Question

Why does it seem like the God in the Old Testament is not the same God as in the New Testament? For example, the God in the Old Testament was one of revenge and death (he would help those he liked to win battles and kill people and he asked for sacrifices of animals) The God in the new testament seems to be more loving and forgiving and more along the lines of Jesus. This is quite confusing. I do no understand why their would be a difference or even why God would need a sacrifice of any sort. Could you please offer some explanation? 

Answer

First, let me assert that I do not believe that God, as revealed in the New Testament, is any different from the God that is revealed in the Old Testament, as far as His basic nature and character are concerned. In fact, in both testaments, this point is made clear.

MAL 3:6 “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.

HEB 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.

Although, in the New Testament, we have a fuller view of the nature of God through Jesus His Son, still, God’s basic character has always been consistent since the very beginning. Both in the Old and the New Testaments we have various instances of God’s wrath against sin on the one hand and God’s mercy toward sinners on the other hand. We will point out just a few passages to consider. Notice His mercy and His wrath in both testaments.

In Gen. 6:3, we learn that God, instead of instantly destroying humanity for their sins, waited 120 years before He brought the universal flood upon the earth. Is this not a display of God’s mercy and patience toward sinful humanity?

Then, we read of David’s sins against God, especially in the taking of Bathsheba to be his wife and the murder of her husband. Yet, in 2 Samuel 12, we read of God’s mercy extended toward a penitent David.

Also, we read of God’s mercy extended many times to the people of Israel, although they provoked Him greatly by their sins. See Numbers 13-14.

Then, in the New Testament, we see God’s mercy fully displayed in Christ Jesus’ death for us. John 3:16. Yet, we also see His wrath poured out against those who sinned. See Acts 5:1-11.

When it is all said and done, God is both merciful and just. Whether He displays these attributes in the same specific ways as He did in the past, we can be assured that He is the same in these areas. Therefore, our goal ought to be to serve Him in the way He directs while we have the opportunity. See Rom. 11:13-25, especially verse 22.

By Gary Hunt

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