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

The rebellious son and the homosexual

In a previous blog (Stone the rebellious childNew Covenant in Jesus), we referred to the covenant that God had with old Israel. That covenant was replaced by the new one that centres around Jesus Christ. He came to make God’s eternal Kingdom a reality by renewing minds and changing hearts so His children can obey Him out of love and not law.

We failed to make it clear that the God of the Old Testament is not different from the God of the New Testament. Jesus did not abolish the old covenant, so that people can do what they like. In a sense, the inner change of the new covenant is much more serious and intense than the old. For example,

In the Old Testament it was a crime to kill someone. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, it is a crime to hate someone.1

In the Old Testament adultery was forbidden. Jesus says, when a man looks at a woman lustfully he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.2

The Holy Spirit came to help us with the inner transformation God requires in the New Covenant. He is our personal Trainer.

Homosexuality

We had a comment on that blog, asking whether the God who destroyed Sodom and Gomorra for their homosexuality in the Old Testament, condones it in the New Testament?

Lately the emphasis is very much that the Church has to accept homosexuals. Our contention is that we should be very careful. Do we really understand the cry of the human heart, do we know enough or are we interested enough to find out who they are, what happened to them, et cetera?

What does the Bible say?

Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says, what business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.3  So we need a different attitude towards people outside and inside the church.

God is the Judge of all the world. Paul writes, Do not be deceived, neither the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God.’4 In addition God excludes things that don’t seem that ‘dangerous,’ like ‘hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, …orgies, and the like. I warn you … that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.5

Why does God exclude these people from His eternal kingdom? It has to do with the structure of the Kingdom—a family of  peace and happiness, with no rebellion. God regards jealousy, discord and hatred in the same light as murders, lying and practicing magic arts.Yet all these people can repent and yield their lives to Christ, as the church in Corinth did.7

Question: In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man (in hell) begged Abraham to send Lazarus from the dead to his five brothers to tell them life after death is real. Abraham’s answer was, If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if somebody rises from the dead.8 Do you think it is valid to believe what the Holy Spirit and the Bible says about who will be in and who will be outside the Kingdom of God?

References

  1. Matthew 5:21-22
  2. Matthew 5:28
  3. 1 Corinthians 5:12-13
  4. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
  5. Galatians 5:20-21
  6. Revelation 21:8
  7. 1 Corinthians 6:11
  8. Luke 16:19-31

Stone the rebellious child

One of the favourite accusations against God is a law in ancient Israel: stone a rebellious son who will not obey his parents.1 It sounds cruel, very cruelChristians are frequently asked why they cling to such a tyrannical God?Rebellious

This particular law was part of a very specific agreement (covenant) between God and the Israelites.  There is nobody who lives on earth today that has that covenant with God. It was replaced by the New Covenant in Jesus.

So why did God originally make a covenant with the Israelites? As Owner of the universe, God wants moral people to live in safety and happiness, without fear and harm. The Bible teaches that the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) is eternal. They always existed in peace, love and harmony. We call it the Trinitarian Love Relationship. That is God’s goal: that all people will love Him and their neighbours, in a productive, peaceful, society not hindered by violence and hate.

The covenant laws with old Israel affected most areas of relationships: God and man, marriage, family and society. Compare it to an ideal country—a president or leader with no skeletons in his cupboard. He is honest and loves and cares for his people. That means he makes laws for their benefit. The nation obeys the laws and the people love their leader and their neighbours. So there are no murders, rapes, child abuse, divorce, thefts or pornography. Who wouldn’t like that? It will be glorious and liberating with no jails or pain. People will be happy, carefree and productive.

That is what God intended for the Israelites: He as the perfect Leader and they the model nation. That included the command to remove the rebellious son, so that his rebellion would not spread. The Israelites failed and were eventually exiled for breaking the terms of the covenant.  It illustrated that people cannot live up to God’s standards, but He promised a solution, ‘The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.

The New Covenant was with Jesus. He would change the hearts of people who accept His death on their behalf. He would make it possible for them to obey and love God (with the Holy Spirit to help, teach and guide them). Jesus opened the way to the Trinitarian Love Relationship, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbour as you love yourself.3

Why do atheists and skeptics question the old covenant with Israel to convince us that God is cruel and vindictive? That covenant applies to no one living on this planet today. They have to convince themselves that God is a terrible cosmic tyrant. That gives them a hypothetical reason to reject  Him.

Conclusion: God’s law in the Old Testament doesn’t apply to anyone living today. The Israelites failed to live as God wanted them to (the Old Testament), but He sent Jesus to gather a people for Himself. So at the end, God will have His very own nation, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.4

Question? God’s old covenant with Israel revolved around the Tabernacle and later the Temple where animals were sacrificed. If that old covenant with Israel still stands, why is there no Jewish Temple in Jerusalem today?

References

  1. Deuteronomy 21:18-21
  2. Jeremiah 31:31
  3. Mark 12:30-31
  4. Revelation 21:3