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Newsgroup "Contradictions"

Part Two

This article is continued from Newsgroup "Contradictions" - Part One.

>11) Genesis 4:4-5 God prefers Abel's offering and has no regard for Cain's.

2Chronicles 19:7, Acts 10:34, Rom 2:11 God shows no partiality. He treats all alike.<

The cited passages (including their wider contexts) read, starting with the latter three:
[2Chron 19:5] Then he set judges in the land throughout all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, [6] and said to the judges, "Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment. [7] "Now therefore, let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes."

So what is this passage saying? It is directed towards judges. They are not to take bribes, but what is meant by "no partiality?" In the context of justice, it would mean the law, and not personal feelings, should determine the guilt or innocent of someone. So "no partiality" would means things like bigotry should not enter into the judges judgement. The only thing that should matter is, is the person guilty or innocent?

[Acts 10:34] Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. [35] "But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

So again, God is said to "show no partiality." But in context what does this mean? God does not favor one person above another based upon their race or nationality. So here, bigotry is specifically said not to enter into God's judgements.

[Rom 2:5] But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, [6] who "will render to each one according to his deeds": [7] eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; [8] but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness--indignation and wrath, [9] tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; [10] but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. [11] For there is no partiality with God.

So the words "no partiality" are again applied to God. But again, in what sense? In context, God's judgements of people is not based on whether they are a Greek or Jew. In other words, no bigotry.

Let it be noted, in none of these passages does it say that God "treats all alike." The passages simply assert that God cannot be bribed, nor are His judgements affected by a person's race or nationality.

Other passages tell us that God's judgements are not affected by a person's outward appearance (1Sam 16:7) and a person's gender or social status (Gal 3:28). So God's judgements are not based on "outward" things that often affect our judgements of people.

However, God does judge. He accepts some people and He rejects others. So in saying God does not show partiality, the Bible is NOT saying He accepts everyone. The idea of judgement runs throughout the Bible. It is even seen in the Rom 2:5-11 cited above.

So with that background, let's look at the first cited passage in its wider context:
[Gen 4:1] Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, "I have acquired a man from the LORD." [2] Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

[3] And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. [4] Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, [5] but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.

Now the question is, why did God accept Abel's sacrifice and not Cain's? First, since they were both the children of the same parents, born in the same place, race and nationality could not be a factor. So the passages cited about there being no partiality, meaning no bigotry, could not apply to this situation.

Cain and Abel were both males. So sexism could not have played a part. And both were laborers. So social status could not have affected God's judgement.

In other words, all of the factors that could be meant by saying "God shows no partiality" simply would not apply to this situation. So the cited verses are simply irrelevant to this passage.

So why did God accept Abel's offering and not Cain's? The Bible does not specifically say. And to find a definitive answer is not needed to show there is no contradiction between this passage and the other cited passages. All that is needed is what has been done: to show God's judgement was not based on race, nationality, gender, or social status.

That said, there are two possible answers. The first would be the type of sacrifice that was offered. Cain brought "an offering of the fruit of the ground" while Abel brought "the firstborn of his flock and of their fat."

Why would God accept the latter and not the former? One possibility is that the first is a plant sacrifice and the latter an animal sacrifice. As indicated above in the discussion on Adam and Eve, God instituted the idea of substitutinary atonement by killing two animals. So it could be, Abel was following this precedent and was offering an animal sacrifice for his sins. Hence it was accepted.

Cain, OTOH, was offering a plant sacrifice. No precedent had been set in regards to plant sacrifices. So it was rejected as being an inappropriate sacrifice. A bloodless, plant sacrifice could not be a pre-figurement of the bloody, sacrifice of the Son of God. So Cain was not offering his sacrifice with faith in the coming Redeemer.

And this leads to the second point: the inward attitude in which the sacrifices were made. It could be that Abel was offering his sacrifice in faith, in anticipation of the death of the Redeemer promised in Gen 3:15. But Cain was offering the works of his own hands, thinking God would accept his works.

So the difference would be, Cain is offering his "works" to God thinking they will be accepted on their own merits. Meanwhile, Abel his offering his sacrifice in faith, recognizing his own "works" were not sufficient.

