This question is mainly to the evangelical Christians and Bible believing Christians, who believe that God doesn't change and His nature is Love.

The Old Testament is filled with accounts that describe how God poured out His wrath on people, including His chosen people, the Israelites. However, when we read the New Testament particularly the life, teachings and message of the Lord Jesus Christ we don't see the outpouring of God's wrath on people. Instead, we read about God's grace, mercy, and love. How do we square these two seemingly opposite manifestations of God's nature?

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    Your question is based on a very faulty foundation. The OT is filled with God's love, while in the NT Jesus is the person in the whole Bible who talks about hell the most. The whole Bible concerns the tension between God's love, God's wrath at sin and evil, and his justice. There is no opposite depiction of God's nature.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 5:25
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    I agree with @Anne that this is a common misapprehension among many and I think that SE-C would be providing a service to answer this inappropriate view and to correct its unsafe foundations.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 10:09
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    See Marcionism.
    – user46876
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 15:40
  • I'm not sure whether you are aware of it but: Trying to interpret, understand and reconcile the different ways God presents Himself to us in (and within!) the two Testaments is the core of Christian theology. You are asking a hard question ;-). Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 22:20
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 7:57

11 Answers 11


There was a gap of about 400 years between the two Testaments, with the OT covering a vast time span, from creation till then. Taking the time from after the Flood, that alone has been variously calculated as 2,454 years to 2,518 years. This means that the OT deals with about two and a half thousand years of history after the Flood, whereas the NT only covers less than seventy-five years of history in the first century A.D! The NT does not detail the horrific destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in A.D. 70 at all. Its last book, Revelation, was completed around 95 and deals mainly with prophesied future events about the judgments and wrath of God being poured out on the nations that refuse to repent.

It is unbalanced to compare the historical dealings of God with his people and the nations over thousands of years, with a mere 75 years history in the NT. This is especially so when the NT does not hold back from warnings about the coming wrath of God, both on individuals who continue in rebellion against him, and the various “bowls of wrath” coming on the whole world before Christ returns in judgment.

The idea that God must have changed in nature between the two testaments may indicate some ignorance of what those two testaments state, on the matter of God’s nature and his dealings with mankind. In both testaments, the immense patience and love of God is demonstrated, yet without holding back from clear evidence of God’s holiness, righteousness and sovereign judgements. There may be a bit of ‘cherry-picking’ going on, selecting gruesome events in the OT (which tells things the way they were) while only citing nice sentiments expressed in the NT.

Finally, you addressed your question to evangelical, Bible believing Christians, “who believe that God doesn't change and His nature is Love.” As one such Christian I would point out that the Bible does not limit God’s nature to love, but that his love is perfectly balanced with his holiness, his righteousness and his justice. It’s imbalanced to focus only on God’s love, as if a loving God would sweep sin under the carpet without judging sin and sinners. In his love, God has done everything we could never do to spare repentant sinners the punishment due their sin, by pouring it out on the sinless Son of God instead. But if people disregard what God has lovingly done, they will have to bear that punishment. Then they will know the righteous wrath of God. That was the pattern in the OT because forgiveness and time to repent was always available to those seeking to please God, and that continues in the NT. No change there, God be praised!

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    Very balanced. +1.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 11:21
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    Good answer. Divine simplicity suggests that God is ALL of each of His attributes and is not compartmentalized and warring within Himself. God IS love and God IS holy, etc. Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 12:55
  • Where are you getting the idea that Revelation was written last from? As I understand it, scholars generally believe John wrote it first, before even the Gospel of John.
    – Mason Wheeler
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 19:55
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    The general view is that the Gospel of John was written after the destruction of the Temple, i.e. after 70 AD. This view has been handed down from earliest times. Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 6:59
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    @ken Thousands of Jewish books were written in that 400 year gap. Do you speak of the Deuterocanonicals? They are all still available today and were known about then, and in Jesus' day. Given that some are historical records of the Macabees, they are useful as history, but not with regard to God's dealings with Israel, to bring the Messiah to them. Those that contain superstitious contradictions to Hebrew scripture have no place in holy scripture; the historical records have their worth, but not as scripture.
    – Anne
    Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 13:36

If you read the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation, you'll notice:

