A God of wrath or of love?
Certainly, the Old Testament is full of examples of God punishing various nations and people (including Israel, his own people). The following post from Surprising God reader Jerome Ellard, addresses this issue:
"The Old Testament shows that God's punishments (or what he allows to beset his people) are the long, difficult road to restoration of relationship with him that he desires for them. All through the Old Testament we see the phrase "they will be my people and I will be their God." Here is a prime example, right in the middle of warnings and punishments:
“Is not Israel still my son, my darling child?” says the Lord. “I often have to punish him, but I still love him. That’s why I long for him and surely will have mercy on him" (Jeremiah 31:20, NLT)."God's overarching love contains what John Eldredge calls a "fierce intentionality," similar to what my wife would say to our son when she must discipline him: "I love you too much to let you act this way!" God loved Israel and all humanity "too much" to let us remain in our darkness and misery.
"Understanding this dynamic that occurs throughout the Bible, helps us to avoid the mistake of thinking God is "mean" in the Old Testament but "loving" in the New. In fact, the Lord of the Old Testament is none other than the pre-incarnate Son of God, as noted by Paul in 1Cor 10:1-4:
1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ."We see God's "fierce intentionality" expressed in Jesus' dealings with the Pharisees. He loves them, but he loves them too much to let them remain where they are. His desire for them is beautifully expressed in Matthew 23:37:
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.""There is a beautiful coherence to the story of the Bible, and Jesus and his love are right at the center!"
[For a helpful GCI article on this topic, click here. And click here for a previous post on this topic.]