JESUS IS THE GOD OF
THE OLD TESTAMENT
In addition to this concept of what “God’s Wrath” means, we must remember that when the Bible in Isaiah and Jeremiah and Psalms and all the other books of the Old Testament use the word Lord or God or Jehovah, the writer is often, but not always, referring to none other than Jesus Christ Himself. More on this later.
For example, “For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Savior. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” Was this Jesus who led them in the cloud by day and in the fiery pillar at night? Yes, it was. Nehemiah 9:6-21 proves that it was Jesus. Cf. John 1:1-3, I Cor 10:1-4 and Hebrews 1:1-3.
We must now ask ourselves a very logical and important question. If this was Jesus, and we must admit that it was, acting in perfect harmony and accord with the Eternal Father and the Eternal Holy Spirit, just as He did when He was upon earth in the flesh, then we must come to the only harmonious conclusion we can come to; which is, that Jesus in the Old Testament did not hurt, maim or kill anybody anymore than He did when He walked the dusty roads of Galilee in a “body of sinful flesh” like ours. Phil. 2:7; Romans 8:3.
Any other conclusion denies the very essence of and nature of Deity; namely, that God never changes and that He knows all things ahead of time (we call that quality Omniscience (all knowing). If He is, and Isaiah 46:9,10 tells that He is, then He would never have to change His plans for that would deny the very basis of omniscience, which is that an omniscient God is already two steps ahead of the devil and all mankind.
In fact, He is not only two steps ahead, but He has indeed already gone the whole route. God’s foreknowledge is an absolute necessity in order for us to have our free moral agency. But this foreknowledge also causes our God a lot of suffering. “In all of their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled, and vexed his Holy Spirit.” Isaiah 63:9, 10.
Now, the angels are not omniscient. They do not know the future anymore than we do unless God reveals it to them. Of course, they may not be limited by time and space like we are, but since they are created beings (Ezekiel 28:15), and since one-third of the original number rebelled and left heaven (Jude 6) to try to carry this world and as many other worlds with them, as possible, we can only conclude that they are not able to foretell the future as God does and are, therefore, not omniscient.
The rebellion of Lucifer (Satan) was over the authority of God the Father and His Son and His right to make the laws. Lucifer wanted that position (Isaiah 14:12-14). He wanted to be the big man who sat “upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the NORTH.” Why did He want that North side? What is so special about the North side? Psalms 75:6 tells us, “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: (one who makes and interprets law) he putteth down one, and setteth up another.”
That was the real reason. Lucifer wanted to be the one who controlled all things. Because our wonderful Creator God already knew what would happen and how it would all turn out, He did not need to use force or coercion, but was able to let each angel decide which way they desired to go. This was the way He operated at the beginning of the great rebellion and the way He has operated ever since. And it is also the way He will continue to operate until all things are restored. Acts 3:21.
“Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord God.” This text explains Satan’s future. Jesus never laid a hand upon him in the beginning of the rebellion and He won’t lay a hand upon him in the final day except to invite Him to come back home like the prodigal son. The very law he despised will be that which brings him and all who have despised it with him to “ashes” or remorse and repentance. “The Law of God is like a fire that pursues a man’s conscience until he repents. God’s fire is His love.” Song of Solomon 8:6. He lovingly pursues us until He catches us like He did Saul of Tarsus, who was destroyed on the road to Damascus and became Paul the apostle. And that is how Satan will be destroyed and be reborn as Lucifer.
In Matthew 10:28, we read, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The word “hell” here is Gehenna or the fiery hell which destroys. It is both symbolic and literal. Symbolically fire represents love or hate. Literally, this GEHENNA “hell-fire” represents the literal fire the wicked will ignite themselves to burn themselves up. Someone will miss the point here and say, “See, God does kill people in the last day. This is His strange act.” Let me answer that objection with a question. If it has not been necessary for God to destroy Satan or any of his angels so far, why should it be necessary for Him to use arbitrary (despotic) measures against human beings today or in the future? Are humans harder or easier for God to control and work around to carry out His plans? You say, “the fallen angels are harder to work around.” I agree. But where in the Bible does it state that God ever hurt or killed any of them? It doesn’t.
Therefore, if it is true that God has at no time ever lifted up His hand against Satan, before or after he “left” heaven in his attempt to win the remainder of the universe to his side, why in the name of all that is pure and true and righteous and holy, should it ever be said that God has ever hurt any human beings? That to my mind would be the height of injustice, and God is a righteous judge, the Bible says.
