7 Beautiful Examples of God’s Grace in the Old Testament

For many years, I mistakenly believed grace is a New Testament—or New Covenant—concept. In my mind, it was almost as if Jesus’ death and resurrection unleashed God’s grace on mankind for the very first time. How very wrong I was! The concept of God's grace in the Old Testament is pervasive from the very beginning. Women's Bible Study | Bible Study on God's Grace | Old Testament Bible Study | What is God's Grace?

For many years, I mistakenly believed grace is a New Testament—or New Covenant—concept.  In my mind, it was almost as if Jesus’ death and resurrection unleashed God’s grace on mankind for the very first time.

How very wrong I was!

The concept of grace—unmerited favor—is woven throughout the entirety of Scripture.

I’m not sure how I’ve missed it all these years, but I know that I cannot be the only person living with this misconception.

Why do we erroneously believe grace is a New Testament concept?

The most illuminating scripture on this subject is John 1:17 where it says, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

A logical conclusion after reading this passage would be: the Old Testament is about law and the New Testament is about grace.

And to some extent, that is an accurate assumption.

The Old Testament is definitely “law-focused” and the New Testament is absolutely “grace-filled.”

But the bigger question is: Has God always been gracious? Or did Jesus death and resurrection somehow alter his character?

2 Timothy 1:9 sheds some valuable light on this topic, “He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.”

God’s grace is the foundation upon which the Gospel message is built.

Without God’s grace, salvation is impossible!

As a New Covenant believer, this is a truth I hold close to my heart. I owe my life and all that I am to the grace of God, the sacrifice of Jesus, and the work of the Holy Spirit.

But we mustn’t skim over the last four words of the passage above—before the beginning of time.

For many years, I mistakenly believed grace is a New Testament—or New Covenant—concept. In my mind, it was almost as if Jesus’ death and resurrection unleashed God’s grace on mankind for the very first time. How very wrong I was! The concept of God's grace in the Old Testament is pervasive from the very beginning. Women's Bible Study | Bible Study on God's Grace | Old Testament Bible Study | What is God's Grace?

Before God created mankind, He knew of our need to be rescued from sin.

The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ was not God’s back up plan. His last resort. His “get out of jail free card.”

Absolutely EVERYTHING that happened between Adam’s first breath and Jesus’ death was part of God’s gracious plan to redeem mankind.

Including the Old Testament.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been reading my way through the Old Testament on a daily Bible reading plan from YouVersion.

The concept of God’s grace—unmerited favor shown to unworthy men and women—is woven throughout the entirety of the Old Testament.

For many years, I mistakenly believed grace is a New Testament—or New Covenant—concept. In my mind, it was almost as if Jesus’ death and resurrection unleashed God’s grace on mankind for the very first time. How very wrong I was! The concept of God's grace in the Old Testament is pervasive from the very beginning. Women's Bible Study | Bible Study on God's Grace | Old Testament Bible Study | What is God's Grace?

7 Examples of God’s Grace in the Old Testament:

1. God’s grace infuses Noah’s Story.

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen 6:8).

Wickedness and evil were so rampant in the hearts of men that God actually regretted creating them.  Wow! He was ready to wipe them out entirely, but there was ONE man who was righteous, faithful, and committed to walking with God.  Noah was not a perfect man, yet God chose to save his family from destruction. That’s grace!

2. God’s grace endures in spite of Abraham and Sarah’s unbelief.

“And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen 12:3b).

 Did you know that Abraham’s fear and sense of self-preservation led him to distort the truth by saying Sarah was his sister (to save his own hide)? Did you know that Sarah laughed at God when he said she would give birth to a son in her old age? And then, after laughing at God, she encouraged her husband to sleep with another woman to fulfill the promise?  Abraham and Sarah’s lives were marked with disbelief and disobedience, yet God remained faithful to His promise. That’s grace!

3. God’s grace for Joseph gave him strength to persevere.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Gen 50:20).

As Joseph’s story unfolds, it’s difficult to see God’s grace in it all—despised by his brothers, sold into slavery, wrongly accused, left to rot in prison.  But that’s not at all how Joseph saw things.  He reveals his perspective in Gen. 45:7, “ But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” God used difficult and trying circumstances to position Joseph as the savior of his people. That’s grace!

