Many believe that Jesus is the “loving and peaceful” side of God, while God in the Old Testament is the wrathful and vengeful warrior God.
But, as I discuss in my book, The Atonement of God, if Jesus truly and perfectly reveals to us what God is like, then the only “side” of God that exists is the side revealed in Jesus Christ.
Is God a Violent Warrior?
To put it another way, if Yahweh was a warrior God, and Jesus revealed this type of God to us, Jesus would have stepped down off the cross, and called a legion of angels to His defense. He would have slaughtered the Romans, and set up His throne in Jerusalem to rule the world with an iron fist (Yes, we will get to the Book of Revelation in later posts). He would have commanded the entire world to bow before Him, to pay homage, and offer tribute. He would have crushed all who rebelled against Him, and set up ways to control every living thing.
His disciples were looking for just such a Warrior King. They were waiting for it. Many times they asked Jesus to act upon what they thought He should be doing (cf. Luke 9:54). I believe that Judas, in betraying Jesus, was trying to goad Jesus into just such an action. Judas wanted Jesus to be King, but grew impatient with the way Jesus was going about it, and so betrayed Jesus as a way to force Jesus’ hand. But Jesus didn’t rise to the challenge. Instead, He died. When Jesus died, all of Judas’ hopes and dreams died as well, and so Judas went out and hung himself. As a result, Judas died without ever knowing the full truth about Jesus.
What is the truth?
God is Not Violent
On the cross, Jesus shows us what kind of God Yahweh is, and how Jesus came to rule and reign, not by might, nor by power, but by self-sacrificial service and taking the sins and guilt and blame of the entire world upon Himself.
This is the kind of God revealed in Jesus Christ. This is the kind of God Yahweh truly is.
It is on the cross that Jesus put to death the violent portrayal of God in the Old Testament and revealed once and for all that God is not like that. It is on the cross where Jesus revealed what God is really like: He is loving, kind, forgiving, and would rather take the blame for the sins of His children than accuse and condemn them for misusing and abusing the freedom He gave.
By taking the sin of the entire world upon Himself, Jesus revealed that this is what Yahweh has always been doing throughout time and history.
He has been taking the sin and guilt and blame of the entire world onto Himself. See my book, The Atonement of God, for a longer explanation of this idea.
By inspiring the human authors to write what they did, God made it look like He was the one responsible for the actions of Israel, the destruction of the flood, the murder of the firstborn males of Israel, and the slaughter of Canaanite women and children. All of these things were going to happen no matter what, but God took the blame for all of them by inspiring the biblical authors to write what they did about Him. God takes the blame. He accepts the guilt.
This is what we see in Jesus Christ. God, when standing before a court of human sinners who have set themselves up to judge and condemn Him, accepts their sentence. He nods His head in agreement with every angry accusation. When the charges are read, He enters a “Guilty” plea. “Christ, in His sinlessness, took responsibility for our wrongdoing” (Martin, 2 Corinthians, 144).How can a God who says "Love your enemies" (Matthew 5:44) be the same God who instructs His people in the Old Testament to kill their enemies?
These are the sorts of questions we discuss and (try to) answer in my online discipleship group. Members of the group can also take ALL of my online courses (Valued at over $1000) at no charge. Learn more here: Join the RedeemingGod.com Discipleship Group I can't wait to hear what you have to say, and how we can help you better understand God and learn to live like Him in this world!