IS THE JESUS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
THE SAME AS THE JESUS OF THE NEW
TESTAMENT? HEBREWS 13:8
The Messiah the Jews expected was obviously an altogether different God than Jesus claimed to be. The Jews wanted a Military Messiah who would lead them to victory over the hated Romans and set them up as rulers over the whole earth.
The Jews expected the Messiah to force them to accept Him. They imagined that He would overwhelm their wills and cause all men everywhere to acknowledge his power. Christ’s greatest test was the temptation to compel his tormentors to confess that He truly was the Son of God.
But the exercise of force or coercion is contrary to the nature of God and to the principles of His law and government.
When Jesus announced the principles of His kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount, He punctured the dream balloon of the Jewish leaders. Matthew 5:1 through Matthew 7:29 outlines His government. It was all based on love to both God and man. Not a trace or thread of sinful human passion was anywhere to be found in all of the Savior’s words or acts. Instead of approving of the proud way the religious leaders of the nation were carrying on and condemning the Romans and other unenlightened (cursed by God in their eyes) nations of the world, Christ pronounced a special blessing on those who were lowly in their own estimation. “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” The only kind of people who would qualify for the Kingdom of God would be those who were “mourning” over their spiritual poverty and were meek and lowly or, in other words, humble in their own eyes as well as in the eyes of the world.
The pushy and the proud would be left out. But the merciful, the inwardly pure, and the peacemakers and persecuted who were rejoicing in their trials and praying for and loving their enemies were all star candidates for the Kingdom Jesus had come to establish.
This doctrine was the exact opposite of what the Jews believed and taught. Jesus’ new teaching really bent them out of shape. It just blew their minds away, as they say today, and they came unglued at the very seams. But in addition to this, He openly rebuked these Jewish leaders before all the people. Yet, they brought it upon themselves. Christ had tears in His voice as He spoke for He knew most of them would not accept His counsel. Is it any wonder that they called Him an imposter? Does it surprise you that they claimed His wonderful miracles were done through the power of the evil one? They were desperate to maintain their position, and their explanations were equal to their desperation. But, let us look at some of the reasons they probably felt as they did.
“Read the history of our glorious past,” they no doubt exclaimed. “Jehovah has always delivered His people by war and conquest. He has always overcome our foes with military force.” This is what they no doubt said, but was it true that God had ALWAYS done this? No, it was not true. Take the Red Sea experience, for example, when the people were blaming Moses for bringing them to a seemingly impossible impasse. “And Moses said unto the people, fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord which he will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:13,14. It was not God’s original plan for Israel to fight with sword and spear. IT WAS NOT HIS WILL THAT THEY SHOULD GAIN THE LAND BY WARFARE, BUT BY SIMPLY OBEYING HIS COMMANDS. Even though it was the people’s idea to fight with the sword, not God’s idea, He allowed them to have their own way or desire. But He always stayed with them to save them from the worst effects of their wrong choice as He did when they demanded a king. 1 Samuel 8:5. This was also the case when they demanded flesh food in their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. “So they did eat, (quail) and were well filled: for He gave them their own desire.” Psalm 78:26-31. Cf. Numbers 11:31-35.
The law of God is the central issue in the great controversy. Therefore, Satan is constantly working to prove that God’s law is too strict. That it is impossible for men to keep it and, of course, that God is unjust and unfair to impose such restrictions upon mankind.
As soon as Satan can successfully tempt someone to break the law, he has the right to afflict and sometimes destroy him. Ezekiel 21:31. Satan then blames their death upon the Lord. Read Job 1 and 2 and you will see how God gets the blame for destroying the property of Job. “The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them.” Job 1:16.
That was actually the fire of Satan, but God got the blame. Satan can bring fire down from the skies (atmospheric heaven), according to Revelation 13:13. God never changes, Malachi 3:6 and Hebrews 13:8 declare. Therefore the way He deals with the saints in the Old Testament is the way He will deal with them in the New Testament. And the way He deals with the sin problem in the Old Testament is the way He will deal with it in the New Testament. He leaves it up to us to study sufficiently to clarify the seeming contradictions and inconsistencies. We will deal with “God’s fire” later in this book.
In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 we read an enlightening statement about how God makes war. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
About the year 896 B.C., good King Jehoshaphat was faced with annihilation by the “children of Moab, and the children of Ammon,” and a few others. The story is in 2 Chronicles 20. The king called for a fast and evidently the better part of Judah fasted and prayed with him. Jehoshaphat’s heart was right with God and he prayed for himself and all the people. His example truly is one we can look to in our times of trouble today. Notice his choice of words. “We have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes ARE UPON THEE.” Here is a man that knew how to cut through all the red tape and go directly to the throne room of God.
