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The God of the Old Testament. How is God described in the Old Testament?

The reality of The God of the Old Testament presence is so evident, both from Creation and from human consciousness, that the Bible calls the atheist “foolish” (Psalm 14:1). Consequently, the Bible does not attempt to prove God’s existence; rather, it takes it as a given from the beginning (Genesis 1:1). What the Bible does do is reveal God’s nature, character, and work.

We cannot understand the God of the Old Testament apart from His works, because what God does flows from who He is. Here is a short list of God’s past Old Testament, present, and future works:

  • God created the world (Genesis 1:1, Isaiah 42:5)
  • actively sustains the world (Colossians 1:17)
  • carries out His eternal plan (Ephesians 1:11) which involves redeeming man from the curse of sin and death (Galatians 3:13-14)
  • draws people to Christ (John 6:44)
  • disciplines his children (Hebrews 12:6)
  • will judge the world (Revelation 20:11-15).

In the New Testament, we find almost the same names given to God as in the Old Testament. Jesus Christ propagates faith in God the Creator, the one God, the ‘God of the fathers’, the Living God, the God of the Father, the Saviour and Judge of the world. He also teaches us that God is Lord of servants, Lord of the vineyard, and Good God who receives the prayers of men and forgives the repentant son.

Read also: If Jesus Was without Sin, Then Why Was He Baptized?

Who is God?

In the New Testament, we find almost the same names given to God as in the Old Testament. Jesus Christ propagates faith in God the Creator, the one God, the ‘God of the fathers’, the Living God, the God of the Father, the Saviour and Judge of the world.

God speaks to us about Himself clearly as He is who He is. From the very first biblical verse from the Scriptures, it is said, clearly and lapidary, that God is the Creator of heaven and earth (Genesis 1:1). 

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God, the One who created this great universe down to the smallest details, can be known… by us. He tells us different things about Himself, but He doesn’t stop there: He even calls us to have a personal relationship with Him, and He wants us to get to know Him. So it’s not just that we can know something about Him, but we can know Him, and still know Him closely.

Is God mentioned in the Old Testament?

Jesus and the Father are one (cf. John 10:30). Jesus is no more loving than the Father, and the Father is no more unforgiving of sin than Jesus. There is no difference between the God of the Old and the God of the New Testament. All the New Testament writers insist on the continuity of the revelation of the God of the Old Testament in the New Testament, so based on Scripture I want to point out three very important things:

In the Old Testament God is mentioned as being actively present. Repeatedly, God himself mentions in the Old Testament that He chose Israel out of love, not because of its merits. When Israel rebelled, God sent prophets to remind them of his love. If those prophets were killed, God sent others.

We discover, then, that we are dealing with a God who is both loving and uncompromising, a God who shares equally in love and justice. But God’s love does not include indulgence of sin, but it is precisely this that leads him to be just.

Read also: Is envy a sin in the Bible?

What was God’s name in the Old Testament?

We discover, then, that we are dealing with a God who is both loving and uncompromising, a God who shares love and justice in equal measure. But God’s love does not include indulgence of sin, but it is precisely this that leads him to be just.

The God of the Old Testament is called Yahweh. The Yahweh of the Old Testament is often angry, vengeful, and merciless, a God who commands unimaginable massacres, mercilessly punishes sin, encourages slavery, and ethnic cleansing, and patronizes a host of other monstrosities.

The God of Christian love is said to be, in fact, a cruel and vengeful God who kills in cold blood anyone who opposes him, according to the Old Testament.

Read also: What are the unforgivable sins in the Bible?

Why was God mad in the Old Testament?

In the Old Testament, judgment is mostly historical and temporary. When Israel sinned, they were punished for a time through drought, war, or bondage. At first, Israel was punished by local tribes, and later by great empires. Yet the punishment was general and temporary. In the New Testament, however, punishment is individual and eternal. And sin grieves God immensely.

According to biblical resources, God was mad in the Old Testament because people sinned so often and were so against God, disobeying Him all the time. They killed, they injured themselves, they blasphemed God’s name and then God got very mad.

So the God of the Old Testament is not just one of judgment and punishment, quite different from the God of the New Testament, one of love and grace alone. In both Testaments, we are revealed to one God perfect in His love and at the same time perfect in His justice.

Read also: Who was Pharaoh during Moses? The Pharaoh of Exodus

Key Verse related to God of Old Testament

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

The God of the Old Testament

Has God’s love changed?

God does not change (James 1:17). He does not gradually evolve from a God of wrath or justice to a God of love. His love is eternal. His words to the people of the Old Testament are valid for people of all times: “I love you with an everlasting love” (Jer 31:3).

It is often said that God’s love is clearly expressed only in the New Testament, while the “God of the Old Testament” is a God of justice and wrath. But if we study the whole Bible carefully, we will understand that God does not have a dual personality. Although His love was fully manifested through Christ (as shown in the New Testament), the God of the Old Testament is equally the God of ultimate love.

