The law before Sinai
“In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth, and God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the Heavens and the Earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Gen.1:1,31, 2:1-3). The account of creation reveals that God beheld His created work and considered it “very good”. There was the absence of sin. God did not create sin. Sin was first born in the heart of a free moral individual, a created being, in the midst of the Heavenly court. Sin is a choice every free moral agent is allowed to choose. But how would a free moral agent know what constitutes sin? “For by the law is the knowledge of sin” also “Nay, I had not known sin but by the law” (Rom. 3:20, 7:7). Our Heavenly Father desires us to know with certainty, the difference between right and wrong. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” “Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:7, 11). There are those who although sincere in their belief, hold to the idea that the Almighty God, Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, First introduced His laws upon planet Earth only to the ancient Nation of Israel at the time of the exodus from Egypt, on Mount Sinai through His servant Moses. That this giving of God’s law was only for the Hebrew people, and that this law did not exist prior to the account as found in Exodus 20:1-17, where we find the Ten Commandments (the moral law) inclusive also of the Old Covenant. It is further claimed by some that God’s laws are not for us Christians today, for we are the New Testament dispensation, under the New Covenant, saved by grace. The great Apostle Paul declares: “In that He saith, a new covenant, He hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:13). This verse, as well as other verses which may be found, seem to uphold this idea—that God gave His sacred law first to the Nation of Israel at Mount Sinai, that this law only pertained to the Old Covenant, further, that the law given was later abolished at the cross. But this same author, credited with writing much of the New Testament, also writes in the same Epistle to the Hebrews: “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 10:16, 17). Paul is repeating this message for he first declares it a few verses earlier in chapter eight, verse ten. He is actually quoting the Old Testament from the book of one of the Major Prophets in the Scriptures -Jeremiah. (Read this account in Jer. 31:31). At a glance, this seems to create a seeming conflict. For earlier, we read from Paul’s own pen which seems to say that the law was indeed old, that it was decayed, and being waxed old, was ready to vanish away. Why then would our Heavenly Father several times promise us that He is going to “place His laws in our hearts, and write them in our minds?” (The word “heart” is Strong’s #2588 is defined as “mind”. They are interchangeable, they both mean the same thing.) Would our Heavenly Father promise to us that He is going to place in our hearts/minds something which is decayed, waxing old, and passing away? We will see just what it is that Paul was referring to as decayed, waxed old, and ready to pass away. It is most certainly not the law of our Heavenly Father. His law was in effect ever since He created the first free moral agents–the angels. The law provides the correct moral guidance for them to follow, as well as to His Earthly children–mankind. Regarding our Heavenly Father’s law, the inspired psalmist declares: “The works of His hands are verity and judgment: all His commandments [laws] are sure. They stand fast forever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness” (Psalm 111:7, 8). Angels fell. Man sinned. This is plain evidence that the law existed even in Heaven for, “Sin is not imputed where there is no law” (Romans 5:13).
What is the law?
It is the purpose of my heart to reveal to the reader from the Scriptures, that the law of our Creator not only existed before given to the Nation of Israel at Mount Horeb (or Sinai), but that the importance of obedience to His law applies for us today. The Law of God is a reflection of His character, It mirrors the content of His heart, it is His righteousness. Regarding the necessary things of this life, our Savior taught: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). What is His righteousness? “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, accordingly as it is written, he that glorieth (boasts), let him glory in the LORD” (I Cor.1:30, 31). Christ is not only made unto us righteousness but also wisdom, for He is the wisdom of God (I Cor.1:24). It is therefore evident that the righteousness that He is made to us is the righteousness of God. So we again inquire, what is this righteousness? “My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments [Law] are righteousness” (Psalm119:172).
The commandments of God contained in His law are His righteousness. For further proof, permit me to once again take you to His word: “Lift up your eyes to the Heavens, and look upon the Earth beneath; for the Heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the Earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner; but My salvation shall be forever, and My righteousness shall not be abolished. Hearken unto Me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is My law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their reviling” (Isaiah 51:6, 7). We see clearly in this verse that those who know the righteousness of God are those in whose heart/mind is His law, for the law of God (as we have read in the Scriptures) is the righteousness of God. Notice also that these saints of God will be “reviled”, which is to suffer persecution from those that do not have God’s righteousness, those that do not have His law in their heart/mind. “But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now” (Gal.4:29). The Apostle John declares: “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:4). To claim that we are walking in God’s righteousness, while rejecting and disobedient to His law is contrary to the teachings of the Bible. God’s inspired word declares that individual a liar, and that there is no truth in him. What is it to be contrary to His righteousness? It is sin. “All unrighteousness is sin” (I John 5:17). The summary of all this is plainly expressed: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4). Remember the verse we read earlier regarding some things which were decaying, waxing old, and passing away? (Heb. 8:13) In Isaiah 51:6, 7 this is referring to the old covenant and the ceremonial law and not God’s moral law. To the earnest student of the Scriptures, the word of God will not contradict itself, harmony will be found, as sure as building upon a rock. (Luke 6:48) Dear friend, do you desire to walk in wisdom? “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments [His law]: His praise endures forever” (Psalm 111:10).
