Wednesday, March 31, 2010

He's the Same!

Last week I was in a class and there was some scripture that was presented. One was from the the Koran and the other was from the Old Testament of the Bible. The question was presented as to whether they were scripture from the same God. The argument was that the verse from the Koran was very similar in feeling as many Old Testament Bible verses. The verse from the Koran spoke of the wrath of God being poured out and read something like Jeremiah 25:31 which says,

“His cry of judgment will reach the ends of the earth, for the Lord will bring his case against all the nations. He will judge all the people of the earth, slaughtering the wicked with the sword. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

The Old Testament verse is unimportant, except that it dealt with God's love. The comment was made about the belief that the Old Testament is the portrayal of God's wrath, anger and justice and the New Testament is the portrayal of God's love and mercy. First let me put out there that the God of the Bible and the God of any other religion are not the same. Without accepting Jesus Christ as God, it cannot be God. With that said, I get so frustrated with the theory that the Old Testament holds one half God's character and the New Testament hold the other half. If you read the Bible, I mean really seek God in it, you cannot miss the fact that God is the same from Genesis to Revelation.

Yes the Old Testament is a reflection of God's wrath, justice and anger, but it is also riddled with God's true desire to be Israel's God and to pour out His love and mercy on them. So many times throughout the OT God pleads with His people to return to Him, so many times He promises to restore them, so many times He gives them the chance to turn from their evil ways. So many times He says stuff like “I - yes, I alone - will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.” Isaiah 43:25 or “And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be my people, and I will be your God.” Ezekiel 36:28. These are undoubtedly signs of God's love and mercy.

On the other side of that, the NT is a reflection of God's love and mercy, but the NT also holds the greatest display of God's wrath and justice. Read about the crucifixion in any of the four Gospels (Matt 27:34-44, Mark 15:21-32, Luke 23:26-43 or John 19:16b-27), and you'll see God's wrath poured out. But you'll notice that His wrath was not poured out on His people. Instead it was poured out on His son, Jesus Christ. Romans 3:24-26 says,

Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

Here's the bottom line...the OT and NT are not two halves of the same God. God is unchanging throughout the Bible. He continually displays a desire to love and restore us to Him, and yes some times that means He disciplined His people (sometimes pretty harshly), and He still does today. But the difference is this, He saved up His greatest outpouring of wrath and justice for that moment when His son hung on that cross, beaten, bruised and broken. He withheld the full force of His wrath from us, knowing we were not capable of baring it and instead poured it out on the most precious part of Himself. And He did it for no other reason than because He loves us. That's it...He Love Us!

Knowing He's the Same,
Bruce