The last couple days, during my Bible reading, I’ve been reading from Hosea and Psalms (among other books).  I’ve realized that many times in the Old Testament, people are asking for God’s wrath to come down and strike their enemies.  It’s interesting that we have a completely different outlook on this now.  I think this is primarily because of Jesus’ teachings, to love your enemy and pray for him/her.  Why was it all right in the Old Testament to pray down hateful thoughts toward these people, then?  It seems like the Old Testament way was actually easier than this “loving your enemies” life of the New Testament and beyond.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  I’ve often pondered how God seems different in the 2 Testaments, but lately, I see how God’s people are also quite different.

One thought on “God’s Wrath vs. Grace

  1. One might suggest that it is the difference between the various covenants that the people of God have or had with their creator/lord/savior. I tend to find myself leaning towards a view of God, as best exemplified through Christ. In that for far too long many have tried to convince the world that Jesus is God, rather than using the language or analogy of “God is Jesus.” That subtle change, changes our approach and people’s understanding. As far as the OT accounts of wrath, genocide, ect… It depends on how we have and the writings in the OT change that “God is Jesus” filter. Even the taking/giving of the Promised Land is different among the OT writers – as most of us like to read the victorious taking of the land once they finally get started. However, the Chronicler writes of a much slower and less battle filled account that is often times overlooked as we find Judges. The same is true of when we read the stop reading early in the account of King Solomon. Though we hail him as being the wisest individual in the land, when we continue reading the story the people of Israel put all of this on trial as they tell his successors how brutal he was. This even changes the story for us about the two women and the baby. Whose baby is it? We have hailed King Solomon as making a wise decision in commanding the child be cut in to. WE add the reasoning to the passage, to lessen the brutality of such an act, but the passage does not give such reasoning. Even with great wisdom, the tendency to fall back on pure force and brutality – which is what almost all nations at that time (and still today we use such tools) to get things done through power. Jesus never used such power, and I would say the “go and do likewise” is a challenge to us. But what about when we read of God saying to do horrible acts towards others. That is pretty tough and I will not pretend to have the answers, but I will say this. If God’s people would have done what God asked them to do, would they and others have to suffer? It seems that even when God says “these are the consequences if you do this” that he still has grace in the midst of those consequences. Cain was not killed as the result of killing Abel. Moses was not allowed into the Promised Land for hitting a rock so water would come out of it, yet God took him home (the true promised land). Jesus called Judas friend before Judas betrayed him. The wrath seems to be a consequence of our actions and not of God’s whims or fancy. It is the result of our actions (or lack of actions) and not because God gets mad at us, but because God promised wrath as the result of things we do or do not commit.

    So when we see pain, war, genocide, starvation, loneliness, suffering, abuse of power, greed, and a host of other things… it is often (if not always) the result of God’s people not committing themselves to blessing the world – but rather finding ways to bless themselves, rather than allowing God to bless them by blessing others.

    my 2 cents…

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