The law cannot save
The purpose for the law is to establish the boundaries between right-doing and wrong-doing. The law is as a mirror, by which we may see the dirty condition of our soul. It might surprise many professing Christians today that the law is for the benefit of those whom are to be saved, for the purpose it serves is to disclose our sins. The flesh is at war with the Spirit: “For I know that in me (that is in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil that I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Rom.7:18-25). The Apostle Paul, whose writings are most frequently miss-used to prove that the law has been abolished and not for us today, has this to say regarding the law: “what shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I would not have known sin, but by the law: for I have not known lust, except the law said, Thou shalt not covet. [Notice Paul is quoting the tenth commandment in the Moral law] But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence [lust, desire, longing for what is forbidden]. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. [before he knew of his sins, he did not know that he was spiritually dead] And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.” (Rom.7:7-14). Paul had the proper understanding of the law, for he further admonishes us in this way: “There is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. For they that are in the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:1-6). Speaking of the rebellion against God’s law which continually manifested in the hearts of the Israelites (and others), Paul reminds us: “Now these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (I Cor.10:11). “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom.8:7, 8).
Dear brothers and sisters, we therefore need to become “spiritually minded” that we may please God, and not be in enmity (hostile, enemy, contrary) to our loving Heavenly Father and His Only Begotten Son. Knowing that the carnal mind is contrary to God’s law, that as long as we are carnally minded we will not be subject to the law of God –His moral guidelines. We need to prayerfully seek that He would create in us a heart by His precious Holy Spirit, to surrender in obedience to His spoken word, preserved for us in the Scriptures. “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness” “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God” (Rom. 8:9, 10, 14).
The law existed in Heaven
In the first known account of sin in the Heavenly Kingdom we read of Lucifer’s fall. This may be found in Isaiah 14:12-17: “How art thou fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like The Most High…” Here we clearly witness the evidence against this once perfect, glorious angel, now fallen. This account is also found in Ezekiel 28:11-19: “…Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering…the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created…Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity [sin] was found in thee…Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee…Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thy iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic; Therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the Earth in the sight of all them that behold thee…thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.” Our Savior, speaking to the Pharisees, compared them to this fallen enemy for He declares: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father of it” (John8:44). Here we will find evidence that God’s Moral law was in effect in Heaven, before the fall of man. We read in Isaiah, Ezekiel, and John, testimony of Satan’s transgressions. Christ refers to him as the father of lies, a murderer, the originator of lusts. He coveted God’s throne. He is the originator of sin and rebellion against God’s kingdom. According to the law as revealed to us in the Scriptures, Satan broke the first Commandment -he saw himself as god (Thou shalt have no other god’s before Me). He broke the second (he saw himself in the image of God). He broke the third (he took God’s Name in vain before the other angels which joined him in his rebellion, a third fell with him) (Rev. 12:4). He broke the fifth (Honor your Father and Mother), God is his creator (Father). He broke the sixth (he is a murderer from the beginning John 8:44). He committed spiritual adultery by the lust for power seeking God’s position, breaking the seventh. He tried to steal God’s throne breaking the eight. He is a liar, breaking the ninth. And he coveted in his heart to rule Heaven which belongs only to God, breaking the tenth. It could be accounted that he also broke the fourth –God’s Sabbath—for this is the only commandment which identifies the true Creator of the Universe, and Satan coveted to have this place for himself, even though he cannot create, he can only destroy and pervert that which has already been created. We see here that God’s Moral law contained in His Ten Commandments was clearly trespassed, evidence of its existence. “…for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom.3:20). “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8). This account of Satan’s fall is also recorded in the New Testament by our precious Savior: “And He said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:18-20). Here Christ tells us that to those whose names are written in the book of life, He will give power against the enemy. “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4). How may we know if Christ is in us? “And he that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us” (I John 3:24). So if Christ dwells in us, we will keep His commandments and our names will be written in the Lambs book of life. “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and enter in through the gates into the city” (Rev.22:14).
