THE LAW OF MOSES

Most people who study the Bible believe that  the  Law of Moses consists of the Ten Commandments and  the  laws of the sacrificial system, and that this law was canceled  when  Jesus Christ was crucified.

It has been said that the law God gave to the Israelites through Moses was Moses'  law.  But was it? Is there a scripture in the Books of the  Law  that says Moses gave the people his law? No!  No such record  exists in the Books of the Law. However, there are many  scriptures, which show that God gave his law to Moses who  then gave it to the people. Therefore, the law that Moses revealed to the Israelites is actually the law of God.

It is impossible to separate the law that God gave to Israel into the law of God and the law  of Moses, because they are all God's laws.

Just  what were the Laws of Moses?  Did Moses  make or issue  any laws?   And if he did,  are they binding upon  the elect of  God  today? This study will show that the laws of God cannot be separated from each other and that they were given for the benefit of all humanity.

Moreover, this study will explain what is commonly called "The Law of Moses" and reveal how to worship God in a more dynamic and spiritual way. Moreover, this study will prove that God gave his laws as a complete set of interdependent and interrelated laws, and show that the Law of Moses is the Law of God.

Deuteronomy 4:1-8

"Now pay attention, Israel, to the statutes and judgments, that I teach you, do them, that you may live and possess the land  that the  Lord God of your ancestors gives you. You shall not add  to the words that I command you, neither shall you take from it, you shall  keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I  command you.  Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments,  even  as the  Lord my God commanded me, that you should do so in the  land that  you  go to possess it. Keep them and do them; for  this  is your  wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the  nations, that shall  hear all these statutes and say, Surely  this  great nation  is a wise and understanding people. For what  nation  is there so great, who has  God so near to them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for?" (vs.1-7 Para.).

"And  what nation is there so great, that has statutes and  judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you   this day" (Deut.4:8 KJV).

When Moses  recited God's words to the nation  of  Israel,   he showed them the will of God concerning  how they were to live their lives individually and as a nation. Moreover, the statutes and judgments that many people today believe were done away with are called righteous by Moses.

DID GOD MISJUDGE THE ISRAELITES?

Many  believe that God misjudged the character of the  Israelites so badly that, after he gave them the Ten Commandments, he had  to  add   the sacrifices  nine months later  because of the  people's sins. But, is this true?  

We know that God had over two thousand years to deal with humanity  before he presented the Ten Commandments to Israel  at  Mount Sinai.  By this time, God had already discovered how wicked humanity  is  capable of being.  After all, at the end of  nearly  two thousand years of human history, he could only find one righteous man—Noah.                               

The Father knew "from the foundation of  the  world" (Rev.5:6-12; 13:8) that the Creator God would have to offer his life for the salvation of humanity, Therefore it makes sense that, he would have designed the sacrificial system to point to the coming of the Messiah  to redeem humanity.

FROM THE BEGINNING

The first chapter of the Book of Genesis shows that one reason  God created and arranged the stars and planets the way he did was to give humanity a means to calculate when  to  observe his religious festivals and sacred observances:

"Then  God commanded,  Let lights appear in the sky  to  separate the day from night and show the time when days, years, and  religious festivals begin. . ." (Gen.1:14 GNB).

This  record clearly shows that, from the time of his creation of humanity, God intended to have them observe  his festivals and sacred observances. Remember  that the Bible was written for our admonition  and  instruction in God's way of life. If God had  not intended  for humanity to observe these special days,  why  would  he have inspired this to be recorded in the Book of Genesis?  

ADAM AND THE LAW

Not only did Adam and his family understand the laws of God but they also understood his sacrificial system:

"In process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought an  offering  of  the  fruit of the ground to the Lord.   And  Abel  also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the  Lord had respect to Abel and to his offering: But  for  Cain and  to his offering he had no respect. And Cain was very  angry, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said to Cain, Why are  you angry and why is your countenance fallen?  If  you had done well, shall  you not be accepted? and if you do not well, sin  lies  at the door" (Gen.4:3-7 Para.).

God did not accept  Cain's  sacrifice, because in the sacrificial system,  only  a blood  sacrifice can be given for a sin offering. Cain was  disobeying  God by not offering the correct offering. Abel offered one of his animals and  God accepted it, because it was the correct  offering. See Gen.4:7; Lev.chp.4.

The writer to the Hebrews also confirms  the Genesis record:

"By  faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice  than Cain,  by which he obtained witness that he was  righteous,  God testifying  of  his gifts: and by it he being  dead  yet speaks" (Heb.11:4 KJV).   

