Skip to comments.The Smiting Is Still Implied (God of the OT vs the NT)
Posted on 02/11/2010 10:51:17 AM PST by NYer
People have strange notions of God. A semi-agnostic co-worker recently remarked to me that he regards the Bible as so much hooey because the God of the Old Testament is mean and wrathful while the God of the New Testament is about love and forgiveness. How can Christians, he wondered, be silly enough to believe in both. It seems to me that many people, whether or not they would articulate it in such a way, view God in much the same way.
They think that the God of the Old Testament created the world and was determined to run things His way. Step out of line and He would send a flood or drop some fire and brimstone on you just as soon as look at you. Follow the rules or He would open a whole can of smite on you.
The God of the New Testament, however, loves everyone just as they are. He is all peace, love, and acceptance. His suggestions on how to be “good” are merely that, suggestions. Good ideas and all, but it really doesn’t matter at the end of the day, ‘cause we cool.
Of course, we know, that the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. God doesn’t change. That goes with the whole eternal thing.
I was reminded of this by a child who lives around the corner who plays at my house from time to time. He is a nice enough kid but completely undisciplined. This kid could jump up and down on the roof of a neighbor’s new Mercedes and his parents’ voices would probably never rise above the tone of polite conversation. “Billy, get down from there,” they would likely say as the dings and dents accumulated. Then, after a try or two, throw up their hands in frustration and say, “That Billy sure is a handful. Do you want some more iced tea?”
Billy views his parents like the New Testament God. Billy expects them to take care of him, feed him, and clothe him, but any other instruction is most likely to be ignored with little or no consequence anticipated.
I am, on the other hand, like the Old Testament God and my children and Billy know it. My instructions are to be followed or there will be smiting. Billy was playing at my house some weeks ago and I spied him and my son doing something dangerous with a tree branch. I instructed them to stop. My son stopped but Billy continued. I told him again and he abruptly turned around and yelled at me, “I will do what I want, leave me alone!”.
I strolled up to Billy and stood right in front of him. I leaned down and in a very soft voice said, “When you are over my house, young man, you will obey my rules and rule #1 is that you do not speak to adults that way. Ever. Rule #2 is that if I tell you to stop doing something, you stop doing it. Immediately. If you do not wish to obey these rules then you are not allowed to play here anymore and I will call your parents and tell them so. Do you understand?”.
Billy, eyes wide and mouth open, simply nodded. Billy has been back several times since then without incident.
Don’t I love my children just as much as Billy’s parents love him? Of course I do. As my children mature they have begun to understand that my love, tenderness, and affection for them comes from the same place as does my discipline. And also as they mature I expect different things from them. Further, with my older children I take the time to explain why I sometimes say no, more than I would with my younger children. They can understand more and so I share more. I am the same Daddy, they just understand me differently.
And so it is with God. His love for us is eternal and unchanging. It is our understanding, as individuals and as a people, that changes.
This is important to remember as we recall what Jesus said to the adulterous woman after saving her from stoning. “Go and sin no more.”. And so, as I am sometimes tempted to choose not to listen to this admonition of the New Testament God, I do well to remember one thing. The smiting is still implied.
Good article. :)
The smiting is not just implied in the New Testament. Jesus talked frankly about Hell. And the smiting that occurs in Revelations in the New Testament beats anything in the Old.
But I would not characterize God as “mean and vengeful” in either book. He dealt with some serious serious sins.
And the smiting that occurs in Revelations in the New Testament beats anything in the Old.
"He shall tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty."
I don’t buy it. There needs to be some notion of irony, progressive revelation, mystery, etc. to pull this all together.
If we believe the tramping out of the vineyard where the grapes of wrath were stored is a description of the cross it becomes a rather stunning concept. All the ‘smiting’ was done by those who were not God’s people and it was God Himself who took it on the chin. The vision of the zealots was overthrown completely.
The blood was His own. In this amazing reversal of all of human history there is no longer room for tribalism, party spirit, etc. Which is why Christianity alone has such a beautiful vision of inclusiveness, all nations streaming to zion for incorporation into the very Body of the one smitten and resurrected God.
How do non-Christians establish their inclusiveness? Certainly all of human history says it ain’t in our genes and if we look at the mechanisms hypothesized by evolution how could it be?
*** A semi-agnostic co-worker recently remarked to me that he regards the Bible as so much hooey because the God of the Old Testament is mean and wrathful while the God of the New Testament is about love and forgiveness.***
How Marcionite of them. I didn’t know any were still around.
Probably refers to Revelation as that weird book at the end that nobody reads because it is too hard to figure out.
New International Version
This is what the LORD Almighty says:
‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’
Old heresies never die.
Is the past tense of the word smite, smote or smiteth ?
to smite :third-person singular
simple present: smites,
present participle: smiting,
simple past: smote,
past participle: smitten)
(archaic) To hit. To strike down or kill with godly force. To injure with divine power.
What does smiteth mean? As in “And David said, Whosoever smiteth the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain.”
I’m guessing it means, like smite, to “strike down” or “defeat in battle”. It’s probably an archaic version. I couldn’t find any meaningful definition. Sorry.
I think in old english, -eth is added to the verb the way we add an s to make the verb agree with the subject. Like in OE. “He smiteh the lion” would be in ME. “He smites the lion”. Definitly present tense not past tense.
Very well said. Looking at this from a Roman Catholic perspective, we used to teach little ones the Catechism in rote phrases, then explain more as they matured. But they always had that basic information on which to build their understanding.
Sadly, folks who wanted to be more modern in their Catechetics got rid of rote learning in favor of nice phrases and limited knowledge. As a result, we have at least 2 generations of poorly Catechized Catholics. They never learned the basics and put them in their memory banks, so anything else they learned along the way really had no grounding, so it never stuck. Many Catholics up to the age of 50 would have a hard time explaining not only WHAT the Church teaches, but WHY she teaches it.
It’s interesting, isn’t it?
Interesting that you should mention this. I recently came across 3 composition books from 1st and 2nd grade. That is how the nuns taught; the Jesuit system of rote. In one book, the homework assignment was to write the number "1" 50 times! It looks like a grid pattern :-) What struck me, though, was that they Sisters taught spelling and grammar through the lens of faith. The books are filled with quotes from the Baltimore Catechism.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, 'Raqa,' will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
26 For the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophenician born. And she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. 27 Who said to her: Suffer first the children to be filled: for it is not good to take the bread of the children and cast it to the dogs.
A lot of references to “The Kingdom of Heaven” and what those parables mean or meant to the Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes at that time.
Very pointed were Christ’s words.
Jerusalem first (not exclusively), then judaea, then samaria, then the uttermost parts of the earth.
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