Adam was taught the law
What did Adam and Eve transgress? Picking fruit out of season? No. “Whosoever committeth sin transgreseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (I John3:4). They broke God’s Moral law by disobedience, for God does not impute sin where there is no law (Rom. 5:13). They placed knowledge in the place of God, breaking the first Commandment. They broke the second by idolizing something before God. They broke the fifth Commandment by not honoring their Father (God). Their disobedience was a form of rebellion. They broke also the tenth, for they coveted knowledge. It has been said that when our first parents sinned, angels wept. Heaven was bathed in tears. Sin has a twin, it is called death. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom.6:23). After their transgression, God made it known to these fallen children which He loved, the plan of redemption. For “The soul that sinneth it shall die” (Eze. 18:20). The everlasting covenant was made known to them, that Christ, the Lamb of God, would come in the flesh and give His life as a sacrifice –the price demanded for the transgression of God’s law. We find in Leviticus 17:11: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” Speaking of the atonement which Christ has done for us, Paul also affirms: “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without blood is no remission” (Heb.9:22). How may we prove that Adam was taught this? While it is not plainly declared, we may see the evidence found in the account of Cain and Abel. Here are the first offspring from the womb of flesh. Adam was instructed to teach his children and their coming generations the plan of redemption –the gospel of the coming Savior, and His plan of Salvation through faith in Him. This is the introduction of the sacrificial system, the “Ceremonial Law”. This was given fully to the Nation of Israel, for the Ceremonial law embodied the center of the Levitical priesthood. The tribe of Levy—from which the sons of Aaron descended—were ordained to minister the sacrificial animal offerings. This was to be an illustration, symbolic of the sacrifice of the Son of God represented by the innocent lamb. God was not pleased with the slain animal itself. He was pleased with the emblem, the offering from a penitent heart, declaring the acknowledgement of guilt; that through faith in Christ, the slain animal was a substitute for the sinner. When Christ gave His life for us on the Cross, this sacrificial system ended. The world had been given the genuine article. No longer did mankind need to look to the animal substitute, for the promised Redeemer had finally come. “But Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the Holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:11, 12). This is the law that was nailed to the cross: “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” (Col.2:14). The sacrificial system was the heart of the Ceremonial law. This is not to be confused with the Moral law. Please note the distinction. There were four distinct set of laws given to the Nation of Israel: The Moral (has existed since creation), The Ceremonial (given to Adam and carried through the Patriarchs until Christ fulfilled it on the cross at Calvary), The Judicial Law (The principles by which we respect our fellow man and his property, our constitution is founded on these same principles) and the Health law (our bodies are the temple of God) (I Cor. 3:16, 17). (The proper understanding of why these laws were given and what they represent is worthy of further study.) There is no other means of Salvation except through faith in Christ. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not by works, lest any man should boast” (Eph.2:8, 9). This free gift of salvation through faith came with a price. The Scriptures declare that a Son was given. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). The sacrifice required for the remission of our sins was paid in full. The cost was very high. Our Heavenly Father suffered a terrible great cost to redeem us from the penalty of His broken law. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The anguish suffered by our loving Heavenly Father is expressed in the account of faithful Abraham. This account, this writer believes, was given to us in the Scriptures that we might get a glimpse at what our Heavenly Father suffered when He declares to Abraham: “…For now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from Me” (Gen.22:10-18). It is with great emotion that we read the account of Isaac’s deliverance, by which God provided a substitute –the ram (verse 13). Dear friend, carefully consider: Where came the substitute to spare God’s Only Begotten Son? There was none. Christ, the Lamb of God, poured His soul unto death for our salvation. “And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death; because He hath done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His Seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities [sins]. Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the spoil with the strong; because He has poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:9-12). It is indescribable mercy, that the Almighty Creator of this Universe –His universe– would allow His Only Begotten Son to suffer the undeserved humiliation, agony and cruel death on a pagan Roman cross that we would receive the pardon for the transgression of His law. Christ was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). Let us consider carefully what the outcome will be for those who esteem not the cost –the sacrifice paid- for the breaking of God’s law. “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Heb.10:26-29).
