The Old God vs. The New God
By Larry White
April 7, 2010
"But although he had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke:
'Lord, who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of Jehovah been revealed?'" (Isaiah 53:1)
"Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:
'He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their hearts,
So that they might not see with the eyes,
and understand with the heart and turn,
and I would heal them.'" (Isaiah 6:10)
"These things Isaiah said when he saw his glory and spoke of him." (Jno. 12:37-41)
There has been of late an argument based in disbelief that accuses the scriptures of presenting two Gods in the Bible. One God of the Old Testament, vengeful and full of wrath that would actually destroy his own people. Then another in the New Testament that is loving and merciful, meek and gentle who is the friend of everyone.
Is this characterization true?
The above quote from the gospel of John shows us an interesting overlap in our perception of the Old and New Testaments. Jesus came a light into the world and yet his own people would not accept him. John says in this quote that this is like what happened in the destruction of Jerusalem under the Babylonians centuries earlier. They were treating Jesus now, just like they treated Jehovah then. Therefore intimating that Jehovah was treating the people of his, John's, day the same way he treated their ancestors before their destruction by the Babylonians.
But then John gives us a spiritual turn, by saying that when Isaiah heard this, he was seeing the glory of Jesus and spoke of him. Implying that Jesus was in fact the Jehovah of the Old Testament that Isaiah saw, high and lifted up. Of course, anyone who is familiar with Jesus knows that he is the Word of God and as such he was not inactive before his incarnation, so he could very well have been the voice of Jehovah in Isaiah's vision.
Jesus is the brightness of God's glory and the express image of his person and upholds all things by the word of his power. (Heb. 1:3) Jesus kept insisting that his disciples see in him the Father that they wanted to see first hand.
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you such a long time, and yet you have not known me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; so how can you say, “Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak from myself; but the Father who abides in me does his works.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me, or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves.
Standing before them then, was the Ancient of Days in bodily form. (Col.2:9) What the Jews saw was a weak, unremarkable man, (Isa.53:2) who, when he spoke, nevertheless burned their ears. This person that they despised was later going to be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who did not know God, and on those who did not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, (1Thes.1:8). John the Immerser said that, "His winnowing fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly clean out his threshing floor, and gather his wheat into the barn; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." In other words, he was going to come in judgement on the Jews and destroy Jerusalem. The reason they were not seeing him as he really is, was because of unbelief.
It is for the same reason that they did not see the meekness and gentleness of Jehovah in the Old Testament.
"For thus says the High and Lofty One
Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
"I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones."
"You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord – that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful." (Jam. 5:11)
It really had to do with the character of the people with whom Jehovah was dealing. David said of God,
"With the merciful you will show yourself merciful;
With a blameless man you will show yourself blameless;
With the pure you will show yourself pure;
And with the devious you will show yourself shrewd.
You will save the humble people;
But your eyes are on the haughty, that you may bring
them down. (2Sam.22:26-28)
The distinction between the "God of the Old Testament" and the God of the New, is simply not found in the scriptures. Jesus called that God of the Old Testament his Father. He also referred to him in the present tense when he said that he was "the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, God is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to him.” Lk.20:37-38. Not only did Jesus speak for his Father, but this vengeful God of the Old Testament told Jesus what to say and how to say it. Jno. 12:49-50. Jesus and the Father are one, (a unity).
This unity is also seen in that Jesus as the Messiah to the nation of Israel was not only the harbinger of the dawn of spiritual life but also the harbinger of a coming judgement and destruction of the nation if they would not hear and believe him. John the Immerser came with a warning to the nation of Israel before Jesus came the first time.
"I indeed immerse you with water unto repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will immerse you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly clean out his threshing floor, and gather his wheat into the barn; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Jesus brought spiritual life to the Jews and if they were not immersed with the Holy Spirit, then they would be immersed in fire.
Jesus preached that the kingdom was coming soon, (at hand) and before some of his disciples had died, (Mk. 8-9) and that he would be coming with his kingdom in judgement against the nation of Israel. Mt. 24. This was all fulfilled in the year AD 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. This was the Day of the Lord that Peter talked about in Acts 2. The same kind of "Day of the Lord" you can see throughout the Old Testament when God came in his wrath to avenge himself against the nations. In the first century AD, Jesus came and destroyed the Jewish nation and avenged all the Apostles and prophets who were killed by the Jews. That is what the book of Revelation is about. Not a second coming in the future but one that has already occurred.
God doesn't change
The God of the Old Testament scriptures is the same as the God of the New Testament scriptures. Faith will see both the goodness and the severity of God. You can hear Faith saying in the New Testament that, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God", (Heb.12:31). And you can hear Faith in the Old Testament saying, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him." (Job 13:15)
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is his mercy toward those who fear him;
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father pities his children,
So Jehovah pities those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
But the mercy of Jehovah is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear him,
And his righteousness to children's children,
To such as keep his covenant,
And to those who remember his commandments to do them. (Psa.103:11-18)
The big difference between the Covenants is not in God's character but rather, instead of our inability to come to God in the Old Testament, by God's mercy and grace we have the opportunity now to come near to him as our loving Father and participate in the life and the blessings of Christ Jesus. This was Jehovah's plan all along from the very beginning.
"...the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
If anyone has an ear, let him hear."