She slumped back into her chair and folded her arms. “I guess I’m just a New Testament girl,” she said, frustrated.
I didn’t have an answer, so I took a pull of my styrofoam-flavored coffee and avoided eye contact. We were on week two of an eight-week study through Genesis and Exodus. Some churches call it Sunday school; we called it adult education (because we’re hip like that). The New Testament girl and her husband were new additions to the class. They may have been new additions to the church and Christianity, for all I knew. We were in Genesis 16, and she was asking good questions, honest questions, insightful questions that made me somewhat ashamed I hadn’t asked myself.
How could God bless Abraham? Look at how sinful he is!
What did Ishmael ever do wrong? He’s cursed before he was born! How is that fair?
Having grown up with an ambient knowledge of the New Testament God of love, I struggle with the some of the starker portraits of Yahweh painted across the Old Testament. Of course we know that Old Testament Yahweh and New Testament Jesus are one and the same in spirit, yet distinctly different persons. Jesus was present for all the the wanderings of Israel, and Yahweh is still very active throughout the ministry of Paul. God’s nature is unchanging. He did not get a personality transplant in the last chapter of Malachi, though sometimes it seems that way.
Reconciling the two sides of God is difficult work, made somewhat easier by Connect the Testaments, the daily devotional that we’ve built into the Faithlife app. Written by our own John Barry and Rebecca Kruyswijk, Connect the Testaments comments on a different passage of Scripture each day, alternating between the Old and New Testaments.
If you’ve grown up fearing the God of Abraham, this devotional can help you come to know his love.
If you have trouble making sense of the Old Testament narrative, this tool can help you see its harmony.
Had I known about Connect the Testaments that day in my adult-ed class, I would have shared with New Testament girl the passage from January 9.
When God’s promises are lavished on Abram in Genesis, we can’t help but feel a bit surprised. It seems undeserved . . . The greater context of the Genesis narrative shows that God’s blessing is certainly not just about Abram . . . He presents Abram with a promise and a gift—a plan of salvation for humanity. God re-establishes relationship on His terms.
Where can I find it?
On the home screen of your Faithlife Bible Study app, click the gray “plus” sign in the Daily Readings pane, and find it in the list of Daily Devotionals.
I think you’re going to love it.