Why is God different in the Old Testament and New Testament?


By BibleAsk Team

The Same Lord Throughout the Ages

To some, the God of the OT appears different than the God of the NT. In the OT, He appears to be holy and punishing while in the NT, He appears to be loving and forgiving. But that is not the case. The Lord is the same in both Testaments. For He declares, “I am the LORD, I change not” (Malachi 3:6). His character is everlasting, constant, and unalterable (Numbers 23:19; James 1:17). It is precisely because He does not change that His eternal plan for His children will stand. He may rebuke, discipline, and judge them, but all this is for the sake of bringing repentance and redemption to them.

The Old Testament

The OT declares the Creator’s love in a very vivid way: “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 also Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 4:31; Psalm 86:5, 15, Joel 2:13; Nehemiah 9:17).

There were reasons for the Lord’s justice in the OT. 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 wickedness, immorality, and idolatry. For example, the scriptures say there were not even ten righteous people in all Sodom (Genesis 18).

Also, in OT, the Lord charged the corporate authority in Israel to execute killers, for example. In the NT, 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.

The New Testament

The Lord’s long suffering toward His chosen people is the same also in the NT. There has been only one way for salvation in both Testaments and that is by shedding of blood and grace. In the past, people were saved by the blood of animals as a type (Hebrews 9:13) and in the new era, people are saved by the blood of Jesus as the anti-type (verse 14).

The supreme expression of divine love is the Father’s gift of His own Son: “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Through this gift, it becomes possible for the believers to be “called the sons” of the Most High (1 John 3:1).

And the Lord’s justice is also seen in the NT against His children. For “the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son” (Hebrews 12:6). And His judgement is seen also against “all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18).

The Two Testaments Reveal His Eternal Purposes

Both Testaments reveal the character of the One unchanging Creator. Therefore, the Lord does not authorize people to differentiate between the Old and the New Testament. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). The revelation of the heavenly Father throughout all of His Word makes men “wise unto salvation” (verse 15). His complete Word is His very thoughts, His plans and purposes communicated to His children (2 Peter 1:21).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

Categories God

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