  • God's consistent character, who is compassionate and merciful to those who love and fear Him but who pours out His wrath to those who are rebellious, unthankful, unfaithful, and disobey His commandments. In the OT He revealed his character to Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets, etc; in the NT He revealed his SAME character to Jesus, Paul, the Apostles, etc.
  • His commandments (both in OT and NT) were meant to protect us from harm and to enable us to flourish. In the OT He revealed the famous 10 commandments; in the NT Jesus recapitulates them into the great 2 commandments.
  • God kept renewing His covenant starting with His chosen people Israel and later with the whole world (the Gentiles), exemplifying his faithfulness toward all his creation, and ask us to also be faithful to the covenant. In the OT it was the Mosaic covenant; in the NT it was the covenant with Jesus. In both the OT and the NT the covenant has the same structure: God blesses those who are faithful and obey, and God punishes, judges, and curses those who do not (see Deuteronomy for OT and Revelation for NT).
  • God is especially angry at those who are not only proud (meaning pursuing their own standard instead of God's standard) but also persecute the weak (the poor, the widows, and the orphans). In the OT the Kings and the Jerusalem elite were some of the ones that God was angry with; in the NT it was the Jerusalem leaders and the Pharisees.
  • But to those who were faithful but oppressed and cried out to God, in both the OT and the NT God promised vindication, deliverance, and reward, which we can read in many places such as the Psalms (OT) and in Revelation (NT).

I hope from the above you see how God's nature doesn't change between OT and NT: loving to the righteous but wrathful to the wicked. Jesus came to save the sinners who WANT to be righteous (because it is impossible to be righteous without God's help). But on the Day of Judgment when Jesus come again, He comes as a judge who will cast the wicked to hell. In between the 2 comings, the door is still open for us to take the offer of salvation.

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    Not all people who read the Bible notice God's consistent character. Many notice that it is inconsistent, hence the question. There have been (and maybe still are?) religious groups that believe that the OT and NT describe different Gods. You might argue that what appears inconsistent is consistent, fine with me, but the first point is obviously wrong, potentially insulting, and should be removed.
    – user50387
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 19:00

Wrath is an important part of God's nature. I think a good way into answering this question is to ask the question, 'What did Jesus save us from?'

They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10)

There are many passages in the NT which talk about God's wrath.

The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. (John 3:35-36)

For of this you can be sure: no immoral, impure or greedy person – such a person is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. (Ephesians 5:5-6)

And one more, this wonderful description of Jesus coming again:

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. ... Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron sceptre.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. (Revelation 19:11-16)

In other words, God's nature has not changed between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Sin still provokes God's wrath and one day it will be punished. Jesus came to save us from sin, to save us from God's wrath. As he said: "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son." (John 3:17-18)

There are many other ways in which God's consistency and character are displayed through the Old and New Testaments and I think the other answers do a good job picking up some of those too.

I'd just like to mention - as suggested in a comment - one thing extra, which is that the OT does display God as loving and merciful. This aspect of his character also has not changed. For example, God's self-description in Exodus 34, one of the most famous descriptions of him:

Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ (Exodus 34:5-7)

So here in the OT we have a description of God as loving and compassionate, slow to anger, yet not leaving sin unpunished. This is the same God of the New Testament: the God who is so loving that he refuses to let us to our sins, and yet the God who also is so just that he cannot leave sin unpunished - so Christ is punished in our place. His character does not change.

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    Great answer, but could be improved by also showing that the OT God is also shown as loving and merciful.
    – kutschkem
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 7:42
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    Good thought. I will try to update the post. I think some of the other answers do a good job at at demonstrating that consistency. Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 13:44

Paul explains there are two covenants. First we need to understand them.

Galatians 4:21-26 21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.

The covenant of grace was given to Abraham. The covenant of law was given to Moses.

When God judges a people, such as a Sodom and Gomorrah, He is judging according to the covenant of works. Justice is being served.

When God forgives a people, such as sparing the first born of the people of Israel, He is judging according to the covenant of grace.

In the covenant of grace, the same justice is served, but it's imputed to Jesus, who bore our sins in His body.

