There are folk out there who are critical of how the Bible depicts God. To them, it seems as if an angry and vengeful God of the Old Covenant went to therapy during the time in between the testaments and came out in the New Covenant as a happy and loving God. This is not so much a criticism against the being or existence of God as much as it against the reliability of Scripture, for there are many who level this charge who still believe in God but not the Bible.
If one reads the whole Bible, they will not come away with this position. They will notice that God is loving and vengeful in both the Old and New Testaments. The only ones who parrot this accusation are those who read criticisms of the Bible, but never take the time to read the Bible for themselves. When it comes to a complete and thorough description of God, the Bible got it right. This makes sense, seeing that the Bible is the Word of God and completely reliable.
God Doesn’t Change
In the Bible, God is described as having many different Divine attributes, such as He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-holy. Too, He is all-loving while possessing the prerogative of judgment against sin. But more to the point here is that God is immutable, which simply put means God doesn’t change.
The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. That means there is as much love with God in the Old Testament as there is the New, and there is as much wrath with God in the New as there is the Old. Many verses attest to God’s unchangeable nature.
- “God is not a man, that He should lie. Neither is He the son of man that He should repent” (Numbers 23:19).
- “I am the Lord. I change not” (Malachi 3:6).
- “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
- “Every good and every perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).
God did not change His nature during the intertestamental period. To insist the mean God from the front of the Bible is worthy of rejection, but the God of the back of the Bible is acceptable is foolish, since it is the same God all along. To say otherwise is to disparage the Bible, but it is also a slander against its author, too, our God in Heaven.
Both Merciful and Just
The whole Bible shows a consistent God, one who demonstrates love and one who pours His wrath on sin. There are more passages in the Old Testament that I can list here that show the love of God, so I will list a portion of them.
- “I will make all My goodness pass before thee” (Exodus 33:19).
- “Good and upright is the Lord” (Psalm 25:8).
- “The earth is full of Thy goodness” (Psalm 33:5).
- “The goodness of God endures continually” (Psalm 52:1).
- “The Lord is good. His mercy is everlasting” (Psalm 100:5).
- “I will mention the lovingkindness of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has bestowed upon us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has bestowed upon them according to His mercies and according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses” (Isaiah 63:7).
- “I am the Lord that executes lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness in the earth, or in these things I delight” (Jeremiah 9:24).
- “The Lord is good to them that wait on Him, to the soul that seeks Him” (Lamentation 3:25).
- “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble” (Nahum 1:7).
And as I said, there are many more than these. The point is clear: God is always good. So why does it seem that the Old and New Testaments still read a little differently? While God is the same, the covenants are not. The first is a covenant one is born into, while the second is one choses.
Here’s an illustration. Two men need a fence built. One contracts builders and other asks friends to help. The first man may spell out detailed rules including warnings of what would happen if they loaf on the job or show up late or even not finish. The man who gets friends to help will not need to do that. They help out of love, not contrived obligations. God chose the Jews back then, but most of the Jews never chose God even though they were born into covenant with Him. But Christians come to God out of a free will choice and love. The two Testaments will read a bit differently because the audiences are different, not the God behind them.
Still, God does warn his New Testament saints about awaits the world for its impenitence, as well as for them if they fall away and turn their back on Jesus and the gospel. In a parable, Jesus describes God as angry at those who will kill Him as his Son (Matthew 22:7). God’s vengeance against sin is also seen many times in the book of Revelation (6:16-17, 14:10-11, 15:1,7, 16:19, 19:15). The epistles also show this truth.
- “For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18).
- “Let no man deceive you, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:6).
- “And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, with flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Second Thessalonians 1:7-8).
- “So I swear in My wrath, they shall not enter into My rest” (Hebrews 3:11).
Always keep in mind that the unchangeable God of Heaven lives and is real, and His holy Word is reliable. Reject either of these, and you will miss out on the future and eternal goodness of God and only know His never ending wrath.