Sunday, March 12, 2017

Should Christians keep the Entire Law of Moses, the Ten Commandments, or Are We Stricly Under Grace? Pt.2

In the first part of this study, I focused on the various aspects of the Law and why they do not apply to us, due to the lifting of them in the New Testament. I also spent some time on why the Ten Commandments are still in effect and should still be observed. As the Hebrew Roots movement continues to move further and further into demanding that people observe the laws of the Torah for not just a righteous walk with God, but some say it is required for salvation, I felt the need to add even more to my article and so have created a part 2.

When God told Moses that He wanted to speak to the children of Israel, He said that He was going to give them a covenant. Ex. 19:5-6 “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” After God had spoken the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel, there was thunder and lightning, the noise of trumpets, the mountain was smoking, and they wanted Moses alone to be the one to have to hear anything else God had to say and then relay that information to them. Exodus 20:18-19 “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” God then told Moses to speak to them all that He was about to say. Ex. 20:22a “And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel....” What followed were the covenant rules. It is not that the Ten Commandments were not a part of it, they were the central core of it, as they are the divine laws of God that tell us what our moral sins against God are, so are a part of any covenant with God, (Gen.26:5Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”) including the new covenant (God said He would write His law on our hearts (through the Holy Spirit)– Jer. 31:33 “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”), but they were apart from the specific law of Moses, for the simple reason that they are much bigger than that covenant. The Ten Commandments are universal for all people for all time. They are the moral laws which condemn us before God and show us why we need salvation. They show us our sins. The rest of the laws that Moses wrote down were specifically for Israel as a covenant with them alone. We will see that the covenant with Israel alone was written by Moses, and the part of the covenant that is eternal between God and man were written in stone here on earth, and also written down in heaven.
Getting back to the order of events, after he had spoken all these laws to the people, Moses wrote down these laws which he had spoken to them. Ex. 24:4 “And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.” Ex. 24:7 “And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.” To seal the covenant, Moses made a sacrifice. Ex. 24:5-8 “And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.”

Now to show that these were two different sets of laws, we see that Moses wrote down all that followed the Ten Commandments, and it was called the Book of the Covenant, but as we will see, God Himself wrote down the Ten Commandments on the tablets of stone, which were to be in the ark of the covenant or as it is actually referred to in Scripture, the ark of the testimony. The commandments were on tablets of stone. The rest of the laws were in a handwritten book which Moses wrote. After Moses had related all this from the Book of the Covenant to Israel, God called him up to the mountain top to give him the specifications for the temple and priests, and to give him the tablets upon which God Himself had written the testimony or Ten Commandments. Ex. 24:12 “And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.” Ex:31:18 “And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.” After that Moses returned to the people. Ex. 32:15-16 “And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.” When Moses came down and found the people sinning, he broke the tablets. Ex. 32:19 “And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.” God called him back up to the mount again so that He could give Moses His law again. Ex. 34:1 “And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.” Ex. 34:28 “And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.” (The part of the covenant that was God's Law, God wrote, and He specifies here that the only thing on these tablets was the Ten Commandments.) Deut. 10:1-4 “At that time the LORD said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me into the mount, and make thee an ark of wood. And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark. And I made an ark of shittim wood, and hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having the two tables in mine hand. And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD gave them unto me.”

If there is any question that the Ten Commandments are the only thing on these tablets, these verses clearly answers that question, as it says that he wrote, “according to the first writing, the ten commandments.” And it is clear that they were to be put in the ark. Ex. 40:20 “And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark:” Deut. 10:5 “And I turned myself and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the LORD commanded me.” The testimony on the tablets was sealed within the ark and then the mercy seat was placed upon it. When it came to the Book of the Law, or the Book of the Covenant that Moses wrote, it had a different place to be placed, for the Book of Moses or Covenant is not eternal in the same way as the Ten Commandments are. Deut. 31:24-26 “And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.” The word “side” is “tsad” in Hebrew and the phrase “in the side” would indicate “against the side of.” In other words, beside the ark, but not in the ark. In fact, the word “tsad” has another interesting meaning. It can figuratively mean “adversary.” This is a good description of the law for it was put there to be a witness against the people.