Cain slew his brother because he hated Abel’s righteousness by faith. Abel offered the unblemished innocent lamb on the altar. Abel was obedient in honoring God’s commandment, Cain was not. The offering in obedience was accepted, the one in disobedience was not. (Gen. 4:1-16). This wicked spirit which hates righteousness (the fruit which sincere obedience to God produces in the hearts of men) continues even today with great fury. “But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now” (Gal.4:29). Speaking of these things the Apostle John declares: “Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (I John 3:12). “And it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the LORD said unto Cain, where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brothers keeper? ” (Gen. 4:8). In this verse is made known the first account of mankind committing murder. After slaying his brother, when God questioned him of Abel’s whereabouts, Cain lied about it. Did Cain commit sins? The fifth Commandment is: “Honor thy Father and thy Mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (Ex. 20:12). The sixth commandment is: “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13). Cain lied, breaking the ninth Commandment which is: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” (Ex. 20:16). Here is plain evidence of God’s Moral law existing upon the Earth right from creation.
The law: before the flood
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the Earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the Earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the Earth; both man, and beast, the creeping things, and the fowls of the air: for it repenteth Me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD…Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6:5-9). The Scriptures reveal a principle that you cannot please God without faith: “For whatever is not of faith is sin” (Rom.14:23). Likewise, you cannot please God unless you are spiritually minded: “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8). Born again defines a spiritual birth in the heart/mind of an individual. “ Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit” (John 3:3&6). The condition existing at the time of Noah’s account was far from what our Creator had purposed for mankind. Earth’s condition was corrupt as a result of sin. Even in nature this was to be found. Was this a result of obedience or disobedience to God’s law? “And God looked upon the Earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the Earth” (Gen. 6:12). “O that thou hadst hearkened to My commandments! Then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea” (Isaiah 48:18). The only souls to be saved were Noah’s family. Why was that? What set Noah apart from the rest of the antediluvians? “And sparred not the old World, but saved Noah the eight person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the World of the ungodly” (II Pet.2:5). Noah was a preacher of righteousness “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith” (Rom.1:17). Imagine for a moment the number of people living at the time of the flood. Yet only seven souls believed God through Noah’s preaching. Noah was preaching of the righteousness of God. This righteousness is found in God’s laws. “My tongue shall speak of thy word; for all thy commandments are righteousness” (Ps.119:172). Only sinners perished in the flood -those that were not walking in God’s righteousness. “All unrighteousness is sin” (I John 5:17). Had mankind not strayed from the path of obedience to God’s commandments—His Law— sin would not have caused the destruction of the ancient world. “My son, forget not My law, but let thine heart keep My commandments; for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee” (Prov. 3:1, 2). As we study the Word of God, we find our Heavenly Father’s loving counsel throughout the ages: “Hear, ye children, the instruction of a Father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not My law…He taught me also, and said unto me, let thine heart retain My words: keep My commandments and live” (Prov. 4:1, 2 & 4). “By faith, Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became the heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Heb.11:7). And the flood came upon the Earth… (Gen. 7:11-24).
The law: after the flood
“And God spake unto Noah, saying, go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy son’s wives with thee. Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh…that they may breed abundantly in the Earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the Earth” (Gen. 8:15-17). Noah and his family are now faced with rebuilding their lives in a post-flood World. Everywhere to be seen is the devastation from the destruction which took place. What is the first thing that Noah set his heart to do? Noah makes an altar to the Lord and offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving. “And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar” (Gen.8:20). Here is evidence again of the sacrificial system brought from the days of Adam through Noah, given to mankind on this side of the flood. “And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in His heart, I will not again curse the ground anymore for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I smite anymore every living thing, as I have done” (Gen.8:21). I would have you notice also the mention of “clean” animals which Noah was commanded to bring in quantities of seven –not just two! (Gen.7:2). These were for sacrifices and for eating (Gen. 9:3), evidence again of the knowledge of the sacrificial system, also known as the “Ceremonial law”, but also of the Health law, for later we find in the book of Leviticus, chapter eleven, instructions as to what our Heavenly Father declares clean for us to eat. Sadly, today many reject the Health law. Any time we disregard the counsel of God—His wisdom—as given to us through His word, we will suffer the consequences. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, Him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (I Cor. 3:16, 17). The Ceremonial law, as we have mentioned earlier, pointed forward to the coming of Christ. This is the law which was also given to the Israelites. They were to take the knowledge of the coming Messiah (Christ) to the rest of the world. This is no other than the Gospel: salvation through faith in Christ. The Patriarchs of old received their salvation through faith in Christ the Messiah, looking forward by faith to His coming in the future. By faith, God’s children today, receive salvation through Christ by looking back at what took place at the cross. Salvation always has, and always will be, by faith through Christ the Messiah: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thes. 5:9). “And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Tim. 3:15).