The answer came immediately through the Spirit of Prophecy. Jahaziel, a Levite, and a son of the line of Asaph, came under the power of the living God and spoke. “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for THE BATTLE IS NOT YOURS, BUT GOD’S. YE SHALL NOT NEED TO FIGHT IN THIS BATTLE: SET YOURSELVES, STAND YE STILL, AND SEE THE SALVATION OF THE LORD WITH YOU.” What a message! After all the battles David won you would think that some young firebrand would jump up and say, “This guy has totally freaked out of his mind! If you think I’m going to just walk out there and let those no-good so and so Moabites and Ammonites cut my head off you are crazier than a loon. Man, I am taking my sword and trusty slingshot. I’m not a coward. God helps those who help themselves.”
But that didn’t happen. Here is what really happened, and it is the secret to the great victory that followed. “And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, worshiping the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 20:18. Living Bible.
And verse 19 says the Levites of the children of the Kohathites as well as the Korhites praised the Lord with a loud voice. The next morning Jehoshaphat’s battle speech was very simple. Maybe Knute Rockne would have laughed and General Patton might have cried. But, all heaven rejoiced as the king said,“Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” Verse 20.
The battle plan was simple. They were going out to meet the enemy, singing praises to their invisible God. “He appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, PRAISE THE LORD; FOR HIS MERCY ENDURETH FOR EVER.” The interesting thing about this was that the king had “consulted with the people,” on this strategy before they did it. He carried the people with him.
It appears that there was a wonderful spirit of harmony and unity among these people due to this national crisis. Is this not God’s perfect will for His people today? And wasn’t it His perfect will for Israel all through their history? The answer in both cases is “Yes.” In this study I hope to explain why God “permitted” so much war and slaughter and bloodshed. If we keep in mind that God’s “permissive will” is not His “perfect will,” it will help us understand a lot of seeming contradictions and apparent discrepancies.
As these helpless and beautiful people marched out to meet the enemy with a choir at their head singing, “HIS LOVING-KINDNESS IS FOREVER,” the opposing hosts went berserk, and masochistically turned upon themselves. “And at the moment they began to sing and to praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to begin fighting among themselves, and they destroyed each other!…not a single one of the enemy had escaped….The fear of God fell upon them. So Jehosaphat’s kingdom was quiet, for his God had given him rest.” 2 Chronicles 20:22, 24, 29, 30 in The Living Bible.
Everything that happens is not God’s will, but nothing can happen in this sin-cursed world to defeat God’s ultimate plan of salvation. Romans 8:28 is still true. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose.”
The destruction of the enemies of God in Jehosaphat’s day is an example of how the wicked will be destroyed in the final day. Since I will explain this in great detail later, I intend only to refer to it now. Jeremiah 25:31 tells us that God is going to “plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the Lord.” The New English Bible says, “For the Lord brings a charge against the nations, and has handed the wicked over to the sword.”
We shall see more and more as we go along in this book that God doesn’t actually destroy or kill anyone at all. When people are killed by a physical act of nature (an act of God, as the insurance companies call it), or sickness of any kind, God always says, “I the Lord have done this.” He always takes the blame, for He never justifies Himself, first of all, and secondly, He must remain sovereign (in control or boss), for mankind cannot be saved unless they worship the Creator, be it out of fear or love.
To establish a dichotomy of power would be to establish a dichotomy of worship: one directed toward a God of evil and one toward a God of good; mankind could not be saved on that basis. In order to receive worship from all His creatures, God must take all the credit and all the blame no matter whether a person gets sick or gets well. In both cases we are commanded to worship God, for He “does it all.”
This concept of God always taking the blame for the sake of His sovereignty explains the difficult passage in Isaiah 45:7, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” In the preceding verse 5 the Lord said, “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me.” In Isaiah 53:10 we read, “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.” Did God the Father “bruise” His only Son on Calvary? No, but he “created” the possibility for it to happen and permitted or allowed Satan and his angels to urge on fallen humans to “bruise” Him on the cross. As always, God took the blame and said, “I did it. I bruised and hurt my only Son.” Rather than take away the gift of free moral agency or choice, He chose to suffer Himself so that mankind might see that He is truly pure, total love.
