The Mean Old God of the Old Testament
Updated: Apr 30, 2021
"Let me ask you about the Old Testament God," the man said. "Why is he so mean when the New Testament God is so loving and kind?"
This is one of the more common misconceptions about the Bible. People have the perception that the God of the Old Testament was harsh and judgmental, while the God of the New Testament was gracious and loving.
Is this actually the case? It isn't. Let me show you why.
The Kind God of the Old Testament
The God of the Old Testament consistently showed how kind, patient, and loving he really is. When Adam and Even were embarrassed that they were naked, God made clothes for them in spite of the fact that they had just disobeyed him (Genesis 3:21). And, in Deuteronomy 24:19, he commanded his people to leave some of their harvest in the field so the poor could have something to eat:
When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.
Regarding his destruction of Israel by the viscous armies of Assyria and Babylon, it must be pointed out how often he called his people back to him before he finally executed this harsh (but fair) judgment. Note God's pleading from the book of Jeremiah:
Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them. Jeremiah 7:25
For I earnestly exhorted your fathers in the day I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, until this day, rising early and exhorting, saying, “Obey My voice.” Jeremiah 11:7
And, did you know that one of the sins that led to this judgment was child sacrifice?
And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart. Jeremiah 7:31
God did not just destroy his people on a whim; he pleaded with them for hundreds of years before he finally carried out judgment. And he did not put them to death for petty infractions; he executed them for, among other things, child murder.
The Mean Old God of the New Testament
That sweet, gentle God of the New Testament was not so sweet and gentle at times. In Acts 5, he put Ananias and Sapphira to death for lying to him, in Acts 12, he executed Herod for not giving him glory, and, in 1 Corinthians 15, he made some believers sick and killed others for sinning during the Lord's Supper.
And need I remind you that this same God has promised to cast all unbelievers into hell at the end of time?
And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. ... And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:12-15
The Truth: One God in Both Testaments
What these facts show is that there is only one God, and he is clearly seen in both Testaments. The single God of the Bible is all at once gracious, kind, and loving, and just, holy, and stern. There are not two Gods in the Bible; there is only one.