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vengeful God
Question from ken schaefer on 2/6/2006:

Father, A Mr Albert Graham asked the following question 6/14/02 and was refered to the Scripture forum. I haven't seen this question answered and I have a young lady in our Sunday adult Bible with the same question. God Bless you for taking the time for us. Now the paste of previous question from 6/14/02 "How do we reconcile the NT God of love with the OT God of wrath? In the OT we see a vengeful, murderous, hot-blooded, deceitful and evil? God.For He is said to command atrocities [Deut.20:10-17; 7:2; Numbers 31:7;31:15-17]; commands revenge [1 Samuel 15:1-3];commands human sacrifice [Lev.27:28-29; Judges 11:29-40; 2 Sam 21:1-9];condones the murder of innocent children[2 Kings 3:23-24]; Uses deception [1 Kings 22-23;Ezekiel 14:9. 2 Thess.2:11]; is hot-headed [Exodus 32:9-10; 2 Sam6:6-7]; Cheats [Gen 32:23-30] and repents His evil ways [2 Sam 24;15-16; Exodus 32:14]. This OT God seems a far cry from the loving, merciful, eternal, perfect, omnipotent, omniscent and immutable God of the systematic theologians. How do we explain these OT attributes to a scholarly, critical audience? Thanks in advance for answering my question.I would greatly appreciate an answer ASAP. Al Graham Answer by Richard Geraghty on 06-14-2002: Dear Al, In trying to get a clear idea of the nature of God from the Old Testament, one has to take all of the texts and the incidents and see them as a whole. We know that God is all merciful and all just. I believe the Old Testament as a whole does bring out this notion of God quite clearly. For more details on this, check with the scriptural expert.

Dr. Geraghty"

Answer by Fr. John Echert on 2/18/2006:

I do not accept these overly simple characterizations of the Lord, especially considered in context. I will address two of your examples:

With regards to your example of the Lord being "hot-headed" you provide the following verses (I have included the context):

1 And the people seeing that Moses delayed to come down from the mount, gathering together against Aaron, said: Arise, make us gods, that may go before us: for as to this Moses, the man that brought us out of the land of Egypt, we know not what has befallen him. 2 And Aaron said to them: Take the golden earrings from the ears of your wives, and your sons and daughters, and bring them to me. 3 And the people did what he had commanded, bringing the earrings to Aaron. 4 And when he had received them, he fashioned them by founders' work, and made of them a molten calf. And they said: These are thy gods, O Israel, that have brought thee out of the land of Egypt. 5 And when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it, and made proclamation by a crier's voice, saying: Tomorrow is the solemnity of the Lord.

6 And rising in the morning, they offered holocausts, and peace victims, and the people sat down to eat, and drink, and they rose up to play. 7 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Go, get thee down: thy people, which thou hast brought out of the land of Egypt, hath sinned. 8 They have quickly strayed from the way which thou didst shew them: and they have made to themselves a molten calf, and have adored it, and sacrificing victims to it, have said: These are thy gods, O Israel, that have brought thee out of the land of Egypt. 9 And again the Lord said to Moses: See that this people is stiffnecked: 10 Let me alone, that my wrath may be kindled against them, and that I may destroy them, and I will make of thee a great nation. (Exodus 32)

This event, which occured within three months of the great rescue of Israel from Egypt, was nothing short of complete apostasy on the part of Israel. Having turned from the one true God to the false god of the Egyptians, in so short a time and after having been given so much, the nation of Israel deserved destruction and the loss of their special place with the Lord. It is NOT that the Lord is hot headed, but this would be the application of justice, which God does without any passion at all. The fact that He allowed them to continue at all was a great act of mercy, done in response to the mediation of Moses--who served as a prefigurement of Christ, the New Testament Mediator.

As to God "cheating," I just do not see it, in the text you cite:

23 And when all things were brought over that belonged to him, 24 He remained alone: and behold a man wrestled with him till morning. 25 And when he saw that he could not overcome him, he touched the sinew of his thigh, and forthwith it shrank.

26 And he said to him: Let me go, for it is break of day. He answered: I will not let thee go except thou bless me. 27 And he said: What is thy name? He answered: Jacob. 28 But he said: Thy name shall not be called Jacob, but Israel: for if thou hast been strong against God, how much more shalt thou prevail against men? 29 Jacob asked him, Tell me by what name art thou called? He answered: Why dost thou ask my name? And he blessed him in the same place. 30 And Jacob called the name of the place Phanuel, saying: I have seen God face to face, and my soul has been saved.

You must be assuming that there are some rules involved in the this match of strength, which was not for some trophy but to teach Jacob that in his future struggles, the Lord would be with him.

Thanks, Al

Father Echert


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