4. Moses doubted God at every turn, yet God graciously guided him.

 “But Moses said, ‘Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else’ (Ex 4: 13).”

Moses was as flawed as they come—arrogant, stubborn, doubtful.  Yet God faithfully walked with him, and as time passed, Moses’ learned how to faithfully obey. God used this blemished shepherd to lead his wayward sheep out of captivity. God chose to listen to and walk with a man who, in his youth, killed another with his bare hands. That’s grace!

For many years, I mistakenly believed grace is a New Testament—or New Covenant—concept. In my mind, it was almost as if Jesus’ death and resurrection unleashed God’s grace on mankind for the very first time. How very wrong I was! The concept of God's grace in the Old Testament is pervasive from the very beginning. Women's Bible Study | Bible Study on God's Grace | Old Testament Bible Study | What is God's Grace?

5. The Israelites repeatedly rebelled against God, yet He graciously rescued them.

“And he could bear Israel’s misery no longer (Judges 10:16).”

I tried to keep track of how often the Israelites grumbled against God, broke His commands, worshiped false idols, etc—but I quickly lost count. Time and again they turned away from God, did whatever they wanted, lost God’s protection, suffered great consequences, returned to God, and begged Him to rescue them.  Over and over and over again!  Sometimes there were lasting consequences for their poor decisions, but God showed more grace than was deserved (over and over and over again).

6. Rahab bravely asked God to save her (in spite of her past sins) and He did!

“The Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below (Josh. 2:11b).”

Rahab is referred to as “the harlot” three times over in scripture. She was a prostitute—a sinner unworthy of God’s grace. But somewhere along the way, she heard tales of this God of Israel.  So when the two spies sought shelter in her home, she bravely bargained for her life. She confessed her belief in their God and asked for their mercy. And they gave it willingly, to her and all of her family.  In fact, she dwelled with the Israelites and faithfully served God the rest of her days.  That’s grace!

7. David lusted, stole, fornicated, lied, and killed—yet God saw his heart and loved him.

“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin (Ps. 51:1)”

Ok, I saved my favorite for last. David is the ultimate example of God’s unmerited favor. But I’ve got to start by mentioning all of his merits. Because there are many. Just open up the book of Psalms, and you will be astounded by how deeply he loved God. In his heart of hearts, I don’t think David ever strayed from his love for God. He just made some pretty terrible decisions along the way (haven’t we all?).  The key is he always turned from his sin and repented. And God forgave. That’s grace!

For many years, I mistakenly believed grace is a New Testament—or New Covenant—concept. In my mind, it was almost as if Jesus’ death and resurrection unleashed God’s grace on mankind for the very first time. How very wrong I was! The concept of God's grace in the Old Testament is pervasive from the very beginning. Women's Bible Study | Bible Study on God's Grace | Old Testament Bible Study | What is God's Grace?
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The Bible is packed with examples of humans who sin and a God who forgives.

Humans who run and a God who pursues. Humans who don’t deserve grace and a God who gives it anyway.

If you’ve ever felt unworthy of God’s grace, just spend some time reading the Old Testament.

God’s grace in the Old Testament is unavoidable, so long as you are looking for it.

You will soon discover that no one is worthy of God’s grace: not Noah, not Abraham, not Joseph, not Moses, not the Israelites, not Rahab, not David, not me, and not you.

That, sweet friend, is what makes it grace.

Can you think of any other examples of God’s grace in the Old Testament? I’d love to chat about it in the comments.

This article has been shared at my favorite Faith & Family Linkups.

Sarah Koontz

About Sarah Koontz

  Sarah Koontz invites Christians of all ages to explore the beauty of God’s design. She is a passionate storyteller who enjoys using illustrations to communicate deep spiritual truths. Sarah lives on 13-acres in South Dakota with her husband, two daughters and a rowdy flock of 30 chickens. She revels in their simple, uncluttered life. Follow Sarah on FacebookInstagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Read Sarah's full Bio Here.

53 thoughts on “7 Beautiful Examples of God’s Grace in the Old Testament

  1. LOVE these! We often look to the New Testament for examples of God’s grace, but there is SO much grace as we read through the Old Testament. Thanks for sharing these!!

