I read sometime back somewhere (can’t find the link) from a well established, respected Bible scholar that the god of the Old Testament, or God as portrayed there, is like a fourteen year old adolescent boy. We see over and over again God’s wrath in terms of judgment directed at his people. In my thinking over the years, I’ve simply chalked it down to a real evil God was addressing that often doesn’t meet the eye, particularly our eyes which too often are blinded by our own evil. What I think that scholar means (and I should actually verify that for sure, if I had the time, especially by reading their latest book) is that this god, or more precisely what this god was doing was a figment of their imagination so to speak. That God’s people were attributing to God what simply was not the case. I think that’s a hard case to sustain when one sees how this same kind of thing happens time and time again. And the New Testament writers, I am thinking now of Paul in 1 Corinthians 10, don’t seem to be averse to it at all. In fact it’s supposed to be part of our instruction as followers of Jesus.
I am not up at all to a critique of this scholar. But my thought on how I read of God in scripture and especially in the Old Testament is that I don’t want to project my own inadequacy or failures, even evil, or what I may sense from others on God. God is wholly other and can’t be measured by the likes of us. We see God most directly and personally in Jesus. And any careful reading of the gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) will raise questions for us that in the end surely need to be turned on us, so that we need to question ourselves.
To completely accept God as portrayed in scripture has been freeing and hopefully illuminating to me. Not that I can really understand, and isn’t that an important part of the illumination or revelation? Only in and through Jesus, God’s final Word, does everything come together to head to the climactic end we read about in the book of the Revelation. In itself another graphic portrayal of God’s acts in judgment and salvation. The God of the cross in Jesus making the old world new.