Why is God so different in the Old Testament than He is in the New Testament?


How can the wrathful God of the Old Testament be the loving God of the New Testament?


The loving God of the New Testament is the same loving God of the Old Testament. Many of the teachings in the New Testament, such as the Golden Rule, are in fact reminders of the Old Mosaic Law which were instructed by God and His Prophets.

In regards to wrath, God at times did such things to preserve His Law and His chosen people, the Israelites, until the New Covenant which came with Jesus Christ. If somebody can give a better answer than I have, it would be much appreciated as I too will learn something.


The Old Testament law includes many crimes for which the Israelites were commanded to put the guilty to death. Sacred Scripture is the inerrant Word of God, a written reflection of Christ, the Living Word. Therefore, any act commanded in the Old Testament law cannot be intrinsically evil. For God never requires anyone to commit any kind of moral evil. But we must also consider the circumstances of the Old Testament law.

Before the Jewish Faith was established by God, through Abraham and the Patriarchs and Moses, the world knew only pagan religions. These religions did not know that God is One; they believed in many gods. And they did not know that true worship must include doing good and avoiding evil. Their religion did not teach them good from evil to any substantial extent. They had the light of reason, but their perception of good and evil by reason alone was filled with many serious errors, due to original sin and personal sin.

So in order to establish the worship of the one true God, who is Goodness itself, and in order to incorporate a true and full morality into the lives of the Israelites and ultimately into the whole world, the penalties for doing evil had to be more severe than would be required in another set of circumstances. And all this was necessarily to prepare the Israelites, so that the Messiah, who would offer salvation to all persons, could be born among a people who worshipped the one true God in truth and justice. For the salvation of all, some harsher penalties were necessary, in order to prepare the way for the Messiah among a people who (like all peoples) were sinful and resistant to change.

Once the Messiah, Jesus Christ, arrived and taught us, and once he died for our salvation, the harsher penalties of the Old Testament law were no longer necessary. The preparation for, and the arrival of, the Messiah had occurred. And greater graces were now available through the New Testament Sacraments than had been available previously, even to the people of the Promise, the Israelites. True morality had been established among the Jews, and next was offered by Christianity to all persons, Jews and Gentiles. The death penalty remains moral under the second font, but the circumstances have changed. There is less need for the death penalty now that Christ has arrived and has established the Church and the Sacraments.


Perhaps God has been tempered by his visit here to earth via his incarnation as Jesus Christ?


No, it is a dogma of the Catholic Faith that the Divine Nature is unchanging perfection.


What constitutes sin did not change between the Old Testament and the New Testament what change was that after the resurrection of Jesus Christ the punishment for sin became more spiritual than physical .


Also, there is not such a sharp divide between the Old and New Testament portrayals of God as people sometimes think.

The Bible encompasses a gradual revelation about the nature of God, and you can see the human understanding of God change and grow as time goes on. It’s not God that changes, but our picture of Him.

Look further along in the Old Testament and you will see God’s mercy increasingly emphasized. The book of Jonah is all about the realization that God is not just the God of Israel but of the whole world, and that He prefers to show mercy even to Israel’s hated enemies. The prophets frequently extol God’s love and mercy, and even anticipate some of Jesus’ teachings by reminding folks that God values our treatment of each other more than our precisely-offered ceremonial sacrifices to Him.

Even in those early books in which behavior we would consider barbaric is seen as normal and even praiseworthy, and God Himself is portrayed as bringing about disasters that kill large numbers of people, the deeds for which God is remembered and adored are those of mercy rather than wrath – most prominently, the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.



Yes, the love and mercy of G-d are everywhere to be found in the Hebrew Bible, if one looks for these qualities and interprets the verses that reveal them correctly. Even the severe punishment of the Law is thought to be for the good of the perpetrator as well as the victim and society since it serves to mitigate the spiritual atonement in purgatory after death. And such severe punishment is also held to a very high threshold of culpability, and is never to be inflicted by G-d or man without the passage of time, much patience, and considerable warning beforehand. For example, punishment for the sin of adultery requires the presence of two reliable eyewitnesses at the scene of the event. Furthermore, G-d has always been receptive to sincere repentance of sinful behavior through prayer and action toward those who have been wronged, and is slow to inflict punishment for such behavior. This even includes repentance BEFORE committing the sinful behavior, as on the eve of Yom Kippur, all vows to G-d we may make in the upcoming year, we pray to G-d that He may disavow them in advance.


The wrathful God who is “slow to anger and rich in mercy”? The wrathful God who delivered his people from a plethora of enemies when they repented?

The gentle God who struck Ananias and Sapphira dead when they were caught in a grave lie?

God is both Perfect and Eternal. He does not and cannot change.


Simple answer: God does not change.

The people who wrote the books were different from one another. They lived in different times, in different cultures. The way they viewed God was different.


Of course nowadays people are very reluctant to see as punishment a terrible storm, or any other unpleasant quirks of life on earth. If a asteroid hit a part of the world, they would attribute it to an astronomic event.

Some people don’t want to cause dissension, they want to preserve it.


Is He the loving God who killed Uzzah for putting his hand on the Ark of the Covenant to steady it so that it wouldn’t fall off the cart in which they were transporting it (2 Samuel 6:3-8)? Even David was angry at God for killing Uzzah.

3 They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart 4 with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark. 5 David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.

6 When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen shook it. 7 The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God struck him there because he reached out his hand to the ark; and he died there beside the ark of God. 8 David was angry because the Lord had burst forth with an outburst upon Uzzah; so that place is called Perez-uzzah, to this day.


