[This post is a work in progress as part of the CAA Catechism.]
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Summary in 400 words or less:
In the Old Testament, God is often perceived as wrathful while in the New Testament, Jesus (who claimed that He and the Father were united in all things) is perceived as loving. Such an alleged dichotomy contradicts Jesus’ words, and is not supported by the Bible.
Note that the Greek word for “wrath” used in the New Testament (and chosen to replace the Hebrew word for “wrath” by the Jews when they translated the Old Testament into Greek in the 3rd century BC) includes the definition: “anger exhibited in punishment, hence used for punishment itself; of punishments inflicted by magistrates.” In other words, the word is not used to describe the emotion of God, but rather God’s pronouncing a “guilty verdict” at the judgment. This is not to say that God is never angry at the wicked, but he does not delight in punishing the wicked, nor does he harbor anger against them. In fact, it is just the opposite, for in the Old Testament, God says, “I do not take delight in the death of the wicked…rather I delight when he turns from his wicked ways and lives” (Ez. 33:11).
The Old Testament often describes God as hesed (or chesed) which denotes his “undeserved, unmerited, covenantal, faithful, loving kindness expressed in action” (Psalms e.g., Psa. 5:7, 6:5, 13:6, 17:7, 25:6, etc). Countless times he showed love toward the Jews despite their continual unfaithfulness (Exodus 33; Isaiah 49:8-16; 63:7; Jeremiah 31:3; Hosea 11:1), as well toward the poor, slaves, and oppressed. He also displayed love toward a prostitute in Jericho, a leper in Syria, a widow in Phoenicia, the entire city of Nineveh, and even invading armies.
As for Jesus, he often preached on Judgment and Hell (e.g., Pharisees, Tyre, Sidon, Sodom, Gemorrah, unbelievers on the day of Judgment, Matthew 10:15; 11:21-25; 23;). Several New Testament passages condemn those who practice certain sins (1Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21). Five of the seven churches in the book of Revelation received scathing reviews—Ephesus for forsaking their first love; Pergamum for some followers of Balaam and Nicolatians; Thyatira for tolerating “Jezebel”; Sardis for being dead in their deeds; Laodicea for being neither hot (healing and reinvigorating the culture) nor cold (refreshing and purifying the culture), but contentedly lukewarm (Rev. 2 and 3). And Revelation also speaks on judgments against Satan, his angels, false prophets, and unbelievers (Rev 20).
Scripture for YouVersion: “As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” — Ezekiel 33:11
Three questions (1 fill-in-the-blank, 1 multiple choice, and one discussion question):
God does not __________________ in the death of the wicked.
Why does Jesus warn the wicked about thier impending fate at the judgment?
a: becaue He loves them and wants them to repent and recieve eternal life
b: because He enjoys condemning people
c: because He is full of anger
Does God show mercy and love in the Old Testament?
References for further reading:
God Behaving Badly by David T. Lamb
Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God
Prophecy of the Heir by JC Lamont
Collaborators: Chris Lee, JC Lamont
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