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Why does Old Testament God seem so different from New Testament God?

Ask an officer anything. An officer in The Salvation Army is an ordained minister of Christian faith. By Captain Josh Robinett
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This is a fantastic question. The Bible is very clear about the unchanging nature of God (James 1:17, Hebrews 13:8). Therefore, as we read the Bible, we ought to see consistency in God. For us to be able to clearly identify consistent or inconsistent behavior, we must know what God is like.

In most cases, the argument against the consistent nature of God is that in the Old Testament, He is a God of wrath and in the New Testament, He is a God of love. But if we take a careful look, we will discover that He is both loving and wrathful (because He is holy, righteous and just) in the New Testament and Old Testament. For example, Romans 1:18 tells us that the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of mankind. Another NT example is the astonishing death of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) as a result of their dishonesty with the Lord. In the Old Testament, there are multiple examples of God’s love and grace. Psalm 103:8-10 and Exodus 34:6-7 describe the Lord as compassionate, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. Another great OT example of God’s love and compassion is in the story of Jonah. God sent Jonah to preach a message to the Ninevites. We all know the outcome: he refused to go until he was swallowed by a giant fish and regurgitated. At that point, he was willing to obey. But Jonah had a good reason not to go to Nineveh—the people of Nineveh were evil and guilty of horrible atrocities. After the Lord forgave the people of Nineveh, Jonah prayed. 

The greatest picture of both God’s wrath and love being expressed in the New Testament is at the cross. It was at the cross where God’s wrath was poured out on sin and His love poured out on mankind. It was both His wrath and love that led to Christ suffering and dying for each one of us. God is the same in both the OT and NT.

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