1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

If you pay for your own sins, you're under the covenant of law. If Jesus pays your sins for you, you're under the covenant of grace.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The idea of someone else dying for your sins was alluded to by the animal sacrifices in the law of Moses. Hebrews contrasts those sacrifices with the perfect sacrifice of Jesus:

Hebrews 7:27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

One noticeable difference between the two covenants: The covenant of works is conditional. The blessing and curse depends on whether or not the people obeyed. This is true in the Garden of Eden regarding eating the fruit, and true of the law of Moses regarding obeying it. Whereas the covenant of grace is unconditional; it's based purely on God's promise - it's definitely going to happen because God has promised!

In the Old Testament, the covenant of grace was still present (Abraham being promised to be a father of many nations, Adam and Eve being promised a serpent crushing savior in the Garden of Eden).

Having given an overview of the two covenants, now to answer your question:

When God judged people in the Old Testament, He was doing so under the covenant of works. When God forgives people (in New or Old Testament), He does so under the covenant of grace.

tl;dr: God didn't change. The expression of wrath changed. All that wrath we see in the Old Testament and more was imputed to Jesus on the cross.


A cursory reading of the Bible -- the punishments in the Old Testament vs. Jesus' miracles and forgiveness of sins in the New Testament -- can lead one to the conclusion that God is full of wrath in the Old Testament yet has seemingly changed to become more loving in the New Testament. A more careful examination indicates that God is loving, merciful, and full of wrath toward unrepentant sinners (because He is just) in both the Old and New Testaments.

Consider how God describes Himself to Moses on Mount Sinai:

The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation."

Exodus 34:5-7

The wrathful and (supposedly) unloving God of the Old Testament leads His description of Himself as loving, merciful, and forgiving. It is only at the end of His description that He warns that He will punish the guilty (as His Justice demands).

The Old Testament has a recurring theme of God bestowing His Love upon humans as a bridegroom upon his bride only to be rejected by humans disobeying Him, committing horrible sins (murder, rape, child sacrifice, etc.), and "whoring" after idols like an adulterous wife. Consider some of what God said to Ezekiel about the Israelites ("Jerusalem"):

I made you flourish like a plant of the field. And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full adornment. Your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare.

"When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine. Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God.

"But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his. You took some of your garments and made for yourself colorful shrines, and on them played the whore. The like has never been, nor ever shall be. You also took your beautiful jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself images of men, and with them played the whore. And you took your embroidered garments to cover them, and set my oil and my incense before them. Also my bread that I gave you -- I fed you with fine flour and oil and honey -- you set before them for a pleasing aroma; and so it was, declares the Lord God. And you took your sons and your daughters, whom you had borne to me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured.

Ezekiel 16:7-20

God made similar statements elsewhere in the Old Testament (see, e.g., Jeremiah 2), explaining that He bestowed many gifts on people yet we forsook Him and in doing so incurred His just punishment. The fact that God repeatedly punishes people says more about humanity's sinfulness than God's Wrath. He chastised people because they forsook Him, but He did not forsake humanity.

As for Jesus in the New Testament, while it's easy to see God's Love and Mercy in Jesus' healing miracles, forgiveness of sins, willingness to suffer and die for us, etc., Jesus had some harsh words, too, and talked quite a bit about hell. For example:

You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire.

Matthew 5:21-22

This passage suggests that in the Old Testament God was actually a bit more permissive than He truly demands of us, and in the New Testament God reveals that He actually demands perfection. Jesus' words about hell suggest that it is actually quite easy for us to end up in hell, which a cursory reading might lead us to believe that God is not so merciful and loving in the New Testament.

A careful reading of both the Old and New Testaments teaches us that God is always loving and merciful but also pours out His Wrath upon unrepentant sinners.

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    +1. I was about to write an answer about Exodus 34:5-7. I would add that God revealed this name at the climax of the Golden Calf incident. In a sense, this story starts in Exodus 24 when the people of Israel accept the covenant, and Moses ascends the mountain to receive the details. While God was writing the laws on the tablets with Moses, the people broke two of the commandments they themselves heard God speak (see Exodus 19:1-20:21). God is both describing His character and framing analysis of His response to their sin here. People like to focus on His wrath and ignore the provocation.
    – sadakatsu
    Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 15:14

People see this wrathful God in the OT and then think he does an about face in the NT. Unfortunately, what people fail to realize is that the wrath of God still exists. A perfect God by nature would be required to demand a propitiation for the sin committed by humanity.

