does it send a good message to hearers? It doesn’t. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). “I the Lord do not change.” (Malachi 3:6)