I would like to begin a discussion attempting to thread together the character of God throughout the Bible. Juxtaposing the dry history of the Old Testament with the vibrant story of God becoming man out of His immense love for us in the New Testament has always baffled my little brain. While reading Isaiah this week, I somehow decided now is the time to undertake this challenge of reconciling the old and the new – in my brain, that is (He is the unchanging God and therefore His character does not need reconciliation). Sermon-style writing somehow helps me process my thoughts of faith the best, so my apologies if you dislike this format.
I often hear it said that the God of the Old Testament and the Savior of the New Testament are entirely different. One knows wrath, the other love. One acts jealously, violently; the other humbly denies His very self and brings with Him peace. Does the Bible contradict itself? Is the Trinity just a raging fork where three rivers collide?
The God of Old
“God is a gentleman; He will never force you to do something because He respects the free will He has given you.” – Ron Gilley
I. The Lord is Lord
“I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these. Drip down, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds pour down righteousness; let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, and righteousness spring up with it. I, the Lord, have created it. Woe to the one who quarrels with His Maker – an earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’? Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ Or to a woman, ‘To what are you giving birth?’ Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker: ‘Ask Me about the things to come concerning My sons, and you shall commit to Me the work of My hands. It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands, and I ordained all their host. I have aroused him in righteousness, and I will make all his ways smooth; He will build My city, and will let My exiles go free, without any payment or reward,’ says the Lord of hosts.” – Isaiah 45:5-13
To discern the character of God, we must not forget our place in eternity. He is above, we are below. He has named us (4); Yahweh is the name above all names (remember the Jews feared even speaking it). When asked who He was, God responded, “I am.” He was and is and is to come.
When we forget our place, it is an act of arrogance that denies God His glory as our Creator – we are mocking a God we picture as handless rather than praising the one who imagined stars for the sky. Our pride also boasts of knowledge of the future when God is the keeper of the blueprints of our lives (11). We are to be used for God’s purposes, not He for ours (13). Even Jesus holds reverence for His Father as the Lord:
“Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:6-8