One of the common themes of skeptics and the “Christian” Left is how the “God of the Old Testament” was a bad character and couldn’t be the real God. There are many things wrong with that argument, but a shortcut I like to use is to ask those claiming to be Christians a simple question: Are you saying you have higher standards than Jesus? Because He had no issues with anything written in the Old Testament. He supported it to the last letter, even referring to the most controversial passages without apology (a real Adam and Eve, real marriage, God’s ideal for sex, Noah, Jonah, Sodom and Gomorrah, etc.). He said lust was akin to adultery and unrighteous anger was like murder. And much more. And you are more righteous than He is?
If you really follow Jesus you should hold the same views that He does, including his treatment of the Old Testament. Sure, you can and should research the background of difficult passages. If you really care about such things, you might want to read Is God a Moral Monster? by Paul Copan. And read all of Job, especially the ending, and note how there are some questions to which we don’t get answers. But we’ve been told enough to know to that we need Jesus.
From a previous post
A common misconception about the Bible is that there are two Gods at work, or that somehow God was trying to improve his reputation in the New Testament (NT). The typical refrain is that the Old Testament (OT) God was vengeful and the New Testament God is loving and kind. A balanced reading of the whole Bible shows what God is really like. To adequately understand God, you can’t reduce your understanding to a bumper-sticker saying such as “God is love.” Yes, love is one of God’s attributes, but He is a whole lot more.
People who make that claim don’t know the Bible well at all. Jesus talks about Hell much more than the OT does. And God displays his mercy, forgiveness and patience over and over in the OT.
If one is selective in what Scriptures they use, one could make the opposite case – namely, that the Old Testament God is more forgiving. After all, Jesus talked much more about Hell than the Old Testament does. God gives evil nations hundreds of years to repent, and destroys or drives them out only when they are completely irredeemable. And God is quick to forgive the Israelites over and over. Consider this passage where God is so quick to forgive Ahab, generally considered the most evil of Israel’s kings:
1 Kings 21:25-29 (There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the Lord drove out before Israel.) When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly. Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.”
Also consider these passages:
Exodus 22:21-27 “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt. “Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless. “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not be like a moneylender; charge him no interest. If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, return it to him by sunset, because his cloak is the only covering he has for his body. What else will he sleep in? When he cries out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.
Leviticus 19:18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
Then consider a sample of Jesus’ words in Matthew.
Matthew 11:20-24 Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”
Jesus also said:
• Matthew 8:12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
• Matthew 13:42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
• Matthew 13:50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
• Matthew 22:13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
• Matthew 24:51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
• Matthew 25:30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
• Luke 13:28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.
Finally, consider the key message of the early church and how the Gospel spread. The Book of Acts, which chronicled the early church, doesn’t mention the word “love” one time. It does have a consistent message of “repent and believe,” and uses reason and signs and wonders to convince people of the truth of the Gospel. It is all the same God, from beginning to end. Perfect justice, mercy, wrath and love.