A longstanding question about Christianity is the apparent difference between the jealous, wrathful God of the OT and the God of sacrificial love of the NT. One of the first persons to point out this apparent dichotomy was Marcion. Ultimately, he refused to believe that the God of the OT and the God of the NT were one in the same. As as a result, he was thrown out of the Roman church along with all of his money. One of the passages that might have led Marcion to his conclusions could have been Isaiah 1:24, which speaks to a wrathful OT God:
Therefore says the Sovereign, the LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel: Ah, I will pour out my wrath on my enemies, and avenge myself on my foes! (NRS)
This translation reflects the Greek, where the translators interpreted the Hebrew by using the word ὁ θυμὸς, which means wrath or anger. Compare this to the NKJ translation:
Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies.
This treads closer to the Hebrew where the phrase translated “I will ease me” is derived from a compound word containing these three parts: to have compassion, to be sorry, and to be consoled.
Taken all together, this gives us two images of God:
- A Father who is punishing a wayward child — out of compassion, with sorrow and consoled by the good it will eventually do.
- A God who, out of compassion, sorrow and consoled by the His ultimate victory, will not stand by and let His people and His creation wallow in the rebellion and its consequences of sin and death — the enemies of God.
In both cases, this reveals a God familiar to those who know the NT.