Genesis 9:3—Did God ordain the eating of meat or only plants?
Problem: When God created Adam, He commanded him to eat only “every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth ... to you it shall be for food” (Gen. 1:29). But meat was not given by God to eat. However, when Noah came out of the Ark, he was told, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs” (Gen. 9:3). But this seems to contradict God’s earlier command not to eat meat.
Solution: This is a good example of progressive revelation where earlier commands are superseded by later ones. In matters that do not involve the change of any intrinsic moral standard (based on the nature of God), God is free to change the commands to His creatures to serve His overall purposes in the progress of redemption. For example, parents at one time will allow small children to eat with their fingers, only to instruct them a little later to eat their potatoes with a spoon. Then, a few years later, the same parent reprimands her older child, “Don’t eat your potatoes with your spoon; use your fork!” There is no contradiction here at all. It is a simple matter of progressive revelation adapted to the circumstances and all geared to the ultimate goal. God works in a similar way.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.