Thursday, January 2, 2014

"Has God changed?"

Day #6:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - January 3rd

Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 1-6 ...

Thankfully, you and I don't live in the days of Isaiah.  God's judgment was falling upon Israel, and would eventually fall upon the rest of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the nation of Judah.  It was a matter of time.  "They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on Him" (1:4).  The prophets spoke repeatedly of God's anger, of His coming wrath and of the inevitable judgment that would follow.  What a depressing time in which to live!

Thankfully, we live in a different time; a time when God is loving and gracious and forgiving.  We live in the New Testament age following the death and resurrection of Jesus and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.  We can come to God through faith in Jesus Christ and know that our sins are forgiven and that we have eternal life.  "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound."

But wait, does that mean God has changed?  Does the God of the Old Testament no longer exist?
Such an understanding of God, of His Word, of His character, of His plan of salvation is not only inaccurate, it is dishonoring to God and misleading to millions who rely on a make-believe God to overlook their sinful rebellion.

The truth is that God HAS NOT CHANGED!!  In the first six chapters of his long prophecy (the longest of the prophets by far), Isaiah presents the true God, who warns of judgment, who calls people to repentance and who offers forgiveness to those who come to Him.  God's pronouncement of judgment is unmistakeable, but so is His offer of grace - even in the Old Testament.  "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool" (1:18).

Amidst all the declarations of judgment, God promises restoration for those who repent and a future glory for Israel.  But for those who continue in their rebellion against God, His wrath will be poured out.  "Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, His hand is still upraised" (5:25).  God's character is the same today.  Paul writes in Romans 2:4-5: "Do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?  But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the days of God's wrath, when His righteous judgment is revealed."  

The difference today lies not in a change in God's character but in the fact that we live in "the day of salvation" (II Corinthians 6:2).  Isaiah was sent to bring a message of judgment, and yet there would be a "remnant", a "stump in the land" (6:13).  Today is the time of salvation when God has poured out His Holy Spirit and the gospel of grace through faith in Jesus has gone into every corner of the earth.  Be assured, God's judgment will come upon all who do not repent, as certainly as it did on Israel and Judah.  But for those who come to know the God of Israel before whom the angels worship, "Holy, Holy, Holy," our guilt has been taken away for our sin has been atoned for (6:7)!!

"Thank you, Father, for your compassion, mercy and grace!  I confess my sin before You and rest in your promise to forgive through Your Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ, my Savior and my Lord, Jesus.  Amen"

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