There is a common misunderstanding among Christians and non-Christians for too long. Many feel that the Old Testament portrays a God of anger, wrath, and judgment, and it is only in the New Testament that we begin to see a God of love, compassion, and mercy. I have heard people say “I can believe in the God of the New Testament, but I cannot believe in the God of the Old Testament”— as if they are two different deities!
When a person makes this statement, he is admitting his lack of knowledge of the Old Testament. The Old Testament is full of stories, prophecies, and promises that reveal God’s nature to us — all of God’s nature. If all we had were the Old Testament, it would be enough. The Old Testament was all the early Christians had. Those 39 books reveal to us not a God of wrath and vengeance, but rather a God of goodness and mercy…a God who is eager to restore His broken people.
From beginning to end, the Old Testament promises a Messiah who will make right all that is wrong, who will bring peace to the planet, and who will restore all that has been broken by sin and rebellion. This is the God that the Old Testament tells about—a God who takes things that are broken and puts them back together again. Isaiah 65 shows us three areas of our lives where God promises to bring restoration. He’s not just talking about heaven—He is referring to the work of the Messiah on earth, and His work of salvation in our lives, and how it applies to us today. First of all, God wants to restore your broken past.
“Until realizing your brokenness, you will struggle to be a blessing.” Unknown
I wish there were some wonderful place called the Land of Beginning Again,
Where all of our past mistakes and heartaches,
And all of our poor selfish grief,
Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door
And never be put on again.
The greatest obstacle to happiness that many people face is not the present or the future. It is the past. Millions of people live miserable lives because they are haunted by something that happened years ago. Maybe it was something they did. Maybe it was something they didn’t do but should have. Maybe it was something that happened to them. Whatever it may be, the past has the power to destroy our lives. Hurtful words that were spoken decades ago bring new pain every time we remember them. Many marriages fail just because people can’t get past the past.
One Sunday morning a lady came to the altar to pray, and she broke down in tears. As the pastor prayed with her, she confessed her pain. She said, “Before I got married I was promiscuous. Now my daughter is 16 years old, and I realize I have no right to tell her to be good because I wasn’t. Every time I try to talk to her, I remember myself at her age, and I can’t say anything to her.” This lady’s broken past still had control over her life.
God promises to break the power of the past and bring restoration.
“…so that he who blesses himself in the land shall bless himself by the God of truth, and he who takes an oath in the land shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten and are hidden from my eyes.” Isaiah 65:15
When you begin to read the Bible, you may be surprised the first time you read the letters of Peter. You’ll notice they were apparently written by a man confident in his role as a leader. You may say “This is the same man who denied Christ three times, and these people he’s writing to must know about it. Isn’t he embarrassed? Isn’t he ashamed of his mistakes? How can he write with such authority?”
The reason Peter was able to make such a comeback is that God restored Peter’s broken past. Peter made mistakes. Peter made colossal mistakes, yet God restored him. And Peter is not the only one. Paul had a past. A murderous past and God restored him; David had a past, an adulterous past, and God restored him; Moses had a past, another murderer, and God restored him. Rahab had a past, she was a prostitute, and God restored her; Mary Magdalene had a past, and God restored her. I could go on and on. It is possible you see your life story in some of those listed above. If you do and you have a past, a dark past, know that God can and wants to restore you. The God who created you is in the restoration business. That’s what God does, He heals broken people. He wipes the slate clean. God gives second chances.
 Louisa Tarkington quoted in Putting Your Past Behind You, E. Lutzer, Here’s Life, 1990, p.13.
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