Why is God different in the Old Testament compared to the New Testament?


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To some, the God of the Old Testament appears to be holy and punishing while in the New Testament, He appears loving and forgiving. But that is not the case. God is the same in the Old and New Testaments “For I am the LORD, I change not” (Malachi 3:6).

The Old Testament declares this about God: “The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation” (Exodus 34:6,7).

To understand God’s dealings, we need to realize the context of the scriptures. In the Old Testament, the context was God’s relationship with the nation He had chosen to represent His holiness and character to the world. In the New Testament, the context is God’s relationship with the individuals.

There were reasons for God’s justice in the Old Testament. The nation of Israel was to be holy and free from the worship of pagan gods (Exodus 20:3). In order for Israel to stay as a holy nation, the exceedingly corrupt neighboring nations had to be destroyed to protect Israel. These were nations given up totally to immorality and idolatry. The scriptures say there were not even ten righteous people in all Sodom (Genesis 18).

Also, in the Old Testament, God charged the corporate authority- Israel- to execute killers for example. In the New Testament, this was not so. Why the difference? Because in the Old Testament, the priests and judges carried out the civil law. In the church era, civil authority was carried out by governments, not the church.

God’s long suffering toward His chosen people as they rebel against Him is the same in the OT and the NT. There has been only one way for salvation in the OT and the NT and that is by blood and grace. In the OT people were saved by the blood of animals as a type and in the NT people are saved by the blood of Jesus as the anti-type.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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