“I will not be angry with you, nor will I rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” – Isaiah 54:9-10
Reading the Old Testament can be a rough ride. For starters: God commits genocide with a flood; the first born of Egypt are killed; Jericho is razed to the last human and rodent; a person could be stoned for collecting wood on the Sabbath or for mouthing off to their parents; holy fire consumes two p.k.’s for not worshipping properly.
So let’s hop and skip over all that and dive into the New Testament where Jesus embraces children, feeds the hungry, raises the dead, eats with the unclean, rescues an adulterer and condemns only the punitive religious police!
Well, not so fast.
It’s true that the God of Jesus Christ is less harsh than what we occasionally find in the Old Testament. It’s not true that the New Testament God is a God of love while the Old Testament God is a God of wrath. It’s the same God. God is as loving and gracious in the Old Testament as in the New, which the above passage from Isaiah reveals (and there are many others). God is opposed to sin and evil throughout the Bible. Both testaments offer a God who condemns and forgives.
Our God is a God of steadfast love and unyielding peace from alpha to omega, beginning to end, Genesis to Revelation and back again. Praise God!
Please re-read the verse above and join me below for prayer.
God, you are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. And so is Jesus, who perfectly reveals your justice and unfailing mercy. Today, let me walk humbly with him.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.