  2. I’ve fallen in love with the Old Testament over the last decade. While some of the judgment chapters are hard to read even in them God holds out His grace. He is the same always and there is so much comfort in that truth! Great post, Sarah!

  3. I love these examples of grace that you’ve shared! The story that I was thinking of from the Old Testament when you asked about more examples, was the instance when Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden after eating from the tree of knowledge. I used to think, that it was a punishment, but then a pastor pointed out that it was grace. God was already thinking about his plan for redemption. The tree of life was still in that garden. Sin would have lived on, forever, had they eaten from that tree.
    This was such an insightful post, Sarah. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Yes, He truly is. I’ve always known this, yet I struggled to rectify the God I see in the OT with the God I see in the NT. Now I realize it’s all one story and He is true to His character through it all.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Valerie. I’m only in 1 Samuel, so I’m looking forward to discovering many more examples of God’s grace as I continue to read my way through the Bible in 2017.

  4. Thank you for sharing! “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Gen 50:20). This verse gets me every time! What daily Bible reading plan from YouVersion were you reading?

  5. What a sweet word about grace, Sarah!
    Aren’t you glad that the same God of the OT is still giving out loads of grace in 2017?
    I know I am!
    Appreciate you and your ministry~
    Melanie

  6. There’s nothing new under the sun, is there? Grace was there from the beginning. I’m always grateful for people who look at NT truths in light of OT truths. Thanks!

    1. No there isn’t. But just like a child discovers the world one observation at a time, I find that I’m discovering who God is with each step I take deeper into His Word. How lucky are we that we get to spend our lives discovering the majesty and grace of God?

  7. Grace is amazing and it’s all over the Bible. I am particularly enjoying the study I’m doing on the Book of Judges. I am overwhelmed and humbled by the grace bestowed on so many in this book. God’s grace is available to all.
    Stopping by from #raralinkup

  8. Just finished reading Seeing Jesus by Nancy Guthrie, so your post comes right on heels of a feast in which I saw so many points in the Old Testament that point toward Christ while at the same time, giving depth and meaning to so much of the New Testament narrative. Thanks, Sarah, for this beautiful collection of images just in time for Easter celebration.

    1. It is such a gift to be able to read the Old Testament through the lens of Jesus. To know the real purpose of it all and to see God’s beautiful plan unfold. That sounds like a lovely book, I’ll swing by your blog and look for your review.

  9. I relate to what you’re saying, Sarah. I used to believe also that the OT God was harsh, and the NT God was gracious. But God never changes and there are indeed lots of examples of grace in the OT was well. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. I do believe it’s a common misconception. My pastor and I had a similar conversation a few weeks ago, and he is the one that got me really thinking about how much grace there truly is in the OT.

  10. Glad to connect with you through the Christian Blogger Community Linkup. I’m glad you chose to deal with this very important topic. God did not change with the coming of Christ. His grace has been around from the beginning manifesting in forgiveness, restoration after human failings as well as fortitude in trials among other ways and the lives of the Bible characters you chose show this very well. David is my favourite. He did the abominable but God still stood by His everlasting covenant with him and his seed. Thanks for sharing.

    1. The funny thing is, I always knew God was unchanging…yet I still felt he lacked grace in the OT. I’m so grateful my eyes were open so I could see the fullness of His love and character even in the midst of judges, exile, and the wandering hearts of Israel. David is my favorite too! I think it’s because of the Psalms. Once you’ve seen him pour his heart out, you have compassion rather than condemnation for him.

  11. I have always enjoyed old testament reading. When the sun rises on a warm summer morning I can’t help but think of Genesis and the perfect pitch of the Lord’s voice as he put everything so perfectly into place. Even before we were put on the planet he was graceful in the place he was creating for us. Amen to that!

    1. It’s so wonderful that God set reminders of His glory and majesty all around us. Some call it general revelation (seeing the hand of Creator God in the Creation), but I like to call it glorious revelation!

  12. He was also the first to make a blood sacrifice from the very beginning – not just in Jesus. “Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21 That first act – the first death of an animal – was a sacrifice of grace – He “covered” their sin/shame (nakedness) by sacrificing another. This is something I’ve wanted to write about because I think it’s so profound! Thank you for writing on this subject. We all need to know that God has been merciful, forgiving, gracious, long-suffering, and loving beyond our comprehension from the very beginning!

