Modern skeptics and Bible critics sometimes pick out individual passages in the Bible and hold them up as if they are universal commands to be maintained for all time. Such interpretation is not handling the text for what it claims of itself. Part of the reason the critics make such mistakes is that they often do not study the text, but merely search for prooftexts which support their bias. Even if we were to disagree with the Bible, we should at least present it for what it says of itself.
The Bible is a lengthy work, made up of multiple writers giving God’s messages and slowly revealing truths over many years. The following are examples of how God deals with people in different dispensations, and asks different things of us at different times:
- In Genesis 1:30, God says He gave plants for food; no meat was to be eaten
- In Genesis 9:3, every livng thing is fit for food, so all kinds of meat can be eaten.
- In Leviticus, some kinds of meat can be eaten but others cannot.
- In the New Testament, all kinds of meat can again be eaten, or one is free to eat only vegetables.
- In the future millennial kingdom, there is some indication that no animals will be eaten.
- God did not require circumcision from Adam to Abraham.
- Beginning with Abraham, God required circumcision of Jewish males only. Non-Jews were not required to be circumcised.
- With the new covenant under Jesus, God did not require circumcision. Paul refused to circumcise Titus, but did circumcise Timothy.
Jews, Gentiles, and the Church
- After Adam, God did not have a specific chosen people.
- Beginning with Abraham, God chose the Jewish nation as the primary group to reveal Himself. Gentiles were kept out of the Old Testament sacrificial system.
- In the new covenant under Jesus, Jews and Gentiles are together in the church. God primarily reveals Himself through the church.
- One day Jesus will return and rule all nations of the earth.
However, getting right with God has always been the same — by faith. Adam, Abraham, Moses, and everyone in the current church age can get right with God by putting trust in Him. Salvation was never by doing good works.
Keep in mind that between each of these changes in God’s expectations of us, there were many generations of people over hundreds of years. Many people lived their entire lives and died between each one. The examples above are indications of how the things God asks of us are not the same throughout history, but God never changes. We must be cautious when taking individual passages and saying what God expects.