Wayne and Brad over at The God Journey discuss the challenge of reconciling God's actions in the Old Testament, where God appears to be harsh and vengeful, with his actions in the New Testament, specifically with the gentleness of Jesus. Some people wonder what happened. Is this 2 different Gods? Or is Jesus the nice guy, and God the father is the mean guy (with a personality more in line with the godfather). Or is there something else going on that we need to consider. It is a very interesting discussion and can be heard here.
In the podcast Brad spends quite a bit of time on the unorthodox view that Nephilim were the reason for the flood, and the mass genocide that God commanded when Israel entered the promised land. I enjoy listening to Brad, and I certainly don't think that this unorthodox view is Heretical in any way, but I wish they would have spent more time on other possible explanations. I don't think it really is necessary to dig that deep to find an adequate explanation. I do think that you do really need to look at each of these events in the context of the larger story of the Bible. The overarching story of the Bible is one of God pursuing and rescuing humanity and if you keep that in mind, you can concluded that there were good reasons for these actions, even if we don't fully understand them. There are two things that I notice in particular. First the most extreme actions appear very early on in human history -- perhaps during critical junctures in history, where the plan to rescue humanity could have been derailed if such extreme measures were not taken. And the second observation is these actions in reality were rare, and not as common place as one might think. Sometimes we miss that point because there are no dates affixed to each of these events in the Bible.
So is Brad right? I don't know, but I do not think that God is up in heaven playing 'whack a sinner', constantly whacking those who step out of line. I think that he is reluctant to take such actions, and only does so when there is no other way.