Index To Section 2 .. Reasons To Believe/

003white  Section 2 .. Reasons To Believe       >        Index To Articles on God       >        Is God Different in the New Testament?


Was God ‘Different’ in Both Testaments?

Carol Brooks

Although the Bible quite clearly states that God's nature is unchanging, many people perceive the God of the Old Testament as being impatient, vengeful, cruel, merciless, and very cranky, which they believe is in complete contrast to the 'loving' heavenly Father of the New Testament. This leads to the conclusion that the Bible is not to be trusted because, contrary to what it says, God's nature does change. It is unfortunate that this presumed difference in God's nature has proved to be rather large stumbling block to many. The million dollar question then is whether it is true that God got kinder and more easy going over the course of time.


Why Israel Was Required To Pay Strict Attention to God's Laws
A Tale of Two Kingdoms

Did God Just Wipe Out Other Nations?
Sodom and Gomorrah
The Assyrians
The Egyptian First-Born

The Canaanites
Absolute and Complete Depravity
They Were Not Exactly Who or What We Think

Have You Actually Really Read The New Testament?
The harshest of God's judgments is found, not the Old Testament, but in the New.

Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild?
Jesus and Turning The Other Cheek

Why Is It Okay For God To Kill?

Hope you are not pinning your hopes on a 'loving' God who overlooks all the evil in this world

The Bible quite clearly states that God's nature is unchanging which does not mean He never changes His mindSee Can God Change His Mind?

    God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19 NASB)

    Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. "But You are the same, and Your years will not come to an end. (Psalms 102:26-27 NASB)

    Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (James 1:17 NASB)

    Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  (Hebrews 13:8 NASB)

The Hebrew word hesed, used some 200 times in the Old Testament in regard to God, has overwhelmingly been translated mercy or kindness, However, many people perceive the God of the Old Testament as being impatient, vengeful, cruel, merciless, and very cranky, which they believe is in complete contrast to the 'loving' heavenly Father of the New Testament.

Old Testament: Skeptics point to the fact that the God of the Old Testament destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone (Genesis 18-19), called down various plagues on Egypt (Exodus 9-10) and ordered the killing of all the Egyptian first born - children as well as cattle (Exodus 12:29).

Also that He commanded Joshua to destroy the city of Jericho along with all its inhabitants except for Rahab and her household (Joshua 6:17) and ordered the extermination of the Canaanites including women, children, and livestock. (The exact instructions in Deuteronomy 20:16-17 were not to leave alive anything that breathed).

Nor did His own people escape. Numbers 16 relates how several families were swallowed up by the earth and went down alive into Sheol. Numbers 15 includes the story of a man who was sentenced to death when he was found gathering sticks on the Sabbath. HERE

New Testament: On the other hand, it is believed that the New Testament portrays God as the epitome of love and grace who never says a harsh word or steps on anyone's toes and that Jesus not only preached love but was incredibly accepting of sinners.

So what are we to make of this? Did God get kinder and more easy going over the course of time or do we simply ignore the Old as ancient history irrelevant to our day?

The problem is that all too many people treat Biblical issues as they do a buffet - they choose a little of this and a little of that and disregard whatever they do not particularly care for or, in the case of Scripture, does not help prove their case. In regard to the perceived 'change' in God's nature they tend to ignore the many times in the Old Testament when God showed much concern for, and kindness to, various individuals. Also ignored are he many times He showed Himself to be extremely long suffering and merciful.

For example, in Genesis 21 the Lord comforted Hagar (Sarah's maidservant) who was wandering in the wilderness and had run out of water. He not only led her to water but told her that He would make a great nation of her son, Ishmael. In I Kings 19 the Lord sent an angel to provide an exhausted and frightened prophet with food and drink.

Finally, they never seem to look into the reason why God swiftly punished certain individuals in Israel itself, or caused the annihilation of entire populations. The former because they had blatantly flouted His laws which raises the question of...

Why Israel Was Required To Pay Strict Attention to God's Laws
Understanding why God's commandments were rigorously binding on the nation requires us to go very far back in time. The narrative can be called...

