OT God vs NT God...

Greetings brothers and sisters in Christ!

I was asked the question “Why doesn’t God intervene in human affairs today that way He used to in the OT”. Obvious examples would be the parting of the Rea Sea and the destruction of the Egyptians, Noah and the flood, Destruction of Jericho, etc, etc.

Obviously things have changed since Jesus’ first coming to earth. In fact according to St. Catherine of Siena in her Dialogue, she explains that sin, under the Old Law, was punished immediately in this life, whereas with the New Law, punishment is delayed until after we die in Purgatory.

So atheists/agnostics look at this puzzle and think, either God doesn’t exist or the OT is a fabrication or symbolic.

Can anyone explain why God treats sin differently since Jesus’ time on earth?

God bless,

Interesting question–I wanted to mark the page so I can see what people say. If I remember I will ask this question at bible study today. We are studying Esther. So this question fits into my OT study:D kind of

You cannot look at scripture outside of the cultural context of the time. Every civilization at that time had a flood story or a creation story. The OT was written a long time ago by ancient people, and, although divinely inspired, was written within the context of their perceptions of the world.

God still does many mighty things – we jprobably don’t take notice of it or give him credit for it.

Hello, I’m not sure the cultural context matters really. For example in the OT, God ordained that adultery was to be punished by stoning to death. Theb Christ came along and said, let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

Why did God change His approach to punishing sin?

God bless,

Think of the Children of God as simply that - Children.

When your child is young, do you teach him the same things in the same way as when your child grows up and matures. Your child doesn’t learn algebra, for example, until he’s mastered various other math skills that build up to Algebra.

The OT is addressed to the child.
The NT is addressed to the young teen.
The Church of today is teaching an older teen.

Yes, that makes sense. Same as progressive revelation. Maturity certainly does seem to be key.

The question of the fate of those who were killed under the Old Law arises. Did they atone for their sins by being stoned etc or was this a sign that them were damned anyway because God know’s the future? i.e suffering on earth instead of sufering in Purgatory.

Thinking about that makes my head hurt!!

Always remember, God is the God of Mercy and Justice. I don’t think any of those that went to hell didn’t deserve to go to hell… Period.

I cannot help but ponder (no answers) the Apocalypse. The jugdments in that book are more powerful than the rest of the Holy Bible, in my opinion. Again, my answer is a question. My answer is ponderings.

There is One God in Three Divine Persons.

The OT deals mainly with Israel’s relationship with the Father as He works through the Holy Spirit and points towards the Son.

For His own reasons, which I do not fully understand, God desired to set the Jewish people apart as the people who would eventually produce (in human terms) the Messiah (the Son) as a man. (I know that there are probably some theological problems with my terminoligy in the last sentence but I can’t think of a better way to put it.) In order to do this, He required a certain purity from these, His chosen people. To achieve and maintain this purity, He imposed some very strict laws regarding everything from diet to inter-personal relationships to proper worship. The point was for the Jews, His chosen people, to retain a unique cultural identity and remain faithful to their God, Who chose them from all the peoples of the world.

The NT is focused primarily on the Son and how He fulfills and completes the Law and the Prophets from the OT. Once Messiah has come, the focus changes from keeping the Jews unique and set apart to drawing all to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit. The mission of Christ is first and foremost one of mercy. The very purpose of the Incarnation was to allow for the Crucifixion. This was the will of the Father (the same Father who commanded that adulterers be stoned and whole cities erradicated), that He would offer His only Son, just as Abraham had shown a willingness to do, for the redemption of the World. This is the greatest act of mercy in all of history. Christ, in His death and ressurection completes and sanctifies all the animal sacrafices offered by the Jews from Abraham on. Simultaneously, He allows all of us Gentiles to be grafted on the the tree of Abraham by virtue of His own blood.

The Old and New Testaments testify to the Same God, but trying to accomplish different things at different times.

Thanks brockmac, good post :thumbsup:

Do you agree that the Old Law was based on fear and the New Law on Love?

I wouldn’t agree with this statement.

I wouldn’t agree with this either…the Old Law can be thought of as a set of marriage vows…a pre-figuring (or type) of the Church as the bride of Christ. You don’t make marriage vows out of fear, but rather love for your spouse.

