The God Who Does Not Change
Is the God of the Old Testament the same as the God of the New Testament? Is he the God who does not change?
Many people have an idea of the God of the Old Testament being a harsh and cruel God ordering the slaughter of many people. However they overlook the fact that He is full of love and rescued many people too. In Psalm 103 we read of his love and forgiveness and healing. Many people picture Jesus as being full of love, which he was, but he also had difficult things to say to some people and spoke of "weeping and gnashing of teeth" for those who rejected his message. So let's explore together in the Bible and find out who this God is,who does not change.
Setting out on the Road to Discovering the God who does not change
Let's start our journey with a prayer,"Lord God help us to have hearts open to find out about you through your word the Bible. May we be open to your Spirit so that we can know the truth about you and come to worship you alone and honour you for your greatness. Amen"
God is a Spirit
You will find no picture representations of God on this page. God is a spirit and so cannot be seen. Instead I am using pictures of God's creation which show his might and power.
The Great and Wide Sea
God, the Maker of All Things
In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, we read,"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Later it tells how He made people. That means he owns everything including you and me. We belong to Him. Does that make you feel happy or rebellious? Many people are in rebellion against God, in fact all of us at some time or another.
The first verse of Psalm 24 again tells how God owns us,"The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world and all who live in it." I am happy God owns me because I know He is a loving and good God
If you would like to discuss the things I have spoken about here or on any of my other pages you are welcome to contact me on my e-mail address. firstname.lastname@example.org I will get back to you as quickly as I can. I will use material from the Bible to help you not just my own thinking.
From Everlasting to Everlasting You are God
God is far, far above us. Beyond what we can imagine.One way he is not like us is in that He had no beginning and will have no end. We read in Psalm 90 v 2 "Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." We cannot take that in properly. In fact, we can only have understanding of these things if God teaches us through His Holy Spirit. At every step as we try to understand something of God we need to pray for His help.
When we come to think about God's actions in our world, what He allows and what He does not, we have to realize that He is all wise, all holy, all good and all loving. We may not understand His actions or seeming lack of action, but we are in no position to argue with Him. Although, God understands our frustration when we cannot understand or see the meaning of His actions. There are many times when we will rebel. That is the way we are. It is part of human nature to rebel. That is what is known as sin. Always we need to turn away from that rebellion and ask God's forgiveness. Because Jesus died for us, if we believe we will receive that pardon.
An Amazing Creator God
God put all the beauty in the world. The splendid mountains, the wonderful waterfalls, each bird and animal and flower. All were designed in their perfection by God. Here is a meditation I wrote about God. You can find it again in the page featured below which contains more thoughts around it.
God the Infinite dwells with me,
Vaster than the ocean,
Deeper than the sea.
God the almighty dwells with me
Stronger than the tempest
Fiercer than tsunami
God the all-seeing, has me in his care,
Watches all around me,
God the all-knowing one,
Knows each step I take,
Watches o'er my progress,
Sleeping or awake
Dancing light unseen, unseeable.
Moving like the wind from where to where.
God my Redeemer permeating everything,
In him we live and move and are.
Music of the spheres sing his praise,
Thunder clap, volcano spout, mighty sea roar
All dwarfed by His magnificence.
Far too wonderful to be trapped in a poem God my Creator
Do You Believe in God?
God believes in you, do you believe in Him?
Even When Dying, Creation is Beautiful
Destroying and Saving
Let's see how God acted in the Old Testament times, That is the times before Jesus lived on earth. We must not forget Jesus was co-eternal with God from everlasting to everlasting. If you read Philippians 2 v 5 - 11 you will see that it speaks of Jesus who was in very nature God but made himself nothing for us. Let's look at some Old Testament stories. We will look at Jericho being destroyed. To get a better picture of this see the page about Rahab below.
The people in Jericho worshipped idols, the god Baal. This involved really bad practices such as prostitution and child sacrifices. God is just and righteous and holy. He has the right to do with us as He will. He decided that Jericho should be destroyed. That is not the amazing thing, what is amazing is that He showed love and compassion to Rahab. Read the lens below to get a better picture of the story.
To Destroy or to Save
Does God have the right to destroy or to save?
God is for the non-Jew too
People think that God in the Old Testament was on the side of the Israelites only, but this is not so. Above we saw the story of Rahab. She was not an Israelite, but when she turned to God, He accepted her and she became an Israelite. Below this module you will find the story of Naaman. He was another non-Jew who not only found healing from God but also was accepted by God because He put his faith in Him.
Faith is the secret of success in finding God. In Hebrews 11 v 6 it says, " And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Naaman showed faith by doing as the prophet Elisha told him, but not without resisting first.
