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The GoodLion Podcast

Why Does Yahweh Seem So Angry in the Old Testament? - (GoodLion Classic Episode)

Mon Jul 10 2023
God's JudgmentGod's WrathDepiction of GodPunishment and JudgmentGod's CompassionRedemptionTraditional InterpretationsQuestioning God's ActionsSin Leading to DeathAnanias and SapphiraGod's ControlGod's Judgment


The episode explores God's judgment and wrath in relation to the problem of evil. It discusses the depiction of God in the Old and New Testaments, God's intent in punishment and judgment, God's compassion and desire for redemption, and challenges traditional interpretations. The episode also delves into understanding God's actions and intentions, questioning God's actions and punishments, and the concept of God's wrath and grace. It concludes with insights on interpreting 'sin leading to death' and the story of Ananias and Sapphira, as well as contemplating God's actions beyond our understanding and the idea of God's control and judgment.


God's Wrath is Motivated by a Desire to Save and Redeem

God's wrath is not simply about punishment, but about bringing sinners to repentance and transformation. His desire is to save and redeem.

Understanding God's Actions Beyond Our Understanding

We may struggle to understand why God acts in certain ways, but we should accept that His ways are beyond our understanding.

The Story of Ananias and Sapphira

The story of Ananias and Sapphira serves as a warning against hypocrisy and lying. It emphasizes the importance of taking God seriously.


  1. God's Judgment and Wrath
  2. Depiction of God in the Old and New Testaments
  3. God's Intent in Punishment and Judgment
  4. God's Compassion and Desire for Redemption
  5. Challenging Traditional Interpretations
  6. Understanding God's Actions and Intentions
  7. Questioning God's Actions and Punishments
  8. God's Wrath and Grace
  9. Understanding God's Wrath and Judgment
  10. Interpreting 'Sin Leading to Death'
  11. The Story of Ananias and Sapphira
  12. God's Actions Beyond Our Understanding
  13. God's Control and Judgment

God's Judgment and Wrath

00:00 - 07:03

  • The hosts and guest discuss God's judgment and wrath in relation to the problem of evil.
  • They explore why God appears violent in the Old Testament but loving in the New Testament.
  • Greg Boyd's cruciform hermeneutic is examined and its implications for interpreting scripture.
  • Two difficult stories about people God killed are discussed: Uzzah in the Old Testament and Ananias and Sephira in the New Testament.
  • The importance of open discussion and addressing questions to prevent doubt and discouragement is emphasized.
  • Real faith is seen as standing on the other side of questions, not avoiding them.
  • The hosts highlight the importance of daring to explore deep theological topics.

Depiction of God in the Old and New Testaments

06:34 - 13:39

  • The Old Testament and the New Testament depict God differently.
  • In the Old Testament, God is portrayed as violent, wrathful, and vengeful, while in the New Testament, Jesus represents peace, love, and forgiveness.
  • However, there is more continuity between the two depictions than initially described.
  • The most important verse in the Bible emphasizes compassion, grace, faithfulness, love, and forgiveness.
  • God gets angry at injustices such as mistreatment of widows and orphans.
  • The idea of a father protecting his children can help understand God's anger towards sin.
  • Israel being commanded to wipe out other nations is not about divine favoritism but about protecting the seed of the Messiah for the sake of salvation for all humanity.

God's Intent in Punishment and Judgment

13:13 - 20:47

  • God wiped the earth clean to start over again.
  • God gives them over to gods of their choice.
  • God selects one family to invest the seed in.
  • The goal is to get them into a safe neighborhood.
  • Israelites become just as wicked as the Canaanites.
  • God is not wiping out every man, woman, and child.
  • God's intent is to destroy the gods of other nations.
  • The focus is on eradicating Baalism and Moloch worship.
  • Preservation of something important for the Messiah's birth.
  • Judgment comes from people shaking their fist at God and joining evil practices.
  • Worshiping Baal is a power theology that hurts others and privileges oneself.
  • Similar messaging of God being against those who try to rule in the New Testament as well.
  • Examples include Luke 16 (Rich Man and Lazarus) and Matthew 25 (judgment).
  • Jesus talks about hell with graphic descriptions in the New Testament.
  • God wants compassion for all but also sees the big picture of salvation.