You see, what changed was not God's wrath but rather the object of his wrath. Instead of humanity paying for their sin, Christ entered and made a way for God's wrath to be satisfied. Romans 3:24 (NIV) - and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

It isn't that God switched and became this happy go lucky God that doesn't care about sin. It's that Christ took the wrath of sin when he went upon the cross.

You really want to blow your mind? God is so loving that he placed that wrath upon...himself. The wrath that people get angry about in the OT, God went and took on behalf of all those who call upon the name of Jesus so that we don't have to face that punishment. Why wouldn't you want to follow a God like that?

  • @NathanPugh-Imprpve your answer by supplying more Bible verses to substantiate your exhortations. Keep studying the Bible, it's great for the Soul!
    – ray grant
    Commented Jul 29, 2023 at 20:26

The question 'Did God change ?' seeks answers from those who 'believe God does not change' and the question seeks to resolve 'two seemingly opposite manifestations of God's nature'.

I am answering as a bible believing Christian who was converted and baptised at the age of sixteen, fifty two years ago.

The question has really answered itself. God's nature is such that his righteousness cannot but respond to the sinfulness exhibited by humanity (when it is so exhibited).

Yet it is true that God justifies, despite sin, and yet remains just himself :

To declare his righteousness, that he might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus [Romans 3:26, KJV]

God's nature was exhibited in Eden when he gave the whole of earth to Adam, and gave all created life on earth to Adam and blessed him and invited him to be fruitful and multiply.

But the response of humanity (in its representative head) was such that judgment had to be executed. And humanity was banished from the circumstances which prevailed.

The same situation (as the question notes) occurred in Israel. God chose to demonstrate his future Everlasting Testament (later revealed by Jesus Christ in the Gospel) on earth, among men, by means of ritual sacrifices and constructed artifacts. He chose Abraham and his progeny in whom to set forth this demonstration.

But such was the response that God's righteousness had to be expressed in his judgment of evil and wickedness within, first, Israel, and then within Judah. The Assyrian captivity and the Babylonian captivities resulted.

All of this is explained in Paul's epistle to the Romans in the first three chapters as Paul conveys the Gospel in which is revealed (for nowhere else is it revealed) the Righteousness of God.

The resolving of the conflict between God's righteousness and the unrighteousness of men is fully revealed and explained in the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

For therein (in the gospel) is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith as it is written, the just shall live by faith [Romans 1:17, KJV]

This is an extensive subject and is dealt with throughout the epistles of the New Testament scriptures, particularly in Romans, Galatians and Hebrews, but elsewhere as well and throughout the fabric of the doctrine of Christ in scripture.


God has always been a merciful and compassionate. You can see this in a number of places of the Old Testament. For example, when Moses asks to see God, God tells Moses His full title:

God passed in front of Moses, proclaiming His name, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands [of generations], and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he allows the consequences of sin to extend from a parent to their children, even to the third and fourth generation.

Exodus 34:6-7 NIV, except for the italic part, which I rephrased so as to make the meaning more clear

You also see it elsewhere, not only in how God interacts with people, but also how various people who knew God described Him.

David wrote:

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

Psalm 145:8 NIV

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.

Psalm 86:5

Leaders of the Jewish people during time of restoration after the Babylonian exile cried out:

But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.

Nehemiah 9:31 NIV

The prophet Joel declared:

Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

Joel 2:13 NIV

This is just a small sampling.

But what about the wrathful side of God? Many other answers here have done a great job of addressing this.

To people who are proud (stubbornly self-seeking), God shows Himself strong. To those that are humble, He shows Himself compassionate. You see God's wrath upon the proud, but His mercy on those who are lowly.

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Matthew 23:12

Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly

Psalm 138:6

  • Exodus 34:6-7 is the one line answer.
    – M__
    Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 0:47

Jesus' goal in the New Testament wasn't primarily to make His anger known, it was to reconcile people to God. Just because we don't see it, doesn't mean it's not there. God is angry about injustice, I'd guess 24/7 right now. All Biblical justice comes down to the sanctity of human life or possibly the sanctity of God Himself.

