How does Nehemiah describe the giving of the law at Sinai?
"Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gayest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: and madest known unto them Thy holy Sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses." Nehemiah 9:13, 14.
What is the chief advantage possessed by the Jews?
"What advantage then hath the Jew? . . . chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God." Romans 3:1, 2.
NOTE.—The law was not spoken at this time exclusively for the Hebrews. God honored them by making them the guardians and keepers of His law, to be held by them as a sacred trust for the whole world. The precepts of the Decalogue are adapted to all mankind, and they were given for the instruction and government of all. "We have already seen that, unlike the ceremonial and civil codes which were given to Israel as the chosen people and holy nation, the moral law is intended for all mankind, and it has never been abrogated nor repealed."— WILLIAM C. PROCTER, Moody Bible Institute Monthly (Copyrighted), Decem- ber, 1933, p. 160. Used by permisSion.
THE MORAL LAW BEFORE SINAI
Before receiving the law at Sinai, how did Moses judge?
"When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and His laws." Exodus 18:16.
In the wilderness, before Israel reached Sinai, how did Moses explain the absence of manna on the seventh day?
"He said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said, "Tomorrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord. . . . Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none." Exodus 16:23-26.
When some went out to gather manna on the seventh day, what did the Lord say to Moses?
"And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep My commandments and My laws?" Verse 28. NOTE.—It is evident therefore that the Sabbath and the law of God existed before the law was given at Sinai. (See reading on page 378.)
What further evidence have we that the moral law existed prior to its proclamation at Mount Sinai? "By one man's disobedience many were made sinners." Romans 5:19. "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." 1 John 3:4.
NOTE.—The one man through whom sin entered into this world was Adam. Since sin is the transgression of the law, it follows that the law existed in Eden, else there would have been no transgression, no sin. "26.
How had God revealed this law?
"In the creation He wrote it in men's hearts, and hence it is called the Law of nature. Rom. 2:15. . . . "27.
Has not God revealed the Law in any other Way?
"Yes, He gave it on Mount Sinai, written on two tables of stone."—Epitome of Pontoppidan's Explanation of Martin Luther's Small Catechism, translated from the Norwegian by Edmund Belfour (1935), p. 7.
TEN COMMANDMENTS AT SINAI
How was the law first given at Sinai?
"God spake all these words, saying, . . . Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." Exodus 20:1-3.
How did God present the law to Israel in permanent form?
"He gave unto Moses, when He had made an end of com- muning with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God." Exodus 31:18.
NOTE.—The law of God, as well as the knowledge of creation, the plan of redemption, and the experiences of the early patriarchs, had been handed down from father to son until this time, but not in written form. He wrote the Ten Commandments upon two tables of stone with His own finger.
How did Moses show that the children of Israel had broken their covenant with God?
"It came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the [golden] calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the -mount." Exodus 32:19.
With what exactness did the Lord write the law again?
"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." Deuteronomy 10:4.
Where did Moses place these two tables of stone?
"I . . . put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the Lord commanded me." Verse 5.
NOTE.—The law was placed in the ark of the tabernacle in the holy of holies. Above the ark, in which rested the law, the presence of God was manifested in the glory of the Shekinah. Thus the Lord would teach Israel the sacredness of those immutable principles which are the foundation of His government. The purpoSe of making known this law was- twofold: First, the law was to govern in the lives of God's people. "Whoso looketh into the per- fect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." James 1:25. Israel covenanted to be obedient to this law. Second, "by the law is the knowledge of sin." Romans 3:20. It was above the law and on the mercy seat of the ark that the high priest sprinkled the blood of atonement, once in the year. "The wages of sin is death," and the blood of the victim was typical of the blood of Christ, shed in satisfaction of the holy law.
What other law was given at this time?
"When Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished." Deuteronomy 31:24. NoTE.—Besides the ten-commandment law, the Lord gave to Moses in- struction concerning the sanctuary service, which was ceremonial, and certain civil laws regulating the -subjects of the nation. These laws were written by Moses in a book, and are called the law of Moses, whereas the other law was written on tables of stone with the finger of God. For a further study of these laws, see the reading on page 385.
OBEDIENCE TO LAW
Why did the Lord take His people out of Egypt?
"He brought forth His people with joy, and His chosen with gladness: . . . that they might observe His statutes, and keep His laws." Psalms 105:43-45.
How were they to teach the law to their children?
"Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." Deuteronomy 6:7.
What promise to Israel hinged on keeping the law?
"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." Exodus 19:5, 6.
Was this promise made to the Jews alone?
"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." Genesis 12:1-3. "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Galatians 3:29.
NOTE.—From these texts it will be readily seen that God had not one provision of grace and one law for the Jew and another means of salvation and another law for the Gentile; but the plan was that through Abraham's seed all the families of the earth should be recipients of divine grace and should receive the blessing through obedience.
THE CHRISTIAN AND THE LAW
What shows that the ten-commandment law, spoken and written at Mount Sinai, is the Christian law?
"Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For He that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty." James 2:10-12.
Note.—James, years after the Christian Era began, emphasizes the obliga- tion of the Christian to keep the law of ten commandments, not merely one precept, but all, and sets forth this law as the standard by which men will be judged in the great day of God. To us, as Christians, God has committed the blessed law in writing, as He did to ancient Israel. This law points out sin to us, that we may confess it and find forgiveness. The Decalogue also be- comes to us the law of life, and we find the blessings for those who live in harmony with its holy precepts.
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