To get the most out of what we read in the Bible, there are several things that we need to take into consideration (especially in the Old Testament) to rightly divide what we read. Understanding how to filter God’s Word through context is necessary if you want to get to see His plan of redemption at work:-
Old Testament Thinking
- In the Old Testament times the people believed that everything good and everything bad came from God – that He was in control of both good and evil (the blessings and the curses). [see Appendix Idiom of permission].
- The people knew that children were a blessing from God so if they didn’t have children they considered it a curse. Therefore when they were unable to have children they blamed God for their barren condition.
- The people said things from their own understanding. They did not know what we now know today. What they said was just their world-view at that time because it contradicts what Jesus revealed to us about who God is and His unchanging nature and character etc
- The people had no medical knowledge on the sicknesses and diseases that caused infertility and miscarriage. Jesus had not yet come to expose the author of sickness and disease and to give us His spiritual power and authority over them! But for New Covenant believers, Jesus has disarmed sin, death and all its consequences (including all forms of sickness and disease) on the Cross.
- Remember that those under the Old Testament had progressive revelation on the nature and character of God. As they would listen to the Lord and come to Him for help He would then be able to reveal Himself to them and deliver them from their distress.
- The people did not know about the true nature of the adversary. They had no knowledge of the devil’s power. They just thought he the accuser of the brethren but Jesus came and revealed his nature. Jesus also gave us His power to put a stop to his work in our lives (see Luke 10).
- Only a few in the Old Testament, such as the priest, prophet, King had God’s spirit (upon them) for ministry. But when Jesus came He gave His Spirit to the disciples, then to the 72 (see Luke 10) and then when He was glorified he poured out His Spirit upon all who believe in Him! This means that ALL who are under the New Covenant now have God’s very Spirit (indwelling) within them!
To understand this can make a considerable difference to what we read!
Many do not realise that the Bible was written with progressive revelation and filtered through the people’s knowledge of God. This meant that many in the Old Testament did not know everything that we now know today about Him. When they would seek Him and cry out to Him for help, He would then reveal Himself to them. And if they listened He could show Himself strong and deliver them in that situation. However, their knowledge of His nature was very limited. So they did not know the fullness of what we now know today!
Jesus revealed the true nature of the Father (1 John 17:18) and He also revealed the role of the adversary. He showed that it was the devil who was in control of all the killing, stealing and destroying (see John 10:10). Up until Jesus, the people did not know about the role of the devil. The people did not have the spirit of God so they had no way of dealing with the devil. This is one of the reasons why the role of the devil was hidden. This is important to understand so when you read Old Testament Scripture you will need to remember that the people looked upon and spoke of God as Sovereign (that God was in control of both good and evil). But in the New Testament Jesus came and revealed the truth. In 1 John 3:8 it tells us that Jesus ministry here on this earth was to destroy the devil’s work because he was the one who had been sinning (destroying men’s lives) from the beginning. And Acts 10:38 tells us how God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power and He went about doing good and healing all who were sick and oppressed by devil!
THEREFORE: Any argument that uses Old Testament Scriptures to prove that God causes or allows suffering must be brought into the light of New Testament teaching. Otherwise it will cause confusion and will prevent you from knowing and trusting that God is always good!