A Tale of Two Kingdoms
The story of the nation began when God first called Abraham out of Mesopotamia where the Babylonians were building not only a kingdom that included ziggurats dedicated to their Gods who were nothing less than powerful supernatural beings. As we know, both Babylon and Assyria (both founded by Nimrod) became mortal enemies of Israel.

Abraham was called out of that hotbed of apostasy and led to Canaan to sow the seeds of God's kingdom on earth.

See  From Babel to Babylon
As early as Genesis 14, we are given a glimpse of the seeds of two kingdoms...
the first represented by Babylon (Babel) and the other by Jerusalem.

Although neither morally nor numerically superior Israel was chosen over all the other nations of the earth to be God's people beginning with the covenant God made with Abraham - the father of the nation.

    "For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. "The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers ....  (Deuteronomy 7:6-8 NASB)

As the chosen people the Jews played an enormous role in God's plan of redemption. They were not only the medium through which God communicated His laws and His messages but the salvation and future of mankind rested on the shoulders of this tiny nation that God had chosen to birth the Messiah. They were the conduit for His blessing and grace to spread over the earth - a bright light in the middle of a dark world filled with pagan beliefs and idolatrous practices.

The Seven Feasts of Israel
The Seven Feasts which the Israelites were commanded to celebrate were types of events that, at the time, were still centuries in the future. They outlined the entire plan of salvation from Jesus to the coming Kingdom. Four were fulfilled by the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The remaining three, including Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement, have not yet come to pass.

The problem was that if the nation was to fulfill its ordained role it was necessary that they be brought back into line one way or the other. Had they Israelites embraced the strange gods of the nations around them they would have seriously jeopardized God's plan for the Messiah to be born one of them. Thus it was imperative that Israel remain holy and set apart for the worship of the one true God, something that only separateness from the surrounding nations would ensure. The stakes were astronomical.

The most severe condemnation the prophets hurled at the nation was for spiritual adultery - for breaking the very first commandment "You shall have no gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3). In fact, the relationship of Israel to God was so closely patterned after the marriage covenant that God looked on their turning to idols as adultery.

Hosea: The story of the prophet Hosea gives us an insight into God's relationship with Israel. Hosea was instructed to marry a prostitute which he did. Although she did not remain true to him, Hosea still loved his unfaithful wife and went after her and brought her back ... "..even as the Lord loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes." (Hosea 3:1 NASB). This certainly gave Hosea first hand insight into what God had long gone through with His adulterous people.

But there is no question that the Israelites paid very dearly for their transgressions. The reason for the 70 year exile in Babylon is exemplified by Daniel's prayer when he himself in exile realized that the ordained 70 year period was coming to an end.

    "Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him. (Daniel 9:11 NASB)

In other words, God did not allow Jerusalem and its temple to be destroyed and the people to be herded off to a foreign land because He woke up a foul mood one morning.

Did God Just Wipe Out Other Nations?
There are two very important factors to be borne in mind regarding God's supposedly harsh treatment of people like the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah and the Canaanites.

    1) God Himself did not wipe out anyone that happened to be in Israel's path to becoming a independent nation. His supposedly harsh treatment of other kingdoms was unfailingly linked to their sins and His judgment of them.

    2) The Old Testament commands were issued to the leaders of a young nation in a very particular situation. For example, the command to destroy Canaan was to be a one time occurrence and did not give the Israelites license to remove just anyone that stood in their way. And once again, it was linked to their sinfulness and depravity.

Sodom and Gomorrah
In the book of Genesis Sodom and Gomorrah were portrayed as cities so corrupt that God destroyed them with fire and brimstone (sulfur).

As made obvious from the following verses their sin was not only homosexuality but their willingness to indulge in homosexual gang rape. Two angels in the guise of men visited Lot and were persuaded to stay the night...

    Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them." (Genesis 19:4-5 NASB)

In fact, they were so depraved that even after the angels struck the men at the doorway with blindness they wearied themselves trying to find their way into the house (V. 11).

What should stand out is that not even 10 righteous men were found in the entire city. We know this because when Abraham bargained with God for their lives, God agreed to spare the cities if 50 righteous people could be found but eventually said He would if even 10 righteous people lived there.