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
God often describes himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. If he is the God who does not change, if we look at his dealings with these three, related, men, we will see what sort of God we can still expect today. I have told the story of Jacob in another lens, featured below this module. Read this to find out how God behaved towards Jacob. Eventually I might write a lens on Abraham and on Isaac but for the time being I will give you some glimpses into their lives. this is all to show you how God works.
Abraham originally came from Ur of the Chaldees, modern Iraq. He heard God telling him to leave that country and his family and set off for a land God would show him, but Abraham had no idea where it would be. God's command was compelling. Abraham obeyed. God promised he and his wife Sarah would have a child because God was going to make him into a large nation of people. God said he would bless him and his descendants. So we see God is interested in his people and sets out to bless them and makes promises to them. Both the Jewish race and Christians are in different ways descendants of Abraham. So we see from this that God is a God who keeps his promises.
He is also a God who brings good, even out of our mistakes and sins. Abraham made many mistakes and so did Jacob, but God still stood by them. God is a God who keeps his promises even when the odds are totally against the possibility of them being kept. Abraham and Sarah had to wait a very long time before Isaac was born. They were very old and no human could have believed that they could any longer have a child. But God is sovereign and keeps his promises even in such circumstances.
So from Abraham's life we see that God is a God who speaks to his people, tells them what they must do, makes promises to them and keeps those promises. He is still the same today and I pray he will speak to you for he is the God who does not change.
What Psalm 103 Says About God
Many people think the God of the Old Testament is all about judgment and punishment. This is not so. There is also a great deal of loving and forgiving going on. Take a look at Psalm 103.
"Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits -
who forgives all you sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed."
This is not a hard uncaring God. The Psalmist knows that God has given him everything good in life. Also the Lord is the one who has always taken the side of the poor and the oppressed, the outcast and the stranger. When "justice" is spoken of we sometimes confuse it with "judgment." Justice is what God does to sort out the wrong perpetrated on the poor and outcast. Justice is a beautiful thing when God is using it. Often our courts, which are supposed to mete out justice, fail miserably. God's justice does not fail and one day everything will finally be sorted out by God's justice. That will be a happy day.
Take the Road Ahead
Suffering for a Reason
The Israelites had this wonderful God caring for them and yet they would wander away from him and go worshipping foreign gods. In those days the Israelites had been gradually learning that their God was the only true God and he was the God of all the earth. The nations around them had a different god each and thought Israel's God was just for that nation. He was a god who loved and cared for his people and yet they went after the cruel gods of the people around them. This meant they entered into evil practices such as having ritual prostitutes and worse still they were sacrificing their precious little children to these gods. They should have known this was wrong, as their ancestor Abraham had discovered when he took his son Isaac to sacrifice him to the Lord. As he lifted his knife to kill Isaac an angel stopped him and showed him a ram caught in a hedge which would be the sacrifice instead.
But the Israelites had not learnt from their history. Again and again they went after foreign gods. Then God would give them a good king who would lead them back to him. Again and again this would happen and eventually God had to teach his people that this could not go on. He sent them into exile, conquered by the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. You can read what it was like for them to be in exile in the lens about Daniel featured just below this module. There you will read about some young Israelites who were totally devoted to God. Often the innocent have to suffer with the guilty. This was not cruel behaviour on the part of God. He knows that humans are only truly happy when they are serving and worshipping him. He deserves our worship because he is totally perfect. When we talk of a human being who thinks he is perfect, we think of someone who is proud and full of himself. God is not like that, he is truly perfect, in a way we can only begin to understand. Sometimes we suffer problems in this life, could it be that God is calling us back to himself because he very much wants us to be happy in him?
Jesus, the Perfect Image of God
The best idea of what God is like comes to us in Jesus. What is different about the New Testament is the new perspective we have on God. Sometimes the Old Testament is telling us, not so much what God is like but how the people then perceived God and often got it wrong. When we come to the New Testament we find Jesus is condemning some people, but it is not the harlot and the "sinner" who come in for his wrath, but the holier than thou religious leaders and the rich. For the ordinary folk Jesus promises forgiveness if they turn to him, and they do. In some ways Jesus turned the perceptions of God upside down. Jesus is God come down to live our life with us, to die our death and so make renewed friendship with God possible for all who will reach out and take it. The barrier of wrongdoing has been broken down for those who will humbly accept forgiveness. Those who, like the religious leaders of Jesus' day, are too proud to accept this cannot have it and must still face God's anger. If God's anger frightens you, that is good, it means you are very near to accepting his forgiveness