The angry God
Over the years I’ve learned that the Old Testament has gotten a pretty bad reputation. This is chiefly because the central figure of those 39 books within have been so poorly misrepresented by Believers and un-Believers alike. The odd thing is, that on the flip side you have the New Testament which so many people love. Yet, its central figure is also often heavily misrepresented. I’m sure it’s no surprise to you when I say I’m referring to God and Yeshua (Jesus) as the central figures of each testament. The truth is most people would rather spend time with Jesus than God. Most people would rather read the Old Testament than the New Testament. Many people - and I would argue most Believers - see the Old Testament as a cold, harsh reality that presents God as an impossible to please and easily angered deity. And they would also view the New Testament as a reality full of love, grace and forgiveness perpetuated by a more merciful and understanding deity.
Because this false dichotomy exists it’s much easier for Believers to sink their teeth into the New Testament. The New Testament is often falsely framed as a collection of stories about Jesus that benefit the reader. The Old Testament is at times falsely framed as a collection of stories about ancient Israel that benefited God. But none of this is true. The Old and New Testament are historic accounts about God and what He has done and will do for all of His creation. The Bible is one continuous story. And not only that, it’s about one God. Not two separate gods or two separate deities with different agendas. God and Yeshua did not and do not have two separate hearts, desires or goals. They are the same. The difference is God the Father and God the Son play two different roles in the story of humanity. But they both share the same common goal which is to reconcile everyone back to God. To return humanity back to its rightful place. The rightful place that was forfeited by Adam and Eve.
Unfortunately, this warped view of the Bible has led to the creation of the angry God and meek and humble Jesus narrative. The Old Testament, filled with stories centered around a wrathful God constantly chastising a disobedient people. This is in contrast to the New Testament filled stories of a lowly, poor, rarely angry, loving, forgiving Jesus. What we’re left with is a picture of a God who has bi-polar tendencies or at a minimum is thoroughly confused.
But as we’ve seen in the last few, or really, since the inception of this newsletter, God is not a confused, wrathful deity. God is not a divine being sitting on a throne with nothing else to do but unleash fury for every misstep His creation makes. Nor is Yeshua (Jesus) the polar opposite to God, somehow representing the balance of God’s character. They are in fact one.
29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” - John 10:29–33
Yeshua (Jesus) was pretty clear that He is God in the flesh. And He was willing to press this point as to anger the jewish leaders of His day who wanted to stone Him for such blasphemy. What this means is the God of the Old and New Testament are the same. The attributes that are commonly assigned to Yeshua (Jesus) such as humility, love, meekness, lowliness, and sacrifice should also be assigned to the “God of the Old Testament”. And the opposite is also true. Attributes such as anger or wrath, jealously, vengeance and justness commonly assigned to God should be assigned to Yeshua (Jesus).
Appropriately framing the character of God helps pave the way for us to realize a very important truth; God has been moving heaven and earth since the Fall in order to reconcile humanity back to Him. He’s not an angry God. He is a jealous God. There is a difference. And He is jealous because He loves us.
5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, - Exodus 20:5
God’s precious gift
OK, so now I’m going to shake your world a bit. You’ve probably heard the story of a God who created man to worship Him. This man then fell only for God to have to initiate a rescue mission to get these creatures back so they could worship and know Him. In this narrative the story is all about humanity. This special creation. We have God scrambling feverishly after a pretty pathetic creation deemed as special who’s running in the opposite direction. But, that’s not really the full story.
A question that has often plagued my mind for years is, why humans? Why did God really create us? One of the more famous answers to this question is that God created us so we could know Him and share in His pleasures for all eternity. But this answer has never fully satisfied me. This answer sounds more like the end result of an action. Meaning, because God created us we can know Him and bask in His pleasures for all eternity. It’s akin to saying, because I gave a woman flowers she can enjoy them, while leaving out the fact the woman is my wife and it’s our anniversary.
But I believe there’s another answer that helps satisfy this question. Something deeper and more meaningful. Because one thing I’ve learned about God, is nothing happens by accident and everything God does is big and has a purpose.
I wish I could explain to you precisely how the union between God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit work. But then, if I could explain it I’d probably be God and that wouldn’t be good for anyone or anything. So you’ll have to just go along with me here a bit as I explain that God the Father loved God the Son before we were even a thought. And out of this love God the Father essentially gifted humanity to God the Son. If you don’t believe in the concept of predestination you will shortly.
Scripture speaks to a relationship that was established before the beginning of the world between God the Father and God the Son. This is something that isn’t stressed enough within the church in my opinion. There was a deep relationship between the two that goes back to eternity past.
24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world - John 17:24
This is one of the most remarkable verses in the Bible. Here is God the Son, Yeshua (Jesus), desiring that God would be so gracious to allow humanity to be with Him so we - humanity - can see His glory. And Yeshua (Jesus) states that the Father has loved Him before the foundation of the world which is what the glory of Christ is predicated on. Christ’s glory is predicated on the Father’s love. Without the Father’s love there is no glory for the Son. Without glory for the Son there is no hope nor value in humanity. For what are we without Christ besides creatures of death clawing through the night without meaning or purpose?
But let’s not stop there. If we look at 2 Timothy 1:8 we see something else that is remarkable.
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began - 2 Timothy 1:8–9
Here we see the Apostle Paul proclaiming that we are saved by grace not works. But this was according to God’s own purpose and God’s grace that was given to us in Christ Yeshua (Jesus) before the age of time began. What does this mean? This means that we - humanity - were destined to be in Christ whom God loved, before the beginning of time. How amazing is that? Welcome to predestination.
I often sit and ponder about what life was like before I was born. The events that took place, good and bad. The people that lived. The relationships that existed. The civilizations we will never know about. Time is such an incredible and abstract thing to wrap our minds around. But to sit and think about God the Father and God the Son pre-existing all things, in relationship simply blows me away. The Father and the Son, and let’s not leave out the Spirit, all in relationship before time began. It’s one thing to realize God has always existed. But to know the independent but equal, co-existing egos of God were all in relationship and plotting the advent of all we know is just mind-blowing. You and I weren’t even a thought. Time wasn’t even in existence.
What we can take away from all of this is that our existence was not by accident. And God didn’t create humanity on a whim, looking for another set of created beings to worship Him. God the Father didn’t need us. Nor did God the Son. But the Father loves the Son and predestined us - a special type of creation - into the Son’s hands for all eternity so we may experience His glory. Why? Because the Father loved the Son.
The story of the Bible isn’t about you or me. It’s about God. God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit, all in perfect relationship with each other. All loving each other. All sharing in each other’s glory. Due to God’s grace and desires humanity was created and we can share in this amazing relationship for all eternity. Not because we’ve done anything. Not because of our works. But simply due to the grace and purpose of God. This was the plan from the beginning.
When God created Adam and Eve the plan had already been set. When God cursed the ground and the serpent the plan had already been set. When God created skins to cover up Adam and Eve the plan had already been set. When God sent Christ to die on the cross, the plan had already been set. And when Christ comes back to reconcile us to our rightful place, it’s because the plan has already been set. Nothing is by accident. God was not taken back by the Fall. God did not create a Plan B to rescue us. Everything, and I mean everything, is going according to plan.
Know that God is sovereign. Know that salvation can not be lost. For the love the Father has for us (John 3:16) is co-joined with the love He has for the Son. It is inseparable from Christ and so are we. Know that in the end we will be returned back to our rightful place. In this place we will enjoy the glory of our Lord forever.