Some teach that Satan is stoking the fires of hell for the wicked and then they turn right around and say that Satan will burn with the wicked through all eternity. If that is true, then Satan and God are partners. God makes the rules. Satan tempts men to break them so God can send them to hell where He has employed the devil to torture them in hell-fire. This is not only a terrible slander against the character of God, but totally illogical. Why should God make the greatest sinner of all (Satan) the one who punishes the lesser sinners or humans?
Furthermore, Satan doesn’t begin being punished until the end of the world. At that time Satan is supposed to begin burning himself. The justice of God is only about 6,000 years behind schedule, according to that view. But, what about those of us who do not believe in an ever-burning hell fire now or later on? Are we not as illogical as others, only in a slightly lesser degree? How is that, you ask? Well, to put it bluntly, some teachers are accused of defaming the name of God by picturing Him as a terrible bully who is torturing or will torture (depending upon your brand of theology about hell-fire) the wicked in an ever-burning hell, while others burn them only a little while.
The only difference is that the blowtorch God has in His hands to burn up the wicked is much smaller and doesn’t last as long.
Either view makes God out to be an arbitrary despot instead of a loving creator who gives free moral agency to every one and never takes it away.
Which kind of Creator would you prefer to serve? The despot Creator or the loving Creator who never uses force or takes away the power of choice? If we are to be like Jesus in every particular and have His lovely character, then we may have to rethink some of our concepts about Him in the Old Testament. It is a duty impossible to avoid. So, how will the Creator deal with those who are lost in this age? The word “age or eon” is from the Greek word “aion” and is critical in understanding how God will deal with the wicked after the 1,000 years. Some believe God will burn or torture them in everlasting hell fire forever and ever while others, more benevolent say that they will only burn for a little while and then they will cease to exist. This is called the extinction or annihilation theory of the final judgment. Most Christians do not realize there is a third alternative or belief or that the Bible actually teaches it. In fact, this concept was taught in the early church up until the 5th century. Peter called it the “Times of Restitution of all things.”
Restitution is an old English word for Restoration. “Whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient times.” Acts 3:21. New American Standard. The KJV reads “from the beginning.”
The salvation of all mankind is a recurrent theme throughout the Bible which most people miss. God locks up all mankind together in stubbornness, that He should be merciful to all. Rom 11:32. *See Note. “Our SAVIOR, God, Who wills that all mankind be saved and come into a realization of the truth.” I Timothy 2:4. Now, notice this one. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Now, beloved, I just looked up the word “will” and “willing” in the original Greek in Strong’s concordance, (1013 & 1014) and discovered that it comes from the Greek word “Boulomai” which means “to resolve, purpose or will.” It also means “to intend.” So, 2 Peter 3:9 really means that God has “purposed, resolved and absolutely intends” to save all mankind. Isaiah 53:11 tells us that in the final judgment Jesus will “see the travail of His soul and be SATISFIED.” Do you think that our Blessed Redeemer would be satisfied with anything less than total success? I don’t think so. Jesus, our blessed Redeemer and Shepherd of the flock of this earth will not be satisfied with anything less than 100%, a completed fold and house hold of faith. Matt 18:2-14.
THE VALLEY OF JEHOSHAPHAT
“Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.” Joel 3:12.
We have already read the story of King Jehoshaphat who did not lead his people to battle with sword and spear, but did battle with the forces of darkness with the WORD OF GOD by singing praises to God.
Jehoshaphat means JEHOVAH HAS JUDGED. If God is an omniscient God, and I believe that Isaiah 46:9, 10; Psalms 139:2, 16 and Hebrews 4:13 say He is, then He has already “decided” or “judged” who will be saved and who will be lost for this age and who will be saved finally in the great age of the ages after the 1,000 years, because of each person’s own choice.
Revelation 22:12 tells us that He is bringing His reward with Him when He comes the second time to rescue the saints. So, Jesus has already decided who among the living will be saved and He has also decided or judged worthy who will be with Him from among the dead who have already died before He comes again. And so, He has decided a lot of things already. In addition to that, the saints will go over the “books” to see why Jesus decided the way He did in each case. Revelation 15:2-4 indicates that the whole universe, saved and lost will admit God was perfect in each and every one of his decisions. This will take place during the millennium or 1,000 years. More will be said later about how God will reconcile all the lost outside the city.
