“Like father, like son.”
“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
We’ve heard these phrases and used them ourselves (although I don’t get the “spitting image” one) to describe someone who looks like or acts like someone else – usually a relative. “Denise (my wife) is the spitting image of her mom.”
Hello fellow “seekers and questioners.” We’re tackling a tough topic: “What’s up with the apparent difference between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament?” In the O.T., for example, we see God commanding the annhilation of the Canaanites – even the women and children (Joshua 6:21; Joshua 10:40-41). We see God authorizing a disturbing treatment of women (Leviticus 12:2-5; Deuteronomy 20:11-14; Deuteronomy 24:1-4).
A foundational principle which must be understood and grasped with our heart and head is that the New Testament presents Jesus as the final, definitive, complete, revelation of God. I get so pumped up over the following verses:
–John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
–John 1:14 “The word became flesh and dwelt among us…”
As the “word” Jesus is the expression of God, just like our “words” are expressions of our thoughts. People know what I’m thinking when I’m speaking.
“Some people have a way with words, and other people…oh, uh, not have way.” Steve Martin
God has a way with words – In Jesus, God spoke clearly and distinctly – unlike me and my words. When God speaks or thinks, it looks like Jesus.
Colossians 1:15 “The Son is the image of the invisible God..” “Image” was often used to describe a “picture” of someone. Jesus is a picture of God. How does the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words” help us understand this principle?
Hebrews 1:1-3 Grab your coffee, sit back, and let this passage soak in. “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and though whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being…”
The highlighted words above, exact representation, meant the imprint on a coin that had been stamped with a picture. If we look at a quarter we see George Washington’s face. First century folks would see Caesar’s face. If God made a coin bearing his own image, it would show Jesus’ face. While God revealed himself in a variety of ways in the past, God has superseded all these by revealing himself through Jesus. Unlike all the past written and spoken revelations, Jesus is the exact, clear, precise, imprint of God. The other revelations were about God. Jesus is God. Jesus is not a part of God’s revelation to add alongside the Old Testament revelation. Jesus is the revelation.
It’s like the author of Hebrews is channeling M.C. Hammer: “Can’t touch this.” No other revelation of God can touch Jesus – No other is as good as Jesus.
So think about this: If Jesus is the exact, precise, complete picture of God, and if when we see Jesus we see God, why doesn’t God look like Jesus in those tough passages in the Old Testament? Honestly, i don’t know if we’ll ever satisfactorily answer that questions. Tons of books have been and will be written in such an attempt. The point is if we can’t answer the question, if we can’t resolve the issue, the truth of the Bible is that there is only one “exact representation” of God and it’s Jesus.
Dr. Bill Tolar, one of my great professors at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary back in the day, told Denise, and me in responding to our question about this topic, “No matter what the Old Testament writers thought they heard God say, the question for us is, ‘What does Jesus say to us?'”
Yep, Jesus is the “spitting image” of God.