Monday, November 30, 2020

Why is there such a difference between God in the Old Testament and God in the New Testament?


Sometimes when we read through the Old testament, and all the amazing historical records, and then we compare it to the new testament, we see a big difference. Did God really change between the old and new testaments? 

Let’s dig into the question. So we see that in old testament times, several thousand years before Jesus was even born, you had God building a nation that would be his special nation in the world.  God began that process with a man named Abraham.  One man was faithful to God, and God guided him to found a nation.  That nation is called Israel. And even to this very day, Israel exists in the world.  We’re talking history here.

So we see God interacting in history in very intense and severe ways in the Old Testament.  Think about some of the examples…

First of all, we see the fall, where God curses Adam and Eve, and the world becomes fallen. We obviously struggle in sin and death now, the world is fallen and a broken place.

Then we see God bring about the great flood, where millions of people would die, and only Noah’s family would survive to repopulate the Earth.

We see how Israel is taken into slavery in Egypt for four hundred years, and God eventually works through Moses to deliver them from slavery, and he brings about great plagues on the Egyptians as punishment for their disobedience to God.

God eventually works through Joshua, commanding Israel to go to war. To take the promised land from tribes that already live there. 

On and on the list goes.  We see God interacting very directly with the nation of Israel, through people, through his prophets, his leaders, and his kings eventually. 

We see God commanding very direct actions, and very direct punishments, like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  And the taking of Israel into the Babylonian captivity.

There are many, many more examples.  But essentially the old testament was a time when God worked through various different people to found a nation called Israel that would be his special nation, and the goal was to spread faith in God from Israel to the whole world.  But Israel unfortunately disobeyed God, and time and again Israel faced judgment and destruction, and exile, and captivity, and invasions from other nations.

Then we see Jesus Christ the son of God come into the world, at a time when Israel was conquered and controlled by the Roman Empire.  And we begin reading the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  And we see that God seems to change how he interacts with people. 

He commands us to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us.  He commands us to believe in Jesus Christ for our salvation.  And we no longer see God bringing judgment against nations, or destroying places, at least, not that we know of. 

So the question is what changed? Did God change?  Did God mellow out in the new testament? 

Of course we know from the word of God that God does not change.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  But the way that he interacts with us, his creation does seem to progress, to develop over time. 

When you study any book of the old testament, in some way it points us forward to the time when Jesus would be born.  Every prophet, leader, priest, or teacher lived by faith in God, but they were waiting for a time when Jesus Christ would be born, and then sin could finally be completely washed away.

It all pointed forward to Jesus. Before Jesus, God dealt with sin directly, through judgment. He destroyed the evil of the world, to allow the pure to prosper. 

Sin is the big problem of the Bible, of our world, of the past, and of the present. Sin is the problem.  But when Jesus came, and was sacrificed on the cross for our sins.  The sin problem finally had a solution. 

But God still despises sin just as much as he did when he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, or when he flooded the Earth.  And God will deal with sin, on the earth, during a time in history that is coming, called the great tribulation.

This time is depicted vividly in the last book of the bible, the book of Revelation. Anyone who thinks that God mellowed out in the new testament and became all hearts and butterflies should read the book of Revelation. 

Right now we’re in what you might call the church age, this is the time of God’s patience.  The church is spreading out across the Earth, all the way from Israel, to our present day where it’s active in the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, the continent of Africa, and yes, even little Owosso Michigan. Even in Shiawassee county, the church spreads.  This is a time when God waits patiently to see what we will choose, Him or the way of selfishness in this world. 

But eventually that window of patience on the part of God will close.  And then the judgments of the book of Revelation will begin.  The church will be set apart, and brought to God, and the world will experience the darkest time imaginable.  And this time will also directly connect with Israel.  Israel will be won to Christ during this time, but also face great turmoil and destruction. 

So to answer the question: We don’t see a big difference between who God is in the old and new testaments, but we do see a difference in regard to what phase of God’s plan we are in.  In the Old Testament times, was the time that God built of Israel, and paved the way for the coming of Jesus, and the new testament times is the church age, where God guides his church to take the gospel to all nations, and this church age concludes with the great tribulation, the end times, and the return of Jesus Christ.

God doesn’t change.  He still hates sin.  And the old testament times of “hellfire and brimstone” we saw in the times of Israel and Noah, and Abraham, those times are going to come again, not against the church, but against the sinful world that has rejected Jesus to the very end, and must now face the penalty for their disobedience. However, during this time of great tribulation, many millions will also be won to Christ. 

To finally answer the question then, God is the same forever, but over history we watch his plan unfold in different ways. Right now we are in the time of God’s patience, and His grace, so we ought to jump into that agreement, and say yes to Jesus, before time runs out.  Because judgment is coming in the future. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

What are the Prophecies about Jesus that were Fulfilled?

So today we’re talking about a very important to question about the great Jesus Christ our King.  The question is, “What are the prophecies that were fulfilled about Jesus?”

