Subject: Answering Atheism’s Questions Part 3: Isn’t the God in the Old & New Testaments different?
Isaiah 59:17 “He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on His head.”
Most of us forget that the Bible isn’t a book. It is a collection of 66 unique books. And these 66 books span a period of 1,500 years, nearly 40 generations of people, from the earliest writing of the Old Testament book of Genesis (around 1450 BC) to the New Testament book of Revelation (around 95 AD).
These books also have more than 40 different authors from nearly every walk of life. For example, Moses (1450 BC) was a political leader, Joshua (1380 BC) a military general, Solomon (950 BC) a king, Amos (750 BC) a herdsman, Daniel (530 BC) a prime minister, Nehemiah (420 BC) a cup bearer, Luke (55 AD) a medical doctor, Matthew (60 AD) a tax collector, Paul (60 AD) a rabbi, and Peter (65 AD) a fisherman.
And to make matters even more complicated, these 66 books were written on 3 different continents (Asia, Africa and Europe), in 3 different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek), and during very different times (David wrote during times of war, Solomon during times of peace), and with the authors in very different moods (the book of Acts when there was great joy, Jeremiah wrote when there was intense despair).
The subject matter of these 66 books contains hundreds of controversial topics, like capital punishment, homosexuality and sin. Yet throughout these 66 books, each writer is in perfect harmony and agreement with all the others! This truth alone testifies to its divine origin. And we see this in our topic for this article.
Let’s pick up where we left off last week, at Isaiah 59:15, where sin is so rampant throughout Israel, and truth is so rare, that “anyone who departs from evil makes himself a prey.” He is saying that if you stood up against evil in that day you became pray – a target! Things had gotten so evil throughout Israel that promoting lies and deceit, violence and bloodshed, were the means to get ahead.
But even more incredible is Isaiah’s description of God’s reaction: “The Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor.” (Isaiah 59:16a). No one stood up to intercede on God’s behalf! No one was willing to stand and speak out!
What did God do?: “Therefore HIS OWN ARM brought salvation for Him; His own righteousness, it sustained Him. For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.” (Isaiah 59:17).
Who is this ARM of God? Read Isaiah 53:1,4-6: “To whom has THE ARM OF THE LORD been revealed? He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone each to his own way; and the Lord has laid on HIM the sins of us all.” Who is Isaiah describing?
John the Baptist tells us as he points at Jesus Christ: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29). Jesus Himself tells us: “I came to serve, and to give My life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45). And who sent Jesus to die on the Cross so that we could have the guilt and shame of our lies, violence and bloodshed forgiven? Jesus tells us: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).
This Old Testament description of God in Isaiah 59 is in perfect harmony with the New Testament picture of God: He deeply loves us all, while also loving justice and righteousness. Even though we don’t do what is right, He proves His love by sending his only Son Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for our sin so that we might be reunited with Him for all eternity by being forgiven for our unrighteousness.
Paul connects the dots for us in Ephesians 6:14,17 by exhorting Christians to put on that same breastplate of righteousness and helmet of salvation that Jesus Christ wore in Isaiah 59:16c: “Stand therefore… having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and … take the helmet of salvation.”
How can we wear the armor that Isaiah says belongs to Jesus Christ? That’s exactly the point! We don’t put on our own armor – as Paul tells us in Romans 13:14, we “put on Christ” – He lives in us as Christians, so we get Him, with His armor: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” (Romans 13:14). This is the God of the Bible – both Old and New Testaments – who loves us so intensely that He has provided the only way for us to be free from sin and reunited with Him – in Christ!
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.