Did God change His tune?

Law given at Sinai Stan Adermann posted a comment on Stone the Rebellious Child, on 7 March, 2014. It consisted of two parts:

1. ’Even though the laws don’t apply now, there was a point in time where God declared that the proper thing to do was to murder your children in a horrific way, according to the Bible. If Yahweh of the O.T. is the same as the Father of Jesus in the N.T., why can he not be held accountable for those who died on his command?’

Did God change His tune from Yahweh in the Old Testament, to the Father of Jesus in the New Testament? In the Old Testament the Israelites agreed to enter into a covenant with God, The people all responded together, ‘We will do everything the Lord has said.’1 The laws of God determined many aspects of Israelite society, like Hebrew servants, personal injuries, protection of property, social responsibility, and many more.

The question is, is God responsible for the people who were killed because they broke the covenant? For example, the Sabbath breaker.3 The Bible doesn’t record a specific rebellious son who was stoned. The person who was stoned knew the law and agreed to it.

What the question amounts to is: If a government changed the law of capital punishment to life imprisonment, are they responsible for the deaths of the murderers who were affected by the former law? Surely the citizens knew about the law. Was the death sentence not enacted to keep law and order in the country?

2. Stan’s other issue: ‘Also, a common Christian claim is that morals are unchanging because they come from God. But one can argue that this is an example of God changing his mind. What was moral for one group at one time, is not moral now, and on this basis morals do change.’

God demonstrated in the O.T. that nations and individuals cannot obey laws and live holy lives as He wants them to. This issued in the promise of a new covenant, a new way of dealing with disobedience through Jesus the Messiah.4

While it superficially appears as if God changed His tune, He did not. The most important law in the Old Testament was, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength.5  In the New Testament Jesus agreed that it was still the most important law.6

There are people who think when you accept Jesus, your sins are forgiven, so you can live as you like, because your place in heaven is booked. That is totally, completely wrong. Jesus made the application of the law more stringent in the new covenant. For example, in the Old Testament adultery in Israel was forbidden. In the New Testament Jesus said if you look lustfully at a woman, you have already committed adultery with her in your heart.7 Jesus recommended drastic measures to help you keep the law. Although judgement was not as immediate as in the covenant with Israel, judgment was still very much part of Jesus’ message.8

God never changes His tune. The morals remain the same, love God and your neighbour.

References

  1. Exodus 19:8
  2. Exodus 21-23
  3. Numbers 15:32-36
  4. Jeremiah 31:31
  5. Deuteronomy 6:4,5
  6. Matthew 22:37
  7. Matthew 5:27-30
  8. Matthew 5:29-30; 7:21-23; 13:41

Author: Gerard and Alida

As you can see in the photo, there are two of us. We live and work together 24/7, studying and enjoying our grandchildren. Our passion is to know and understand what will happen after death. Is there a way to provide for and invest in that?

2 thoughts on “Did God change His tune?”

  1. I’m not certain your response about stoning a child is correct. In Jewish law a child becomes responsible for their actions at their Bar or Bat Mitzvah at which time they’re considered an adult (13 for boys, 12 for girls). Prior to that, their parents are responsible for their sins, not the child. Stoning a rebellious child would be a way to prevent the child from sinning further and adding to their parent’s debt of atonement, much in the same vein as “if thy hand offend thee, cut it off.”

    My point is a child couldn’t agree to the covenant. They were by law an innocent, stoned to protect their parents from God. I think we must also assume that this punishment was applied, probably more than once. The Bible never claims to be an exhaustive history of the Jews, and only rarely gives examples of when laws were enforced by the priests.

    Jesus did reaffirm the law, but not strictly or objectively. When they brought him the adulteress, she had been caught and by law was guilty. By law, stoning her was the proper response but he prevented it.

    In the end I think the God of the Bible does change his tune. The most notable example is after the flood when he decides to never send another world-wide cataclysm. It seems hard to believe that the people before the flood were any different worse than those that came later, but for some reason we’re spared that. If he hadn’t changed his tune, we would have probably had six more floods by now.

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    1. Dear Stan, thank you for pointing out that we were once again not clear enough. Why would an underage child be stoned? As we understand it, it applies to those who are held accountable for their own actions, which we agree would be at 12 or 13 years. The father would have been responsible for children under that age.
      Concerning the adulteress, it is clear that Jesus can forgive sins, which He did, telling her to sin no more. Strange that they did not bring the man along.
      God promised that He would not destroy all creation with a flood again, but He would do it with a fire, 2 Peter 3:10-13. The subsequent events after the flood proved that ‘washing’ the earth does not eliminate sin. In our minds, the flood had one very important message: all people will be held responsible for their actions.

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