The Big Bad God of the Old Testament or...Someone Else?

I wanted to spend today’s post addressing the idea of God as a “big bad guy.” Cruel villain. Angry big guy who just swipes whole nations away when he’s pissed off. You know, Thanos style or something. 

As always, context is key for examining any part of a scripture and I think the best way to interpret scripture is which scripture. Meaning, don't just look at one part but the whole. Anyone who reads the Bible enjoys sectioning it off into parts they agree with and parts they find uncomfortable. Sure, there are many uncomfortable passages in the Bible and one of my favorite things to do is study them and then write blog posts about them. So here goes. 

I’m going to list a couple examples of this “big bad God” below just to get the ball rolling. I’ll follow up with some future posts examining other scriptures more closely. 

1. God having Jonah swallowed by a big fish for simply disobeying him. 

I think many people, myself included, would find it rather alarming if they disobeyed God once and then was put inside a fish for three days. A very smelly timeout, if you ask me.

I disobey God all the time in all kinds of ways. Sometimes ignorantly and sometimes not so ignorantly. I’ve never been put inside a fish and I don’t think most other people have either. This makes me wonder: Is this story of Jonah a very specific situation that could be applied to a lot of people? Probably, since much of the Bible is the same way. 

So what did Jonah do to disobey? God told him to go to a nation (Nineveh) where the people didn’t know God and were doing all kinds of messed up things. (If you’ve watched the Veggie Tales version of Jonah, then you would have seen these “messed up things” as nothing more than fish slapping...but I'd argue the real place had a lot more going on.)



Anyway, instead of Jonah saying, “Yes, I’ll go try to reach these lost people,” he took on the tactic of hatred and prejudice. He hated the people of Nineveh, therefore he wasn’t going to go to them and share the word of God. 

My favorite verse in this book is when God says, "Do you do well to be angry?" (Jonah 4:9) 

Not only was Jonah’s choice outright disobedience to a God he was in close connection with, it was flaming racism. His choice made him far more loyal to his nation and patriarchy than to God. Hmm, now that sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

After he gets out of the fish and goes to Nineveh as previously instructed, he shares about God to the people and they decide they’re into it. God says, “Cool, I’ll save them” and then JONAH IS MAD THAT GOD DOESN’T KILL AN ENTIRE NATION EVEN THOUGH THEY’RE DOING NOTHING WRONG thus proving his racism. *sighs.* This man had more concern for a dead plant than for thousands of people and their cattle. Jonah even says that he would rather DIE. DIE!!!! then see these people get saved. A tad dramatic, don't you think? 

I love, love, love that God points out the cattle too haha. It really shows how bad Jonah’s hatred was. Jonah would have rather died than see some cows in a nation he hated live. 

I think God put Jonah into a big fish so he could see himself at base human level. Perhaps this would then make him able to see the people of Nineveh at their base human level and have compassion for them. But nope! Jonah’s hatred is somehow only intensified. 

 I’d want to stick him in a whale for three days too, maybe longer. 

(P.S. That singing sequence in the whale in Veggie Tales movie is iconic.) 


2. God sending His chosen people in exile and captivity to Big Bad Assyria and Babylon 

Then there’s the time God allowed Israel and Judah to go into captivity hundreds of years after they began sacrificing their own children via fire. I would argue that since ritual sexual practices to the same gods were common among the same people, they might have been forcing children into similar things. If they had no problem burning their babies alive, then do we really think they also had no problem exploiting them sexually as well? They were warned time and time again to cease such actions and they didn’t. I would think that any nation whose religion is based on the outright harm and murder of children is more than deserving of… some kind of punishment. This also sounds familiar to me given the fact that 51% of trafficking cases in the U.S. in 2005 involved children. (Via So over half. AND THAT WAS IN 2005. It has to be so much more now?? Do you feel sick yet? 

With these two “cruel” actions of God, yeah, at first I see a rash, reckless, cruel deeds on the part of the Almighty. But after a closer look, I see a God full of justice. I see a God who seeks to right a man who is steeped in racism and save a people who don’t know about Him yet in the process. I see a God who wants to avenge the lives of thousands of children who have died by the hands of their parents for the sake of gods who never existed. 

Even after all of that, I think there’s a lot more context to examine. Those two examples are just the surface. Sure, there are plenty of other examples we could look at. The man who touched the ark and instantly died. The children who were mauled by a bear for making fun of a bald guy. The FLOOD that killed all but 8 people! I understand that there are many other stories in the Bible that seem problematic, but I want to explore each of those in separate posts later on. 

Long story short, the Bible is WILD lol, and anyone who says it’s just a boring old book clearly hasn’t read enough of it. Okay, it is old but far from boring. I’d argue that if the Bible were given a show with ALL of its details and wild stories included, it’d feel like a fever dream in a similar way to how Tiger King did. My oh my. 

As always, questions, concerns, and further discussion are welcome and I thank you for reading this. 

Much love,