Was Jude Referring to Homosexuality When He Said the Men of Sodom Went After "Strange Flesh"?

The Assyrians
Quoting Psalms 86:15 the prophet Jonah called God "a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness". But, if the God of the Old Testament was a cruel monster who delighted in killing people, why in the world would Jonah repeat what the Psalm said?

The explanation is simple.

Jonah was commanded to go and preach in Nineveh, the flourishing capital of the Assyrian empire. Jonah knew that the Lord always acted consistently with His character meaning His response was (and is) always favorable when people repent. Jonah knew that if the Assyrians repented God being God, would not bring upon them the calamity He had threatened.

So Jonah did not make his was to Nineveh but took off in the opposite direction. I have heard many a person sanctimoniously criticize Jonah for disobeying God's explicit instruction which always makes me roll my eyes. Sure he should have obeyed, but who exactly can blame Jonah for not wanting the Assyrians forgiven their sins when they were infamous for their cruelty and many of Jonah's countrymen had experienced the carnage they wrought.

Jonah’s prayer is actually a testament to the goodness and mercy of God.

    He prayed to the Lord and said, "Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. (Jonah 4:2 NASB)

The Egyptian First-Born.

The Israelites had been in bondage in Egypt for a very long time. Because the Pharaoh was afraid that there were so many of them they might one day rise up against him, he "appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor". However, when that did not affect their numbers he commanded that every son born to the Hebrews was to be thrown alive into the Nile.

It is very simple. People who kill other people's babies deserve to die. Is there anyone who can claim that this infanticide was not deserving of immediate punishment? Yet the plagues Moses and Aaron brought down on the Egyptians were in all likelihood a warning spread over several months gradually increased in severity.

The fact is that if the Pharaoh hadn't been quite so stubborn and heeded the warnings he could easily have averted the complete disaster that eventually overtook them. But he didn't. The Pharaoh's response to God's command to let His people go was "Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?" 

The final plague - the death of all the Egyptian first born - was retribution for the murder of the Hebrew children. But this only happened after the Egyptians were given warning after warning but refused to listen or repent.

Perhaps we should learn from this that if we do not repent we will not avoid His judgment. See Repentance

The Canaanites
Jericho was a fortress city and guarded entrance into Canaan from the east. The battle of Jericho was the first battle fought by the Israelites in their conquest of Canaan.

Many see the divine command to exterminate all men, women, and children of the several nations that lived in Canaan as an act of mass genocide with few stopping to investigate why this happened.

There is actually more than one reason.

1) Absolute and Complete Depravity
To be particularly noted is that Moses was very clear that God drove out the pagans not because the Israelites were so righteous that they deserved the land, but because the Canaanites who lived there were so corrupt. In fact, Moses referred to the Israelites as a "stiff necked people" who had nothing to brag about regarding their own virtue (this was brought up many times in the Old Testament).

    Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them out before you, 'Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,' but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. (Deuteronomy 9:4 NASB)

In fact, at this stage God ordered the Hebrews to offer conditions of peace before resorting to battle.

    "When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall offer it terms of peace. "If it agrees to make peace with you and opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall become your forced labor and shall serve you. "However, if it does not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. (Deuteronomy 20:10-12 NASB)

However, verses 16-18 forbade the same offer to be made to the the Hittite the Amorite, the Canaanite the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite,

    "so that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the Lord your God". (Deuteronomy 20:16-18 NASB)

The Bible tells us that the Canaanites and other tribes in the land indulged in several practices such as sodomy, bestiality, incest, adultery, and burning children in honor of their gods, all of which Leviticus 18 tells us defiles the land and causes it to spew the nation out as it did the Canaanites.

Besides which they worshipped Baal the Canaanite fertility god often portrayed as a man with the head and horns of a bull. This 'worship' included depraved and degenerate acts.

    Associated with the Canaanite temples and shrines were the men and women who served as cultic functionaries called "the holy ones.” These were male and female cultic prostitutes who played a central role in the fertility religion of the Canaanites. The prophet Hosea decried these pagan practices when he proclaimed that in their apostasy, the men of Israel "consort with harlots, and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes" (Hosea 4:14).

