I often read about what seems to be two completely personalities of God when I begin in Joshua with the wars and the battle commands coming straight from God then going to the gospels and the epistles where God seems to be much more on the forgiving and peaceful side. Now I know there is a difference between the two and it has to do with the cross. But I still feel like there should be something else. I also know you can sometimes have similar themes that seem like they are from the OT when indeed they are in the NT. Such as people getting struck to death by lightning in the book of Acts for doing something wrong. It just seems that there is a huge shift from the God of the OT to the God of the NT. And while I have answers to that and reason to support my answers it still makes me very uncomfortable.
Today I was reading an article from the current edition (Jan_Feb 2010) of Relevant Magazine, and the article was called Fact or Fiction. This article asks the question: What do we do when Scripture contradicts itself? Now that is almost an entire new topic for another day but there was a brief mention of the book of Joshua that really stuck out to me. The article brings up third-century Christian by the name of Origen, who was a great biblical interpreter of the early Church. The magazine quotes him denying the book of Joshua by saying "Why would God command His people to commit genocide?" The magazine then says that he resolved his problem by concluding that the stories in Joshua are allegories for how we fight temptations that we face in our lives. For me that explanation is not good enough because I believe that these things really did happen.
And the thought of God commanding His people to commit genocide because he promised them land does not seem good enough either. So I am still searching for the right answer. I study the work of Jesus and see that he always chooses love, peace, anything but war and know that He is part of the trinity that He is God, that he was a part of the Old Testament. Yet somehow the wrathful God of the old does not always seem to mesh well with the loving, graceful, and peaceful God of the new testament.
Perhaps this is a burden that I will never fully understand but one great thing is that it does cause me to seek God for the answer. And I am comfortable not having an answer for everything. Perhaps someday I will research this more and write a good book about it, and at the end of the book I will still have to tell people that I have no answer and that they may have just wasted fifteen dollars on a book if they wanted an answer.
I hope at some point even if it is when I go to be with my maker that I will have a final answer.