The Bible is very clear about the unchanging nature of God. James declares that every good gift comes down from the Father of lights, “with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” If this is true, it follows that there has not been, nor could there ever be, any shift in God’s character.
We are also told to rightly divide and explain the Bible, the Word of Truth, in 2 Timothy 2:15.
The best way to explain to so many people who claim that “God is different between the Old and New Testaments” the reason why He isn’t, is by using a judge in a court of law as an example. Whenever two people with a disagreement come before a judge, the one will walk away with a favorable view of the judge and the other will walk away with a dis-favorable view. It all depends of which way the judgment went. But in reality the judge is the same person before the judgement as what he is after the judgment. It is just the views of the individuals that have changed. In the same way we have to make sure that we don’t get caught up in our view of God because of a distorted view of the Old and New Testament in the Bible.
Just like a coin has two sides, we must take a look at both sides of God. God is both ‘love that is full of grace and patience’ and a ‘holy and righteous consuming fire’:
But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. (1 John 4:8-9)
Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29)
God has always called His people to be a holy and loving people:
You must be holy because I, the Lord, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own. (Leviticus 20:26)
Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining. (1 John 2:7-8)
We must face the fact that God created us without sin. But we fell into sin and death by choice. Because God loved us so much, sin had to be dealt with. In the Old Testament we are given the law and the prophets as a temporary antidote to cover sin. It was a harsh way as we see in the Old Testament. Not until the New Testament do we see the better way which took the sacrifice of God’s only Son Jesus who shed His blood for us to once and for all be a method to cleanse us from our sins.
If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. But when God found fault with the people, He said: “The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to My covenant, so I turned my back on them, says the Lord. But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means He has made the first one obsolete. (Hebrews 8:7-10, 13)
In simple words we have gone from the ‘Law’ to ‘Grace’. Or even simpler, we have gone from what some deem ‘harshness’ in the Old Testament to the abundance of ‘undeserved favor’ in the New Testament. God has not changed at all. What has changed is the accomplishment of what Jesus Christ did on the cross.
Now that brings us to the last book of the Bible known as ‘Revelation’. This is the time of God’s ‘Wrath’. Now you can see why I titled this article ‘From Law to Grace to Wrath’.
Sin is sin and must be righteously dealt with because God has always been and always will be a holy righteous God Who cannot have sin that is undealt with in His presence.
Putting it into perspective, sin in the Old Testament only had animal blood to cover sin. Sin in the New Testament has the blood of Jesus that permanently removes sin, even its stains. But what about all those living under this period of grace that do not have their sins washed in the blood of Jesus? Now comes the Book of Revelation that tells of the very soon unleashing of God’s wrath on undealt with sin.
In order to give a proper perspective of God’s wrath on sin I want to turn the attention to the beloved Apostle John who wrote down the Book of Revelation. You can safely say that John was Jesus’ closest friend when He walked this earth. John came to know Jesus first in His disrobed state. The following verses tell the story:
Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6-11 NLT)
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance, nothing to attract us to Him. He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. (Isaiah 53:2-3 NLT)
One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow Me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed Him. A little farther up the shore He saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And He called them to come, too. They immediately followed Him, leaving the boat and their father behind. (Matthew 4:18-22 NLT)
Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples (John), whom Jesus loved. (John 13:23 NKJV)
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee (John and James), and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” (Matthew 26:36-38 NKJV)
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved (John) standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:25-27 NKJV)
But many were amazed when they saw Him. His face was so disfigured He seemed hardly human, and from His appearance, one would scarcely know He was a man. (Isaiah 52:14 NLT)
So they both ran together, and the other disciple (John) outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. (John 20:4-5 NKJV)
After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved (John) said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” (John 21:1, 3-4, 7a NKJV)
John really only came to know Jesus as a man who became his best friend, even though he knew Jesus was literally God in the flesh. John was only shown a glimpse of Jesus’ glory during the course of His walking on this earth:
Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. (Matthew 17:1-2 NKJV)
When we go to the book of Revelation, John describes his encounter with the Glorified Christ in a whole other aspect. Jesus was no longer the Jesus John leaned on at the Last Supper. Jesus was now in His full Glory as God:
When I (John) turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across His chest. His head and His hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And His eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and His voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from His mouth. And His face was like the sun in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at His feet as if I were dead. But He laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave. (Revelation 1:12-18 NLT)
To begin summing things up, we must never try to take advantage of the grace God freely offers. Yes, God is loving, gracious, merciful, and patient but it is without relinquishing the fact that He is also righteous, just, holy, and a consuming fire. Jesus came the first time lowly and riding on a donkey:
Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written (Zechariah 9:9): “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt.” His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him. (John 12:14-16 NKJV)
The second coming will see Him riding on a white horse with complete power:
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND Lord OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:11-16 NKJV)
God gave Ananias and Sapphira as a strong example that He is still a consuming fire when He struck them dead at the beginning of the Church Age of grace. So don’t forget! The time of grace is slowly running out. When it does, the earth will enter the time of God’s unleashed wrath:
Then I saw a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was someone like the Son of Man. He had a gold crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. Then another angel came from the Temple and shouted to the one sitting on the cloud, “Swing the sickle, for the time of harvest has come; the crop on earth is ripe.” So the one sitting on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the whole earth was harvested. After that, another angel came from the Temple in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. Then another angel, who had power to destroy with fire, came from the altar. He shouted to the angel with the sharp sickle, “Swing your sickle now to gather the clusters of grapes from the vines of the earth, for they are ripe for judgment.” So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and loaded the grapes into the great winepress of God’s wrath. The grapes were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress in a stream about 180 miles long and as high as a horse’s bridle. (Revelation 14:14-20 NLT)
The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:13-15 NKJV)