If you read any given passage in the Old Testament and then flip to the Gospels, you will notice the undeniable difference between the Old Testament God and the New Testament Jesus. This often leaves both Christians and non-christians confused. How could God kill somebody like Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:6-7) for just touching the Ark of the Covenant and then a thousand years later, in the form of Jesus, rescue an adulterous woman from her accusers (John 8:1-11)? Isn’t this contradictory?
Appearances of the Old Testament God in the New Testament
Many assume that the New Testament teaches that the God of Wrath in the O.T. just went away after Jesus came, but that’s not really accurate. In fact, God’s anger is still at large and comes through quite plainly in the N.T.
- God strikes down Ananias and Sapphira for lying. (Acts 5:1-10)
- Herod was eaten from the inside out with worms because he did not give God credit. (Acts 12:20-24)
- We see God’s ultimate wrath poured out on earth in Revelation 19:15-16 -“Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.”
God didn’t change, his rules changed
It’s important to understand, God didn’t stop being angry. God’s wrath is still at large. However, when Jesus died on the cross, he altered his deal with mankind in three ways:
1. No more Jewish regulations.
God struck down Uzzah because he touched the Ark. He would often pour out his wrath on the Israelites because they did not obey his commands. This was all part of the Old Testament Law. When Jesus died on the cross, the regulations were done away with. No more Law = no more punishment for disobedience.
2. Jesus provided protection from God’s wrath.
God’s wrath comes from his sense of justice. All people have sinned and therefore are completely deserving of his wrath. God wouldn’t be good if he simply ignored injustice. However, God is also loving so he poured out his wrath on Jesus instead of us. Maybe you have heard someone say, “Jesus took my place on the cross.” This is what people are talking about. If we believe in Jesus we are spared from God’s wrath.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” Romans 5:9
3. God’s wrath will not be held back forever.
The New Testament, in which we live, is a window of God’s grace. As the gospel spreads, each person is presented with the opportunity to follow God through faith or deny the truth. Seemingly, this has no immediate consequence. However, this will not last forever.
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God will repay each person according to what they have done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. Romans 2:5-8
The two faces of God
When I was a kid, my dad had two faces. When I was trying to do the right thing, he smiled. In these times he enjoyed my company and taught me about life very peacefully. However, when I was disobedient or disrespectful his face changed. His coffee stained teeth would protrude from his lower lip. His eyebrows would furrow and his nostrils would flare. I knew he was angry and rightly so. Both of these faces were my dad. He wasn’t schizophrenic, nor did he have multiple personalities. He was filled with both love and anger.
God, also has two faces. Throughout the Bible we see both a God of love and a God of anger. At Mount Sinai (Hebrews 12:18-21) we see his wrath, in Jesus we see his compassion. Both faces of God are true. They do not contradict. In fact, in Jesus Death on the cross we see both his anger and compassion functioning in perfect harmony.
About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”(which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) Matthew 27:45-46
God, in the form of Jesus, loving us enough to receive the wrath of God, the Father.