    Sacred or cultic prostitution was practiced in order to ensure the fertility of the land. Fertility of the field, flock, and family was thought to depend upon the sexual relations between Baal and Anath (or Asherah). According to a pattern of sympathetic magic, the worshipers of Baal imitated the actions they desired Baal to perform. Thus male and female worshipers engaged in sacred sexual acts in the temple in order to assure for themselves the blessings of nature. [01]

The Israelites were then warned that they too would be spewed out if they practiced these abominations.

    Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. 'For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants. But as for you, you are to keep My statutes and My judgments and shall not do any of these abominations, neither the native, nor the alien who sojourns among you (Leviticus 18:24-26 NASB)

Unfortunately, all the warnings did not deter them for long. The Israelites began to worship Canaanite gods "on every high hill and under every green tree"

    "For long ago I broke your yoke And tore off your bonds; But you said, 'I will not serve!' For on every high hill And under every green tree You have lain down as a harlot. (Jeremiah 2:20 NASB)

    Then the LORD said to me in the days of Josiah the king, "Have you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot there.  (Jeremiah 3:6 NASB)

Balaam attempted to curse the people from the "high places of Baal" (Numbers 22:41). Numbers 25:3.4 tells us that "Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the Lord was angry against Israel" causing Moses to instruct the judges of Israel to 'slay the men who have joined themselves to Baal of Peor.'

And that is not all. Asherah the goddess of fertility was symbolized by a wooden pole (Asherah poles)

    In Deuteronomy 7:5 the Israelites were instructed to tear down the altars, and smash the sacred pillars of the Canaanites, hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire. Deuteronomy 16:21 instructed them to never plant for themselves an Asherah of any kind of tree beside the altar of the Lord their God.

The books of judges and kings are replete with instances of the Israelite's apostasy

    Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals, and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger. So they forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. The anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. (Judges 2:11-14 NASB)

In Judges 6:25 and 26, Gideon was instructed to

    "pull down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it; and build an altar to the Lord your God on the top of this stronghold in an orderly manner, and take a second bull and offer a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah which you shall cut down"

For this the men of the city wanted to kill him except that with just 300 men the Lord enabled Gideon to defeat the army they had assembled. (Judges 6 and 7) However, the sons of Israel again played the harlot with the Baals, and made Baal-berith their god as soon as Gideon was dead. (Judges 8:33 NASB)

The Valley Of Ben-Hinnom
In fact, the idea that the Gehenna Jesus spoke about was a perpetually burning rubbish dump outside Jerusalem is just  another myth perpetuated for one reason and one reason only - it supports the idea of the eternal fires of hell. (How much trash would Jerusalem have had anyway? It was not a large city and people did not have as many possessions as we do and certainly did not produce anywhere near as much garbage - i.e. no paper, no plastics, no food cartons, disposable diapers etc.)

 Yes, Gehenna was an actual physical location. The name was the Greek transliteration of gê-ben-hinnom (the valley of the sons of Hinnom), the scene of acts of unspeakable barbarity overseen by two of the most monstrous kings of Israel... Ahaz and Manasseh that was very likely learned from the Canaanites.

    "Because they have forsaken Me and have made this an alien place and have burned sacrifices in it to other gods, that neither they nor their forefathers nor the kings of Judah had ever known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind; therefore, behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when this place will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-hinnom, but rather the valley of Slaughter. (Jeremiah 19:4-6 NASB)

And apart from a few uses by the Saviour with the sole exception of James, the New Testament authors never even once mentioned Gehenna? Jesus' Jewish audience, more than familiar with the words of the prophets, would immediately have understood that He was warning them of God's judgment.

See What and Where is Hell? Part III... Gehenna

Besides Which They Knew Of The Danger
The Canaanites had plenty of time to reflect on the fact that the God of Israel was not to be trifled with. They had heard of the events in Egypt, knew what had happened to Pharaoh's army at the Red Sea, and the fate of the armies that had opposed Israel along the way. As Rahab told the spies sent to scout out the land of Canaan...

