GOD SIMPLIFIED THE COMMANDMENTS
God expects a redeemed people to be a moral people. The Hebrew people did not follow that formula from God. God does not change His formula, if we refuse to obey. God will do His best to change our rebellion.
God did not expect morality until He had redeemed the Hebrews, but once redeemed and delivered, He demanded a holy people. Redemption comes first, and then morality is expected to follow. We are not saved by our morality, but are saved to morality.
With the giving of the ten commandments, God is establishing clearly that He is a moral, holy, righteous God.
"For I am the Lord Who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God, you shall therefore be holy, for I am holy."
I Peter 1:16
"Because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy."
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS WERE GIVEN BY GOD
Exodus 20:1-21 (KJV)
1 And God spake all these words, saying,
2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 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:
11 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.
12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
13 Thou shalt not kill.
14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
15 Thou shalt not steal.
16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
18 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.
19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.
21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.
Thus, the commandments are ten in number.
"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."
"And He declared unto you His covenant, which He commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and He wrote them upon two tables of stone."
"...He wrote on tables, according to the first writing, ten commandments."
These are the only times in the Bible that the number of "ten" is given to the commandments. There were 203 other commands given to Moses before he went up to the top of Sinai. There were 155 other commands given to him at the same time as the "ten" on Sinai. Later 2345 commands were given to Moses (Exodus 24 to Deuteronomy 24). The total of 2713 commands were in the law of Moses.
The law saved no one, and to try to have morality precede salvation is to try to have salvation by works. The ten commandments were the law, the other commandments in addition, do not save one by their keeping. The law revealed sin, the law could not save. Even in Moses' time, before he came down from the mountain, all the people had already broken the law.
The law revealed sin, but Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the plans of the tabernacle which was God's revelation of His plan for salvation. We will examine the tabernacle revelation in a later lesson.
The ten commandments were a covenant. Whenever a covenant is made, two parties must meet. God therefore came down upon Mt. Sinai, and made the whole mountain become a temple. There in the sight of the people (the congregation), there was thunder, lightning, a thick cloud, a trumpet blast, Mt. Sinai was wrapped in smoke, fire was seen, and the whole mountain quaked greatly! Sounds like quite a service. Who could doubt that God was there?!
The basis of this covenant was to reveal God's plan for divine redemption. As a mother eagle would lift its young fallen eagle up, so God lifted Israel out of Egypt to this mountain.
"I have bore you on eagle's wings and brought you to Myself."
The end result of this covenant should be the making of the nation to be a holy redeemed priesthood to present God to the rest of the world.
"...ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation."
The people were told the terms of the covenant, and they accepted the terms. The covenant demanded obedience. God promised to be the benefactor of many, many blessings, and the people were to be the beneficiaries of the same. (Exodus 20:1, 34:27) The conditions of the covenant were the ten commandments, and the other laws of God.
The people answered God:
"All that the Lord hath spoken, we will do."
God promised to make them a peculiar, special people to represent Him. (Exodus 19:5-6).
He told them (Leviticus 26) He would give them:
good harvests, and ample food...
safety and peace...
deliverance from evil beasts...
protection from and power over enemies...
growth in numbers...
Moses was the temporary mediator of this covenant. The mediator is the "go between" for 2 parties. Moses was Israel's man to God, and God's man to Israel. Jesus came later to fulfil this type, and He is now our Mediator.
"Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle (Sent One), and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus. Who was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. For this Man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He Who has builded the house hath more honour than the house. ... Moses was verily faithful in all his house, as a servant... but Christ, as a Son over His own house; Whose house are we, if we hold fast to the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end."
Therefore this law identified sin, and was only a precursor to the plan's fulfillment of bringing the Savior, Jesus Christ to fulfill the covenant of God. Jesus did come. And the ten commandments are a summary of the basis of the whole law; in the same way, the two commandments presented by Jesus are a summary of the rules of Jesus, which show the easier way to fulfil the law of God and be a partaker of His covenant.
Jesus taught the people to forsake sin and rebellion. The method that He used was marked by His simplification of the law, including the ten commandments. He took all the laws of the Old Testament period and taught that if people would obey only two laws, they would please God. There are some today in the religious world that still hold to that doctrine. They will love God supremely, and love their neighbor as themselves.
