Many characterize the Old Testament as a book of God’s wrath and the New Testament as a book of God’s grace. But as I read the whole of scripture, I find grace and wrath throughout. There is grace for the humble and wrath for the proud in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Two translations of a verse from Proverbs illustrate this truth.
Though He scoffs at the scoffers,
Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.
Proverbs 3:34 (NASB).
He mocks proud mockers
but gives grace to the humble.
Proverbs 3:34 (NIV)
This Old Testament verse is quoted twice in the New Testament, in James 4:6 and in 1 Peter 5:5. In quoting this Proverb, James and Peter are teaching the new church that humility is at the core of the Gospel of grace that they preach. We trust in the atoning sacrifice of Christ because we know we are unworthy to be able to earn God’s grace on our own. The proud, who believe they do not need Christ, remain under the wrath of God.
There have always been scoffers and proud mockers who deny the majesty of God. Until Jesus returns there will continue to be. These scoffers say that our faith is futile and useless because God does not exist, or if He does then He surely does not care about us mere mortals.
But there have also always been the humble, those who desire to know God and trust in His grace and strength. And as much as the mockers would like to think humble believers in Christ will someday cease to exist, that all religion will one day be irrelevant, we will survive because God has granted us grace and mercy.
I sometimes think about all the people who lived before Jesus walked the earth and wonder what their eternal fate was. They could not have trusted in the saving grace of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, because it had not yet happened. And yet I cannot help but believe that His blood covers the humble and afflicted of the Old Testament. It’s the ultimate time paradox – one that, for me, is answered by the timelessness of our dear Savior.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (NIV). He lives outside the bounds of linear time as we experience it. His grace is sufficient for the humble who trust in Him.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8 (NIV).