In the Old Testament, some accounts and statements are difficult to understand at first glance. We indeed read of bloodshed and wars. But let us not forget that God is constantly portrayed as the God of the covenant, who draws people to Himself and does not abandon them, even if they turn their backs on Him on numerous occasions.

Read also: How old was Moses when God called him?

Is the God of the Old Testament different from the New Testament?

Because there are differences between the two biblical books, there is also some change in God’s behavior. The Old Testament contains the Law and the Prophets, we find the Old Covenant (man’s salvation by fulfilling the Law) and the New Testament contains salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Also, the Old Testament was a piece of the Jewish religion, the New Testament is from Jesus, and is the basic text of Christianity. The Old Testament was also taken up by Christians in Christianity.

The God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament because in the Old Testament, God was much more revengeful, self-centered, and deceitful, and in the New Testament, it was “revised” because Jesus redeemed mankind by His death on the cross.

Concerning the eternal truth of God’s continuity and unchangeability there are, both in the Scriptures and in other forms of testimony about God (of nature, of human experience, of history), many more revelations waiting to be explored. Continuity and immutability never apply to something, but only to Someone.

Read also: Who saw God face to face in the Bible?

God of Old Testament VS God of New Testament

GOD OF OLD TESTAMENT GOD OF NEW TESTAMENT
Just in punishing sins
(Deuteronomy 32:35)
Peace-Loving
(Luke 24:36)
Just
(Genesis 18:25)
Merciful and Forgiving
(Matthew 6:14)
Zealous
(Exodus 15:26)
Kind and Gentle
(Mark 1:40-42)

3 Facts about God of The Old Testament

1. The God of the Old Testament was not under any obligation to give people a ticket to Heaven

God is not bound and has not bound Himself by any promise to keep the natural man away from the flames of hell, even for a moment. Certainly, God has promised neither eternal life nor any preservation or escape from eternal death to the natural man. All the promises of eternal life are given in Christ and are yea and amen.

But surely the natural man has no interest in these promises of the covenant of grace. He is not of the children of the covenant and believes none of its promises. The natural man has no interest in the Mediator of this covenant.

2. Divine justice is not obstructed in the Old Testament

Divine justice never objects, never objects when God uses His power to bring misfortune upon such men. On the contrary, justice demands with a resounding voice an infinite punishment for the sins of these people. Of that tree which bears sodomous fruit, justice says: “Cut it down, why should it occupy the earth in vain?” (Luke 13:7).

3. Yet the God of the Old Testament does not cast anyone into hell

God does not cast wicked people into hell at any time out of a desire to maintain his power. People’s arms cannot be strong when God rises against them. The strongest among them have no strength to resist Him, nor can they escape from His hands. God can not only cast wicked men into hell, but He can do it with ease. Sometimes an earthly prince finds great difficulty in subduing a rebel who has found a way to strengthen himself and has made himself strong by the numbers of his followers.

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Primary Takeaways

  • It is almost impossible to read the Bible from cover to cover and not notice the discrepancy between the picture of God in the Old Testament and the New Testament.
  • In the time of the Church Fathers, Marcion (85-160 AD) a Christian bishop, heavily influenced by Gnosticism, said that Yahweh, the Creator God of the Old Testament, is not the same as God the Father and God the Son of the New Testament, but is a lower-order being. Consequently, Marcion proposed the removal from the New Testament of any influence of the Jewish God, because, he said, this Creator is evil.
  • The Church confirmed that all the writings of the Old and New Testaments are inspired by the same God. But the question remains.

Conclusion

The Old Testament can be difficult to understand. Parts of it are riddled with plagues, conflicts, and people who should have known they were committing heinous acts. God frequently appears enraged. He imposes hundreds of rules on Israel’s citizens, some of which make little sense, others are severe, and all of them are tedious. When the Jews transgress these laws, God punishes them by sending punishments that result in many deaths.

However, the New Testament reveals a different side of God. One who is loving, gentle, and tranquil. God insisted that he is the product of an evil deity, different from the God of Jesus Christ. He then produced a smaller Bible, in which there were only St Paul’s Epistles and a modified version of Luke’s Gospel.

Thank you for joining us in understanding who the God of the Old Testament is. To find out how well you understand His character, test your biblical knowledge with a quiz in the Bible Quizzes section. Have a wonderful day!

Read also: Who guards the gates of Heaven? Is St Peter the gatekeeper?

Bibliography

  • Fretheim, T. E. (1985). The suffering of God: an Old Testament perspective (Vol. 14). Fortress Press.
  • Selman, M. J. (1989). The kingdom of God in the Old Testament. Tyndale Bulletin40(2), 161-183.
  • Steinmann, A. E. (1999). The oracles of God: the Old Testament canon. Concordia Publ. House.
  • Davies, G. I. (2006). ” God” in Old Testament Theology. VETUS TESTAMENTUM-SUPPLEMENTS-109, 175.
  • Balentine, S. E. (1983). The hidden God: the hiding of the face of God in the Old Testament.