“He [the Lord] is good, his love endures forever”
(1 Chronicles 16:34; repeated in 2 Chronicles 5:13 and 7:3)

Most of the time, God of the bible appears as a moody, ill-tempered god. Throughout the Old Testament, His followers suffer a lot from His constant mood swings and His sudden, often violent fits of rage.

Indeed, God comes across as a good guy most of the time. In Exodus 33:19, we hear Him say about Himself:

"I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

If it only were that simple. In reality, the Lord’s kind image doesn’t hold. Most of the time, God of the bible appears as a moody, ill-tempered god. A violent god!

The examples of God misbehaving towards His own flock are manifold - and sometimes even downright funny. In Genesis 38:7-10, we read: “Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the LORD's sight; so the LORD put him to death.” When Judah’s brother Onan refuses to have sex with Judah’s wife to give her a new son, the Lord promptly kills Onan too.

Even Moses isn’t safe for the wrath of God. In Exodus 4:24, we read how “the LORD met Moses and was about to kill him”, for no apparent reason. Zipporah manages to appease God by circumcising her son and touching Moses’ ‘feet’ with it (scholars point out that ‘feet’ are a eufemism for ‘genitals’).

But that’s absolutely nothing compared to the carnage the Lord inflicts on the Israelites after He helped them escape from Egypt.

When the chosen people made a calf to worship, “the LORD sent a plague on the people” (Ex 32:35). In Numbers 11-14 the Lord kills many more Israelites for complaining, by sending a fire and two more plagues. Israeli scouts who bring in a bad report about the promised land, promptly die of a God-inflicted plague, too.

And the bloodshed doesn't stop there. When a band of Israelites rebel against Moses, the earth swallows them. 250 More men are incinerated by “a fire from the Lord” and 14,700 others die because of yet another plague sent by God (Numbers 16).

A little while later, God sends in “fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died” (Numbers 21:6). In Numbers 25, the Lord kills another 24,000 Israelites for their sins, just like that.

That’s what you get for doubting or disobeying the Lord, the bible means to say.

So don’t be fooled by the Lord’s kind public profile. In Exodus 20:4, the Lord is unusually open-hearted about His view on things:

“I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.”