I have heard the questions regarding God’s conduct depicted in the Old Testament. I have reviewed various answers people have given regarding this conduct. Some argue that it was required to wipe out a people because of the severity of the sin. Child sacrifice was amongst the injustices being done by these people creating a need for God to command their destruction. Still no matter the levels of injustices it would seem to our modern mind to be an immoral response of a good God. Certainly God could provide a better solution. Of course, maybe in these instances we theorize that He ought to have removed their free will and forced the end of these vile practices. However, these responses have not satisfied me as I am sure they don’t satisfy my atheist’s readers.
I’ve explained that the situation is different before Christ then after, but I haven’t had the words to really communicate this idea properly. I will attempt to do so here, however, bear in mind that this is my first attempt to articulate this at this length and I will not stop giving the subject my attention simply because I have made a post about it.
In the Old Testament, God did not dwell in man. He related to man externally from a place of holy separation for man was contaminated with sin and God being sinless and holy would not be able to have union with man until man was redeemed. The presence of God was actually harmful in a way to man if man is in direct tangible contact with His presence for man was not yet able to bear it. We were created to live lives in union with God, to know His love and truth internally; to share in His holiness. However, sin created a new paradigm where God related truth to man externally through the Law and the Prophets. He in His justice exacted the consequences of sin and rebellion through plagues, warfare, etc. These however, are simply earthly consequences designed to protect those who were in covenant with God for the good of the propitiation of the human race. Moreover, these ways of dealing with man were last resorts; God always gave warning and allowed time for repentance. Scripture doesn’t tell us what the eternal consequences were to these people. It doesn’t tell us that the children of these people are held accountable for their parent’s actions in eternity. I doubt that they would have been. The Bible tells us when Jonah was sent to warn Nineveh that destruction was coming if they did not repent and change their ways, Nineveh repented and God spared them.
When Jesus came a paradigm shift came that all of creation had been building toward. Now redemption is in place and because that changes the situation of man, God relates to man internally. He offers to dwell in us in a love relationship where the relationship is the key to all freedom and life. Obedience to external laws is no longer the key for we don’t need that kind of thing to live a victorious life. We don’t need fear of retribution. We can experience the direct life changing love of God. We can now dwell unabated in the living God and He can now dwell within us. A major shift occurred creating this new way of God relating to man because the condition of man changed. This is why Jesus articulated that greater than any obedience to a law was loving God and loving our neighbor for all the law is fulfilled when we learn to have relationship with God and one another. We don’t need a system of rules to live by, we just need relationship with God which fulfills all that the rules were never sufficient to fulfill.
We can argue that God could have brought this about faster from the beginning, but the story needed to play out as it did for it all to work as it does. God is still the same God, but the condition of humanity has been altered. We can still choose to disregard this grace and we can subject ourselves to external realities refusing the freedom and life in Christ. God will still pursue us with His love time and again giving us ample opportunities to see the gift He has extended to us.
Another paradigm shift is on the horizon when the Lord will return for all of those who dwell in Him to bring all that we wait for into fruition. There remains much to be actualized upon the earth before His return, but it is happening throughout the world more and more as time goes on.
One can argue that none of this is fair. But where do we get our standard of fairness? How do we gage what is fair? One can argue it isn’t just. But where does justice come from? One can argue a good God would never harm anyone for any reason whatsoever, but to what do we appeal as a standard of goodness?