Sometimes I have heard people after they have read through the Bible, ask, “Is the God of the Old Testament and New Testament the same God?” The reason for the questions is the apparent difference in God’s interaction with people, as revealed in both testaments. At the heart of this question is a misunderstanding of what both the Old and New Testaments tell about God’s nature.
Some see the God of the Old Testament as a God of wrath and the God of the New Testament a God of love. Perhaps, in part, the progressive revelation of God in the Bible through historical events and relationship with people has led some to this misconception of comparing the Old and New Testament’s revelation of God as two different Gods or a changing God. However, a careful reading of the Bible as a whole, both Old and New Testaments give evidence of God’s wrath, and love is revealed through the whole of Scriptures in both testaments.
Let me give you an example from the Old Testament. In an interaction between God and Moses, it is revealed that “God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex 34:6). Fast forward nearly 1,400 years, and we find recorded in the New Testament the loving-kindness of God more fully revealed. We read in John, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).
Throughout the Old Testament, we see how God related to Israel as a loving and caring father would parent his child. When they sinned, He disciplined them, but He also delivered them when they repented. Similarly, this is how God deals with Christians in the New Testament. The Hebrews writer proclaims, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Heb 12:6).
We also discover throughout the Old Testament God’s judgment, and wrath poured out on sin. This is also seen in the New Testament. We find in Romans, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Rom 1:18). It is apparent that God is not different in the Old and New Testaments. In fact, God by His nature is unchanging or immutable (Heb 13:8, Mal 3:6, James 1:17).
The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is one unified book made of 66 individual books, written by more than 40 inspired authors, in three different languages, over a period of 1,500 years. Incredibly, we see a never-changing God from beginning to end, Who is progressively revealed to us. Throughout the Bible, we see that God deals with sin with judgment and wrath. However, He is also the great deliverer to those who turn to Him in repentance. He is a God of love who offers care who not only says He loves us but demonstrated it on the cross, where He died for our sins and bore His very own wrath in our stead. He died so that we can live as we receive Christ as Savior and Lord.
In the Old Testament, God provided a sacrificial system whereby atonement could be made for sin. However, this sacrificial system was only temporary. It merely looked forward to the coming of Jesus Christ, who would die on the cross to make a complete substitutionary atonement for sin. The Savior who was promised in the Old Testament is fully revealed in the New Testament. Only foreshadowed in the Old Testament, the ultimate expression of God’s love, sending His Son Jesus Christ, is shown in all its glory in the New Testament. All of this to say that the Bible as a whole, Old and New Testaments, was given “to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:15). When we study the Testaments, the Bible as a whole, we discover that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The God of the Old and New Testaments is the same, never-changing God. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!