Question: How is it that many of the laws in the O.T. appear to be quite cruel?
E W Rogers, Oxford
Question: How is it that many of the laws in the O.T. appear to be quite cruel and they seem to indicate that the God of the Old Testament is not the Lord Jesus of the New? Did God actually give Moses the laws he set out?
Answer. The question which is summarised above is part of a very long letter. Many questions are raised in it. The questioner, as all of us, should guard against a rationalistic spirit. There is much we shall never be able to explain while on earth. Mere human reasonings and thoughts of unfairness on the part of God should be immediately banished and we should ever justify God. In O.T. days God was largely dealing with one nation and one land, and His judgments through His earthly people on other nations were, therefore, material and bodily. In the present age God is not imputing men’s iniquities to them but because of the cross is dealing with them in grace. The recorded wrongs of Rahab do not show God's indifference to sin but magnify His grace which superabounds over sin. Her faith counts. The questioner regards the O.T. penalties for infringement of the law as too severe. Surely it is for the Law-maker (God) to prescribe His own penalties and, if we have a proper sense of the glory due to His name, we shall not think any punishment excessive. Acts 5: vv. 1-12 must not be overlooked; there is stern severity there. Let all start with the following premises and all will be plain, namely: That the O.T. and N.T. recognise but one and the same God. That He is immutable. That His ways are consistent with the times in which they operate. That the cross has made it useless for God to continue the principle of probation which obtained in O.T. times but has made it righteously possible for God to hold back judgment and set grace on the throne. That God is right always and any contrary thought is wrong. Much more might be written but the Editors wish replies to be kept short.