One thing I have always wondered about in the Old Testament is the violence. Why do so many people die and so many harsh punishments be dealt to people when God is supposed to love us? This is a very difficult question many people struggle with. I am struggling with it myself. I have a book that I am going to read on the subject, but until then, I don’t know what to think.
I overheard a couple of students the other day talking about this very subject. They said that there are a lot of people killed in the Old Testament, and why did that happen? I thought about it a bit, and I believe that it is because Jesus had not come yet. Remember, the reason that we as Christians go to heaven is not because of our own righteousness, but in Jesus’ sacrifice so that we may live forever with Him. However, the sacrifice wasn’t made until the New Testament, after the Old Testament. The Bible says in Exodus 20:5
“Thou shalt not bow down thyself to [idols], nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God.”
God says that He is a jealous God, he can share His glory with no other (Do not confuse this with Jesus, who is God). If He did, God would cease to be God (this is pretty confusing, don’t feel bad if you don’t understand it, I don’t understand it). God is also a pure God and a holy God; he cannot stand in the presence of sin. This is why we cannot go the Heaven, because every human on the planet (except for Jesus) has sinned. Even in your entire lifetime if you have sinned only once, then you cannot be with God.
This is a fundamental truth in the Old Testament. We, as fallible humans, sin. God cannot be with sin. Therefore, we cannot be with God. This paints a pretty bleak picture for us, and humanity as a whole.
This is where Jesus enters the picture. When Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross, He didn’t only bear the pain of the cross, He also bore the sins of all humanity. Before Jesus was taken by Judas and the Roman soldiers, He wept in the garden, so stressed that He was sweating blood. This can be a bit confusing to some believers, since many Christians have died seemingly worse death and went out singing. Does this mean that Jesus is weaker than His followers?
We must understand here that Jesus wasn’t stressing about the pain that the people would bring on Him, He was stressed about the pain that God would put on Him. Sins must have consequences, and Jesus took the fall instead of us. The wrath of God at all past sins and all future sins descended on Jesus. They say that God turned away from Jesus on the cross because He couldn’t bear to see His son in pain, but God turned away because He cannot look upon the sin.
Before Jesus came however, sin must be paid for, for as I said earlier sin must have consequences. This is why, I believe, that there was such a harsh punishment system in the Old Testament, because Jesus had not come and accounted for our sins yet, so people had to face the consequences.
I do not understand how it all works, and why God chose this system, but this is what I believe to be true.
“What can wash away our sins/nothing but the blood of Jesus”