Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Does God's Word Contradict Itself?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Does God's Word contradict itself? Jesus devotes an entire chapter (Luke 15) to say that He is seeking lost sinners, not vice versa. But there are passages in the Old Testament that seem to contradict Him, implying He hides, awaiting the sinner's choice to seek and find Him.

Jesus actually sought out people to heal and resurrect. For example, there was the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:13ff.); the paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda (5:2-9; Jesus asked him if He could heal him!). Note His fervent appeals seeking the hearts of the leaders of the Jews (5:17ff.); and there's the bereaved widow of Nain whose funeral for her son He interrupts and raises him (Luke 7:11ff.). None of these came to Him seeking Him; He went to them seeking them. Jesus said His Father even is seeking our fellowship as though He is lonely without us. (He is! It hurts Him when we leave Him; John 4:23.)

But the Old Testament has commandments to seek and find Him, as though He hides from us. For example: "Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice; seek righteousness, seek humility: it may be you will be hidden in the day of the Lord's anger" (Zeph. 2:3). And, "Thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: 'Seek the Lord and live, lest He break out like fire ..." to burn you up or send a tsunami to wash you away (see the threats in Amos 5:4, 6).

And there is Jeremiah 29: "You will seek Me, and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (vs. 13). If we read the context we will see that the Lord is not contradicting what Jesus said: the people have come home after 70 years of captivity-exile; at last they are tired of idolatry and Baal worship and are now eager to come to the Lord. It is not a command; it's simple future tense. It's not a threat. In close context, the prophet tells them that the joy of New Covenant living will come instead of Old Covenant fear (31:31-34).

Amos has to speak to Old Covenant-minded people with the only appeal he knows at the time--fear. The Northern Kingdom of Israel has deeply apostatized and are soon to be exiled permanently, lost to history (722 B.C.).

But now at last here comes Jesus of Nazareth "to give light to those who sit in darkness" (Luke 1:79). He is the New Covenant. He seeks the lost sheep "until He find it." And then comes Paul: the entire Old Testament is a "schoolmaster" (disciplinarian) that leads us back to where Abraham was, to be "justified by faith" (Gal. 3:22-25).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 8, 2007.

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