Jesus wanted us to take all rules and make them into only two. The Pharisees took the many Old Testament laws and added many more. They ended up with a religion that few could and would follow. Jesus took their rules and disobeyed them whenever they interfered with the two laws that He had set forth.
In Christianity today, there have been so many additions to the two commandments of Jesus that there is often church splits, backslidings, bickerings, factionalism, etc. All of these stem back to rules that people have added to the Word of God
How very easy it is for churches to take the two commandments of Jesus and make it 2002. The ones who make these rules often will attempt to make people obey these rules as though they were given of God in the Bible. They take a rule and want others to follow it --because if they don't -- they are not a "team player." And even if the rule, and its enforcement may cause someone to backslide, or another to not get saved, they will still demand obedience to it. Their idea is that obedience to the rule is supreme and to have someone go to hell because of it is a small concern.
The Lord taught principles with the ten commandments, and then simplified the obedience to such with the two commandments of Jesus. While God is trying to simplify His plan for us, many congregations have tried to make the commandments more, not less.
If you lived in China where there is a rule that after one child is born to a family, all subsequent pregnancies must be aborted, would you obey the rule and murder the unborn child? Not many saints would dare to say "yes." We would disobey that rule because of a higher law of God that tells us to love life.
In the same way, some of the rules of churches can come into conflict with the higher laws of God. When this happens, we must throw aside these man-made rules and obey God. The Pharisees of Jesus' day did not do that and it angered Jesus greatly. He could forgive the woman caught in adultery with ease. He could warn Peter of his impending failures with love, but to the Pharisees and their rules He added warning after warning. He called them horrible names and gave to them many a "WOE."
Paul said of the Pharisees:
"FOR I CAN TESTIFY ABOUT THEM THAT THEY ARE ZEALOUS FOR GOD, BUT THEIR ZEAL IS NOT BASED ON KNOWLEDGE. SINCE THEY DISREGARDED THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT COMES FROM GOD AND SOUGHT TO ESTABLISH THEIR OWN, THEY DID NOT SUBMIT TO GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS."
Paul was saying that surely the Pharisees are zealous. There are many zealous today that add to the righteousness that God has demanded. They put rules above the two that Jesus gave. They, like the Pharisees, disregard the rules about love for God, and love for their fellow man. Yet, we can see in them a zeal, but one that is not with knowledge.
The Pharisees emphasized the "oral law" (the law that was their interpretation of the "written law", in other words, the law that they could not find Scripture to back up). The "oral law" was composed of many explanations of the law. It focused on trifling details.
For instance, a person could spit on a rock on the Sabbath, but could not spit on soft ground, because that might move some soil, and constitute plowing.
Another was - a child could be lifted on the Sabbath, but one had to beware lest the child was holding a stone, because then to lift the child would involve the labor of lifting the stone also.
One could not drag a chain, or belt on the Sabbath. This might make a slight furrow in the dirt, and constitute plowing.i
Women were forbidden to look in a mirror on the Sabbath, because they might see a white hair and try to pull it out. This is work, and therefore considered sinful on the Sabbath.
Do some in Christianity add such silly rules to the two laws that Jesus commanded? Yes, and some are as silly, and others, when obeyed actually contradict the two laws that Jesus commanded.
"AT THAT TIME JESUS WENT, ON THE SABBATH DAY, THROUGH THE CORN, AND HIS DISCIPLES WERE HUNGRY, AND BEGAN TO PLUCK EARS OF CORN TO EAT... THE PHARISEES SAW IT... 'BEHOLD, THY DISCIPLES DO THAT WHICH IS NOT LAWFUL (according to their added rules)'... HE SAID... 'DAVID... WAS HUNGRY ...HE ENTERED...THE HOUSE OF GOD...AND DID EAT THE SHEWBREAD WHICH WAS NOT LAWFUL...ON THE SABBATH DAY THE PRIESTS IN THE TEMPLE PROFANE THE SABBATH AND ARE BLAMELESS... IN THIS PLACE ONE GREATER THAN THE TEMPLE... IF YE HAD KNOWN WHAT THIS MEANS: 'I WILL HAVE MERCY AND NOT SACRIFICE' - YE WOULD NOT HAVE CONDEMNED THE GUILTLESS. FOR THE SON OF MAN IS LORD EVEN OF THE SABBATH DAY."
