Believers often argue that God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. However in some ways the God of the OT and the Christ of the NT seem very different. I guess my first question is to ask if I am correct in this belief?
If I'm wrong, then please explain what I'm missing: the wrathful, vengeful god of the OT put cities and nations to the death to get them out of the way of his chosen people. He also put his chosen people through the wringer a time or two, as punishment for annoying him. With this god we have a pretty old fashioned message: the offer of paradise, with rejection leading to destruction. Jews are the favoured ones and its all about the relationship of God to his chosen ones. Its a Jew-centric world and God really only rates the Jews as being worth anything.
In comparison the NT god is more loving, caring, and accepting of other peoples. However there is a price to pay when God brings in a wider reaching sinister element with his invention of Hell after coming to Earth. The consequences of ignoring God suddenly get larger and more all-encompassing. Jesus offers eternal paradise for followers, but introduces an element of punishment for those who reject him. More direct punishment than merely the oblivion of the grave, but eternity to repent lost opportunities.
Firstly how can these two be manifestations of the same thing? Secondly don't you think its interesting how, when the israelites were a fighting nation, their god was a god of war giving them carte blanche to kill off their enemies and steal their land and women,
but when they were a conquered nation he became a god of salvation, hope, putting things right and being part of the group? More importantly the NT God offers a way to "get back" at injustice for a people living under tyranny and opression. Jesus offers the possibility that evil done in this life, defined by not believing in his message, will lead to punishment in the next. What better religion for powerless people?
Is God here a reflection of the people rather than the other way around? If we were still writing holy books today what do you think they would say..do you think they would be completely lacking contemporary influence from issues that affect us now?
How do we pull any "message from god" in these writings from the massive tangle of cultural influence and the things the Jewish people were going through at the time they were written?