Don't we all know that now we are under the Covenant of Grace? That means that the God of Grace has triumphed! So then, what has happened to the God of Wrath?
Of course, the way I am presenting this idea is somewhat exaggerated. Or is it?
Last week I had an intriguing, but mostly odd, conversation with a friend of mine which expressed something I have heard many times over the years in Christian circles. His basic point was that when he reads scripture he sees that God related differently to humanity in the "Old Testament" than how He did in the "New Testament". Essentially he described the God of Wrath and the God of Grace. He sees all the killing versus the mercy and grace.
I could list hundreds of cases of God's mercy expressed to Israel and the world in the Tanakh. Not even to mention the very fact that God didn't destroy all of Israel in the wilderness, like He wanted to, but relented because of Moshe's pleading. I could also list many times that Yeshua describes God's judgement and condemnation. I'm not going to list them all now; but rather I want to raise this issue, and everyone can read for themselves.
The larger issue is not over specific cases, rather perspective and way of understanding God and scripture. I recognize that very few people actually present two different Gods explicitly. Nonetheless, when we break down their arguments this is what it comes down to. A root of the problem, which most likely will be discussed frequently in the blog, is that as Christianity was developed it set itself in contrast to and in place of Israel. The very thing that Shaul warned the Romans about in becoming prideful in relation to Israel! In doing so Christianity had to rework its relationship to the "Jewish" scriptures. (Another related subject is the fact that the Messianic Writings are "Jewish" scriptures as well!) One way in which it was done was the creation of difference between God's character in the "Old Testament" versus the "New Testament". Clearly grace sounds better than wrath! I believe this attempt was to de-legitimize (to use post-modern terminology) Israel, not God. Regardless, I see this as an affront to God Himself.
God was very clear. He is unchanging. He told Moshe that His name is אהיה אשר אהיה, which is commonly mistranslated as I AM. It's not as much of a mistranslation as it is an attempt to translate something that doesn't translate well. A better translation perhaps could be, "I will always be who I always have been." This may not be the exact meaning, but it better expresses the intent, which is God's eternal nature. God always has been a God of justice and mercy, and He always will be.
Here is one way those close to Yeshua understood the "wrath of God" as expressed in the Tanakh.
2 Kefa (Peter) 2:4-6
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter. (emphasis mine)
Yehuda (Jude) 5-7
Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (emphasis mine)
I recommend reading the context in which the verses above were written. When one views the scripture properly, as a whole, things make more sense.