And in fact, this is exactly what the writer to the Hebrews tells us:
[Heb 11:4] By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

>12) Genesis 4:9 God asks Cain where his brother Abel is.

Proverbs 15:3, Jer 16:17, 23:24-25, Heb 4:13 God is everywhere. He sees everything. Nothing is hidden from his view.<

You could also add Genesis 3:9 where God calls out to Adam, "Where are you?" Why does God ask such questions?

In the case of Cain, it was force Cain to admit to the killing of his brother. Or maybe, it was to give Cain the chance to repent of his sin before God confronted him with it.

In the case of Adam, it was to drive home to Adam that he was indeed hiding from God. Adam needed to realize the separation that had now entered into their relationship.

In other words, when God ask questions it is not for his benefit but for the benefit of the person he is asking. Generally, it is to confront the person with his sin, get the person to realize the results or consequences of his sin, or to give him a chance to repent of his sin.

>13) Genesis 4:16 Cain went away (or out) from the presence of the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:23-24 A man cannot hide from God. God fills heaven and earth.<

It is true that God is everywhere. But at times He manifests His presence in a particular place, at a particular time, in a particular way. In the case, of Cain, we know God was talking to Cain. Whether there was a physical manifestation also or not we are not told. But whatever the case, when the Bible says Cain "went out from the presence of the Lord" it is simply referring to Cain leaving the area where God revealed Himself to Cain.

>14) Genesis 6:4 There were Nephilim (giants) before the Flood.

Genesis 7:21 All creatures other than Noah and his clan were annihilated by the Flood.

Numbers 13:33 There were Nephilim after the Flood.<

As the question itself indicates, the Hebrew word "Nephilim" simply means "giants." It is so translated in the NKJV in both of the passages cited. As such, the word is simply a term used to refer to human being that were of unusually large stature in relation to the other people of the time. It is not a reference to a particular race of human beings.

>15) Genesis 6:6. Exod 32:14, Numbers 14:20, 1Samuel 15:35, 2Samuel 24:16 God does change his mind.

Numbers 23:19-20, Isaiah 15:29, James 1:17 God does not change his mind.<

A look at each of the cited passages would be helpful:

[Gen 6:6] And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.

This verse does not mention anything about God "changing His mind." What it does do is what was mentioned earlier, it uses antropromorphism. In this case, the human emotions or sorrow and grief are being ascribed to God to help us to understand how much the inhabitants of the pre-flood world had strayed from the ways of God. So God's "sorrow" and "grief" enable us to understand the wickedness of the times.

[Ex 32:14] So the LORD relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.

God "relented" in response to Moses intercession for His people. It is part of God's unchanging nature to judge sin when it is unrepentant, and to forgive sin and "relent" of His punishment when people repent, or as in this case, when someone intercedes for a sinful nation.

[Numb 14:20] Then the LORD said: "I have pardoned, according to your word;

Again, a case of God's unchanging nature of forgiving sin when people repent. .

[1Sam 15:35] And Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death. Nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul, and the LORD regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.

Again, the ascribing of human emotions to God to enable us to understand when behavior is contrary to God's will. In this case, God's "regret" shows us that Saul's actions were unacceptable.

[2Sam 24:16] And when the angel stretched out His hand over Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD relented from the destruction, and said to the angel who was destroying the people, "It is enough; now restrain your hand." And the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

A case of God showing grace. In fact, it was the angel not God who was "going overboard" in the punishment, so God told the angel to stop. No changing of mind here.

So now for the second set of passages:
[Numb 23:19] "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? [20] Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it.

When God declares He will do something, He does it. However, part of what God declares it that He will forgive sin and relent of His punishment when people repent. So this verse is not contradicting the above. It simply needs to be taken in the context of all that the Bible says about God's ways.

As for Isaiah 15:29, there is no such verse. Isaiah 15 only has nine verse and none concern this subject.

So on to the last verse:
[James 1:17] Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

God has "no variation or shadow of turning." Very true; God is consistent in His nature. And, as indicated, part of this consistency is to punish unrepentant sin, and to forgive and relent when a person or people repent. In other words, if God sometimes forgave repentant sin and sometimes did not, then God would have "variation." But He does not. He is consistent in His actions.