Salvation history is a process by which God progressively revealed Himself to mankind. The ultimate revelation was Christ, and by Christ’s work on the cross, the Holy Spirit is now able to indwell, guide, transform and influence us in a different and better way than the methods illustrated in the Old Testament. Based on Israel’s history of repeatedly failing, repenting, and then failing again, it is evident that the way of grand miracles didn’t really make a lasting impression.

The need for miracles ultimately gets twisted into some pursuit of personal gain, wealth, etc. Even Christ talks about this, and I believe other Scripture (such as in Revelation) make it clear that mankind will turn its back on God even in the face of undeniable miracles. What’s necessary is a true transformation of heart enabled by the Holy Spirit.

Also, I believe there is a statement about Christ fulfilling or closing the age of public revelation in the Catechism, but my online search engine is not working for the Catechism right now.

Finally, I don’t believe that God has changed anything regarding the way he views sin, or the consequences of sin. By His Grace, we now have more ways to deal with and erase the spiritual consequences of sin (ie, the loss of everlasting life), but there are real, physical consequences that remain just as they were present in ancient history.


Why not? If you broke the law, you got stoned to death for it! That would certainly strike fear into me! :slight_smile:

OK but if you break the vows, you get stoned to death for it.


Yes I’m sure God’s view of sin hasn’t changed but the manner of punishment has definitely changed. In the OT, God ordained the grave sin was to be punished with death. Jesus in the NT forbade this.

Any suggestions as to why God has changed the way He punishes sin?

God bless,

OT God vs NT God…

That’s Marcionism isn’t it? :hmmm:

Some basics that have helped me with these issues. The Old Testament is a collection of literary genres. You wouldn’t read a poem the same way as a history book would you? So when you’re studying Scripture, think about the literary context.

Who wrote the Old Testament? This really helps you understand what’s going on, because much of it was written AFTER the exile. It has a post-exilic perspective and is didactic (ie it is trying to teach you something).

The Jewish idea of God develops through the OT. The prophetic works change from the erractic fire and brimstone of Elijah to the suffering servant of Isaiah. The Jews got it wrong-- that’s why they were exiled; the exile is the pivotal point in OT history.

The wisdom literature demonstrates a similar development from repetition of contemporary wisdom in Proverbs, the laconic remarks of Qoheleth to the astounding insights of Ben Sira into the creative power of the Word and the integration of the Word with the Law.

So you see it is a story about how God came to be known by the world; how God revealed himself to us. It’s not a book of rules to be adhered to without question, or an unblemished truth written by God.

Hope this is of some use!

I guess I don’t see that the ultimate punishment of unforgiven sin has changed…‘the wages of sin are death’…both now and then. God doesn’t change…period. If you don’t repent of and ask forgiveness of your sin (especially mortal sin), you will sufffer spiritual death…eternal separation from God. This is the spiritual reality…it was pre-figured or symbolized by instances of physical death in the OT. But this was because God’s full revelation of Himself and His plan for reconciling fallen mankind to Himself had not been fully revealed in Christ yet. Mankind had to be prepared in the ‘fullness of time’ for this complete revelation.

Initially the Jews didn’t think there was an afterlife with God. they considered a perfect God to be perfectly just and that is why you have all these questions about the suffering of the righteous. They considered that justice had to be metered out in this existence. It’s only in the Wisdom of Solomon, written in Alexandria in about 30 B.C. we see the discernment of a universal truth underlying Ezekiel’s prophecy (Ez 18:32; 33:11) “God did not make death” (Wisdom 1:13) this thinking allows for a whole new tack with respect to the question of how a God of justice can allow his righteous to suffer at the hands of the godless who enjoy prosperity and comfort. Earthly evaluations now become obsolete because they fail to take into account God’s eternal Kingdom. The judgement of God will reverse any unjust state of affairs and the godless will have to witness the vindication of the righteous even as they disintegrate into the void of eternal death (2:21-24; 3:10-12; 4:20-5:14; 5:17-23). This insight is complimentary to the tradition of Daniel and 2 Maccabees as it asserts that life after death will be the reward for the righteous individual, but the book of Wisdom does incorporate a Hellenistic dimension into the biblical tradition: it describes the afterlife as immortality of the soul rather than resurrection from the dead

If you sin and turn against the teachings of Christ, you suffer spiritual death, a far, far worse fate than stoning.

Jesus Christ talked more of the pains of hell than Salvation. Doesn’t that strike fear into you?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.