In  the  first four chapters of the Bible, there is a  very  clear record that shows that God intended his festivals  and sacred observances to be practiced.  The  inspired record also shows that the breaking of the law of God constitutes sin  (1.Jn.3:4). Moreover, this record shows the sacrificial system of God  being  practiced.

NOAH AND THE LAW

The apostle Peter tells us that Noah was a preacher of righteousness  (2.Pet.2:5). And in Genesis 6:9, Noah is said to be a righteous person before God.  Noah could not have been righteous before God if he had  not  understood what God expected of him or what righteousness was.   For the inspired record to show that Noah was righteous, it would  have been  necessary for him to understand and obey God's  laws,  which define what righteousness is.

In the account  of the  great  flood, God gave Noah instructions concerning clean and unclean animals:

"Of every clean beast you shall take to you  by sevens, the  male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female" (Gen.7:2 Para.).

Clean beasts could be eaten by Noah and his family as dictated  by God's dietary laws concerning what is fit and what is unfit for human consumption. See Lev.chp.11.  

Clean beasts were also the only ones that could be offered  in sacrifice  to  God, which is why more clean beasts than unclean ones were needed. See Lev.chps.1-9.

The  record shows that the first thing Noah did upon leaving  the ark  was  to  build  an altar  and offer  a  sacrifice  to  God (Gen.8:20).   Notice that God was very pleased with these  sacrifices and blessed Noah for his obedience (Gen.8:21; 9:1-2).

Noah must have been sacrificing before the flood, because he knew which animal to sacrifice and how to sacrifice it. Adam's family understood God's law and Noah was righteous; therefore, it should be apparent  that God's law was in effect and understood very early in human history.  It is very possible that God's law was transmitted to Noah  by  Adam himself, because Adam was still alive fifty-eight years before the flood.

ABRAHAM AND THE LAW

Abraham is called a righteous man by the apostle James (Jms.2:22-24), but what did Abraham  do to merit this recognition by James?

Abraham gave offerings and tithes to the  priest-king  Melchizedec (Gen.14:18), which shows that he fulfilled his duty  in respect to this aspect of God's law (Gen.14:20). In  Genesis 17:1, God commanded Abraham to be perfect  (upright)  before him. For one to be perfect (upright) before God, one must  obey his laws.

Abraham's test of  obedience to God in Genesis 22 shows that he  understood and practiced the sacrificial system of God. Otherwise,  what  God had asked him to do would not have made any sense. Abraham's  son Isaac  also understood this, which is indicated by his question in verse 7: "Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"  God  did  not allow Isaac to be sacrificed; instead, he provided a clean animal for the sacrifice.

It is evident that Abraham understood and kept all of God's laws. In fact, God promised to bless all nations because of his  obedience:

"And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be  blessed; because you [Abraham] obeyed my voice" (Gen.22:18 Para.).          

In the Bible, there  are so many references to people keeping  the law of God before the time when it was given to the Israelites that there can be no doubt that God's law existed before he revealed it through Moses to the Israelites who had forgotten it during their time of captivity in Egypt.

THE LAW GIVEN AS A WHOLE

Some people believe that the law Moses gave at Mont. Sinai, was his law and they use the following scripture to substantiate this belief:

"Only if they will observe to do according to all that I  have commanded  them,  and according to all the law  that  my  servant Moses commanded them" (2.Kgs.21:8 Para.).

In this record concerning the  giving of  the  law, God is the  authority behind the law that Moses commanded the people to keep. Moses was only acting as God's servant in transmitting God's law to God's people.

A  careful  study of the scriptures reveals  that  every law Moses gave to the people was backed up by the authority of God. An  example of this authority is found in Leviticus 11:1-2. See also Lev.16:1-2; 23:1-2.

ISRAEL GIVEN THE LAW AT MOUNT SINAI

The account of God transmitting his law to the Israelites begins in Exodus 20:1.   The  Israelites were camped at the base  of  Mount  Sinai where  God spoke  to them out of the cloud and fire and gave them the  Ten Commandments; however, the people were so afraid that they  asked Moses to relay the words of God to them:

"And  they said to Moses, Speak you to us, and we will hear:  but let  not God speak with us, lest we die" (Ex.20:19 Para.).

Deuteronomy 5:4-5, 22-28

The Creator spoke to the people first, not Moses. However, because the people were afraid, Moses' job was to relay the words of God, not his own thoughts or words, but God's words. God proceeded to give the Ten Commandments, which are recorded  in verses 6-21.  Verse  22 says that  God wrote the  commandments on tables of  stone and added no more:

"The  Lord talked with you face to face in the mount out  of  the midst of the fire. I  stood between the Lord and you at that time, to show you  the word of the Lord: for you were afraid by reason of the fire,  and did not go up into the mount" (vs.4-5 Para.).