    "For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. "When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. (Joshua 2:10-11 NASB)

The Canaanites had some forty years to repent and change their ways but they did not, as God already knew they wouldn't. See The Foreknowledge of God. When God promised the land to Abraham, He knew exactly what path the Canaanites would take. However, He waited (and the Jews were put on hold) until their iniquity was filled to the brim.

     God said to Abram, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. "But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. "As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. "Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete." (Genesis 15:13-16 NASB)

See Joshua's Conquests .. Holy War or Genocide?

2) They Were Not Exactly Who or What We Think
Although Canaan was destroyed for the same general reasons the earth was almost wiped out by the flood in Noah's time and Sodom and Gomorrah were demolished by fire from above, there was another, almost unbelievable, reason they were to be totally exterminated.

What is often overlooked is that there was a taboo against any interaction with the Canaanites much, much earlier than Joshua's time. For instance, Abraham made his servant swear that he would not pick a wife for Isaac from among the Canaanites (Genesis 24) and Isaac, in turn, instructed his son Jacob not to choose a wife from the daughters of Canaan (Genesis 28:1) 


What was so wrong with the Canaanites that the forefathers shunned them and they were later to be completely exterminated?

This is crucially important for us to understand because in Matthew 24:37 and Luke 17:26 our Lord said, "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man". He linked these two periods of history, and said that one is the parallel of the other. The nearness of His coming makes it crucially important that we understand what occurred in the days of Noah.

See Days of Noah
Who or What were the inhabitants of Canaan?

In brief, the Egyptians were given several opportunities to do the right thing in spite of the fact that they murdered who knows how many Israeli children. The Canaanites had several decades years to change their ways. The Ninevites were warned that God would destroy them in 40 days unless they repented and cleaned up their act. Note: The Assyrians did temporarily repent and were spared but soon returned to their previous atrocities, which is when they were destroyed. The empire's utter ruin was foretold by the prophet Nahum. See 1:14; 3:19, etc.

The Jews themselves, keepers of God's laws, were not exempt from His justice. Individuals suffered quick and ruthless retribution for disobedience. Although the prophets warned them over and over again of the consequences of adopting of the ways of the heathen including idol worship and child sacrifice, they went ahead anyway and paid a very high price

In other words, the impatient, vengeful, and quick to fly off the handle God of the old Testament is a figment of people's imagination.

Have You Actually Really Read The New Testament?
Or are you simply ignoring verses that do not fit in with your idea of a New Testament God who never says a harsh word?

I will ask one question of those who claim that the God of the New Testament is exclusively a loving merciful God (read) mushy old grandfather in the sky) - You haven't really read the New Testament, have you? The harshest of God's judgments is found, not the Old Testament, but in the New. This because it concerns not just one or two nations but ALL the inhabitants of the earth.

    "I will completely remove all things From the face of the earth," declares the Lord. "I will remove man and beast; I will remove the birds of the sky And the fish of the sea, and the ruins along with the wicked; And I will cut off man from the face of the earth," declares the Lord ... Neither their silver nor their gold Will be able to deliver them On the day of the Lord's wrath; And all the earth will be devoured in the fire of His jealousy, For He will make a complete end, indeed a terrifying one, of all the inhabitants of the earth. (Zephaniah 1:2-3, 18 NASB) See The End of The Age

Let's talk about Jesus Himself.

Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild??
The typical view is that Jesus was always nonjudgmental, accepting of everybody, and a gracious pacifist, which is a classic example of a very selective reading of the New Testament.

Because Jesus was kind to an adulterous woman (John 8:1-11), the woman of ill repute who anointed His feet with perfume (Luke 7:37-38), the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) etc. many seem to believe that Jesus 'hung out' with sinners. This is often used as an excuse for doing the same thing - for staying on very good terms with the world.

So was Jesus as accepting of sinners as people often make out?

The answer is an emphatic no!

Jesus' inclusiveness of was not of the 'y'all come just as you are' variety. Though he reached out and invited everyone into the kingdom only those who received His word with repentance and faith were included. He, made no bones about the fact that the unrepentant religious leaders were excluded, or had excluded themselves. Remember Jesus' basic message included a call to repent:

    "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news" (Mark 1:15).