When we read, therefore, in Jeremiah 25:31 that God “gives the wicked to the sword,” it simply means that he “creates” the possibility for them to destroy themselves by withdrawing all of His restraints.
Before this age comes to an end and the 1,000 years begin, every human being will have one last chance to choose life or death, truth or falsehood. See Revelation 22:11,12. Probation will close for this age and every character will be frozen, every case closed and decided whether they will be translated and taken to heaven or die and sleep in the grave until after the 1,000 years at which time they will all be resurrected and live on this earth for “a little season” or another life time. See Isaiah 65:20. Let me make it very clear that the close of human probation is not an arbitrary act on the part of God. No. The close of human probation is an act of man against His Creator. It is his final choice to go his own way and do his own thing. This choice on man’s part, the Bible always calls “God’s wrath” or “anger.” See Romans 1:19, 24, 26; and Psalms 78:49.
In Isaiah 45:7 where we read that God “creates evil,” the Hebrew word for evil is Ra’, which may mean either that moral evil which springs from within or trouble that comes upon one from without. “Ra” is the Egyptian name for Lucifer or light.
God permits “evil,” whether moral or material, that men and angels may witness the result of a departure from the eternal principles of right (see on Daniel 4:17). In the Bible God is often held responsible for that which He does not restrain or stop. (see 2 Chronicles 18:18).
Psalms 5:10 says “Destroy Thou them O God, let them fall by their own counsels.” The Bible writer used the Hebrew word “asham” meaning “to be guilty.” In the form used here, the word “asham means to hold guilty.” David desires that God would treat his enemies as guilty, which they undoubtedly are. He requests that they may “fall by their own counsels,” so, that their own plans may be the means of their destruction (see Psalms 7:15, 16; Proverbs 26:27; 28:10). THIS CONCEPT IS FREQUENTLY USED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT. SIN DESTROYS ITSELF.
If we can always keep this one concept in mind: that God always holds Himself responsible for that which He does not prevent, then we will never have any problems with phrases like, “And God smote them,” or “God’s wrath waxed hot at them and consumed them,” or “In his anger he slew them,” and others. Just as we have to learn what the Bible means when it speaks of “forever and ever” and “eternal,” so we must learn what “God’s wrath” and “God’s anger” actually refer to.
A good example of this is the death of the Egyptian army at the Red Sea. Satan is a double-crosser. That is, he betrays, swindles and finally destroys those who serve him. That is precisely what he did to Pharaoh and the Egyptian army. Satan knew the power of God. He was certainly aware of Christ’s power to protect the over two million souls who left Egypt. Exodus 12:37 tells us there were 600,000 men alone. If there were only four to a family, that would make two million alone, but the families were no doubt much larger.
Satan is the “DESTROYER,” Revelation 9:11. If he could not recapture or kill the Israelites, he would gladly destroy all of the Egyptians. Exodus 12:23 clearly shows that it was “The Destroyer” (Satan), who killed all the first born of Egypt. Now, if he could lead the whole Egyptian army (600 chariots plus horses) with murder in their hearts to pursue after Israel, he would have a “legal right,” to destroy them. So actually, in bringing the Egyptian host down to the Red Sea he was planning to “double-cross,” Pharaoh and kill him and his army. The commandment says,”thou shalt not kill (murder).” Exodus 20. And Obadiah 15 says, “As thou hast done, so shalt it be done unto thee.”
In other words, Satan could not legally destroy the Egyptian’s firstborn until he led them to have hatred in their hearts toward the Israelites. When he was successful in doing this, he then had a legal right to kill the firstborn. Matthew 5:21, 22. Now, again he leads Pharaoh and the Egyptians to reverse their decision to let Israel go. Then he inspires them to recapture and/or kill the Israelites at the Red Sea, and as a result, bring the death decree upon their own heads. God had a legal right to hold the water back for His own people, but He did not have a legal right to protect the Egyptians. It rained upon the Egyptians. Psalms 77:17, 18. God did not bring this rainstorm. Satan did. God’s angels withdrew and Satan’s angels brought disaster upon the Egyptians, but God took the blame for it, Exodus 14:24-28. God did not have a legal right to continue holding back the waters and withdrew. The double-cross was successful. The “East wind” was what opened up the Red Sea. Exodus 14:21. The East wind was always used to destroy. Genesis 41:6; Hosea 12:1. If God does not destroy who really opened up the Red Sea and set a trap for the Egyptians? *See Additional Note #19.