SIR - With reference to Tony Green’s challenging question (December 9), as to how the “brutal” God of the Old Testament can be the “loving” God of the New.
There are enough books written about this perplexing question to fill a good size library! Maybe, just a couple of simple thoughts to consider:
For Jesus, they were one and the same, as he referred to the God of Moses as “Father”, the One who loved this world so much that He gave us Himself in total commitment.
The first thing one should clarify is what was actually said. The “children” comes from the Hebrew word used for servants and soldiers; some see it referring to the students at the shrine at Bethel (later prophets call it “the house of wickedness”). To those who saw uncut hair as a sign of devotion to God, the insult challenges the authority of God in the life and message of Elisha.
Whilst at the time of Noah, the Bible says “God saw that human evil was out of control. All day long their deepest thoughts were nothing but evil!” - What a future for the next generation!
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As a child we learn from parental authority what is right and wrong. Our children know that we sometimes need to learn the seriousness of a wrong action, by the punishment that results from it. And so, like a good caring parent, God wants us to learn that evil is deadly serious in a perfect universe.
The Bible speaks of our consciences being “seared” (or withered) by our actions; and so we approach this perplexity with minds that are flawed by evil, and only seeing reality as through a dark dirty window.
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We see some of the worst examples of evil - say in the events of the concentration camps - and that brings us pain in its contemplation.
To a perfect Being, ALL evil has the same effect.
Evil is like a drop of poison in a glass of water, or the first symptoms of cancer. If it is unchecked it will spread and destroy the whole. Watching evil in its latter stages (say a murderer); we who are troubled by anger are heard to say, “There but for the grace of God go I”. The cancerous growth may be tiny, and appear insignificant, but is destructive and must be destroyed for the sake of the person associated with it. It sounds harsh, but even we consider that essential.
One other thought to consider. Existence as we see it in this world - great though it may be for some of us - is not the sum total of LIFE! There is a fuller and more fabulous life beyond this one. As the poet put it; “Death is a coma, not a full-stop.”
The perfectly holy, yet totally loving God of the Bible takes some people to protect them from the evil that is in the world. There in His immediate presence He will make all things right, and rectify all that is unjust in this world’s experience.
Woolbrook Rise, Sidmouth