My Fiancée and I were discussing the duplicity of God’s Wrath in the Old Testament as compared to the God of Forgiveness in the New Testament. It seems to us that in the old Testament God crushes the wicked, we used Jerico as our example. Using the Ark of the Covenant, Joshua marched around the city until the walls fell down, then he killed everyone in Jerico. Per God’s direction. But with Jesus, comes the new Covenant to replace the old.
However, the question is, was God harsher with people before Christ, or is God never changing, and therefore, has always been a loving god?
God, in His relationship to us as a Father, has adapted His treatment of us as we have matured, much as a human father does with his children. When a child is little, it’s all about positive and negative reinforcement. This can be observed in the Old Testament in the form of huge rewards and terrible punishments. And just as a small child thinks the world is ending when his father spanks him, God’s Old Testament punishments may seem, to our temporal minds, to be overly harsh. But as the ancient Israelites finally started getting the hang of obeying God, His disciplinary actions softened accordingly. Just as a human father will do with his older children, God started letting them make their own mistakes and learning from the consequences. And by the time of the New Testament, when the Jews were more or less in their spiritual teen years, God provided the final instruction, and allowed us to leave the nest, so to speak. But, like any good father, He’s always watching, ready to step in and help if we really need it.
God is the ultimate example of good parenting. Little kids must be forced to behave themselves, but older children must be allowed to choose, and suffer the consequences. Otherwise they can never grow up. God hasn’t changed, we have.
John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah (struck dumb for nine months), Luke 1:20;
Ananias and his wife Sapphira (both struck dead), Acts 5:1-10;
Saul, later known as St. Paul (struck blind for a few days), Acts 9:8.
King Herod (struck dead), Acts 12:20-23;
Elymas the magician (struck blind for a time), Acts 13:6-11;
Many Corinthians Christians (some made sick, some died), 1 Corinthians 11:26-31.
Jerusalem (destroyed) and its inhabitants (wiped out), predicted by Jesus Christ in Luke 19:41-44. Realized in 70 A.D. Possibly a.k.a. “Babylon the great, mother of harlots” of Revelation 17–19.
I would hardly count being struck blind or dumb as being on par with death. Think of it as being grounded for arguing with your dad.
As far as the ones who died, like I said before, God will still step in if necessary. And in regards to the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus said it was going to happen, not that God was going to MAKE it happen. Like I also said before, God allows us to make our own mistakes and to suffer the consequences.
Think of it this way. Your dad tells you not to stick anything in the lightsocket. He says if you do, you’re going to get shocked. Does this mean he is going to shock you if you disobey? No, he’s simply warning you that this is how it works. But when a kid gets old enough, if they still haven’t learned, sometimes the only way left to learn is to let them stick something in the lightsocket, so they can see for themselves.
No God wasn’t harsher I wouldn’t use that word, but I would say He was more strict, swift and firm about judging certain sins. He was very patient with Israel who turned away many times and yet God was patient with them for many many years allowing them time to repent, yet they would not.
And although God’s judgement is seen much more in the Old Testament vs the New Testament, should by no means be taken as God changing. God has to work within a fallen world, yet He has a total plan within salvific history, therefore there are times like in the begining where He has to be strict and firm in establishing absolute truth.
What many people fail to see when seeing an overview of the Old Testament and the Mosaic law, was that it WAS a means of grace toward the Israelites NOT a strict list of do’s and do nots.
The Mosaic law was a way for the Jews to recognize their sin, ergo it was a grace given by God in order for them to avoid future sin and something given by God in order to avoid sin IS a grace from God.
There are countless examples of God allowing things temporarily without strict judgment.
Here are a few:
After the fall, Adam and Eve were given fig leaves in order to cover themselves as their nakedness was revealed to them. God also slaughtered animals, took their hides for Adam and Eve to keep warm.
After Cain killed Able, God could have killed him but spared his life and banished him to the desert.
After the Mosaic law was given in Exodus which forbid divorce a temporary allowance for divorce was granted to Moses in Deuteronomy because of the hardness of their hearts.
King David was allowed to live after falling into adultery and murder.
These are a view from the top of my head, but I could look up more if needed.
Point being, God doesn’t and Has not changed as their are certain immutable truths that cannot change. He is primarily a God of love, yet His love brings justice, and mercy and He chooses that love and justice perfectly in order to fulfill His divine plan in this world.