Sometimes people get the impression that in the Old Testament God is full of wrath, whereas in the New Testament He is full of love, compassion, and mercy.
It’s understandable why that impression could be formed. After all, the Old Testament contains major moments of judgment like the Flood, the Plagues, and the Exile, and the New Testament contains the epicenter of grace as Jesus lays down His life for our forgiveness.
But what we tend to forget is that while the cross does mean mercy and grace and forgiveness for us, for Jesus it meant judgment, wrath, and condemnation.
The reason the New Testament feels less full of judgment is because Jesus took the judgment we deserved. The reason it feels like there’s less wrath is that Jesus bore the wrath instead of us. The reason there’s no condemnation is because Jesus was condemned in our place.
The New Testament has its fair share of judgment, wrath, and condemnation, it’s just that Jesus has paid it all!
And not only that, but the Old Testament has far more mercy and grace and compassion than we often realize. Jonah 3 is simply dripping with the love, forgiveness, and kindness of our God. And the God of compassion who sent Jonah to a city filled with undeserving people, that they might be saved by His unrelenting grace, is the same God of compassion who, seven centuries later, sent Jesus to a world filled with undeserving people, that we too might be saved by His unrelenting grace.
See, in both Old and New Testaments we find the same heartbeat and enduring character of a God who is forever and always unrelenting in His grace for undeserving people.
This passage from Jonah 3:1-10 helps us see afresh three things about God:
- Empowering Love: God gives second chances. We are new too far gone for grace.
- Sovereign Rule: God is sovereign over all. And, God moves heaven and earth to reach us.
- Proactive Mercy: God is eager to forgive. Whatever you’ve done, whoever you’ve become, all is forgiven, please come home.
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