Grace is amazing, but is there grace in the Old Testament?


Grace is amazing, but is there grace in the Old Testament?

The message of the Gospel of grace is incredible, that God frees saves sinners by the cross of Christ. But sometimes we get questions from students that go something like this “So the God of the Old Testament was all about judgment, death & wrath and the New Testament is about love, grace & Jesus, right?” And we respond absolutely not! The God/Jesus of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament! The Old Testament is preparing and pointing to Jesus becoming incarnate (born as a human being) being our messiah and giving context to all of the New Testament. God does not change. However, I want to give you an example of this grace in the Old Testament that is as tantalizing and beautiful as the Ephesians 2:1-10.

Recently, I have been reading through the book of Jeremiah and if you are unfamiliar with its contents it is a book of doom and gloom. Jeremiah is the last prophet throwing ‘hail Mary’ ministry to get Israel to turn back to God before God completely judges their sin and sends Israel into exile in Babylon. Exile includes pillaging and burning of Jerusalem, death of many and a kidnapping of most of population dragging them to modern-day Iraq. The exile is a terrifying judgment for Israel’s grotesque sin. The monarchy of Israel at this time had a wicked and hardheaded king named Zedekiah. Only two people listen to Jeremiah during his ministry and the rest of Israel rejects him including the king and the judgment falls. Zedekiah, the king, gets a special punishment from the conquering king of Babylon who executes all of Zedekiah’s sons in front of him and then puts out Zedekiah’s eyes so the last image he ever saw was the death of his own children. Zedekiah is then drug to Babylon, kidnapped with the rest of Israel and Zedekiah is kept in prison the rest of life to rot. The book of Jeremiah is a longest book of the Bible outside of the Psalms and the tone of book is dramatically sad and full despair. The exile is to last about 70 years and it starts during the book of Jeremiah. Eventually, Zedekiah dies in prison and Israel has a new king, Jechoiachin, who is born imprisoned and lives like Zedekiah did.

In the last chapter of Jeremiah, in fact the last paragraph is where something incredible happens. Let’s see:

“31 And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, graciously freed3 Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of prison. 32 And he spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat above the seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon. 33 So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table, 34 and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, until the day of his death, as long as he lived.”

An evil king lets a rival, enemy, covered in the filth of an ancient prison, ethnically different king out of prison for no good reason. Furthermore, the evil king puts a new robe on Jehoiachin, away with the prison filth and gives him a seat at the royal table of the king, like a son, not an enemy prison slave.

Jehoiachin didn’t earn favor nor deserve it, he was an enemy, threat and worthless. Yet an evil king frees and saves him from prison giving him a seat at his table. Now, if an evil foreign king gives such grace, how much more does the good king Jesus? Yes, we are Jehoiachin and Jesus is the truly new, better and not evil king who brings us out of prison and sets us as sons at his table. Glorious. This paragraph is a fulfillment of a promise of future grace to Israel. Jeremiah is a long book of judgment, but God also made some promises to restore Israel and bring them home at the end of the exile. This grace to Jehoiachin is a preview and guarantee that God is still working and luckily for our sake he works by grace. If you are in Christ, you are out of prison, new robe, a seat at the table and fully forgiven.  The grace of the New Testament is real throughout the Bible.

Some verses on these thoughts:

Mark 10:45, 1st Timothy 2:6, Luke 4:18, John 8:34-35,

Galatians 5:1, Romans 8, Ephesians 1-2.

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