See The Inclusiveness of Jesus

In our effort to focus on Jesus' nice side, we completely overlook His Old Testament side. Doing ourselves no favors, we ignore the fact that

     Jesus wasn't exactly being 'peaceful' when He physically drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple and overturned the tables of the money changers (Matthew 21:12 NASB)

     He called people hypocrites, blind guides, vipers, white washed tombs, sons of hell etc. 

     Jesus spoke more about hell than anyone else in the Bible.

     Repeatedly pointed out that people who did not repent and believe the Gospel would perish. As an example see Luke 13:1-5.

     And that many will enter into the wide gate that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13 NASB)

     In the parable of the landowner and his son, Jesus said the owner of the vineyard will bring to a wretched end those who killed His Son. (Matthew 21:33-44)

     Finally, He said that in the future He would "send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:41-42 NASB)

     Additionally Revelation 19:11-16 graphically portrays Jesus as a warrior whose robes are dipped in blood and who slays His enemies on His return.

    And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "King Of Kings And Lord Of Lords. ." (Revelation 19:11-16 NASB)

     A few verses later, we are told that "kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him", but were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse". 

In other words, Jesus' acts of mercy and forgiveness during His three years of ministry only introduced a season of special grace and mercy prior to judgment. See Luke 13:6-9.

But what about ...

Jesus and Turning The Other Cheek
In Matthew 5:38-42, Jesus made an often misunderstood statement.

    "You have heard that it was said, 'an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' "But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. "If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. "Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.  (Matthew 5:38-42 NASB)

Christ's command to turn the other cheek and pray for those who persecute you are His general instructions as to how individuals should deal with other individuals who offend them.

 The "slap on the cheek" is a type of personal insult, so that the command to turn the other cheek is essentially a command not to start trading insults, but take the higher ground and turn away from the exchange. [02]

The Extra Mile And as said by Come Reason Ministries

They are"general admonitions" for life but they are "not to be taken as hard and fast rules. When Jesus Himself was struck on the cheek by an officer of the Sanhedrin, He did not turn to offer His other cheek, but challenged the officer who had struck Him (ref. John 18:22-23). [03]

It certainly does not mean is that Christians should roll over and play dead when attacked. However, Lex Talionis or an eye for an eye was designed as a retaliation authorized by law, in which the punishment corresponds in kind and degree to the injury. It was not to be used for personal revenge and retaliation. In other words, Jesus was challenging the misuse of Lex Talionis.

Tunics and Cloaks
"If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also".

    The cloak/tunic bit must be recognized in terms of the ancient Jewish customary process of making good pledge on one's debts by handing over a valuable item as collateral; for most people in this time, items of clothing were the only thing suitable. In essence, the teaching is to provide surety of repayment of a justly-decided debt, even to those who are enemies. [04]

The Extra Mile
"Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two".

    This command stemmed from the relatively enlightened practice of limiting to a single mile the amount of forced labor (angareia) that Roman soldiers could levy on subject people...

Such forced service was a constant feature in Palestine from Persian to late Roman times, and whoever was found on the street could be compelled into service.  We saw the its use when the soldiers 'compelled' (angareuousin) Simon of Cyrene to carry Jesus' cross (Mark 15:21, Matthew 27:32).

This practice was loathed but it was the law and Jesus was simply telling the people to do it without complaint or grumbling even though the Romans were seen as the enemy.

Which brings us to the oft asked question...

Why Is It Okay For God To Kill?
Pastor Gregory Koukl sums it up very well

    "... there are certain things which are clearly God's prerogative. Can God create something and then destroy what He's created? Yes, He can do as He wishes, though His wishes are constrained by His character so He can't wish something that is immoral or inconsistent with His character. And there is nothing patently immoral about the Creator of life taking away life. It's immoral for us because when we take life, usually we are exercising a prerogative reserved for God alone.

    There are a few circumstances where He delegates that power to us, specifically in my view, capital punishment. We know this intuitively, folks, because when men seek to make life and death decisions for others, what do we tell them? We say, "It's not right for you to 'play God.'" Well, of course it's not right for man to play God, but it implies that it is right for God to play God , and that's my point...