So many of you might be scratching your heads and saying, what prophecies? Well, something that is really astonishing about the life of Jesus of Nazareth, is that in the Old Testament, there were all these books that were written before Jesus was even born. Some of these books, a thousand years before Jesus was even born.  And these various books, inspired by God, made these predictions that this suffering servant figure would appear in the future.  And that he would do various things, and change the world forever.

And what’s amazing, is if you look at these prophecies, one by one, each of them happened at some point during the life of Jesus.  Now I’ve personally read that there are over 300 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled from the old testament, written before he was born. 

So I started searching various resources, and found a list of 40 of them, then a list of 100 of them, that’s pretty good I thought.  But I thought there were over 300?  So at last I found this list, and it lists off three hundred fifty one examples of prophecies fulfilled by Jesus.

So, if I studied one of these a day, from today, Nov 22nd 2020, I could read one a day, and not be done until Nov 8th of next year. Obviously we don’t have time to go through all 351 of them tonight. But I’ll show you some of them.

We can go right to the first book of the bible, Genesis, written about 1500 years before Jesus was born.  After the fall of Adam and Eve, you see God giving these prophecy to them.  He says, that the seed of the woman, so one of her ancestors would defeat the serpent.  And of course we know, that Jesus was born in the line of Adam and Eve, and he defeated Satan the evil one on the cross by dying to remove our sins. 

Also in the book of Job, one of the oldest books of the Old Testament, Job declares that “I know my redeemer lives, and he will one day stand on the Earth.”  As we know Jesus is God, so he was alive before he was even born into a human body.  Job knew even back then, that Jesus was alive, and that one day Jesus would be born into the world. 

Job was written around the same time as Genesis, about 3,520 years ago.

But if you’re looking for a book of the Bible that depicts tons and tons of prophecies about Jesus, we of course have to look at the book of Isaiah, which was read for you today in the scripture reading.  This book is incredible, it’s chock full of scriptures about the coming messiah.

Just look here at Isaiah chapter 52:13-15 It says, “13 Behold, My Servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and [h]greatly exalted.
14 Just as many were appalled at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred beyond that of a man,
And His form beyond the sons of mankind.
15 So [i]He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what they had not been told, they will see,
And what they had not heard, they will understand.”

First of all, “My Servant” is capitalized which indicates we’re talking about God.  Jesus came as our servant.  This was written before Jesus was born. It says he will be high and lifted up. What happened to Jesus when he was crucified? He was nailed ot the cross on the ground, and lifted up. And on the cross verse 14, it says his appearance was appalling, his appearance was marred. This happened to Jesus, he had the crown of thorns forced on his head, he was beaten and whipped and was so bloody on the cross he was so mangled they turned away from him in shame. 

Verse 15 says he’ll sprinkle many nations.  And we know that this is true, when we’re born again, we’re sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, that washes away our sin.  Kings will shut their mouth on his account, if you recall Pontius Pilate became wordless once he spoke to Jesus.  Just incredible, this was all written before Jesus was even born. 

God inspired prophets like Isaiah to write these things down.  To point his people toward the coming of Jesus.

Let’s look through Isaiah 53, which we heard earlier.  This is just one chapter.  And there are over 300 prophecies, according to the list I found, 351. Amazing.  Let’s take a look.

Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He grew up before Him like a tender [a]shoot,
And like a root out of dry ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we would look at Him,
Nor an appearance that we would take pleasure in Him.
He was despised and abandoned by men,
A man of [b]great pain and familiar with sickness;
And like one from whom people hide their faces,
He was despised, and we had no regard for Him.

However, it was our sicknesses that He Himself bore,
And our pains that He carried;
Yet we ourselves assumed that He had been afflicted,
Struck down by God, and humiliated.
But He was [c]pierced for our offenses,
He was crushed for our wrongdoings;
The punishment for our [d]well-being was laid upon Him,
And by His wounds we are healed.
All of us, like sheep, have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the wrongdoing of us all
To [e]fall on Him.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off from the land of the [f]living
For the wrongdoing of my people, to whom the blow was due?
And His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10 But the Lord desired
To crush Him, [g]causing Him grief;
If He renders [h]Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His [i]offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the [j]good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
11 As a result of the [k]anguish of His soul,
He will [l]see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
For He will bear their wrongdoings.
12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the plunder with the strong,
Because He poured out His [m]life unto death,
And was counted with wrongdoers;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the wrongdoers.

So in conclusion, those are some of the prophecies about the Jesus who would come, the God-man, who would be born of the virgin Mary.  But you may be wondering, why, why would God inspire people thousands of years before Jesus came to write about him? Well, perhaps so that today you would look at all these prophecies and be so amazed, what are the chances that one man could fulfill all these prophecies, including where he would be born and how he would die? There’s no way. This is what we call evidence for the fact that Jesus Christ is really real.  So if Jesus isn’t really real, then how were all of these prophecies fulfilled a thousand years later when Jesus of Nazareth was born?  Explain it to me, I’ll wait.  The only way it could be true, is if Jesus Christ is really real, and God really inspired people to write about what Jesus would do many years later. So believe in Jesus. Trust in Jesus. Give your life to Him.