So, this Valley of Jehoshaphat is going to be a time when a great panoramic view is going to reveal all of these decisions Jesus has made with His Father; and everyone is going to bow down and declare that He is totally just. Do you think anyone would bow down if God has arbitrarily killed anyone? Everyone will realize and admit that they are outside the city by their own choice. God’s laws are not arbitrary and therefore He is not a despot who forces His way or His will on anyone at anytime. God destroys no man. James 1:17. The wicked will have a lot of time to think things over out there. “A little season,” in Moses’ day was 120 years and Isaiah 65:20 is a text some have used to refer to this period of time. Just think of the suffering the wicked will have to endure for at least 100 years because of their wrong and evil choices in this life. How much better it is to decide for Christ right now, my friend, so you will be inside the city looking out and not outside looking in.
Satan is working under a thousand different masks and aliases for only one purpose—to misrepresent the character and government of God. What is God’s government based upon? His law. Has Satan succeeded in perverting the Law of God? Yes. If that is true, then let us also be aware of how he is misrepresenting His character. For, if Satan can make us believe that God’s character is different than it really is, will we be looking at and forming a character after the similitude of a loving Creator or of an angry despot? Think about it.
The Bible tells us that someday “every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess,” Phil 2:9-11, Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11, Psalms 22:29. This would not only include all the people of the world, saved and lost, but all of the angels, holy and loyal as well as unholy and disloyal. It would also include all of the unfallen worlds who may have had some doubts along the way. God has won his case in court, as it were, without ever slandering, embarrassing, hurting or killing a single one of his beloved creatures. What a wise and wonderful God we serve!
Now, do you think that Satan and his hosts would ever bow the knee to Jesus if they could find one little flaw in His track record? Not a chance! Jesus will show in this final view of glory and song and praise that He was the same all the way through … total pure love. The wicked will understand and have to admit they are outside of the city because of their own choice.
The valley of Jehoshaphat has been applied to the Kidron Valley, the depression between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, to the east of Jerusalem. It has been connected with the Valley of Berachah, the very scene of Judah’s victory over the united forces of Ammon and Moab and Mt. Seir (2 Chronicles 20:1-30), which we have already referred to. The real significance of the name “Valley of Jehoshaphat” is in the name itself, and not necessarily in its location. The name means “Jehovah has judged.” But, in our present context, it would seem very significant that this valley would indeed be the same valley where the final battle of this earth will be staged.
The New Jerusalem will come down upon the Mount of Olives, according to Zechariah 14:4,5,9. This will be the final scene of the judgment, the beginning of the Great “Age of the Ages.” Even though the gates of the city are never closed the wicked will not go in, at least not at first. Why? Because their minds are filled with fear. That is why the saints must go out to them. See Ezekiel 16 and 47. This may be hard for you to believe at first, but it is true. You know, my friend, that tells me something wonderful about God. It tells me that everyone who really wants to be with Him in the kingdom is going to be inside the city and those who did not want to be with Him will be outside suffering. There will be a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. So, that tells me that our God is presently doing everything in His power to get people into that Golden City, not keep them out. It seems to me that it is hard to be lost and easy to be saved when you look at it from God’s perspective. Jesus told Paul, “it is hard for you to kick against the pricks.” And again He said, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” We sure do make it hard, though, don’t we? We sure paint a dark picture of God for people, don’t we? I think it is about time we quit discouraging people. Acts 9:5; Matthew 11:28-30.
I want you to notice that it is the “song of praise from the redeemed” singing “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain,” which is another way of singing and saying as they did in Jehoshaphat’s day, “His loving-kindness endures forever,” 2 Chronicles 20:21, which caused the masochistic death by self-execution of the wicked hosts of Moab and Ammon. God did not destroy them. No. They destroyed each other.
Well, someone is probably asking about now: “Why did God allow the Israelites to slaughter so many of the heathen in the Old Testament?” The answer seems axiomatic (self-evident) to me. It is the same reason the Lord allowed Moses to “command” husbands to give a writing of divorcement, and to put away their wives, which Jesus explained in Matt 19:7, 8. “Moses, because of the HARDNESS OF YOUR HEARTS SUFFERED (allowed) YOU TO PUT AWAY YOUR WIVES: but from the beginning it was not so.” Ah, there you have it. God’s permissive will as opposed to His perfect will is shown. And later we will also see there was another lord they were listening to. The Adversary lord. The Impostor god. Oh, yes, they thought they were obeying the true God but it was really the devil. Jesus revealed this to them in John 8:44 when He said, “You are of your father the devil.”
