The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. (Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, 31)Some critics proceed to contrast this "observation" of the God of the Old Testament with the teachings of Jesus on loving enemies and turning the other cheek. All of which is intended to prove that Christianity is full of contradictions and inconsistencies.
Vocal atheists and skeptics aside, many sincere Christians and curious Bible readers also struggle with the apparent tensions and/or contradictions between the "wrathful God of the Old Testament" and the "loving God of the New Testament."
- Did God change from Old Testament times to New Testament times?
- Did God become more loving over time?
- Does God the Father have a hair-trigger temper and Jesus the Son a meek and mild disposition?
Okay, all that to say, "Go and read Nehemiah 9." I was reading it recently and was so encouraged by the character of God that is revealed there. All that stuff about God being vindictive with a hair-trigger temper -- it's all lies and propaganda! Soak in the (Old Testament!) truth of Nehemiah 9 and you will see the I-am-the-same-yesterday-today-and-forever character of God beautifully revealed in this recounting of his merciful dealings with his people throughout many generations.