The Lord illustrated to the Pharisees that their added rules could be and should be disobeyed when they interfere with the law of God. The disciples were hungry and the law of God was not intended to keep people from satisfying their hunger. God doesn't want us to starve people to death to show they love God.
The disciples were smart enough to know that Jesus and His law did not condemn them for "praying about this rule" and deciding that it was contrary to the two laws Jesus said were necessary. Jesus called the disciples here -"the guiltless." There are many in Christianity today that need to beware becoming Pharisaical. The condemning, the rule adding, the judgmentalism, the nit-picking over details is not Christ-like, not Christian.
David was not of the Levite tribe, and not a priest. Yet when he was starving, he entered into the holy place of the tabernacle and ate of the shewbread. This was forbidden by the true law. Yet, Jesus taught us that even here--the greater law of love overcomes any other law. David was not condemned for saving himself from starvation. The disciples, likewise, harvested food on the Sabbath. This too was work. Yet, they were "guiltless. The priests did work in the temple on the Sabbath day. They trimmed lamps, did sacrifices by the score, and yet are guiltless. Jesus is a higher authority than the law of the Old Testament, the law of the Pharisees, and of the rules and laws the churches try to impose on Christians. Whenever, the laws of Jesus conflict with the rules of mankind, we need to obey the Lord.
"...INTO THEIR SYNAGOGUE... THERE WAS A MAN WITH A WITHERED HAND... THEY ASKED HIM, 'IS IT LAWFUL TO HEAL ON THE SABBATH DAYS?'...HE SAID, 'WHAT MAN AMONG YOU...HAVE ONE SHEEP... FALL INTO A PIT... WILL HE... LIFT IT OUT... HOW MUCH BETTER IS MAN THAN SHEEP... IT IS LAWFUL TO DO WELL ON THE SABBATH DAY ...STRETCH FORTH THINE HAND'... RESTORED WHOLE... LIKE AS THE OTHER ...THEN THE PHARISEES WENT OUT AND HELD A COUNCIL AGAINST HIM, HOW THEY MIGHT DESTROY HIM."
Jesus, in defiance to their rules, obeyed the greater law of love and healed this man. This man, according to the early church writers was a mason who needed both hands to do his work. The Pharisees were angered by Jesus' defiance of their rule. They took counsel to "destroy Him." Today, when the rules that the church has added are broken, the Pharisees of today seek to "destroy" the ones who would have the nerve to disobey their rules. Councils have been held by members of the church to decide how to handle some who are only trying to love, as was Jesus. It hurts to have "the brethren" take council in opposition to your stand on love. Yet, we have been adequately warned by our Lord that they will do this. Mourn for the Pharisees, for they shall be judged if they don't repent.
"...CAME TO JESUS, THE SCRIBES AND THE PHARISEES... SAYING, 'WHY DO THY DISCIPLES TRANSGRESS THE TRADITION OF THE ELDERS? FOR THEY WASH NOT THEIR HANDS WHEN THEY EAT BREAD. HE ANSWERED AND SAID, WHY DO YOU TRANSGRESS THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD BY YOUR TRADITIONS? FOR GOD COMMANDED ...HONOUR THY FATHER AND MOTHER...BUT YOU SAY IT IS A GIFT... YOU HYPOCRITES... ESAIAS PROPHESIED OF YOU... 'THIS PEOPLE DRAWETH NIGH UNTO ME WITH THEIR MOUTH AND HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING FOR DOCTRINES, THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN.'"
Thus, the Pharisees had put so much importance on the writings and rules of the scribes, that the Lord had to tell them that their rules had caused them to transgress the higher law. Today, still we find that traditions and commandments of people are raised to a level equal to, or above, the Word of God. This makes our worship to be "in vain" according to Jesus.
"THEY BIND HEAVY BURDENS AND GRIEVOUS TO BE BORNE, AND LAY THEM ON MEN'S SHOULDERS, BUT THEY THEMSELVES WILL NOT MOVE THEM WITH ONE OF THEIR FINGERS."
