Did God command sacrifices or not?

Question
How can the Bible be inerrant if Exodus 20:24 and Jeremiah 7:22 contradict one another?
Answer

Exodus 20:24: An altar of earth you shall make for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you.

Jeremiah 7:22: For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices.

These texts aren't speaking about the same period of time. Jeremiah 7:22 speaks concerning "the day" (cf. Exod. 12:40-41, 51; 13:3) God delivered Israel out of Egypt, and Exodus 20:24 speaks about the time of the Ten Commandments about three or so months later (cf. Exod. 19:1). So, the texts do not contradict one another.

The Bible is comprised of two testaments (Old & New), sixty-six inspired books, 1189 chapters, 31,173 verses, and 773,692 words. The sixty-six books of the Bible were written by approximately 40 different men over a period of about 1500 years.

God's word is true (Prov. 30:5). Since there is no higher authority, God is his own (Psa. 12:6; cf. Heb. 6:13; 2 Pet. 3:16). Jesus prayed to God the Father, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth" (John 17:17). God has promised to preserve the truth for his people (cf. Isa. 59:21; Matt. 5:17-18; John 10:35) and declares that belief in it is absolutely necessary (cf. John 5:46-47; 1 Cor. 14:36-38).

The Bible is inspired (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 2:21; cf. Exod. 20:1; 2 Sam. 23:2; Isa. 8:20; Mal. 4:4; Matt. 1:22; Luke 24:44; John 1:23; 5:39; 10:34-35; 16:13; 19:36-37; 20:9; Acts 1:16; 7:38; 13:34; Rom. 1:2; 3:2; 4:23). The original documents (i.e. autographs) are God-breathed and a divine product. In other words, though God used human instrumentality, the original texts were breathed-out, or inspired, by the Lord himself. The Bible is the word of God.

The Bible is inerrant. Inerrancy means the Scriptures do not err; nor do they affirm any errors. There is no error mixed with truth (cf. Psa. 12:6), and what it teaches is wholly truth. The Bible does not endorse anything that is untrue; it is entirely truthful and has no errors in the autographs. So, the Scripture contains no affirmations of anything that is contrary to fact.

The Bible is also infallible. This is thought of as a stronger term than inerrant. Infallibility deals with possibilities and so it means the Scriptures cannot err; it is incapable or impossible of teaching any error. The autographs are absolutely trustworthy (Psa. 19:7; 111:7), sure (2 Pet. 1:19), and worthy of acceptance (1 Tim. 1:15; 3:1; 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:11; Tit. 3:8).

There is a relationship between the Word and one's heart. It examines the soul and spirit and the intentions of the heart (Heb. 4:12). It is our judge and we don’t judge it. Creation should not judge the Creator, who is the Word (cf. John 1:1; cf. Rom. 9:20). If something seems off, then it is our Bible version, interpretation, misunderstanding, or hermeneutical approach as the Bible is a more sure word of prophecy (Psa. 119:89; 2 Pet. 1:19).

There have been some lively discussions concerning inspiration, authority, inerrancy, and infallibility throughout the years. The following is a valuable statement on inerrancy.

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy [1]

A Short Statement

1. God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God's witness to Himself.

2. Holy Scripture, being God's own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed, as God's instruction, in all that it affirms; obeyed, as God's command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God's pledge, in all that it promises.

3. The Holy Spirit, Scripture's divine Author, both authenticates it to us by His inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.

4. Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God's acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God's saving grace in individual lives.

5. The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible's own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.

Articles of Affirmation and Denial

Article I

We affirm that the Holy Scriptures are to be received as the authoritative Word of God.

We deny that the Scriptures receive their authority from the Church, tradition, or any other human source.

Article II

We affirm that the Scriptures are the supreme written norm by which God binds the conscience, and that the authority of the Church is subordinate to that of Scripture.

We deny that Church creeds, councils, or declarations have authority greater than or equal to the authority of the Bible.

