“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
Some have argued that the Old Testament God was rigid and legalistic, whereas the God of the New Testament is a God of grace and love. But “Jesus Christ (is) the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).
The word for “grace” (Hebrew, chen) occurs at least 68 times in the Old Testament, and “gracious” and “graciously” some 98 times. The related attributes of “mercy” and “lovingkindness” (Hebrew, chesed) are mentioned over 200 times. The Old Testament is abundantly supplied with references to these supposedly New Testament concepts.
It is significant that the first mentions of “grace” and “graciously” in the Bible refer to the grace of God, rather than to any human grace. In the first instance, it is said that even in a world of universal wickedness, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8), and God saved him and his family through the terrible judgment of the Flood. Then Jacob, the father of the children of Israel (to whom God eventually revealed the law through Moses), spoke of his children as gifts of God’s grace, testifying to his brother Esau of “the children which God hath graciously given thy servant” (Genesis 33:5).
Even the law was given in grace and truth to the people whom God had chosen in grace, as the psalmist indicated when he prayed: “Grant me thy law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth” (Psalm 119:29,30).
It is significant that the last reference to “grace” in the Old Testament refers to the salvation of all the children of Israel, when they finally see Jesus as He really is. “I will pour upon the house of David, . . . the Spirit of grace . . . : and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him . . .” (Zechariah 12:10). HMM