Imagine a really amazing man that is a great husband, a great father and a great leader in his community. Then imagine that his home is taken over by people that are raping all of the girls in His community, burning, stealing, pillaging, etc. This great man is going to have quite a different attitude during such circumstances. I've never met anyone that didn't love Braveheart ending prima nocte or Man On Fire rescuing a little girl that was kidnapped. Taken. The list goes on of the heroes that took action to protect someone, partially by attacking the bad guys. We all love these people because we see that their motives are good. We don't actually have an opposition to anger. We've just been told that when it's God in particular that gets angry, we have an issue with it.

God is slow to become angry in the Old Testament (Psalm 103:8). Most humans that I know have a pretty short fuse. God does have a fuse, but it's a loooooooooot longer than people's.

The nature of God's anger is that He is angry about what happens to people. He's not really angry at people, per se.

Genesis 4:10 tells us that Abel's blood lied on the ground crying out to God. Here we see in the very beginning of the Bible, that the reason for God spilling blood is not primarily about punishment of evil, but rather about honoring the victim: honoring the blood of the victim. If God didn't respond, then the victim would be uncared for. This is why sin has punishment: not to punish evil but to honor victims.

Logically this is basically the same as saying that the law is there for a reason. The law is not an arbitrary religious test. God, being wise, recognizes that there have to be consequences for destructive behaviors, otherwise chaos will inevitably take over.

Jesus died to accept our punishment because otherwise, all the people that have ever been sinned against: God would basically be saying to them "sucks to be you". When Jesus died, He said "what happened to you victims matters. I care about what happened to you. You are not forgotten." He, obviously, also protected the offenders. We all know that part. But we don't realize the reason there's a need to punish the offender in the first place: honor the victim. God is a god of vengeance, not a god of punishment.

In the New Testament we see what God is really like. He's attractive. He's that great husband and great father, etc. When you put Him in a scenario where serial gang rapists are going unchecked, Sodom and Gomorrah for example, He's angry.

Jesus also gets angry in the New Testament, but He's slow to anger. It's important to realize that. But when one of His daughters gets raped, He's angry. He's angry in the New Testament. He's angry in the Old Testament. He will never not be angry about that, not because He has to punish evil, but because He has a deep love for His daughter.


I agree with Anne and Nigel that this is an important matter to explore. So many are seeking, knocking, and asking, so if this idea of a two-faced God is an impediment blocking our neighbors from finding "the pearl of great price," we must try to remove it. What if it's not God who changes but human understanding of God? We can't comprehend the divine directly (although I suppose some mystics or contemplatives might argue with that). So how we come to see God is inevitably filtered through our time and place in history. Culturally conditioned, I suppose. It is a rightly ordered humility to recognize that.

So, in an Iron Age culture where governance occurs via tribal leaders and the prevailing culture is to placate local nature gods (sun, river) to ensure good harvest and warfare is a primary means for capturing slaves to do manual labor and for acquiring new land, it makes sense that God would be pictured in these terms: our God is bigger than your god. Our God leads our tribe in warfare so we prevail. Our God protects us against other tribes who want to take our land and make us slaves. Our God brought us out from Egypt.

But as human culture changes, so does human understanding of God. A strong factor is God's own self-revelation where God says, "You are wrong about me." Take, for example, the Sacrifice of Isaac story which teaches us many things, one of which is that the God of Abraham does not want child sacrifice like the other gods do. God is constantly having to call Israel back from lapsing into following the cultures surrounding them whose customs are more brutal than what God wants for human beings.

So, it's not God who changes, but human beings grow in our ability to conceive of this merciful God who is so unlike our expectations. And then there's Jesus to show us. Look at me. Experience how I treat you. Observe what I say and do. This is who God is. So unlike our expectations. We expect divine power to exhibit as forceful and commanding. We want a strong man to protect us. But Jesus incarnates the message God has been sending all along: I am not like those other gods. I exercise power through mercy, not domination. I have high standards, but I will not coerce you. You judge yourselves.

