"Why is the Old Testament God so angry?" is the wrong question

Lately, there seems to be a lot of people asking the question, "Why is the God of the Old Testament so angry?"  And some preachers handle this by telling people to basically ignore the God of the Old Testament and just stick with Jesus.

But I say ... we are asking the wrong questions.  And the God of the Old Testament is the same God of today.  And Jesus is God in the flesh, the bodily manifestation of God, one of the three - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - which are all the same in spirit.

You can't ignore the God of the Old Testament without seriously harming theology - the truth of who God is and how He acts and how He relates to us and who Jesus is and what He came here to do.

Instead of ignoring Him or packing Him away in a little box somewhere, we need to seek to understand Him.  And we need to ask the right questions.

Instead of asking "Why is the Old Testament God so angry," we should be asking ...  

            ... Why did people consistently rebel against God, even after He did miracles for them and after He rescued them from years in slavery?  

            ... Why did people gripe and complain against God, acting like He wouldn't provide what they needed when He had already been providing for them in amazing ways?  

            ... Why did people reject God's truth and embrace lies?

            ... Why did people turn to idols, even sacrificing their children to idols in the fire and engaging in all sorts of sexually-immoral acts?

            ... Why did people fail to pass their knowledge of God onto their kids, allowing their kids to drift into sin, even though God had shown Himself to them mightily?

            ... Why do we constantly push God away, reject His Truth, rebel against His ways, and worship ourselves instead (and it's not just the world that does this, but also so-called Christians)?

If you read the Old Testament only once or just hear bits and pieces of it from others, you might come to conclusion that the God of the Old Testament was mean and wrathful and unfair.  

But, honestly, some of you came to this conclusion because of a built-in bias.  For others, it's because you didn't take the time to really read the Bible as a whole.  And for many, it's because you wanted to come to this conclusion.  It gives you a legitimate sounding excuse to be angry with Him.  To reject Him.  

It's like the people who say they would never be a Christian because they don't like the Christians they know.  They blame their lack of faith on Christians - when, in all honesty and reality, they reject the faith because they want to reject the faith.  And blaming it on Christians sounds like a valid excuse.  (But it won't hold up when you stand before God in the end.  There will be no passing the buck.  You - and you alone - are ultimately responsible for your decision.)

But if you read the Old Testament more than once, with eyes to see and a heart to understand, you'll begin to see that you misunderstood Him.  You'll discover a God full of patience and compassion and love and grace and mercy and forgiveness.

You'll find a God who would spare a whole wicked city if only ten righteous people could be found in it.  (Genesis 18:32)

You'll find a God who would forgive a whole unrighteous city if only one righteous person could be found in it.  (Jeremiah 5:1)

You'll see a God who looked down and saw one righteous man out of a whole world of wicked people, and who chose to save that one righteous man and his family instead of wiping them out with the rest of humanity - a God whose heart ached to see people rebelling against Him so badly, when all He wanted was to love them and be loved by them, when He provided everything they could have ever wanted and yet they still rejected Him.  (Genesis 6:5-8)

You'll find a God who cared so much about a whole unrighteous city that He forced a reluctant, pouting prophet to go and warn them that destruction was coming.  And then He spared the whole city when they repented, even though the pouty prophet had wished destruction on them.  (Jonah)

You'll find a God who pursues people and calls people, but who doesn't force people - a God who allows His own creation to reject Him and to choose other gods.  Is there anything so touching as a God who could force people to love Him but who has chosen to let us decide, to let us reject the very One who made us?

You'll see that the people groups He wiped out were not innocent little lambs, but they were people who worshipped idols in the most wicked ways.  And you'll see (if you read up on the biblical commentary on these Bible passages and the people groups) that God had tolerated them for many, many years and given them many warnings and chances before unleashing judgment.  

You'll see that God doesn't act arbitrarily.  He doesn't dole out punishments for fun.  He oftentimes bears with sin and injustice for years and years before finally and reluctantly giving the people what their hard-hearted rebellion deserves.  And this is the same God we find in the new Testament.

You'll find a God who abundantly blesses those who love Him, who tenderly cares for the hurting, who guides the lost and strengthens the weak, who is reluctant to punish, who keeps His promises, who desires to be merciful when punishment is deserved, who is loving and just and holy.

If you don't see this side of God in the Old Testament, it's because you don't want to see it.  You want to cling to your excuse for why you reject Him. 

If you believe that the God of the Old Testament was just a mean, wrathful, unreasonable God ... then you don't know the God of the Old Testament.  

And instead of unhitching Him from the rest of the Bible, get to know Him instead.  You might just find that you begin to fall in love with the God of the Old Testament, out of respect and admiration and holy fear.  He's not so terrifying after all.  

At least not to those who aren't rebelling against Him!  

But for those who insist on going their own way, who want God out of their lives:  Be afraid.  Be very afraid!  Because someday you'll get what you want.  Eternally.

The question isn't "Why is God so mean?"

It's "Why are we so rebellious against a God who, out of love, created us so that we could have a relationship with Him?  And who then died the death we deserved for our rebellion, so that we could live?  And who promises to someday make all things right and work all things out for good for those who love Him?  And who is constantly reaching out to the lost and hurting, offering hope and healing and salvation and eternal life?"

"Why do we keep rejecting a God like that?"

And "Why does He keep putting up with us?"

That is some love!  

Undeserved, gracious, amazing love!

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