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Question

Why does the God of the Old Testament seem so different from the God preached by Jesus in the New Testament?

Answer

Thank you for your interesting question about the God of the Bible and the apparent differences between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. 

Many people might dismiss Christianity because they see the God of the Old Testament who seems violent and aggressive, but the God of the New Testament seems all about peace and love. The question is there for us too; how can this be? 

The first thing to make clear is that there is only one God and he remains the same for all time. He does not change with the seasons or ages. God has always and will always be the same God. 

Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God (Psalm 90:2). 

Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end (Psalm 102:26-27)

"How great are His signs And how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom And His dominion is from generation to generation" (Daniel 4:3). 

You mention that you see God as different in the New Testament, specifically the way that Jesus talks about God. The Bible also testifies that God is a Trinity; one God made of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The second member of the Trinity, the Son, became flesh and became known as the person of Jesus (John 1:14). Jesus isn't a creation who came along later: the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for ever (Hebrews 13:8)

Jesus is God! Therefore when we see God at work in the Old Testament, we're seeing Jesus at work. 

Jesus is mentioned as the creator (Colossians 1:16) and we see multiple times where a pre-incarnate Jesus is with people (for example, in Genesis 18). This means that Jesus, and therefore his message, isn't different from that of the Old Testament. 

So how can we justify this claim? The answer is simple: God will always punish sin.

Both the Old and New Testaments show a Holy God who punishes sin in judgement. Whether we see judgement through Noah's ark, the Israelite victories over the tribes in Canaan or through God's people being taken into captivity by a foreign power, God is punishing sin. 

Jesus in the New Testament is no different. He calls people to "repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15). He told a woman to "go and sin no more" (John 8:11) and he even calls Pharisees a "brood of vipers" for leading people astray (Matthew 23:33). 

Jesus declared "do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them" (Matthew 5:17). This is precisely what Jesus did. 

In the Old Testament, wherever there was sin, there was death. We are told that the soul who sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:20) and that death has reigned since the time of Adam (Romans 5:14). Animals were sacrificed as a symbol of repentance for sins, but they could never make a person completely clean (Hebrews 9:9). What was needed was one perfect death to eradicate sin completely. This is where Jesus comes in, fulfilling the law!

Jesus lived a perfect life, and yet he was the one who died for our sins! Through Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection from the grave, our sins are forgiven. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)

So this is the result: the same God of the Old Testament, who punished sin through death, punished sin once and for all through the death of Jesus Christ. Any person who comes to Jesus, asking for forgiveness, has their sins forgiven and they can know God personally. 

Why not take the time right now to ask for forgiveness of your sins and get to know God personally? If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video

I encourage you to attend a local Bible believing church and speak to the leader about your question. If you want to find a local church, our Church Finder may help you: Find a Church

Please feel free to submit a question to us or to read our answer database: Ask a Question

*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise

*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline


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