Friday, January 18, 2008

"Why does the Old Testament show a God of wrath and the New Testament a God of mercy?"

"The God of the New Testament is the same as the God of the Old Testament. The Bible says that He never changes. He is just as merciful in the Old Testament as He is in the New Testament. Read Nehemiah 9 for a summary of how God mercifully forgave Israel, again and again, after they repeatedly sinned and turned their back on Him. The psalms often speak of God’s mercy poured out on sinners.

He is also just as wrath-filled in the New Testament as He is in the Old. He killed a husband and wife in the Book of Acts, simply because they told one lie. Jesus warned that He was to be feared because He has the power to cast the body and soul into Hell. The apostle Paul said that he persuaded men to come to the Savior because he knew the "terror of the Lord." Read the dreadful judgments of the New Testament’s Book of Revelation. That will put the "fear of God" in you, which incidentally is "the beginning of wisdom."

Perhaps the most fearful display of His wrath is seen in the cross of Jesus Christ. His fury so came upon the Messiah that it seems God enshrouded the face of Jesus in darkness so that creation couldn’t gaze upon His unspeakable agony. Whether we like it or not, our God is a consuming fire of holiness (Hebrews 12:29). He isn’t going to change, so we had better ...before the Day of Judgment. If we repent, God, in His mercy, will forgive us and grant us eternal life in heaven with Him."


human rorschach test said...

He really does cool it in the new testament by comparison you've gotta admit! I read that the total body count in the bible is 2,270,971 plus the people killed in the flood and such.

Jeff said...

The Bible covers a period of about 1500 years; so of course the “body count” will be a high number, whether the number you mentioned is accurate or not.

As far as God ‘cooling it’ in the New Testament, the Bible is an account of God's progressive revelation of Himself to us through historical events.

“…throughout the Old Testament, God is declared to be “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth” (Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 4:31; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:5; Psalm 86:15; Psalm 108:4; Psalm 145:8; Joel 2:13). Yet in the New Testament, God’s loving-kindness and mercy are manifested even more fully through the fact that “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Throughout the Old Testament, we also see God dealing with Israel much the same way a loving father deals with a child. When they willfully sinned against Him and began to worship idols, God would chastise them, yet each and every time He would deliver them once they had repented of their idolatry. This is much the same way that we see God dealing with Christians in the New Testament. For example, Hebrews 12:6 tells us that “For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives."

In a similar way, throughout the Old Testament we see God’s judgment and wrath poured out on unrepentant sinners. Likewise, in the New Testament, we see that the wrath of God is still “revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). Even with just a quick reading of the New Testament, it quickly becomes evident that Jesus talks more about hell than He does heaven. So, clearly, God is not any different in the Old Testament than He is in the New Testament. God by His very nature is immutable (unchanging). While we might see one aspect of His nature revealed in certain passages of Scripture more than other aspects, He Himself does not change.

When one really begins to read and study the Bible, it becomes clear that God is not any different from the Old Testament to the New Testament.....the Bible is really sixty-six individual books, written on two (or possibly three) continents, in three different languages, over a period of approximately 1500 years, by more that 40 authors (who came from many walks of life).....In it we see how a loving, merciful, and just God deals with sinful men in all kinds of situations.....Throughout the Bible we see God lovingly and mercifully calling people into a special relationship with Himself, not because they deserve it but because He is a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth. Yet we also see a holy and righteous God Who is the judge of all those who disobey His word and refuse to worship Him, instead turning to worship gods of their own creation, worshiping idols and other gods instead of worshiping the one and only true God (Romans 1).

Because of God’s righteous and holy character, all sin past, present, and future must be judged. Yet God in His infinite love has provided a payment for sin and a way of reconciliation so that sinful man can escape His wrath. We see this wonderful truth in verses like 1 John 4:10 “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation [i.e., a placating offering to atone for sin or wrongdoing, to appease God the Father, by Jesus' becoming our substitute and assuming our obligations, by the punishment which He endured] for our sins.” In the Old Testament, God provided a sacrificial system whereby atonement could be made for sin, but this sacrificial system was only temporary and merely looked forward to the coming of Jesus Christ who would die on the cross to make a real substitutionary atonement [i.e., satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury] for sin. The Savior that was promised in the Old Testament is more fully revealed in the New Testament, and the ultimate expression of God’s love, the sending of His son Jesus Christ, is revealed in all its glory. Both the Old and the New Testaments were given "to make us wise unto salvation" (2 Timothy 3:15).”