    1. That is such a fantastic point (the first blood sacrifice), Rebecca! Of course, I knew that, but I didn’t really know that. I just never paid close enough attention to the details before. I truly enjoyed writing this, I’d love to do another once I finish reading the Old Testament.

  13. I loved the biblical characters you chose from the OT, so much grace splattered on their lives. One thing I was reminded of is that Jesus always was… from the very beginning. John 17:5 — And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. God had a plan way before the creation for Jesus to be our savior — Grace! Thank you, Sarah, for your encouraging, biblical writings. Always a blessing to stop by. Happy Easter!

    1. Yes! We’ve got to view it all through a lens of grace, don’t we? Jesus is God’s perfect plan, and has always been. Can’t wait to get to the end of our story and meet Him face to face.

  14. I used to think it was horrible that Adam and Eve had to leave the garden. But, now I see their banishment and God’s refusal to let them eat of the tree of life as loving and gracious. How terrible it would be to be able to live forever in our sinful state! His ultimate plan is so much better. I can’t wait to live forever without the presence of sin. 🙂

    Thanks, Sarah, for sharing at Literacy Musing Mondays!

    1. This is such a wonderful perspective of Adam and Eve’s story. Makes me think of the verse that says God disciplines those He loves. Getting thrown out of the garden was discipline, yet it was far more gracious than allowing them to remain.

  15. …before the beginning of time… such hope-filled words! I can remember the first time I really read/studied the OT. It was like finding the box top to a puzzle. The entire Bible came alive in one single, seamless message of grace and love! It sounds like you’re experiencing some of that, too, friend! Great post, Sarah! Blessings on your Easter!

  16. I LOVE this post so much. I have such a passion for helping women see that the Bible is not about God telling us how to please Him, or the OT saints showing us how to please God. NO! The Bible from start to finish is about God graciously reaching out to those who fail and sin and fall short. It is about what God has done for us NOT what He wants us to do for Him! Have you read any of Nancy Guthrie’s Bible Study material. It is pretty time intense to do well but really worthwhile and her passion is to point to people to the gospel and Christ in the OT. Thank you for sharing these things.

    1. Sounds like our hearts beat with a similar passion. The Bible is there for our good, for our benefit, for our guidance. It’s not restrictive it’s restorative and redemptive.

  17. Sarah- great post! I was trying to think of another example, but I couldn’t choose just one. You’re right, grace is interwoven in all parts of the Old Testament.
    I enjoyed this right before Easter!
    #GraceMoments

  18. I really enjoyed seeing God’s grace here today! One of my favorites from the OT: the book of Ruth. His grace to Naomi in giving her Ruth and then Obed, even though she had gone away from Bethlehem. And his grace to Ruth when she puts her trust in God and his covenant. And to all his people in providing Obed who leads to David who leads to Jesus…amazing 🙂

  19. One of my favorite examples of grace in the OT is of King David and Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth was lame because he had been dropped by his nurse while fleeing(2 Samuel 4) because she thought David would come to slaughter all the potential heirs, but David had made a covenant with Jonathan, Mephibosheth’s father and he honors this covenant in such a beautiful way showing kindness for Jonathan’s sake and showing the kindness of God. Mephibosheth was lame and brought absolutely nothing to the table, but because of the kindness of God demonstrated by David, he “ate continually at the king’s table.” Amazing Grace!

  20. I love these examples. We just discussed the difference between God in the old Testament and New, and we totally left this perspective out! Now I don’t know how! THank you for serving God with your writing, it is a blessing to many.

    1. It’s one of those things that….once you see it, you can’t not see it….but if you aren’t looking for it, you may miss it entirely! So happy you stopped by.

  21. Of course, I love this post. 🙂 Grace. It starts in Genesis and ends in Revelations. The literal symbols that are represented in the Hebrew and in the Greek connect and testify of that. One of the most amazing things that I find while studying His Word is how He has made it clear that from beginning to end He has orchestrated grace as a part of His love for us and it is as deep and as wide and as far and as long as His love is. Where grace is, His mercy is found.
    Always an encourager sweet Sarah!
    Blessings,
    Dawn

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