It is often assumed that the picture of God in the Old Testament is that of a wrathful despot, while the God of the New Testament is nothing but love.
This is seriously mistaken. Not only does the OT have much to say about God’s love (see, for example, Deuteronomy 7:7,8; and Hosea 3:1; 14:4), the NT has rather a lot to say about god’s wrath. Let Roger D. Campbell summarise for us:-
Second, the New Testament speaks of people who are “the children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). Just who are these folks? The Bible’s own answer is that they are those who fulfil the desires of the flesh and mind (Ephesians 2:3). They are again portrayed as “the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:6). So, those that are disobedient to God can expect to be on the receiving end of His wrath.
Third, the New Testament also refers to “the wrath to come.” In 1 Thessalonians 1:10 we read of “Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.” And whose wrath would that be? The Lord’s.
Fourth, in connection with the wrath to come, the Holy Spirit speaks specifically of “the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5). That same context speaks of some who will receive eternal life, but for those who “do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness – indignation and wrath” (Romans 2:8). Jesus refers to such as “everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46).
Fifth, the Book of Acts records first-century demonstrations of God’s wrath. Yes, in comparison, the Old Testament records many more instances of the Divine wrath being poured out in the form of physical punishment of the wicked. However, that truth does not in any way minimize the fact that some first-century rebels were punished by the Lord. Here is a quick reminder of three such cases: (1) Ananias and Sapphira were killed for lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-11); (2) King Herod Agrippa I died a horrific death when “an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died” (Acts 12:23); (3) Elymas, known also as Bar-Jesus, was struck blind by “the hand of the Lord” because of his deceit and fraud (Acts 13:10,11). In view of these plain incidents, one errs greatly who claims, “We never see God’s wrath poured out in the New Testament.”
How can one be spared from the wrath of God at judgment? In one word, the answer is “Jesus.” “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:9). Through Jesus, Christians have the best life in this world (John 10:10). Through Him we can escape the horrors of hell, and, yes, it is through our Lord that we live in hope of heaven. While we recognize God’s wrath, we do not live our lives in trembling fear. Why? Because the Christ paid the ransom that sets us free from sin and delivers us from the wrath to come.
There is, however, still more to be said. C.H. Dodd claimed that in the NT ‘anger as an attitude of God to men disappears, and His love and mercy become all-embracing.’ J. A. Baird, however, made the counter-claim that the NT takes up the teaching of the OT on the justice (and wrath) of God in its entirety. Indeed, he finds that ‘the Synoptics record Jesus saying well over twice as much about the wrath of God as he ever did about his love.’ How do we account for these highly-contrasting conclusions? The fact is that Dodd was looking for the word ‘wrath’ (and its cognates), whereas Baird was looking for the concept of wrath. And although the word itself occurs hardly at all in the teaching of Jesus, there are many occasions when he expresses ‘the divine hostility to all that is evil’.
As for the presence of wrath in a number of the parables (see, for example, Mt 18:34; Mt 22:7; Lk 14;21), it is argued (by Dodd and others) that we can no more conclude from such parables that God is wrathful than we can conclude from another parable that he is an unjust judge. But the comparison does not hold, because the point of the former parables was to compare God to the angry Lord, whereas the point of the latter parable was to draw a contrast between God and the judge.
(See this article by Tony Lane).