How is it that the Law of the Covenant is to be a witness against the people. We know how the Ten Commandments are, for they were given to show the entire world their sin against God. The Book of the Covenant was a witness against them for if they kept the Law, they would be blessed, but if they did not keep the Law of the Covenant (sometimes also called the handwriting of ordinances in Scripture) they would suffer the curses issued by Moses. Note that this has to do with blessings and curses upon the people and land. Nothing is said about this providing them with salvation. Unfortunately, they did not keep the law. The people had heard the law at the beginning of the forty year wilderness experience, but all the adults of that generation died before they could enter the land (as punishment). The younger generation now had to have the law read to them also before they entered the land, and they had to covenant with God themselves. And this covenant was not just for those who had come out of Egypt, and those standing there hearing it, but those who would be a part of Israel in the future.

Deut. 29:1, 9-29 “These are the words of the covenant, which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb. Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do. Ye stand this day all of you before the LORD your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel, Your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water: That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the LORD thy God, and into his oath, which the LORD thy God maketh with thee this day: That he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; But with him that standeth here with us this day before the LORD our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day: (For ye know how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which ye passed by; And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:) Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood; And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven. And the LORD shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law: So that the generation to come of your children that shall rise up after you, and the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses which the LORD hath laid upon it; And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath: Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger? Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them: And the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book: And the LORD rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day. The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” The Book of the Law (the covenant) had blessings and curses written in it. It was for the nation of Israel as Israel will always be a peculiar nation before God.

Now that the Law of Moses or the Book of the Covenant has been explained we need to examine the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are the testimony against all mankind. Once engraved in stone, they resided in the ark, which in Scripture is not the ark of the covenant. That name is a misdirection, as people think that means the covenant with Israel. Scripture never calls it the ark of the covenant, for it is not the ark of the Book of the Covenant. It is the ark of the testimony of the Ten Commandments for that is what it holds. It is always referred to as the ark of the testimony. Ex. 25:22 “And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.” Ex. 26:33, 34 “And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place.” Ex. 30:6 “And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee.” Ex. 30:26 “And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony,” Ex. 31:7 “The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle,” Ex. 39:35 “The ark of the testimony, and the staves thereof, and the mercy seat,” Ex. 40:3, 5, 21 “And thou shalt put therein the ark of the testimony, and cover the ark with the vail....And thou shalt set the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the testimony, and put the hanging of the door to the tabernacle......And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the vail of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the LORD commanded Moses.” Joshua 4:16 “Command the priests that bear the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan.”

When Christ came, he established a new covenant. (testament means covenant). We would no longer be under the laws of the Book of the Covenant of Moses. 2 Cor. 3:14 “But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.” Heb. 9:15-20 “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” The first covenant was the Book of the Law which Moses wrote and read to the people. It was his handwriting of the ordinances mentioned in Colossians that was blotted out. Remember Moses didn't write the Ten Commandments. God engraved those on stone. They are not blotted out. It was a covenant between God and Israel that Moses wrote out by hand that was annulled. The new covenant would be with all men who believe, including those of Israel.

Matt. 26:28 “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Mark 14:24 “And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.” Luke 22:20 “Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” 1 Cor. 11:25 “After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.” 2 Cor. 3:6 “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” The old covenant brought condemnation. The new covenant brought life.

How do we know that Christ did not mean the Ten Commandments when He said He was creating a new testament or covenant? Because He told us that if we loved Him, we would keep His commandments. John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 15:10a “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love;” Some like to say that there were only two commandments that Jesus gave, love God and love your neighbor. That is not exactly what Jesus said. Matthew 22:36-40 “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Mark 12:28-31 “And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Jesus did not say that there were no other commandments, He said that these two were the greatest, and that all the laws and prophets hung on them. The interesting thing is that these are not Jesus condensing the ten into two out of the blue. He was quoting the Old Testament which had already presented these two concepts. Deut. 6:5 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Leviticus 19:18 “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.”

