In his review of the animated movie “The Ant Bully,” Stephen Hunter compares the main character of the movie, young Lucas Nickle, with the God of the Old Testament. In his review he wrote:
In “The Ant Bully,” young Lucas Nickle (voice of Zach Tyler Eisen) — a neighborhood chump regularly creamed by older, tougher kids — now and then takes his rage out on the backyard anthill. Like the Old Testament God, and equally empowered by rage, he power-soaks their world, unleashing biblical torrents to sweep them away.
But down in the ant world, they don’t like the volume equivalent of 40 days and 40 nights of H20 being dumped upon them at the whim of a small, angry child. A wizard figures out some chemical stuff that is capable of shrinkage on a massive scale Slipping into Lucas’s bedroom, the ants squirt some bug juice down his ear canal and — hello, 15mm boy!
From his review, it is clear that Mr. Nickle does not know the God of the Old Testament. When Mr. Nickle calls the God of the Bible “empowered by rage,” it becomes evident that his knowledge of that God is limited.
It is true that the God of the Bible is a judge, but he is a judge who does what is right (Genesis 18:23). Even in our society, judges distinguish between the righteous and the wicked.
When a person violates the laws of the state, they must be accountable before the law and must come before a judge. When people violate the laws of God, they are also accountable before divine law and must come before the judge of all the earth.
But the God of the Old Testament is much more than a just God who demands righteousness from every person. The God of the Bible is a “merciful God, always patient, always kind, and always ready to change [his] mind and not punish” (Jonah 4:2 TEV).
The Old Testament has many other descriptions of God that clearly show that God is not a God “empowered by rage.” For instance, God’s “unfailing love surrounds those who trust him’ (Psalm 32:10). “The Lord is good and does what is right” (Psalm 25:8). His compassion and unfailing love are from of old (Psalm 25:6).
There is more: “The Lord is a friend to those who fear him” (Psalm 25:14). “His faithful love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1). “The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation” (Psalm 145:8-9).
There is much more, however, to cite all the biblical descriptions that show that the God of the Old Testament is much different than the God Mr. Hunter portrays him to be, would require a lot more space and time.
There are people who experience God as a judge and there are people who experience God as a loving God. It is only when people truly experience God’s love, his faithfulness, his mercy, and his compassion that they will realize that the God of the Old Testament is not a God “empowered by rage” but a God empowered by hesed, unfailing and faithful love.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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