I came across an interesting question by a member of a forum I frequent related to the community I live in. They asked the question, “Why is God so different in both testaments? (Bible – Old and New)” They provided no other details as to what they were referring to, however I’d make a pretty good that guess that they were comparing the differences between God’s grace and God’s wrath.
You see the Old Testament is filled with occurrences of God’s judgment upon sinners – the plagues of Egypt, Sodom and Gomorrah, King Nebuchadnezzar, David’s adultery with Bathsheba, and the list goes on. In fact if you start reading through the first five books of the Bible, you might get the impression that God is very strict, impatient, angry and wrathful. The New Testament can give the impression that God is a God of love and grace. So which is true? Is God a God of judgment and wrath or a God of love and grace? Actually He’s both.
The Old Testament comprises the history of man before Christ along with prophecies, proverbs and psalms. The New Testament comprises four books recounting Christ’s time here on Earth, the early history of the church (Acts), and several letters to the churches. However, keep in mind that the last book in the New Testament is “The Book of Revelation” in which we once again see a God pouring out wrath and judgment, but at the same time exhibiting extreme patience and lovingkindness as He gives mankind a chance to repent.
Therefore, the Old Testament may give readers the impression that God is this mean old man just waiting for us to screw up so He can whack us over the head with a big ol’ baseball bat while in the New Testament, God seems to have chilled out a bit.
It appeared that way to me when I first became a Christian. I started reading in Genesis and got up to Joshua before I ever ventured into the New Testament. What inspired me to leave off in Joshua and go to the book of Matthew in the New Testament was viewing the movie “Jesus of Nazareth” where I saw a God of love. I then realized that He is a God of love but at the same time, He just.
Another thing to remember is that in the Old Testament, God’s chosen people were under the law. Now we live under grace meaning that all mankind’s sins have been paid for once and for all by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. No longer do we have to make our own atonement for sin as they did in the Old Testament because it has already been done for us.
It is not necessarily a situation where God is uptight in the Old Testament and is now laid back in the New Testament. In fact if you read through the Book of Revelation, you will see more of God’s wrath poured out upon unrepentant sinners than anywhere in the Old Testament.
So remember, God is the same yesterday, today and forever. The Old and New Testaments represent different times in history as well as different covenants between God and man, and yet they both show not only God’s judgment and wrath but His grace and love as well.