Jesus was not doing away with the Ten Commandments or condensing them. He was quoting these verses to show that all of the law hung on the fact that the commandments did either one or the other. The first four commandments tell us what we need to do to show our love for God. We are to have no other Gods before Him. We are not to make any graven images or worship them. We are not to take His name in vain. We are to keep His Sabbath day holy. Those are what we have to do in order to love God with all our heart, our soul, and our mind or might. To break them is sin, for the definition of sin is lawlessness, or not doing the law of God. The last six commandments have to do with showing love to our neighbor. Our first “neighbor” is our parents. We are to honor them. We are not to kill anyone, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness, or covet their possessions. This is how we show love to our neighbor. It is not in words that we love, but in deed. In the New Testament verses can be found that tell us not to do these things, which in most people's eyes means that they should observe them, even if they will not admit that they are keeping the Ten Commandments. The one they object to and say was not reiterated is the one about the Sabbath. I had a link to my article on the Sabbath in part 1, but if it wasn't read, here it is again.

Jesus Himself said that when the abomination of desolation occurred, people should worry that they would not have to run on the Sabbath. Since Jesus was speaking to believers in Him (Christians) at the end of time, and He expected them to be observing the Sabbath, I believe that is reason enough to consider that we should still be observing the Sabbath for in Christ there is no Jew or Gentile so it does not apply only to the Jews. The Sabbath has been holy to God since creation. It is one of the Ten Commandments and is still in effect.

We also know that the Ten Commandments are eternal because they are in heaven in the ark of the testimony that resides in the heavenly tabernacle. Rev.11:19 “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” Rev. 15:5 “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”

Lastly, Jesus gave us a couple parables that indicate that the laws in the Book of the Covenant had to pass away so that the new covenant could come to pass.

Matthew 9:10-17 “And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.”

The Pharisees were upset that Jesus and His disciples were not observing the law the way they thought they should. Jesus was eating with the publicans and sinners. His disciples were not fasting. Jesus told them that He didn't come to help those who were righteous, that He came to call sinners to repentance. To do that, He had to break with tradition and go to where the sinners were. This was a radical idea. And as far as His disciples were concerned, there was no need for them to fast and afflict themselves with mourning, for He (the bridegroom) was with them now, so they should celebrate what He was teaching and giving to them. When He left (when He was crucified and ascended) there would be plenty about which they would mourn and fast. Then He went on to give two parables that showed that He did not come to fix up the old covenant to include what He was teaching. For His teachings to be put into practice, the old covenant had to go by the wayside, for what He taught was mercy, not law. It was love, not judgment. It was forgiveness, not vengeance. The law was full of legalities that gave justice, but it did not have room for mercy. Jesus was going to radically change the way people interacted with God and each other. To do that, the old law had to give way. It was nailed to the cross as it says in Colossians. The new cloth (new covenant) could not be put on the old garment (old covenant), for the tear would be worse than ever when it was washed. The old wineskin would burst if new wine was put in it, for it could not hold all that the new wine was. That is what these parables were about. So for those who insist upon having to go back to the Torah, that is not what Jesus taught. Choosing to keep some of the old laws, such as kosher, as just a personal choice is fine as long as it does not get in the way of the new covenant ways. Love should always come before the old law. To insist that the old law is a better way is wrong, for the new covenant cannot be contained in the old one.

So in the end, we are to keep the commandments if we love Jesus, but we are not obliged to keep the law, with the exception of things that were reiterated in the New Testament. Most of these were moral laws which were actually just more detailed behaviors of the Ten Commandments. There are some things that do fall under that category. Homosexuality is still a sin. Remarriage is now wrong after divorce except for one condition. We are not to eat blood or things strangled. There are many more. One needs to read the New Testament to see what God still does or does not require. It is up to the individual to be in their Bible learning what those things are.

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