=Zadeth;13237576]How can the wrathful God of the Old Testament be the loving God of the New Testament?

It has to do with “Time, People & Place”

Abram [later Abraham] was a Nomad; and this barbaric [only a slight misuse of the term] culture was to continue for an extended period of time. “An Eye for an eye” was seen as justice; perhaps even charitably applied, if and when it only extracted what had been inflicted upon them in equal measure.

The natural consequence of God choosing just One Chosen people; one very special clan who were challenged to first Discover God; and then over time where introduced, bit by bit, to the spectrum of God’s Power, Might, Mercy and Justice; and God’s unheralded faithfulness; which was actually being modeled by God for them, to enable them to gain at least a sense of “God,” which took hold very gradually and with much and frequent resistance.

The perverbable “carrot & the stick”, might be a fair application of what God’s method was in choosing; actually plucking out of the midst of a great many tribes; all of whom were Pagans; Exodus 6: 7 “And I will take you for my people, I will be your God.”]… But then, as God does now; … God “meets us where we are at.”

Your question might be best addressed by asking another question: “Does God, in an absolute sense HAVE TO BE God?” Yes He does; He can be nothing less. By applying a brief description of God: past; preset and future; “GOD IS ALL GOOD THINGS PERFECTED,” WE THEN ASK IF FAIRNESS AND JUSTICE ARE “Good Things.”, and we agree that they are. THEREFORE God Must be always Fair and Just.
If we read carefully any of these accounts of God’s retribution; we will find that they always, in every case were a JUST response to those people, times and conditions. God can only be good. Grave disobedience requires GRAVE consequences.

One might wonder where God’s retribution is in our times; where world-wide there are more than 50 MILLION abortions annually; where Catholic Divorce rates are 50%+, where our “supreme court” just redefined for GOD how He is to accept SSA unions as “marriage.” And I would suggest [MY OPINION HERE] that Aids; the scourge of Divorce itself and its ruination of the Family and possibility the destruction therefrom of the United States; are God’s response to a more literate, a more Blessed and a more severely Judged people. SAME GOD, melting out HIS Justice

God Bless you,



Why do you assume that Uzzah was being punished by G-d for touching the Ark of the Covenant? One of the several interpretations of this biblical passage is that Uzzah willfully sacrificed his own life and was willing to allow G-d to kill him for the purpose of preventing the Ark from falling to the ground and possibly being destroyed. Perhaps his act was voluntary rather than reflexive. Christians, I assume, are quite familiar with the concept of martyrdom. Well, there have also been Jewish martyrs, and Uzzah may have been one of them. Good people are often punished both in the Bible and in everyday life. But their earthly punishment does not necessarily mean they have morally and spiritually sinned against G-d (contrary to what Pat Robertson may believe). Uzzah did NOT sin and he did NOT have prideful motivations for touching the Ark, thinking that only he had the right to touch it. He knew full well what the consequences would be, and perhaps it was his intention to sacrifice his own life for the benefit of his people and to preserve the integrity of G-d’s Covenant.


But it actually says in 2 Samuel 6:7, “The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God struck him there because he reached out his hand to the ark; and he died there beside the ark of God.”

That fact that God struck Uzzah dead because he was angry with him would make me think that this was some kind of punishment. God must have been angry for a reason (although I can’t think of any good reason). That’s why this story is so incomprehensible to me since it doesn’t make sense to me that God should have been angry at Uzzah and it doesn’t seem like Uzzah did anything to merit death. This story makes God seem unjust to me.


Do you believe that the anger of G-d has the same quality and nature as the anger of humans? There is another current thread about whether G-d experiences painful emotions or any emotions, and I commented on this topic that I believe so but NOT in an anthropomorphic way. Further, I stated that the only divine emotions G-d has are love and sorrow, the latter experienced when we, His children, use our free will to make wrong choices which hurt us as well as others. While the Hebrew Bible does characterize G-d in terms of wrath and anger, if we truly believe in a loving, merciful, and just G-d, we must interpret this in divine terms of sorrow and disappointment, and ultimately in terms of love, not anger. There is a familiar American proverb which says “Spare the rod, spoil the child”; but the French equivalent is “Qui aime bien, chatie bien,” which means “Who loves well, punishes well.” In the present case, G-d may have punished Uzzah as a martyr for his faith, which really means that G-d was not angry at Uzzah in a human sense but loved him in a divine sense.


Did Jesus do anything to merit death? Death is not necessarily a punishment from G-d.


This was the era of the Law. God had some pretty strict rules at the time with regards to holy places and things.

Think: how was the Ark supposed to be carried?

Then, how was it being transported in this particular episode?


Ya’ know, before you can refer to God as the “wrathful God of the OT”, you’re probably gonna have to explain how it was “wrathful” to create man, give him a chance at eternal bliss, watch man totally blow it, and then STILL have mercy on man and offer him a way back to eternal bliss that not only include the often-ungrateful Israelites, but the whole of humanity. :wink:

Porthos 11 points this out as well a few comments above…


The old testament God and NT God are both the same God. God is slow to anger and rich in kindness. If you read both sides of the bible, the loving scriptures in the NT are a backing of the scriptures in the OT. As far as Uzzah is concerned, remember God is slow to anger, rich in kindness, we dont know what he did in his personal time which angered God over time, samuel 6:7 said God was angry with him so the Ark was the straw that broke the camels back for God to let his anger out on him.

As far as the bible thumpers go who cherry pick scriptures to suit there own hateful agenda, either they dont understand what they are talking about or they themselves have some really deep rooted issues that they need to deal with.

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