So as I work on my Commentary on Jonah, I have run into a question which is raised by the text, and I want to ask it here.
The question is this:
What kind of God do we serve?
How is it that the “God of the Old Testament” can have the same values and goals as Jesus in the Gospels? How is it that Jesus can tell us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, while God in the Old Testament tells Israel to kill their enemies, men, women, children, and animals, and leave none of them alive?
I know that this is an age-old question, and I sincerely doubt that I am going to solve it on this blog, but I want to raise the question anyway.
As far as I can tell, there are four main solutions offered by Bible scholars and teachers.
1. God was Wrong
This first option is that God is a monster. We cannot explain away this despicable behavior by saying that God can do what He wants, or that there is a mystery to God’s actions which we will never know this side of heaven. God commanded things which would get Him condemned in almost any court of law in history.
Many atheists have come to just this conclusion about the God of the Bible, but for bible-believing followers of Jesus, this option is not the best. There are better, more reasonable answers for what the Bible says about God.
2. The Bible is Wrong
A second possible explanation is that the Bible is full of errors. Some people argue that although the Bible says God commanded these atrocities, He didn’t actually command them. The Bible is wrong in what it says about God.