Article III

We affirm that the written Word in its entirety is revelation given by God.

We deny that the Bible is merely a witness to revelation, or only becomes revelation in encounter, or depends on the responses of men for its validity.

Article IV

We affirm that God who made mankind in His image has used language as a means of revelation.

We deny that human language is so limited by our creatureliness that it is rendered inadequate as a vehicle for divine revelation. We further deny that the corruption of human culture and language through sin has thwarted God's work of inspiration.

Article V

We affirm that God's revelation in the Holy Scriptures was progressive.

We deny that later revelation, which may fulfill earlier revelation, ever corrects or contradicts it. We further deny that any normative revelation has been given since the completion of the New Testament writings.

Article VI

We affirm that the whole of Scripture and all its parts, down to the very words of the original, were given by divine inspiration.

We deny that the inspiration of Scripture can rightly be affirmed of the whole without the parts, or of some parts but not the whole.

Article VII

We affirm that inspiration was the work in which God by His Spirit, through human writers, gave us His Word. The origin of Scripture is divine. The mode of divine inspiration remains largely a mystery to us.

We deny that inspiration can be reduced to human insight, or to heightened states of consciousness of any kind.

Article VIII

We affirm that God in His Work of inspiration utilized the distinctive personalities and literary styles of the writers whom He had chosen and prepared.

We deny that God, in causing these writers to use the very words that He chose, overrode their personalities.

Article IX

We affirm that inspiration, though not conferring omniscience, guaranteed true and trustworthy utterance on all matters of which the Biblical authors were moved to speak and write.

We deny that the finitude or fallenness of these writers, by necessity or otherwise, introduced distortion or falsehood into God's Word.

Article X

We affirm that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original.

We deny that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs. We further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.

Article XI

We affirm that Scripture, having been given by divine inspiration, is infallible, so that, far from misleading us, it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses.

We deny that it is possible for the Bible to be at the same time infallible and errant in its assertions. Infallibility and inerrancy may be distinguished, but not separated.

Article XII

We affirm that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.

We deny that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.

Article XIII

We affirm the propriety of using inerrancy as a theological term with reference to the complete truthfulness of Scripture.

We deny that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose. We further deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.

Article XIV

We affirm the unity and internal consistency of Scripture.

We deny that alleged errors and discrepancies that have not yet been resolved vitiate the truth claims of the Bible.

Article XV

We affirm that the doctrine of inerrancy is grounded in the teaching of the Bible about inspiration.

We deny that Jesus' teaching about Scripture may be dismissed by appeals to accommodation or to any natural limitation of His humanity.

Article XVI

We affirm that the doctrine of inerrancy has been integral to the Church's faith throughout its history.

We deny that inerrancy is a doctrine invented by Scholastic Protestantism, or is a reactionary position postulated in response to negative higher criticism.

Article XVII

We affirm that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the Scriptures, assuring believers of the truthfulness of God's written Word.

We deny that this witness of the Holy Spirit operates in isolation from or against Scripture.

Article XVIII

We affirm that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatical-historical exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture.

We deny the legitimacy of any treatment of the text or quest for sources lying behind it that leads to relativizing, dehistoricizing, or discounting its teaching, or rejecting its claims to authorship.

Article XIX

We affirm that a confession of the full authority, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture is vital to a sound understanding of the whole of the Christian faith. We further affirm that such confession should lead to increasing conformity to the image of Christ.

We deny that such confession is necessary for salvation. However, we further deny that inerrancy can be rejected without grave consequences, both to the individual and to the Church.

Note

[1] Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, not including the Preface and Part III, the Exposition. (https://reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=https://reformed.org/documents/icbi.html). Last Accessed 12 Nov. 2018.

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God's Flawless Word
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Communicating the Authority of Scripture in a Postmodern Enviroment
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The Relevancy of Scripture
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The Attestation of Scripture
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Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).