One time, my dad was at a party talking to another man who is Catholic. As they started talking about God and the Bible, the man joked sarcastically, “Well, God is a vengeful god.”
My dad could not believe what the man had just said. Growing up, my dad had been told over and over that God was a loving, gracious god. He couldn’t believe that another believer, even from a different sect of Christianity, could believe something so horrible and untrue about the Lord.
The man continued that Adam and Eve were forced out of paradise; after being freed from Egypt, the Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years until they died; Israel, God’s chosen nation, was captured and enslaved by their enemies; Jews were forced to obey nit-picky laws for every aspect of life.
Vengeance is the desire to harm someone, either physically or emotionally. It seems rather easy, then, to agree with the statement that the Old Testament God is a god of hate, and the New Testament God is a god of love. Again, the OT God has his people wander a desert for 40 years to die, whereas the NT God dies for His people so that they may have eternal life.
Yet, Adam and Eve sinned, and sin has consequences. Think of a child when he disobeys his parents; this child’s wrong actions have consequences. On the other hand, God presents a promise to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15, when He curses the serpent: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” God promised His Son even in Genesis.
The Israelites had stopped trusting God in the desert and started to worship a golden calf. Thus, God, who is a just judge, had to punish them for their sin, disobedience, and ungratefulness.
The Laws were for good. For example, infants who were circumcised before the 8-day minimum bled to death due to a lack of Vitamin K. All other laws were for a people not familiar with hygiene and illness. Yet, those very same laws illuminated the need for a Savior who could make these imperfect people right with God. Romans 3:19-20 says:
Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
Jesus Himself said in Matthew 5:17-20,
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Even in the Old Testament, God is proclaiming the coming of His Son, the Messiah. Even when His actions seem hateful or vengeful, they were done because He is just.
But let’s just say that God truly is hateful. If God was a god of hate in the Old Testament, but then changed to a god of love in the New Testament, how could we be sure that God will not be hateful again? Often times when we are enduring hardship, we blame God. Think of Job! He kept demanding God to come down and talk to Job to explain why all the bad things were happening (Job 13:3, Job 13:22).
I remember my “Dark Year”, as I like to call it, where I felt like God had not only allowed terrible things to happen to me, but I felt like He had even caused them! Right after my “dark night of the soul” began, I wrote in my diary on July 14, 2013:
I feel like my life is broken. I see God’s hand, and yet I feel like He won’t really answer my prayers. I know I didn’t do anything to deserve this. My life is dedicated to the Lord. But I still wonder, how could God allow this?
When things go wrong in our lives, it’s so easy to fall back on, “Well, I guess God is mad at me.” I know a girl who thinks every time she gets sick, God must be mad at her about something. As Jeremiah and I discussed in this podcast, God does not leave us stupid. If bad things are happening or God isn’t speaking to us due to our sin, He will tell us exactly what the sin is and will convict us so heavily, there will be no doubt in our mind. God also does not allow us to suffer because He takes pleasure in it. God allows trials not because He hates us, but rather because He loves us.
We must learn to call upon God in the day of trouble, to humble ourselves under His hand of discipline, and to believe and acknowledge that all events are to our benefit (Romans 8:28). We must learn to see the bigger picture. When we see God’s viewpoint, then we will understand why bad things happened to us. Pastor Brian Brodersen of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa explains,
“Nothing touches us that doesn’t pass through God first. God only allows difficulties in our life through the filter of His love and His wisdom.”
We don’t always know what God’s plan is. In fact, most of the time we have no clue. Yet, during times when we think, “Why could God allow this to happen to me? God must be a vengeful god”, we have to remember to look to Him first, because He is love. Deuteronomy 33:27 says, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
Does this bring you comfort in any way? Tell me below in the comments.