God’s friend Abraham
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy Father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great Nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the Earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:1-3). And again God says to Abraham: “And in thy Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed My voice” (Gen. 22:18). Here is a man which God has singled out of all the other nations: to bless him, guard over him, promising that through his Seed He would bless all the families of the Earth. To him was given the promise of the coming Savior of the world to redeem us from our sins, the rite of circumcision—the covenant—and the law. “And I will establish My Covenant between Me and thee and thy Seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting Covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee” “And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep My Covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations” “This is My Covenant, which ye shall keep, between Me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised” (Gen.17:7, 9, 10-14). This is confirmed through Paul: “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy Seed, which is Christ” (Gal.3:14, 16). Was faithful Abraham saved by the law? By circumcision? No. “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him as righteousness” (Rom. 4:1-3). What does the Almighty God declare upon Abraham? He calls him His friend: “But thou, Israel, art My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham My friend” (Isa. 41:8). The eternal record also declares regarding Abraham: “Because that Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My Commandments, My statutes, and My laws” (Gen. 26:5). Dear friend, if our Heavenly Father speaks in this way because of Abraham’s faith and obedience to His Commandments and His laws, is this not sufficient to prove that the moral law existed before given to the Hebrews? This was 550 years before the Israelites ever set foot on the wilderness of Mount Sinai! This fact should encourage one to study further.
Regarding the covenant of circumcision (Acts 7:8), that was contained in the Ceremonial law, which became a heated controversy between the converted Jews and the Greeks, Paul finally settles the matter in his letter to the church at Corinth: “Circumcision is nothing and un-circumcision is nothing, but the keeping the Commandments of God” (I Cor. 7:19). The circumcision of the heart is what is important. It is the inward conversion which profits the soul, not merely an outward profession. “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom.2:28, 29). Notice what Paul is saying: he speaks about an inward conversion, a transformation of the heart/mind by the Spirit of God; and when this experience occurs, we receive the praise from God! This is a “spiritual birth”: “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but that he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (I John 5:18). Paul’s understanding was that when we receive this “spiritual birth” we are no longer carnally minded but spiritually minded. We become adopted as the seed of Abraham. We become “spiritual Israel”. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:28, 29).
God promises to bless you when you keep His commandments
In the account of Melchizedek, the first paying of tithes is made known. This was done by Abraham. We find also this tithe commandment in the book of the prophet Malachi: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, wherein have ye robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in My house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of Heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:8-10). Here is a perfect example of a Commandment given by God for His children to be blessed. What God is saying to us, through the prophet Malachi is this: if we will honor Him (trust in Him with our possessions) He will bring the increase. This law is carried out into the New Testament (Mt. 23:23, Lk. 18:12, Heb. 7:5). This is a commandment which pertains to the Moral law, for by honoring God with your money and other possessions, you are placing God first: “Thou shalt have no other god’s before Me (Ex. 20.:2, 3). In a parallel manner, when you honor God by keeping the Fourth Commandment in the Moral law, He promises to bless you. God promises to bless you if you keep His Commandments. “O that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!” (Deut. 5:29). However, we just read of a specific promise given if you tithe. There are two other commandments with a promise attached to them. These are both found in the Moral law. They are the fourth and the fifth. We will examine these shortly. These two commandments are kept or obeyed first in the mind/heart. Of course, all of God’s commandments need to be obeyed with a pure transparency in our heart, not clouded by any other impure motive; if not, you are not really keeping them. God delights in a cheerful giver: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (IICor.9:7). The principle is that you obey our Heavenly Father’s law because we love Him. Christ, speaking through the Psalmist, declares: “I delight to do thy will, O My God: yea, thy law is within My heart” (Psalm 40:8). Likewise, if you even look at a person to lust, you have already committed adultery in your heart: “But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt.5:28). So the key lies in the motivation of our heart. Do we do something for God because we will receive a return? Or, do we give Him our heart in loving devotion and fidelity because we purely love Him? “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous” (I John 5:2, 3). Let us now examine the two commandments mentioned earlier and their attached promises:
The fourth commandment is: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made Heaven and Earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus20:8) The promise: “If thou turn thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the Earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob [Israel] thy Father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 58:13, 14).
