A few nights ago I was talking with my incredibly smart and beautiful wife about the violence of God in Scripture and how we can interpret both in light of Jesus Christ, and we realized that in some ways, Christianity has fallen into the same trap that Judaism fell into so many years ago.
Before Jesus came (and in fact, even today) when Jewish people read their Hebrew Scriptures and saw a violent God doing violent things, they projected this onto their expectations for what the Messiah would be and do when He finally came. They saw a violent God, and so were looking for a violent Messiah. They wanted a Messiah who would throw off Roman rule, would slay the enemies, kill the wicked, and banish all the unrighteous into eternal pits of darkness and gloom.
This was partly why the Jewish religious leaders rejected Jesus as the Messiah. He did not fit the bill! He did not live up to their expectations. He did not match what they read in the Bible. He did not fulfill the expectations, promises, and prophecies of what the Messiah would do when He came. And in fact, on numerous occasions, Jesus flat-out told them that the reason He was not doing these things is because they had misread and misinterpreted their Scriptures.
Hmmm…. now take those two paragraphs and substitute in what Christians think about the second coming of Jesus….
By an amazing twist of hermeneutical skill, we Christians have learned to nod our heads at both Jewish and Christian interpretations of Scripture.
We say, “The Jewish interpretation and understanding of God was correct. They just got the timing all wrong. God is violent and bloody, and so is the Messiah. But Jesus didn’t come the first time to kill all the sinners; He will do that when He comes again. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus! Let the bloodbath begin!”