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Old Testament, New Testament, Same God?

"Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of any one, says the Lord GOD; so turn, and live."  (Ezekiel 18: 30-32)

Old Testament God?
It is a common misconception that there are two different types of Christian Gods.  The harsh, brutal God of the Old Testament and the benevolent, merciful God of the New Testament.  So which God is the real God? Well, both.  Because the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are the same God.  There is no difference between the two.  The key to understanding this duality is through understanding that God chose to reveal himself incrementally throughout history.   

I admit that I also fell into this dualistic mode of thinking.   I even used to read the New Testament alone since I thought that the Old Testament God was an old, angry dude.  I had these fantastic images of lightening bolts, parting of seas, natural disasters, swarming locusts, angels of death, cataclysmic wars, and the like.  Then all of sudden bang! God had a personality change.  It was almost like God took some anger management classes, threw out the lightening bolts and came back as a peace loving, sandal wearing, turn the other cheek, hippie, prophet, beatnik named Jesus who died for people who hated him. It just made no sense. God seemed to be suffering from acute paranoid schizophrenia.  Which God was the real one? I asked this question many times.  It took my eventual conversion to eventually reconcile these two sides of God and if you think about it logically doesn't every father have two sides?  The firm, disciplinarian and the kind, hug little Johnny before bed dad.  Through reading the Old Testament and observing good fathers I realized that there was no such duality, there was only one God. 

New Testament God?
I was surprised to find that God manifested his good side as early as in the book of Genesis. (cf. Gen 18: 22-33)  In this moving passage Abraham pleads to God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction.  Abraham tries to bargain with God going even as far as to plead that if there were only 10 just people to spare the cities.  God replies that if there were only 10 just people he would spare the cities.  But since there was not even 10 such people he ultimately destroyed both cities. Unfortunately for Sodom and Gomorrah there wasn't even one "just" person.

On the surface the punishment might seem severe, but if one reads these passages carefully one discovers that this is not the case.  What one discovers instead is that God is so merciful that he is willing to relent from his punishments even if there are only a few just people. Just look at the most obvious example of Jesus.  All it took was one just man to save the world.  God is not obviously interested in quantity, he is interested mostly by the quality of the "yes" of his chosen people.  The Bible proves time and time again that the Lord can do amazing things with the fewest, willing instruments.  Just read the lives of such saints as, mother Theresa,  St. Francis,  Blessed John Paul II,  The Blessed Mother, and  St. Joseph.  On the surface none of these people were great.  Their greatness came from their unwavering "yes" to the Lord's plan in their lives.  This is the only criteria.  All it takes is a simple, "yes" to the one true God on our end and we can all become saints and save the world in the process.


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