God has always had to accommodate Himself to the whims of mankind in order to carry out His Divine purposes. How many times we get in His way and delay the accomplishment of His work with our “own way,” and “limit” the Holy one of Israel. Psalms 78:41. 2 Chronicles 20:21.
In order to remain sovereign and warn millions He sometimes permitted hundreds or thousands to be killed. But was this His idea? No. It was what the carnal mind of man wanted and Satan as the Angel of Justice (Rev 6:5) was always near to inspire the death sentence to be carried out and God took the blame by saying He commanded it or ordered it, because He allowed or permitted it to happen. We many times think of death in this life as the ultimate punishment, but that is not true at all. If we could know the truth, we might find out that many of those who were sentenced to be executed may have repented and will eventually be saved just as the convicted criminal, the thief on the cross, was saved at the eleventh hour. Luke 23:39-43.
Samuel and even Elijah carried out executions as a warning against potential lawbreakers. Let us not lower ourselves to using this against God’s character to say this proves He does kill. Actually, it proves God’s mercy in demonstrating the results of sin. Christ knew how much these heathen nations were suffering due to wrong eating habits, sexual abuse, etc. Instead of permitting them to die a slow agonizing death and infect many others with their bad example, especially the Israelites, God permitted them to be put to death by His people who, although not always within His will, still were His chosen people, and the only ones through whom He could carry out His final objectives for saving mankind. When Christ came in the flesh He refused to let them stone the woman caught in adultery. John 8:5-11. God never changes. He never ordered anyone to be stoned, but he allowed men to do what they desired to do. They heard the voice they wanted to hear. John 10:4, 27; 12:27-30.
If Israel had always been faithful, they would not have wanted to go to war and carry out these slaughters, for God had promised to drive out the inhabitants with “hornets.” See Exodus 23:28 and Joshua 24:12. Some bible scholars and commentaries interpret “hornets” as meaning literal hornets while others see it as a figurative reference to the repeated invasion of Palestine by the Egyptians. One Hebrew/English lexicon defined “hornets” simply as a scourge or that which causes a scourge, which could be any number of disasters from bad weather, to sickness and disease to invading armies. The point is that the Lord wanted Israel to trust in Him and His sovereign control over all the forces of nature as well as man. They would not have to take up the sword to hurt and kill anyone. But they never came to the place where they completely surrendered themselves to Him to that extent. Therefore, He allowed them to use the sword at times.
Yet, God controlled the sword of man (Israel’s carnal desire to kill) by saying “You may take life only when I give you permission to do so, and then only.” This was never His “perfect will,” but always His “permissive will,” as it was with the laws on divorce, and later the monarchy. They were given “their own way” because of the “hardness” of their hearts. And as a result they suffered terribly.
David was a man of war and of much “blood,” and as a result, was not permitted to build the temple because of it, which should tell us something in itself. But the Lord permitted Israel to have a king (Saul) and even selected him and took the blame for all the bad things he did, even for Saul’s death. See 1 Chronicles 10:13,14. It was not God’s will for David to have many wives, but He put up with it. He rebuked David, however, for the sin of taking Bathsheba. Oh, how God has to suffer because of our sinfulness. How often He weeps over our waywardness. No, it was not God’s perfect will for Israel as a nation to fight and war or kill, nor was it His perfect will for individuals to kill, but in order to save millions He permitted a few to perish as examples. This prevented further rebellion and demonstrated the results of sin.
Are we not as a people today guilty of even a greater crime than was Israel by letting this world sink deeper every day while we refuse to surrender our all to God so He can finish His work in us and through us? How many millions are perishing and will continue to perish because of our neglect of duty? Only eternity will reveal it to us. How great is God’s mercy! But someday it will be seen. All things will be revealed and everyone will have to face his/her record.
*The TEV reads, “for God has made all people prisoners of disobedience, so that He might show mercy to them all.” The NKJV says, “has commited them all to disobedience.” The NAS reads, “shut up all to disobedience.” The RSV says, “consigned.” In God’s soverign will He allowed man to fall in order to make planet earth the “lesson book” for the universe.