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    One problem with this approach is that it seems to limit God's ability to accurate reveal himself to people of all cultures. Sure God could reveal himself using the cultural image of a Big God of War, but why should we conclude that this is the best way he could reveal himself? Humans have always had more intelligence than to be limited to only the ideas they already know, and God, the inventor of language, is the master communicator and is capable of using, redeeming, transforming, and overcoming the cultural baggage we bring to him.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 14:04
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    Your point about the incarnate Christ showing us what God is like is an important one. Also your point that we are the ones who change our ideas about deity and we need to get back to what God reveals of himself through the biblical record. I hope you will continue to contribute.
    – Anne
    Commented Jul 29, 2020 at 16:50
  • @Anne. Thanks for your comment. Yes, I will. I have so many questions! And haven't yet found a better place to find answers.
    – Margolis
    Commented Jul 31, 2020 at 19:12
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    @Anne! Thanks for sharing your valuable insights. Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 9:45

Errant Education I was raised in a public school where the teachers promulgated the "O.T. wrath vs N.T. love" scenario. Obviously, they were not Evangelical believers. However many naive Evangelical congregates fall for this idea as well. The plethora of Scriptures already given by erudite Answerers show clearly the error in this presentation of God.

It is of additional benefit to point out, as well, the fact that Jesus (God) not only expressed His displeasure, but prophesied Great Wrath upon His own Jewish people when He gave the disciples the Oliver Discourse!

You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? (Matthew 23:33)...And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth (23:35)...Look, your house is left to you desolate (23:38)...I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down (24:2)...Then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now---and never to be equaled again! (24:21)

The wrath of God displayed on the Destruction of the Holy City and the Temple itself, was indescribably traumatic, unfathomably horrendous! It was the rejection of a whole and entire 'commonwealth' of redemptive history. (See Matthew 21:41-46 "a wretched end" Luke 13:27-30, "you yourselves thrown out")

For God so loved But--at the same time--this Galilean voice (God incarnate) was also One who expressed a deep desire to redeem them!

As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city He wept over it, and said, "If only..." (Luke 19:41).

Jerusalem, Jerusalem...how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing (Matthew 23:37).

And the Love of God was momentarily to be displayed in the greatest way. The Lamb of God was to be sacrificed for the redemption of this very same nation. God's sense of justice was to be tempered with mercy and grace. His righteous anger was to be bounded by an unending love. God's lovingkindness was not to be vetoed by the sins of the people.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

God who Changes Not No, there is no dichotomy between the Old Testament God, and the New Testament revealed God. Wrath for the obstinent sinner, and love for the humble and contrite soul, is manifest in both eras. We hear the bleating of the sacrificial lamb in Exodus, and we hear the weeping of the Lamb of God in Jerusalem.

Underlying Problem The posting of this question highlights an underlying problem in congregations of believers: Superficial Bible study!

The reasons for this malady are several (1) Devotional Approach to Bible Study. While small booklets of Devotionals do encourage the faithful for daily spiritual strength, they consist of one or two verses without context. So believers get in the habit of not considering the context or intent of the original author.

(2)Topical Preaching There are too many sermons that are "topical." Based on verses with one word of interest drawn from many different books, written at different times, for different reasons. Verses before or after these "proof texts" are ignored. This approach lends itself to conclusions addressed by this Post: contradictions, misinterpretations, doubts about the integrity of the Bible itself.

It is better that congregations encourage their teaching elders (aka pastors) to present "expository sermons. Sermons that delve into the whole context of the passages preached. This would forestall any doubts about "contradictions" because both sides of a doctrine would be given.

(3) No Personal Bible Reading With all the modern technology available (direct TV, satellite, I-Pads, Smart phones, video games, ad infinitum, there is less and less time taken out of daily routines for PERSONAL Bible reading/studying. Few read their "Bibles through in a year." So they are easy prey to the type of misconceptions this post came up with. They don't see all the verses on both sides of a topic. {e.g. Notice the inability for contestants on the TV program, Jeopardy, to answer even the most basic biblical questions!}

(4) Layman Lack Many believers are not equipped to answer the critics, the rumors, the cultural myths...because of lack of seminary education, because of lack of time from occupational busy-ness, because of lack of Apologetics in Sunday Schools, etc.

Hopefully the Question posted will encourage church ministers to be pro-active in equipping their congregations apologetically...preach some sermons on areas where their congregates are attacked in society...do more research on cultural myths...enlighten believers about hermeneutics.

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    "the teachers promulgated the "O.T. wrath vs N.T. love" scenario" — given a belief in this idea, its very easy and natural to concentrate on the scriptures that support it and to skip over those that don't. This same kind of (unintentional) deception also occurs with many other scriptural topics. Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 1:13

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