"These words the Lord spoke to all your assembly in the mount out of  the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the  thick  darkness,  with a great voice; and it went on no more"  (v.22 Jewish Translation).

This  verse  indicates that God quit talking  after  he  had given  them his foundational laws.  In other words, there  was  a break  or a pause in what he wanted them to hear.  And during  this break, the events took place that are described in verses 23-28.

"And  it came to pass, when you heard the voice out of the  midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that  you came  near  to me, even all the heads of your  tribes, and  your elders. And you said, Behold, the Lord our God has shown us  his glory  and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of  the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God does talk  with man, and he lives" (vs.23-24 Para.).

"Now therefore why should we die?  for this great fire will  consume  us: if we hear the voice of the Lord our God anymore,  then we  shall die. For who is there of all flesh, who has  heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?" (vs.25-26 Para.).

"Go  you near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say:  and speak  you  to us all that the Lord our God shall speak  to  you; and we will hear it, and do it. And the Lord heard the voice of your words, when you spoke  to me; and the Lord said to me, I have heard the voice of the  words of this people, which they  have spoken  to you:  they have  well said all that they have spoken" (vs.27-28 KJV).

MOSES—THE INTERMEDIARY

The  people  who  heard the voice of God from  Mount  Sinai  were afraid for their lives.  So, they asked Moses to be the intermediary  between them and God.  Moses' task was to listen to what God had to  say and report it to the people. Moreover, they agreed to  obey  whatever God told them to do through Moses (Deut.5:27).

God accepted the request of the people: "They have well spoken" (Deut.5:28). Then told  Moses to tell them to return to their tents.

In  Deuteronomy  5:31, God commands Moses to come to him and  he would speak to him and give him  the  commandments, statutes, and judgments that he was to teach the people.  Moses followed God's instructions. Exodus  21 and 22 record that Moses received the judgments; he received the statutes in chapter 23. In Deuteronomy 5:32, God instructs Moses  to  tell the  people to do everything that he instructed them to do, and to not  deviate from what they were told to do.

BACK UP THE MOUNTAIN

Moses  went back up the mountain and, while he was there, God gave   him what  is contained in Exodus 21 through 23. Then,  Moses  returned from  the mountain and relayed all the things that God had  told him to the Israelites. He wrote these words in a book  (Ex.24:4). Then, he used the blood of a sacrificial animal to seal the agreement with the people for God. Exodus 20  through  23 contains  the terms and conditions of the  first  agreement  with national  Israel.  At this point the Israelites had been given the Ten Commandments, the Judgments, and the Statutes through Moses.

"And the Lord said to Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there:  and I will give you tables of stone, and a law,  and  commandments  which  I  have  written;  that  you  may teach them" (Ex.24:12).

Here,  God tells Moses to come back up the mountain to receive tables of stone, a law and commandments so that  he could teach the people. Exodus 24:l8 shows that Moses was on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights. See also Deut.chp.5.

While Moses was on the mountain this time, God began to tell  him more  of  what he wanted  the people to do in relation  to  their worship of him.

In chapters 26 through 28, God instructs Moses on  how to build the tabernacle and the various things that were to be contained in it.  

In  chapter 29,  God tells Moses who the priesthood  would be, how they were to be set apart and consecrated to serve him in the tabernacle, how to cleanse the altar of impurity, and how to offer the daily sacrifices.

In  chapter  30:6-10,   God says that he would meet with the priesthood  in  the tabernacle when they made their sacrifices.

An important point to remember is that, while Moses was on the  mountain receiving the tablets of stone, God also gave him  instructions on how and what to offer on the altar.  This proves that God was giving  the law as a whole, and none of it was  an  afterthought. The instructions on the sacrifices were  given right after God spoke the Ten Commandments, during this forty day period on the mountain.

DOWN AND UP AGAIN

Exodus 32:l5 shows that God gave Moses the two  tables  of stone containing the Ten Commandments and instructions on   how to  build the tabernacle and conduct the  daily  services, during his first forty days on the mountain.

Exodus 32:1-6 shows that the people had made a golden  calf and  were  worshiping it. In verses 15-19, Moses sees  the  people worshiping  the calf, he becomes angry and he breaks the  tablets containing  the law. Moses then returns to the mountain to  make  an atonement  for  the people's sin (probably by a  sacrifice).  See vs.30-31;  Deut.9:9-25.  In Deuteronomy 9:9-25,  we  see  that, on this second trip up the mountain, Moses stayed for another forty days and nights.

While on the mountain the  second time,  Moses receives a second  set of tablets of stone that contain the Ten  Commandments  written  by the finger of God  (Ex.34:1; Deut.10:1).  After this, Moses went up the mountain a third time and stayed  another forty  days and nights (Ex.34:28).

