Why does the God of the Old Testament sound so mean and cruel?

Posted on February 26, 2008 at 8:00 am

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Gramps,
I was wondering why in the Old Testament God sound mean, cruel, and his continence is almost with childlike jealousy. The God I have been taught about all these years is a kind loving father. Who loves me and wants me to be happy, who will carry me if I fall, who loves me unconditionally.
I spoke with my father and was reminded of former teaching, that the God of the Old Testament was Jehovah or Jesus Christ in the spirit before his mortal sojourn. Can you help me? I want to be able to place peace in my heart and once again know and understand the loving God I have always known. Why is the God of the Old Testament and vengeful and cruel God?
Cynthia, from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Dear Cynthia,
Except for the Genesis introduction, the Bible deals mostly with the children of the House of Israel. They began their national identity as slaves in Egypt for 430 years (Exo 12:31). ( Some Bible scholars set the date of Jacob and his family going into Egypt at 1706 BC and the exodus at 1491 BC, which would make the sojourn in Egypt a total of 215 years). Nonetheless, Moses was called of God to lead the children of Israel to freedom and to teach them the principles of the gospel. The Lord called him up on Mt. Sinai for forty days and gave him the law of the gospel written on two stone tablets. When Moses came down from the mount and approached the people he saw that they had returned to the idolatrous practice of the Egyptians and had made themselves a golden calf to worship. In his anger at witnessing such a sight, Moses broke to pieces the two tablets contains God’s law for them. So he returned to the mount for another forty days while God had him prepare two more stone tablets upon which the Lord wrote again the words of the law.
From that time on, Israel struggled greatly for obedience to the Lord’s commands. The writings of all the prophets of the Old Testament are more than anything else chastisements for disobedience. It is not that God was not a loving, caring God, but that He was training a wicked and disobedient people. His loving kindness is there, but it may be overshadowed by the necessary chastisements and punishments that God had to impose in order to preserve and save the people.
Here are some of the attributes of the God of the Old Testament for which you may be searching—

For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt (Deut 7:6-8).

When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them (Deut 4:30-31).

And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation

(Ex 34:6-7).Just for examples.
Gramps

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Why does the God of the Old Testament sound so mean and cruel? - Ask Gramps - Q and A about Mormon Doctrine
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The God I have been taught about all these years is a kind loving father. Who loves me and wants me to be happy, who will carry me if I fall, who loves me unconditionally.

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