God Isn’t Like That!

I made a new year’s resolution this year. Well, it’s not really a resolution, just a commitment to read the Bible through in a year. I thought it might be good to revisit books I haven’t spent much time on in the past few years. I went on www.biblegateway.com and found I could read it online in chronological order. So far the only difference from the order in the Bible is reading Job shortly after starting Genesis, with a few psalms thrown in, supposedly written by Moses. I supplement my reading with biographies of people like Job, Joseph and Esther.

I must admit I found parts of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy a bit tedious. I slogged through, hoping for more insight on the nature and character of God. Not having read the first five books of the Bible in some time, I was struck anew by the violence, revenge, strict rules and seeming mercilessness with which God treated his own people, and even more, the innocent bystanders who were wiped out for the sake of the Israelites.

I can see where some might get the idea there are two Gods, the one in the Old Testament who is harsh, strict and out for revenge and the God of the New Testament who loves everyone and shows grace to sinners. Does God really have two different personalities? Some people think so.

This belief is one aspect of dualism and comes from the pagan idea of the concept of two spiritual forces, good and evil. It’s an incorrect understanding of God that forms a barrier to a relationship with him.

God isn’t a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde character. He wasn’t mean and bloodthirsty in the first part of history and then changed into a loving, merciful God later. We know from Hebrews 13:8 he is the same yesterday, today and forever. God had a plan and it was (and still is) brilliant. He knew what Israel needed and interacted with them in the best way at the time for them and for the grand plan. God gave them the law as a schoolmaster, with rewards for good behavior and punishment for bad. But everything he did pointed them toward the next stage of his plan.

The Old Covenant was all about the flesh and set the stage for the Incarnation, which was prophesied throughout the Old Testament. The New Covenant is about new life in Christ, eternal life by God’s grace, a fulfillment of what God instituted by the Old Covenant. The Bible shows a progression, all leading to the cross.

People seem to want to draw conclusions about who God is based on our own human characteristics. At first glance it does seem God could be a two-headed monster, but isn’t that what we ourselves are – kind and gracious one day, mean and nasty the next? I think many of the misconceptions we have about God are based on not understanding God is not like us. He’s not capricious, mischievous, self-centered or petty. He does what he does for his own reasons, with wisdom and brilliance, and completely out of our scope of understanding.

If God seems sometimes hard to understand, that’s because he is God. But we have Jesus, who is the perfect representation of God. He told his disciples because they had seen him, they had seen who God is. People need to know they can read the Old Testament through Jesus’ eyes, and through his eyes, see straight to the heart of our loving God.

Leave a comment

Your comment