The Wrathful God of the Old Testament Needs To Die
by Mark Horne
Why? Because he is fictional.
If you are afraid of wrathful, you should be running away from Jesus as much as from anyone you meet in the Old Testament.
Of course, even that comparison is fraught with falsehoods. To begin with, the Old Testament is not about “the Father” who gets supplemented by his much nicer Son in the New Testament.
(Oh, another falsehood is me using the terms “Old Testament” and “New Testament,” but I don’t have the energy to include another issue in this post, so I’m just going to sin boldly.)
Quite the contrary, it was Jesus who met Moses on Mount Sinai. The New Testament is new more because it reveals the Father. Jesus declaring himself the Son doesn’t mean he’s a new character being introduced now. It means we learn more clearly that someone had sent Him from the beginning. He introduces His Father. All divisions of history that go from an age of the Father to an age of the Son are clearly backwards.
So it is Jesus who killed all those unfaithful Israelites in the wilderness.
Which comes back to that “wrathful” God. If by “Old Testament” people meant that single forty year period in the wilderness, then the idea would make more sense. But that’s a really narrow band of time. The whole point of that training ground was to prepare the nation of Israel for a long period of time (also in the Old Testament) when God would wait patiently and not intervene in sin and evil, entrusting Israel with the responsibility to do good and grow in righteousness.
Most of the time–the overwhelming majority of the years covered by the Old Testament–God sat back and did nothing while people sinned and sinned and sinned and sinned.
I thought of this while reading Psalm 106 this morning:
They did not destroy the peoples,
as the Lord commanded them,
but they mixed with the nations
and learned to do as they did.
They served their idols,
which became a snare to them.
They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to the demons;
they poured out innocent blood,
the blood of their sons and daughters,
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,
and the land was polluted with blood.
Thus they became unclean by their acts,
and played the whore in their deeds.
When we read about Sodom and Gomorrah, we see the wrath of God but forget that, in fact, that wickedness had continued for years, decades, and perhaps even more than a century (or more?). That bastion of rape and exploitation, every servant being abused, every child prostituted, every act of predatory violence piled up and God said nothing. He did nothing. He let it happen.
His eventual destruction of those cities in the circle of the Jordan was a picture of the future of the whole land of Canaan. When Israel returned as a great nation out of the land of Egypt, the whole culture of the Canaan was as bad as Sodom and Gomorrah. God had been patient and done nothing for more than two generations. The conquest of Canaan does show God’s wrath, but only after centuries of patience.
And Psalm 106 shows us how much God put up with before He stepped in and judged Israel. Generations of child sacrifice and false worship were tolerated by him.
Consider how easy it is for our government to claim they have the right to go overthrow a government for “attacking their own people.” The “God of the Old Testament” is obviously tolerant to a fault by American standards.
Yet, even while we are far more impatient and wrathful than God is, we have shamelessly slandered and libeled God as if he had anger management issues. The whole construct is false and blasphemous.
And, by the way, Jesus came at a point in time that was the end of another long stretch of patience. So, again, his own prophecies of judgment on his own generation are not at all inconsistent with the character he demonstrated throughout the Bible.