One common objection to the proposal I am making in my series on how to understand the violence of God in the Old Testament (see the link list below) is that this view seems to make God out to be a liar.
The objection is this: If God inspired the biblical authors to record that He is doing and commanding things that He is actually not doing or commanding, doesn’t this mean that God is lying? But Scripture says that God does not lie (Num 23:19). So how can God inspire biblical authors to write that He commanded Israel to do things that He did not actually command them to do? As with the previous objection, there are a few things that can be said in response.
If God Did Commit Violence, Then Jesus is a Liar
First, we can turn the question around. It seems that if God truly is violent, then the real lie is in Jesus claiming to fully reveal God to us, but not showing or revealing any of the murderous and bloody violence that so characterized God in the Old Testament. Take for example, John 14:9-11. Philip says to Jesus, “Show us the Father,” and in response Jesus says, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”
But if God truly does have a violent and bloody side then Jesus was being deceptive, for nowhere in His life or ministry did He reveal God as someone who goes to war against His enemies or commands the genocide of people who do not love or obey Him.
If there is a dark side to God, it was certainly hidden in Jesus during His ministry, which means that when Jesus tells Philip, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father,” what He really meant was “You haven’t fully seen the Father; only the loving side.” If God really is violent, but Jesus revealed none of this violence, then the real lie is Jesus hiding this side of God from us so that He appeared more loving and gracious than He truly is.
If someone believes that God truly is violent, the burden of proof lies on them to explain how Jesus fully reveals God to us but fails to reveal the violent and bloody side of God’s nature. If Jesus is the exact representation of God and is the image of the invisible God (John 1:14, 18; 14:9-11; 2 Cor 4:4; Php 2:6; Col 1:15; Heb 1:2-3), but during His life and ministry never revealed the aspect of God as a warrior, then there are only two options: either God is not a warrior and Jesus did truly reveal the Father to us, or Jesus was being deceptive.