God is the Same Forever

I have been reading Genesis and Exodus with a small group this year. It’s easy to see how misconceptions arose from partial readings of the text over the years. But when you read the entire text and digest it, there are many interesting things to absorb.

Abraham and his progeny were not the only followers of the One God throughout that time. Abraham met others occasionally—note Melchizedek for one. So did Moses. It was just that one tribe was singled out to be the torchbearers for God. Let’s just say there were mixed results.

God was far more merciful than some teachings would suggest. God was also then, as now, intolerant of sin and worshiping of objects as gods.

God’s message to the people through his prophets changed somewhat as the social and cultural circumstances changed. When Moses was trying to forge a people out of the group of former slaves, God was concerned about keeping them pure—uncorrupted by those surrounding peoples who worshiped a number of other Gods. Therefore, he ordered them not to conquer a city and intermingle with the people. He rightly perceived that especially the women would bring their gods into the households of the Hebrews and corrupt the worship of God.

By the time of the prophets after David and throughout the time of the Babylonians and Persians, the world was becoming multi-cultural and the Hebrews had to learn to live in a more hostile world where they were not a dominant force in the land. By the time of Jesus and the early church, it was accepted that the world was multicultural and that Christians needed instruction on how to live in such a world while maintaining their moral practices.

I guess I’m thinking about this because I was brought up on a theology that the “Gods” of Old Testament and New Testament are different. That, of course, is an untenable position. God is God—never changing since before the universe was created and after the universe has passed away.

God does speak to people in the context of their environment. Our societies have become ever more complex. Population keeps growing. We travel and mingle with people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds more today than ever before. God’s message to his prophets necessarily changes to give answers to different questions.

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