Part of the problem here is that we want to hold God to the same standard of morality He holds us to, as if the standard is above us both and man and God are on equal terms when it comes to behavior. Whatever we can't do, God shouldn't be allowed to do either. But every parent knows that such an arrangement is just plain false. Parents aren't constrained by the same standards that their children are constrained by, and in the same way God has a different set of prerogatives as well. Life and death is one of His, not one of ours... [05]

Conclusion - God Hasn't Changed One Little Bit
The God of the New Testament is not (as some have chosen to believe) a kindly old gentleman in the sky that wouldn't say 'boo' to a goose. We, unfortunately, expect God to conform to a sanitized version of what an affluent upper middle-class 21st century American is like.  If you are pinning your hopes on a 'loving' God who overlooks all the evil in this world, you are confusing His patience with His love and are in for a rude shock when that patience wears thin. Look at it this way...

    Not punishing evil would make the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob cold and uncaring.

    He is anything but.

    If God forgave sin and injustice without any form of punishment whatsoever, He would neither be a holy nor a just God.

    And He is both.

His words to the Israelites way back are just as valid in the 21st century as they were then

    "Now do not stiffen your neck like your fathers, but yield to the Lord and enter His sanctuary which He has consecrated forever, and serve the Lord your God, that His burning anger may turn away from you. "For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your sons will find compassion before those who led them captive and will return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate, and will not turn His face away from you if you return to Him." (2 Chronicles 30:8-9 NASB)

Once again, just like the ancient Assyrians and Egyptians we are being warned that we need to change our behavior - that we need to repent - that we need to grab with both hands the only out that God has given us - salvation from His wrath through Jesus.

See The Wrath of God   and    Salvation.

The End of Days
The litany of man's greed, stupidity and inhumanity to his fellow man is a never ending one. In fact, it gets worse every day - the iniquity of the Gentiles is almost full. And, the moment it is, he will make a very swift and very terrifying end of this world. As Peter wrote

    The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. (2 Peter 3:9-10 NASB)

See The End of The Age.

Yet when told that God is actually going to do something about this miserable planet of ours, we rear up on our hind legs and adopt our best sanctimonious, holier-than-thou, self-righteous attitude... How could He do that? How could this "loving" God actually sit in judgment against humanity and rain mayhem down on this planet? What kind of God would actually be so monstrous?

Perhaps the millions and millions of people who have been tortured, slain, enslaved, robbed, cheated and lied to would not share your point of view.

Whether or not your church preaches it, whether or not you know very much about it, whether or not you choose to bury your head in the sand and pretend that God cannot possibly render judgment on this planet, the wrath of God is real, and when He unleashes it on this planet, it will be, by far, the most terrible time in human history.

And... it is very near at hand.

See The Wrath of God


 The Message of the Bible
All too many people picking out a random phrase or two, think 'love' was Jesus' core message. Unfortunately, they are terribly wrong.. Jesus never stopped talking about the "kingdom of God", which phrase is used over 50 times in the four Gospels alone. He even said that the proclamation of the Kingdom was the reason He was sent to earth (Luke 4:43). But what and where is this kingdom?

But we need to be aware that the Bible also carries a warning to those who choose to ignore the offer that is currently very valid, but wont be for long -  they will be judged and perish.

Footnote I
In a covenant God made with Abraham, he was promised an entire country for an everlasting possession. This, the third of three interconnected and inseparable promises, will finally be fulfilled in the coming kingdom. See God's Covenant With Abraham The Father also promised king David that one of his descendants (i.e. Christ) would sit on his throne, which would be established "forever" (Ex. 1 Chronicles 17:11-14 and Luke 1:32-33)


End Notes
[01] Claude Mariottini. The Land of Canaan in Patriarchal Times – Part 2

[02] James Patrick Holding. George Smith's "Atheism: The Case Against God" -- Critique http://www.tektonics.org/qt/smithg01.php

[03] Come Reason Ministries. Is the God of the Old Testament Different From the God of the New?

[04] James Patrick Holding. George Smith's "Atheism: The Case Against God" -- Critique http://www.tektonics.org/qt/smithg01.php

[05] Gregory Koukl. Can God Kill the Innocent? https://www.str.org/w/can-god-kill-the-innocent-


Index To Articles on God