The God of the Old Testament
The God of the Old Testament seems much different from the God of the New Testament (Jesus).
How can this be? Are there two Gods?
Jesus gives us the answer to that:
I and my Father are one.
- John 10:30 (KJV)
And clearly God doesn't change:
For I am the LORD, I change not.
- Malachi 3:6 (KJV)
Jesus confirms this as well:
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
- Hebrews 13:8 (KJV)
We know that God is slow to anger:
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
- Psalms 103:8 (KJV)
So why did God judge the existing nations in the land of Israel so harshly?
Something must have really angered God for Him to bring on His judgments like that.
For true and righteous are his judgments.
- Revelation 19:2 (KJV)
When a person (or nation) sins, it quickly gets from bad to worse.
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
- Genesis 6:5 (KJV)
God will normally give a person (or nation) time to repent (warn them first), but if they don't respond, God will bring forth His judgment, and with it His vengeance.
So yeah, to us some of the events in the Old Testament seem cruel, but we don't always have the full picture. For example, the existing nations in Israel were heavily involved with other gods, bestiality, incest, and even child sacrifices. God sees all that, and He's the one that will hold people accountable.
The Israelites were the instrument of God's judgments. Sometimes they drove out the existing nations, sometimes a treaty was signed, sometimes they were added to Israel, and sometimes they were destroyed. But always with a code of conduct in order to maintain some form of righteousness.
So is the God from the Old Testament a loving God?
Absolutely. God gave us the Ten Commandments, and when we take a close look at those, you can see that they're written with Love. They reveal the true eternal character of God.
Jesus gave us a much better idea of who God really is. The apostles were able to get much closer to God than ever before, e.g. they walked with God. The early days of Israel were just barbaric, and required different methods for people to repent. God clearly set big examples for generations to come. Also keep in in mind that some of the cruelties recorded in the Bible are not always from God. Even the people of Israel were cruel sinners at best of times.
Soon, God will judge again, and show His love for the righteous, and His vengeance for the wicked.
But God doesn't want anyone to perish:
Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.
- Ezekiel 18:31-32 (KJV)
And again in the New Testament:
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
- 2 Peter 3:9 (KJV)
The message in the Old and New Testament is the same. Repent!
God loves you, and He will give you time to repent, but He will not wait forever!!
Check out this YouTube video for a good sermon on this topic.