After coming down from his third trip up the mountain, Moses  gave the Israelites the  instructions that  he  had received  from God. These instructions included the Ten  Commandments  on two tables of stone, the instructions on how to  finance and  build the tabernacle that God  would dwell in during  their journey through the wilderness,  and  the instructions on the daily  tabernacle  service, which included  the morning and evening  sacrifices  and  the consecration of Aaron and his sons to perform these services. See Ex.chp.35.

THE TABERNACLE AND THE SACRIFICES

In Exodus 36, we find the Israelites following the instructions of God, which were given to them through Moses.  Collections were made to  build  the tabernacle  and  the things  received were more than  enough  to build  the  tabernacle (Ex.chps.36-39).  In chapter 40,  we  find that  the tabernacle and all the various things contained  in  it were finished and ready to be erected.

After the  tabernacle  was erected as God had instructed, God began to dwell in the tabernacle (Lev.1:1).

The  tabernacle services began after the priests and all the  garments and all of the articles to be used in the tabernacle  service had been purified and consecrated. After all of this, the  tabernacle sacrifices began on a regular basis.  See Lev.chp.9.

God showed that he was pleased with the first service in the tabernacle, because he filled  the tabernacle with his glory and consumed the  burnt  offering (Lev.9:23-24).

Throughout the rest of the Book of Leviticus, God continues  to give his law to Israel.

All  the things spoken of in the Book of Leviticus are  the  commandments that  the Lord gave to Moses for  the  children of Israel:

"These  are the commandments, that the Lord commanded Moses  for the children of Israel on Mount Sinai" (Lev.27:34 Para.).

Again, God gave these commandments (laws); they are  God's laws,  not Moses'. Leviticus 27:34 shows, beyond doubt,  that all  of  the commands spoken by God  from the tabernacle  in  the Book of Leviticus  are indeed his commands, not Moses'.

THE LAW

The biblical record has established that the law Moses gave to the people was the complete law of God; however, why was it necessary for God to give his law to the Israelites in the first place?

The Sacrifices

The following are two reasons that God gave the sacrifices to Israel:

GOD'S SPIRITUAL LAW

It is important to understand  the difference between God's physical  and  spiritual law.  Obedience or disobedience to his physical law will  bring physical  rewards or punishments.  Obedience  or disobedience  to his  spiritual law will bring spiritual rewards or  punishments. The  Ten Commandments  are both  physical  and   spiritual  laws  (Deut.5:29; 30:15-l9; Matt.19:16-17). Note that the penalty  for breaking  God's  spiritual  law is the  second  death  (Rom.6:23; Rev.21:8).

In Romans chapter 7, the apostle Paul says that he wouldn't   have  known  what sin was except that the commandment says, "You  shall not covet."  This shows that, if someone breaks the  Ten Commandments, he is a sinner. Therefore, the law reveals what sin is.  Paul goes on to say  that the law is holy and spiritual. It is spiritual because it applies to  things  that  are spiritual. In fact,  the  Ten Commandments illustrate the character of God and they are the standard of  love that he has set for all of humanity to live by.  See  Rom.7:7,12,14; 1.Jn.3:4; 5:3.

No Fault with the Covenant

Anyone who makes an honest study of the Bible will discover  the first  agreement with national Israel included the  Ten  Commandments   (Ex.20:1-17), the Judgments (Ex.21-23), and the Statutes (Ex.23:14).   In Hebrews 8:8, the writer tells us that God  found no fault with his agreement with Israel, but the fault was with   the people. Moreover,  God  found  no fault with the conditions of the agreement with national  Israel; the people were at fault, not the agreement.

Another  key to understanding the relationship between God's  law and the  Israelites is the fact that everything God wanted  them to know  after  the event noted in Deuteronomy 5:1-29, he  spoke through  Moses. The things that Moses relayed to the people  were the  will  of God concerning his law. These things  were  not  of Moses,  they were of God.  It is obvious that, if the children  of Israel had not been so frightened of God when he  spoke the Ten Commandments, God would have spoken directly to them instead of through Moses.

SUMMARY

This  study has shown that God intended the law to be given as  a whole  and he intended the sacrifices to be a part  of  his law from the beginning. Moreover, as soon as the tabernacle was built, the  sacrifices were offered according to the  instructions  that Moses received from God.  It is evident that the laws of God  are inseparable, and that they were given as a whole for the purpose of creating a pure people, to reveal what sin is,  and to show that humanity would someday have  a Savior  who would sacrifice his life in order to forgive the violation of the Law of God.

By V.O. Jones and B.L. Cocherell, file b4w6