God's Compassion and Desire for Redemption

20:21 - 27:43

  • God sees the big picture and realizes that preserving and protecting Israel will create a world where Egyptians can be saved.
  • God shows compassion to Pharaoh by calling him to repent and performing miracles, even though Pharaoh refuses.
  • God sends prophets to violent and wicked nations in an attempt to rescue and redeem them.
  • The Canaanite Rahab joins Israel and becomes part of the line in Messiah, while those who refuse are left behind.
  • John 3:16 should be understood in context, as it also speaks of condemnation for those who do not believe.
  • God's compassion extends to the worst sinner, but there is an end to judgment.
  • There is a desire for judgment against evil in the world today.
  • Greg Boyd is an anabaptist theologian with views that differ from traditional interpretations of the Old Testament.
  • Boyd believes that everything should be viewed through the lens of the cross, leading him to reinterpret depictions of God in the Old Testament as inaccurate or influenced by pagan religions.
  • Boyd argues that Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God and any depiction of God in the Old Testament that doesn't align with Jesus is wrong.

Challenging Traditional Interpretations

27:15 - 34:39

  • Greg misinterprets Jesus and the Old Testament.
  • He suggests that the destroyer in Exodus is Satan, not God.
  • This interpretation is seen as anti-Semitic by some.
  • Greg's view challenges the trustworthiness of the entire Bible.
  • Questioning scripture writers' accuracy may lead to an untrustworthy Bible in people's minds.
  • Paul and Peter are also considered to have misinterpreted God by Greg.
  • Instances of violence and judgment in both Old and New Testaments are questioned by Greg.
  • The depiction of God as angry and vengeful in the Old Testament is reversed by Greg's interpretation.
  • God's anger is directed at injustice, but repentance leads to blessings from God.

Understanding God's Actions and Intentions

34:21 - 41:31

  • God's rules and regulations in the wilderness were meant to keep Israel alive and in good relationship with Him.
  • Israel didn't understand the big picture of God's plan to save the world, which led to frustration for both parties.
  • The concept of loving your enemy is present in both the Old and New Testaments.
  • God's violence and judgment against sin in the Old Testament served the purpose of enemy love.
  • The story of Azah in 2 Samuel 6 raises questions about why he was struck dead for trying to steady the Ark of the Covenant.
  • David also questioned God's angry response to Azah's error.

Questioning God's Actions and Punishments

41:12 - 47:48

  • David disrespects God's instructions by putting the Ark on a cart instead of carrying it with poles.
  • Uzzah gets zapped because he tries to steady the Ark when the cart is shaking, breaking God's rules.
  • The Old Testament writers depict God as angry and punishing in this story.
  • Some interpret Uzzah's death as him getting too close to God's holiness, but the text simply says that God got angry and killed him.
  • Uzzah's intentions were reverent, so framing it as a lack of respect doesn't make sense.
  • The person who put the Ark on the cart should have been punished instead of Uzzah.
  • This is a troubling story that raises questions about respecting and insulting God.

God's Wrath and Grace

47:24 - 54:40

  • The story of Azah is troubling because it seems disconnected from God's plan of grace and mercy.
  • The idea of God killing people as a punishment for sin is seen throughout scripture, but it is not the norm.
  • Reverence and respect for God should be emphasized, but we should not live in fear that any mistake will result in God's wrath.
  • Grace means that God helps us redeem from brokenness and sin, not that we can freely sin without consequences.
  • The contrast between Christian and other religious practices shows that favor with God comes freely through grace, not through buying his favor.
  • While the wrath of God is real, his overarching motivation is to save and redeem.
  • In modern times, the way we may experience God's wrath is often through him giving someone over to their own choices rather than directly inflicting punishment.