Isn't it a wonder that, like the Pharisees, many today still enjoy adding more and more rules to the two that Jesus gave us. They will not help those who have to try to obey these rules. One terrible indication that people are dealing with a modern day Pharisee is the lack of concern the Pharisaical ones show for the souls of the ones they abuse with their rules. To allow a young Christian to slip away from the church, and feel unloved by the saints, and to possibly find that the only ones who seem to really care are the unsaved friends --is a sign that their concern is more on the rules, than on the love of their neighbor.
A true saint is broken hearted at the backsliding of a young Christian. Jesus wept over Jerusalem, who was about to betray and crucify Him. Yet some in Christianity, seem unconcerned over those who have fallen away. The inability of those who have stumbled to follow all the man-made rules the church has added is given as the excuse for the Pharisees' unconcern. We need more weeping before the altar.
"LET THE PRIESTS, THE MINISTERS OF THE LORD, WEEP BETWEEN THE PORCH AND THE ALTAR, AND LET THEM SAY, 'SPARE THY PEOPLE, O LORD, AND GIVE NOT THINE HERITAGE TO REPROACH.'"
It is time for God's people to weep, and humble themselves. The rules of churches are themselves responsible for the hurting of many in Christianity today. The unconcern of modern day Pharisees who wish to judge and condemn others who are not able yet to keep all the rules they have added, requires much prayer and supplication for mercy. For the world to tempt away young believers is bad enough, but when the church pushes them out with their lack of love, requires a modern day- "WOE."
"...STRAIN AT THE GNAT, AND SWALLOW THE CAMEL."
It is strange how we can get priorities, and concepts upside down. Many worry about defiling the "sanctuary" (meaning to them the church building). The true "sanctuary" is the body of the saint, for the Holy Spirit dwells within the believer. To criticize, embarrass, and condemn another - defiles the true "sanctuary" (the body of the believer who so criticized the other Christian). The inside spirit is more important than the inside of the four walls people call the "church." Like the Pharisees, many worry more about the outside of the cup, but the inside of the cup is filthy. If the inside of the person is cleaned, and the condemnation and judgmentalism is removed, then the true "sanctuary" becomes undefiled.
"YOU CLEAN THE OUTSIDE OF THE CUP, AND OF THE PLATTER, BUT WITHIN IS FULL OF EXTORTION AND EXCESS ... THOU BLIND PHARISEE, CLEANSE FIRST THAT IS WITHIN...THAT THE OUTSIDE MAY BE CLEAN ALSO."
Many think that such modern day Pharisees would be easy to spot. But the Bible indicates that they can outwardly appear to be righteous.
"...OUTWARDLY APPEAR RIGHTEOUS TO MEN... WITHIN ARE FULL OF HYPOCRISY AND INIQUITY."
The Lord was very hard on the Pharisees of His day, He had many a "woe" for them, and indicated that their judgment would be greater than others. Today, like those Pharisees, people want to preach against many sins, but neglect the sin that most angered our Lord. We tolerate and allow these Pharisaical sins to continue. We try to cover for them, and try to keep others from finding out when others are hurt by them, and many get angry at those who finally say "stop" to these modern day Pharisees.
"WOE... SCRIBES... PHARISEES... HYPOCRITES... BUILD TOMBS OF THE PROPHETS, GARNISH THE SEPULCHRE OF THE RIGHTEOUS AND SAY, 'IF WE HAD BEEN IN THE DAYS OF OUR FATHERS, WE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN PARTAKERS IN THE BLOOD OF THE PROPHETS... YE SERPENTS, YE GENERATION OF VIPERS, HOW CAN YE ESCAPE THE DAMNATION OF HELL?"
The prophets who stood up against the sins of the people of God were slain. Today, we still find the Pharisaical element trying to eliminate the ones who protest their ways. We need revival. We need it now. It will start with a sob, not a shout. It will continue as we learn to obey the two supreme commandments. We must learn to love God with all our mind, soul, and spirit. We must learn to love our neighbor as ourselves. We must forget our other rules, and stop condemning those whom God alone can judge...
