Some unbelievers point to the God of the Old Testament as a harsh God, even calling for the total destruction of men, women, children, and even their livestock (Deut. chapter 7). They ask me, “What’s the difference in this and Muslims who call for the destruction of all those “infidels” who won’t convert?” To them, it seems one is as bad as another. They ask, “Where is the love of God in that?”
I know there is a difference between how God acted under the Old Covenant and how He shows us how to act through Jesus Christ under the New Covenant. How do I explain the difference to an unbeliever in a way they can understand?
Before the cross, God was at enmity with His Creation because of our sins. This was especially true of those who were in complete rebellion against Him such as in Deut. 7. But in Colossians 1:19-20 Paul wrote;
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him (Jesus), and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
God didn’t send Jesus to die for our sins because He had to. He didn’t owe us anything and we don’t have anything He needs. He did it out of love for us. Since then all anyone has to do to be forever at peace with God is accept the death of Jesus as payment in full for his or her sins. Those who refuse to accept His act of love are choosing to remain His enemy.