Understanding God's Wrath and Judgment

54:13 - 1:00:56

  • God's wrath is motivated by a desire to save and redeem.
  • Wrath in modern context is often God giving someone over to their wicked desires.
  • God allows sinners to experience wrath so they can realize their need for grace.
  • The flood story highlights God's punishment of sin but also His desire to free sinners from sin.
  • Evil is not taken seriously in the United States, but it is a harsh reality in places like East Congo.
  • There is a command from God to act and stop evil from happening.
  • Vengeance is spoken against, but protecting the innocent is important.
  • Overcoming evil with good is the primary way, but force may be necessary at times.
  • Christians are called to spread the gospel, not take over nations by force.
  • God protects something throughout the stories of punishment in the Bible.
  • 'Sin leading to death' in 1st John 5 has been confusing and unclear.

Interpreting 'Sin Leading to Death'

1:00:30 - 1:07:30

  • The passage in 1 John 5 about the sin leading to death has been confusing for the speaker for years.
  • The speaker is unsure of its meaning and has struggled to explain it to others.
  • The passage states that if someone sees a brother sinning a sin that does not lead to death, they can ask God for life. However, there is a sin leading to death for which one should not pray.
  • The speaker interprets this as not praying against punishment but rather praying for the person's repentance and transformation while accepting their deserved consequences.
  • This interpretation applies even in extreme cases like Hitler, where praying for his deliverance from bombs would not be appropriate.
  • The speaker believes in praying imprecatory prayers but also hopes that the person's soul will be restored.
  • The sin leading unto death refers to sins that could result in a government-imposed death penalty, which was common in the first century world.
  • Different interpretations exist regarding this passage, but the speaker finds this explanation helpful and prefers to err on the side of praying for more people rather than fewer.
  • Scholars often have multiple interpretations of seemingly clear passages, highlighting the complexity of biblical understanding.
  • Ananias and Sapphira were likely Christians who wanted to participate in selling their land and giving to the church but lied about keeping some money for themselves.

The Story of Ananias and Sapphira

1:07:03 - 1:14:00

  • There was a couple in the church, Ananias and Sephira, who sold their land but kept some of the money for themselves.
  • They lied to the church about how much they were giving.
  • Peter called them out and said they had lied not only to men but also to God.
  • As a result, they dropped dead and were carried out.
  • The interpretation of whether it was God or Satan who killed them is debated.
  • The story promotes a revival and taking God seriously.
  • It is seen as God's judgment upon hypocrisy and lying.
  • When we puff ourselves up through lies, it is a serious error.
  • God reacts more strongly at times when people commit deliberate sins.
  • The story serves as an exception to the rule of instant judgment for Israel in the Old Testament and the Christian church in the New Testament.
  • It emphasizes that grace should not be taken lightly and that deliberate deception may face the wrath of God.
  • Ananias and Sephira serve as an example for others not to lie at church.
  • There is a disconnect between this story and why some mega-church preachers who commit sins do not drop dead.

God's Actions Beyond Our Understanding

1:13:36 - 1:20:46

  • God's incredible mercy is scandalous by our standards.
  • We want God to adhere to a set of rules that we give Him, but He works outside of our paradigms.
  • God has the right to do whatever He wants, even if it goes against our expectations.
  • If God wiped out all evil, He would have to wipe out all of us because we are evil.
  • Sometimes we justify God's actions by looking at the long-term impact and what can be learned from them.
  • We try to fit God into a paradigm that makes sense to us, but maybe we should accept that His ways are beyond our understanding.
  • God doesn't always follow a set of rules; He is a living real person who can make choices.
  • God's sovereignty means He is accountable to no one and does what He wants.
  • There are different views on whether God controls everything or allows free agents like humans and angels to operate.

God's Control and Judgment

1:20:20 - 1:24:29

  • God is in control of the big picture, but he allows free agents like humans, angels, and demons to operate.
  • The Bible never uses the phrase 'God is in control.'
  • Control is more aligned with a scientific worldview than a personal worldview.
  • God sets up values, paradigms, and regulations and enforces them.
  • 'God is in control' means that at the end of the day, you will face God's judgment.
  • You have a choice to face either the lion or the lamb.
  • God desires that you would choose to face the lamb.
  • You may deserve to face the lion, but you will get one or the other.