Nations in the Old Testament were involved in sexual practices such as bestiality, incest, and child sacrifice to their gods (Leviticus 18:21). The cultures in OT times worship idols and developed sacrificial ways to worship their different gods, such as the Canaanites whose sacrificed their children to please their false gods (Ps. 106:38; see also Ezek. 23:37-39). Is God really any different by requiring His own Son be sacrificed to appease His anger?
A legalistic view of the Cross suggests God was more concerned with restoring His honor and appeasing His anger than persuading us of His love. God did not have to be appeased by human sacrifice as the other OT gods before loving us or forgiving our sins. God loved people before the Cross. Jesus forgave sins before His death on the Cross. God’s attitude unlike humans does not change yesterday, today, or in the future. If someone wronged me and the only way I could satisfy my anger and forgive was to kill my child, what does that say about me as a parent!
The Cross was not to change God’s attitude toward us but to change our attitude about God. God stubbornly pursued a relationship. Jesus wanted to do whatever it took to influence us to avoid paths of destructions that lead to regrets. Jesus sought to identify with us and walk in our shoes to better understand how difficult it is to live selflessly in a world where one is free to love or hate others for their own gains. Jesus faced undeserved suffering, so He could know what that felt like. Some may die for a good person. Jesus died for all regardless if evil or good (Romans 5:6-8). Jesus took no shortcuts to convince us of His unconditional love.
Secondly, some suggest their god teaches to behead or kill infidels. Is God really the same by being a sadistic torturer after unbelievers die on this earth? HELL, NO! The popular concept of hell, where God is involved in the endless torture of people, is nowhere in the Scriptures. Hell is not a translation but a substitution for certain Hebrew and Greek words. Hell was an invention over the centuries to scare people into submission and obedience.
The Hebrew word Sheol in the OT often translated as “Hell” was simply a region or place of darkness occupied by the dead regardless of beliefs. Job desired to go there to escape his tremendous suffering (Job 10:21-22). The Greek word Gehenna in the New Testament translated as “Hell” was the name of a real, literal, valley nearby Jerusalem that had a history. Hell is no more a translation of Gehenna than Atlanta is for Chicago. Scriptures only says after death that believers and unbelieves are judged by our merciful God who simply ask we “…love our neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:25-27).
Finally, we have every right to question the God in the OT who ordered the killing of women and children during wartimes (I Sam. 15:1-3). Evil had become so rampant that God practically destroyed the entire human race during Noah’s time and started over. Evil may have progressed to the level of the Canaanites as mentioned above. The Ark took many years to build, and Noah was said to be a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5). It is not like God of the OT to reject anybody from entering the Ark if they wanted to trust Noah’s God. God often allowed the expulsion or relocation of the people from the land before annihilation due to evil (Deut. 7:1-5).
Corruption can infiltrate a society so much that a fresh start may be the most merciful thing to do. We may underestimate the influence of evil on future generations. God chose Israel to influence all nations for good, but God understood the power of influence: “…they mingled with the nations and adopted their customs…they shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, who they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan” (Ps. 106:35-38). We have seen women not oppose their evil husbands and children follow in their parents’ footsteps. Death may be the only hope for future generations. A better place after death may be more merciful than abandonment, starvation, disease, or being torn apart by wild animals (Ex 23:28-29). The biblical record will bare our God was full of mercy and grace in hopes evil nations would repent. Walter Kaiser suggest: “Just as a surgeon does not hesitate to amputate a gangrenous limb, even if he cannot help cutting off some healthy flesh, so God must do the same. This is not doing evil that good may come; it is removing the cancer that could infect all of society and eventually destroy the remaining good” (Hard Sayings of the Old Testament, 108).
One may ask how so much evil and suffering can exist if God is good. God can surely STOP IT! The truth is the only way for God to stop suffering which frequently results from the evil choices of others for personal gain is to annihilate freedom. Then, God would face a different set of accusations. God didn’t avoid undeserved suffering as a result of freedom through His Son. Some religions today suggest their god has no place for infidels. One either believes their way or suffers immediate extinction. God didn’t. The ancient gods demanded sacrifice to satisfy the god’s thirst. God didn’t. The OT writers sought to convey differences than commonalities with the other gods. God desires our love to help us conquer self-centeredness. God sent His Son to persuade and influence us to depend on Him and follow Him.