>16) Genesis 6:19-22, 7:8-9, 7:14-16 Two of each kind are to be taken, and are taken, aboard Noah's Ark.

Genesis 7:2-5 Seven pairs of some kinds are to be taken (and are taken) aboard the Ark.<

The key to this one is looking at the reasons given for the numbers of animals to be taken.

First God tells Noah:
[Gen 6:19] "And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. [20] "Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.

So the purpose of the command for "two of every kind" was "to keep them alive." Two being the minimum number needed to perpetrate a "kind" of animal. This command was given first.

But later, God gave more specific instructions:
[Gen 7:2] "You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female;

Now, seven of "seven each of every clean animal" was to be taken. Why the "extra" clean animals? The key is, what does it mean for an animal to be "clean." Biblically, two points are seen.

The answer can be seen in Genesis 8:20:
Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

Note that the text specifically says "clean animals" were used for the sacrifice. If only two of each of these had been taken the kinds would not have continued.

So the difference between the instructions can be seen in the purposes for each type of kind. To continue the kinds, two of each animal was taken. But to provide "extra" animals for sacrifice, five additional of each clean animal was taken. So the texts are not contradictory; they are referring to different types of animals. The first command was more general, then the second more specific.

>17) Genesis 7:1 Noah was righteous.

Job 1:1,8 2:3 Job was righteous.

Luke 1:6 Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous.

James 5:16 Some men are righteous, (which makes their prayers effective).

1John 3:6-9 Christians become righteous (or else they are not really Christians).

Romans 3:10, 3:23, 1John 1:8-10 No one was or is righteous.<

The answer to this one is simply the Gospel. It is the teaching of both the OT and the NT that all people are sinners (1Kings 7:46; and above cited verses). However, it is also the teaching of both the OT and the NT that people can be declared righteous by God though faith (Gen 15:6; Gal 3:6-8, etc, including cited verses from 1John).

So when the Bible declares someone is righteous, it is not because they are inherently righteous, or because they are righteous because of their good works, but because of their faith. For instance, we know Noah was a man of faith as the writer to the Hebrews tells us so (Heb 11:7).

>18) Genesis 7:7 Noah and his clan enter the Ark.

Genesis 7:13 They enter the Ark (again?).<

The writer is simply repeating himself to emphasize exactly who and what entered the ark, and by implication, who did not.

>19) Genesis 11:7-9 God sows discord.

Proverbs 6:16-19 God hates anyone who sows discord.<

Genesis 11:7-9 reads:
[7] "Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." [8] So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. [9] Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

There is no mention of "sowing discord." God confused the people's languages as punishment for their disobedience. They were supposed to scatter over the earth, not remain in one place and build a monument to themselves.

Moreover, "discord" as it is used in Prov 16:9 refers to causing enmity or hatred among "brethren." That is a far cry from causing "confusion" as God did at Babel.

>20) Genesis 11:9 At Babel, the Lord confused the language of the whole world.

2Corinthians 14:33 Paul says that God is not the author of confusion.<

Two completely different situations. In Genesis, God confused the languages of the people as punishment, as mentioned above. However, in 2Corinthians, Paul is referring to a worship service. So God does cause "confusion" as punishment of disobedient people, but He does not cause confusion when people are gathered to worship Him. If there is confusion in the latter, it is evidence the service is not being "Spirit-led." So context makes all the difference here.

To be continued …

For further study on this subject, see the items listed at Biblical Reliability Books: Books-A-Million Recommendations.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture references from: The New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, unless otherwise indicated. Copied from Lardian PalmBible. Copyright 1998 by Craig Rairdin. All rights reserved. Portions Copyright 1998 by Jeff Wheeler. All rights reserved.

Analytical-Literal Translation of the Holy Bible. Copyright 1999 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.dtl.org).

Green, Jay P. Sr. Literal Translation of the Bible. LaFayette, IN: Sovereign Grace Publishers, 1976 - 1998.

Newsgroup "Contradictions." Copyright 1999 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.dtl.org).

The above article was posted on this Web site July 24, 1999.

The Bible
The Bible: General "Contradictions"

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