The most people I speak to who have a misconception about God, about His Love, about Jesus and about Christianity. The have this misconception because of the Old Testament. It is no secret that God can be perceived to be very mean, cruel, schizophrenic, judgemental and angry in the Old Testament.
To simply stop here and to let this determine your opinion of God is like watching the first half of The Matrix concluding that Neo is definitely is NOT “the one”. You have to watch until the end to get the confirmation that Neo is indeed “the one”.
You have to watch the end to make sense of the beginning.
Similarly you need to look into the New Testament to get the complete picture of God. You simply cannot stop with the Old Testament. It will leave you confused and give you a warped and incorrect picture of God, and His plan with Humanity.
There is of course very valid reasons why God was perceived as being cruel in the old testament. The short answer to this is because of the covenant He made with Israel He had to be fair. The covenant said “Israel; if you obey all the rules, I will bless you. If you break even one rule I will punish you”.
Hence we see God operating prior to the establishment of the Old Covenant with Moses with grace, often overlooking sins and wrong doings. The after the establishment of the Old Covenant with the giving of the ten commandments, He not no longer overlooks any sin or wrong doing due to the rules of the Covenant.
You see, God could not show grace, because the time of grace was over (for now), it was now the covenant of law. He had to adhere to His own promises. If the promise was you get punished if you touch the ark of the covenant (even if your intention was pure) He had to stay true to His promise and punish you. Harsh I know… but it is important to note that god did not want this covenant, Israel went into this very willingly.
This is why the new Testament is so important, it puts everything into order again, it opens up the time for Grace again, and this time not only for the chosen, but for all mankind! We are no longer under this harsh self righteous covenant. There is so much more to write about the New Covenant, but perhaps in another post.
Let us not be blinded by the harshness of the old testament, let us open ourselves to the total complete word of God. It is alive!