God's Personality

In the Old Testament and New Testament

Christians generally seem to think about the Old Testament and the New Testament as entirely separate works. Specifically, it is generally felt that the God of the Old Testament was mean-spirited and quick to anger. In contrast, Jesus in the New Testament is the essence of Love, Tolerance, Patience and Compassion.

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The difference seems so striking that many Christians (and countless non-Christians) generally think about the God described in the Old Testament and the God (Jesus) described in the New Testament as being two entirely separate Beings.   But They weren't!   God (the Father) and Jesus are simply different presentations of the very same One God.   Later Christians (around 300 AD) developed the concept of the Trinity (One God Who appears as though having Three Personalities) in order to find agreement in these issues.   Within that concept, God (the Father) and God (Jesus) are Two of the Three Individuals who make up the Trinity (with God, the Holy Spirit, being the Third).

As to a "relationship" between the God described in the OT and the God described in the NT, there is no doubt:   They are One and the Same God. Some Christians, and many non-Christians misunderstand that, thinking that Jesus was somehow a "different" God.   No, the First Commandment makes absolutely clear that there is One God, and nothing in Christianity challenges that.

The following discussion is simply considering that the descriptions in the OT seem very harsh and powerful, while the descriptions in the NT seem to emphasize Compassion and Love, but both descriptions are certainly describing the very same One God.   They first appear so different as to seem to be completely different Beings!   But the First Commandment tells us that they are One and the Same God.

Did God change and become sweet where He used to be harsh?   It sure seems so!   But, think about that.   God is all-knowing.   He knows the past, present and future of everything.   God is all-powerful.   He is capable of instantly teaching or killing anyone or everyone.

How can we then reconcile God's apparent anger and harshness in the Old Testament and Jesus' Gentleness in the New Testament?

I think an answer might be in the types of people that He was dealing with at the time.   During ancient times in the Old Testament, about the only thing that got people's attention was raw power.   The most powerful warrior would conquer territories and become King.   When a more powerful person came along, that King was killed and the new person became King.   Authority was almost synonymous with power.

Given such a prevailing attitude, it makes sense that God didn't actually change. He simply presented a different view of Himself. He presented a spectacular Creation in Genesis, and He regularly "smote" whole armies in an instant to permit victory for His favored Tribes.

Consider a human father who finds the need to reprimand a young child. He might easily attempt to seem extremely harsh and powerful, in order to get necessary lessons across.

By the time that Jesus Walked on Earth, men's attitudes had advanced (a little). Jesus consistently demonstrated and taught Love and Generosity and Gentleness. We then had first-hand experience of the wonderful Lovingkindness of God. That Lovingkindness had always been there, even in the apparently harsh Old Testament God. But, during Old Testament times, such Gentleness would have been perceived as weakness, and God knew that. Therefore, even though He Loved His followers very much, it was not appropriate for Him to show it.

Jesus showed us that it was possible to display Lovingkindness without affecting the sense of incredible power that everyone knew that He had. Even during His trial and Crucifixion, most people seemed to believe that He could have instantly swept all that away, but that He knew that He had to suffer through those experiences in order to fulfill Old Testament prophecy.

Therefore, there is actually no distinction or difference between the attitude or the personality of the Old Testament God and the New Testament Jesus. Our One god just displayed different aspects of His personality as necessary for the people He was interacting with.

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C Johnson, Pastor,
A Christ Walk Church