And the fifth, with its promise is: “Honour thy Father and thy Mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20: 12).
Moses before Pharaoh
Moving forward through time we reach Moses as he has been commissioned to deliver Israel from Egyptian slavery. Please note the following: “And Pharaoh said [speaking to Moses], behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens” (Ex. 5:5). This word “rest” is Strong’s #7673 (“Shabath”): rest, keep Sabbath (as in the seventh day Sabbath which we just read about, ordained by God at creation). Here again is evidence that God’s Ten Commandments contained in His Moral law existed prior to being given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai.
God delivers Israel
“And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thy hand. And for a memorial between thy eyes, that the LORD’S law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt” (Ex. 13:9). God has just delivered Israel from four hundred and thirty years of bondage. Moses has given Israel certain laws for them to observe: The Passover, or the feast of unleavened bread (which they were to observe on the fourteenth day of the first month Abib, or Nisan). They were to take a lamb on the tenth day and keep it (probably in the sight of all in the household for occasion to prepare their hearts) until the fourteenth day, at which time they killed it in the evening. “And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it” “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the first born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the god’s of Egypt I will execute judgment: I Am the LORD” (Ex. 12:7, 12). This Passover feast is pointing to Christ, evidence that the Israelites were given the Gospel message through Moses: “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that we may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (I Cor. 5:7). This ordinance given to Israel also contained two “ceremonial sabbaths”: one observed on the first day of the feast, the other on the seventh day or the last day. Please note that these “ceremonial sabbaths” are distinct and separate from the seventh day Sabbath instituted at creation. God gave through Moses other laws, for example: “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Sanctify unto Me all the first born, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is Mine” (Ex. 13:1, 2).
The seventh day Sabbath, however, is a perpetual commandment. It is God’s “sign” by which the people of God are identified. It was given at creation before the fall of man. It was placed in the very center of God’s Moral law. This is the only commandment which identifies the true and Almighty Creator of the universe. This shall remain forever: “Moreover I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I Am the LORD that sanctify them” (Eze. 20:12). “For as the new Heavens and the new Earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 66:22, 23).
Israel in the wilderness
Further proof may be found when the Israelites are in the wilderness: “Then said the LORD unto Moses, behold, I will rain bread from Heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in My law, or no. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily” (Ex.16:4, 5). The LORD mentions if they will keep His law or not. Also, they are to gather manna six days, gathering twice as much on the sixth day in preparation for God’s Sabbath, for the Commandment is not to work on the Sabbath. This is further evidence of the existence of the law before given to the Nation of Israel on Mount Sinai, for this account is four chapters before their arrival there! “And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the LORD said unto Moses, how long refuse ye to keep My Commandments and My laws? See, for that the LORD hath given you the Sabbath, therefore He giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye everyman in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day” (Ex.16:27, 29).
At this time, we will now part with Moses and the children of Israel. They have now reached the desert of Sinai and pitched their tents at the foot of Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:1, 2) where they will receive the Law of God and formally enter into the Covenant with the LORD. They will not only hear His voice declare the Moral law to them, but they will also receive the Moral law written by God’s own finger on two tablets of stone. “And the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tablets” (Ex. 32:16). The other three sets of laws (the Ceremonial, Judicial, and Health laws) will be given to Moses by God and he will write these down on animal skins or papyrus. Of special interest, we should note, are the specific instructions given to Moses as to where these testimonies—the law—should be placed. God instructs Moses to place The Ten Commandments inside the Ark of the Covenant under the mercy seat. (Ex. 25:21) The other laws were placed on the side of the Ark. (Deu. 31:26) The pattern for the Ark, the Tabernacle (which contained the Holy of Holies within the sanctuary and its furnishings), will also be given to Moses. (Ex. 25-28).
We have examined many accounts of the law and its existence prior to that as given to the nation of Israel from Mount Sinai, as recorded in the canon of sacred Scripture. As the Lord has placed the burden in my heart to present these facts, I realize that I am not the most qualified for this work. I humbly apologize for any errors which I may have unknowingly signed my name to. It is my earnest prayer that the reader will consider the facts presented here, and prayerfully pursue a further study as to the law with regards to sin, our atonement, and the relationship—our faith—in our loving Heavenly Father and His only Begotten Son.
“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: Yea, we establish the law.” (Rom.3:31).
“If ye love Me keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
All Scripture reference from King James translation