"TURN YE EVEN TO ME WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH FASTING, AND WITH WEEPING, AND WITH MOURNING; AND REND YOUR HEART, AND NOT YOUR GARMENTS, AND TURN UNTO THE LORD YOUR GOD; FOR HE IS GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL."
The ten commandments were the early summary of the law of God . The later summary was the two commandments of Jesus. The whole truth can be summed up with love.
This total of 2713 commands in the law of Moses, was only meant to identify the means of straying from the love. The means of obeying all the law is to find the love of God, and through it find the love of mankind. Then God's love shines through us. God is a compassionate God, and always has been. We can, and must find the backdrop of love to be in any discussion of God's law!
"And if he cries to Me (God), I will hear, for I am compassionate."
The whole idea of morality has been hard for mankind to understand. Four of the ten commandments dealt with man's conception of the worship of God. Six of the ten commandments dealt with man's relationship to man...
The law saved no one. The Law revealed sin, but the law could not perfectly be kept. To try to have morality by identifying sin is unsuccessful, in any age. God uses the law to identify sin, but grace to save us has always been necessary.
Salvation, in type to Moses, was shown in the plans for the tabernacle. He received plans for it while on the mount receiving the law. Too many only look at the law given to Moses, and think God was saying, 'Here is how to be saved...' but He was not, He was saying 'Here is how to identify sin." Then God gave the plans for the tabernacle to show how to be saved.
The Lord made a covenant there upon Mt. Sinai with the people. He told them what He expected, and then made provisions for those who would fail those expectations. Grace, mercy, unmerited favor would be needed often. God's covenant would need obedience, but the sins, that God knew mankind would commit, would require the plan of salvation to be revealed.
"ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation."
God did not change from law to grace at the coming of Jesus. God changed from showing pictures (types of grace in the tabernacle, temple, sacrificial offerings, etc.) to the real One (Jesus, His cross, and His resurrection power)!!! God's love shines through in both dispensations. It has always been the love and grace of God that saves. No one ever earned salvation with the keeping of the law!
The PRIESTHOOD of believers were to be the ones who took this blessed message of announcing the remedy for sin, and the covenant that God was offering to mankind. This began in the Old Testament, but continues today!
I Peter 1:9
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should shew forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness unto His marvelous light."
The Jews never fully accepted the calling to be this "priesthood" to the world. Most of them missed that calling. Most Christians have missed the true nature of their calling also. This study about being the priesthood to the world is one of the most neglected, and ignored, subjects in Christianity.
THE "SHADOW" OF WHAT WAS TO COME
The Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament was only a shadow of the substance of the priesthood that God intended to make of all believers. A "shadow" is only an indication of the proximity of the substance, and not the substance itself. Therefore, the priesthood of believers completes and supersedes the Levitical priesthood, just as Jesus completed and superseded Aaron as the High Priest. The altar of burnt offering foreshadowed the cross, and in the same way, the priesthood of the Old Testament was a shadow and type of what God was going to make of the real priesthood.
All believers, of all ages since Adam, are a part of the priesthood of believers.
"And ye shall be unto Me, a kingdom of priests."
I Peter 2:5-9
"Ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."
"Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God, and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years."
It may take until they reach heaven for some to realize that they are part of a priesthood. In heaven, on the rapture day, all saints will finally acknowledge and know that they are part of a great priesthood.
Revelation 1:6, 5:10
"And hath made us kings and priests (literally 'a kingdom of priests') unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen" ... And hast made us unto our God kings and priests (literally 'a kingdom of priests'), and we shall reign on the earth."
Many Christians today, miss their calling to be a part of the consecrated priesthood. There are many attenders, many spectators, but not many are truly consecrated to the work of the Lord, and to the ministry in His presence.
"For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves today to the Lord."
The word - "consecrate" is from the Hebrew "yad mala", which literally means "fill your hands." To be consecrated means to have your hands full of the work of the Lord. Some do not want to be fully occupied with the Lord's work.
We have, as Christians, the great commission to "go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Most saints only want to pray for their loved ones, witness to the rich, influential, and elite. They want to attend worship and Bible study when convenient.
They occupy themselves with the "cares of this world." They are not fully occupied with the whole of the Lord's work.