Monday, June 28

Did Abraham Know the Law as later given to Moses?

How did Abraham know about tithing 430 years before the law was made? Since God did not want Abraham's life to be a mess, he instructed him in his laws, his commandments, and his way. Within the Genesis narrative, God told Adam and Eve his laws because he is their Father, just as he is out Father. What kind of parent would he be if he sent them out into life without instruction? It is a parent's responsibility, so God instructed his children. This is important, as it conveys the idea of a relationship between God and man. Within Genesis, Cain and Able, the first two sons of Adam and Eve, made their sacrifices to God. How did Cain and Able know what it is that they were to sacrifice? Because of Adam and Eve, who, in the Garden of Eden, has literally walked with God, and they had told their children what the correct sacrifices were. When it came time to sacrifice, Abel obeyed, but Cain disobeyed and did not make the proper offering to pay for his sins.

Later in the Hebrew Bible, the prophet Jeremiah tells us in Jeremiah 31:33-34, "'I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbors, or say to one another, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,' declares the LORD." From the first man up unto the last man or woman, God has written the law - his commandments, on the hearts and minds of every person. Think about that. We all know that it is wrong to lie. Our conscious tells us not to lie. We know it is wrong to lie, wrong to cheat, wrong to lust, wrong to dishonor parents. Even those who have never heard of the Christian tradition have, in this perspective, the Law of God written on their hearts. We all do, and even society tells us that we should not lie, we should not steal. Should not murder. Because the law of God is written on all of our hearts - whether we chose to obey them our not is of our own free will, be he tells us to obey them.

If, however, we are speaking in terms of evolutionary history, then the question becomes more difficult. Did the homo erectus have this law "chiseled" into their heart, so to speak? Did the early homo sapiens have this moral code programmed into them? That is difficult to tell. Certainly, anthropologists, archaeologists and paleontologists have shed light on early humans insofar as we are able to have a sense of their early hunter-gatherer concepts of society, their tools, their weapons, their ancient artwork, and so forth. There seems to be some kind of sense of morality in these early communities of humans, but whether this moral code was something imprinted on man at a later date or something present from our earliest origins, we cannot say for sure. On a theological level, however, one could argue that God is consistent, and thus, just as the prophet Jeremiah spoke of this inherent moral law in his time, so too would it have existed in the time of the first humans.

Troy Hillman

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