How can God's outlook change so drastically from the Old to the New Testament?
In the Old Testament God destroyed humanity with the flood. Compare that to the New Testament which says Jesus so loved the world that He gave His own life that whoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
If we compare the teachings of the Old and New Testament, we discover that God’s character and His outlook have not changed. Here are a few examples that reveal this truth.
God’s Character Is Unchanged
A person’s character determines how a person responds to others and to his or her circumstances. Therefore, we want to start with Hebrews 13:8 which reveals an important truth about God’s character.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (NASB) Heb. 13:8
This verse does not mean that God will always act the same way every time. That is, God will respond differently to different individuals, but He will always respond with love, since He is love.
The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (NASB) 1 John 4:8
God’s character is unchanged. He is a God who loves. His actions will always reflect the fact that He is loving.
God Has Always Been A Trinity
Second, some of the strongest statements in the Bible that prove God is a Trinity or a triune being are found in the Old Testament. While Genesis 1:26 and Deuteronomy 6:4-5 provide indications that He is a trinity, Isaiah 43-46:18 proves that He is. The New Testament reveals that God is a trinity when 1) the religious leaders understand that Jesus claimed that He was God (John 10:33). 2) We are told that there is God the Father in heaven (Matt. 6:9), and 3) the Holy Spirit is God too (Acts 5:3-4)! For more information you may want to pursue the study called, “Who Is God?” This truth reveals that God was a trinity in the Old and New Testaments. This aspect of God has not changed.
Holy Spirit and Us
Both the Old and New Testaments teach that the Holy Spirit empowers individuals with special abilities. However, there are differences in how the Holy Spirit accomplishes His mission. Two studies that you may want to investigate are “The Holy Spirit” and “The Spirit’s Ministry – Tongues and Prophecy.”
God Is Holy
Isaiah 6:3 reveals that God was holy in the Old Testament and 1 Peter 3:16 reveals that He was still holy in the New Testament. He did not change between the Old and New Testaments.
Seraphim stood above Him . . . and one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” (NASB) Isa. 6:2-3
. . . but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” (NASB) 1Pet. 1:15-16
As a result, God calls us to obey the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17) in the Old Testament. When we come to the New Testament we find that all of them are repeated, except the command to worship on the Sabbath. God wanted us to seek to be holy or to live holy lives in ancient times and now in the present. For more information please see, “Do we have to keep the commandments and laws given in the Old Testament?”
In the Old Testament God warned the Israelites to not marry anyone who was not of the Jewish faith (1 Kings 11:1-8). When we come to 1 Corinthians 7:39, we discover that Christians are to marry only Christians. “Should Christians date non-Christians?” is a great question and answer to explore for more information.
Judgment Is Coming For Sinners
In the Old Testament God repeatedly warns His people that they should obey. In 1 Samuel 15:17-24 we discover that King Saul disobeyed God and lied. As a result God rejected Saul from being king. Saul did not obey God. When we read Luke 6:46, we discover that God expects us to obey in the New Testament also. In 1 Cor. 11:27-30 we also find that some Christians became sick when they sinned. Ananias and Sapphira died because they lied (Acts. 5:1-8).
In Daniel 12:1-2 God told the prophet Daniel that there would be a judgment at the end of the world.
Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. (NASB) Daniel 12:1-2
Some would go to everlasting life and others would go to judgment. The same message is repeated by Jesus in Matthew 25:46 where we discover the following:
These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (NASB) Matthew 25:46
Revelation 20:12-14 presents that same truth. There is a future judgment for those who do not believe in Jesus Christ.
And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (NASB) Revelation 20:12-14
Yes, God pronounced judgment and sent a flood in Noah’s day (Gen. 7-9). In Gen. 9:8-13 God promised that He would never destroy the earth again by using a flood. However, in the future God will use fire to destroy the world (2 Pet. 3:7).
In the Old Testament (Lev. 19:18, Deut. 11:13) and the New Testament (Matt. 22:36-40) we are commanded to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. In turn God tells us that He loves us (Rom. 5:6-8) and wants us to live with Him forever (John 3:16).
God has not changed! He loved us in the Old Testament times and He loves now! His acts of judgment reveal that He is a holy God who cannot allow sin to go unpunished. Therefore, He provided a way for us to escape. He sent Jesus Christ to die for us. He came in the person of Jesus and suffered. Now that is an act of love! For more information about this truth read “Peace With God.”
Reference Links:Who Is God?
The Holy Spirit
The Spirit's Ministry - Tongues and Prophecy
Do we have to keep the commandments and laws given in the Old Testament?
Sin and Salvation – Discipleship Series
Why is the God of the Old Testament so violent?
Why did God command the Israelites to destroy entire people groups?
Why Is God So Violent?