The Law Given at Sinai
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 gavest 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 was the primary advantage possessed by the Hebrews?
"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as the chosen people and holy nation, the moral law is intended for all mankind, and it has never been abrogated nor repealed?"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), December, 1933, p. 160. Used by permission.
Before the law was given at Sinai, how did Moses render judgment to the people?
"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 reaching Sinai, how did Moses explain the absence of the 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 of the people 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: lt is evident therefore that the Sabbath and the law of God existed before the law was given at Sinai. (See the last question on reading 76)
What additional evidence do we have that the moral law of Ten Commandments existed before it was proclaimed at Mount Sinai?
"By one'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, noun. "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 this law in any other way? "Yes, He gave it on Mount Sinai, written on two table. of stone." -—Epitome of Pontoppidan's Explanation of Martin Luther's Small Catechism, translated from Norwegian by Edmund Belfour (1935).
How were the Ten Commandments first presented to the people at Sinai?
"God spake all these words, saying,... Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." Exodus 20:1-3.
How was it then written down as a permanent record?
"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." Ex. 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 part of the covenant between them and 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 the second time?
"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.
What other law was also given at this time?
"When Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished." Deut. 31:24.
NOTE: Besides the Ten Commandment law, the Lord gave to Moses instruction 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. (See reading "What was Abolished by Christ?")
Why did the Lord call His people out of the land of Egypt?
"He brought forth His people with joy, and His chosen with gladness:... that they might observe His statutes, and keep His laws." Psalm 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 sit test 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 their keeping the instructions that He had given them?
"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 3:19.
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.
What reveals that the Ten Commandment law, given at Sinai, is the law for the Christian?
"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 obligation 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. And when this law is written in our hearts in the new covenant experience (Hebrews 8:10), it also becomes to us the law of life.
What is the wages of sin?
"The wages of sin is death." Romans 6:23. "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Genesis 2: 17. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." Ezekiel 18:4.
How did death enter this world?
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin,' and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Rom. 5:12.
God is merciful, but will His mercy clear the guilty?
"The Lord is long suffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty." Numbers 14:18. (See Exodus 34:5-7.)
What is the result of willfully sinning against God?
"If we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain 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 under foot 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?" Hebrews 10:26-29.
To whom is the execution of judgment given?
"Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." Romans 12:19. "The Father hath... given to the Son... authority to execute judgement also." John 5:26, 27. (See Jude 14-15.)
What presumptuous way of life do many pursue?
"Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." Ecclesiastes 8:11.
What message has God sent to men by His appointed messengers?
"Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him. "for the reward of his hands shall be given him." Isaiah 3:10, 11. "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us." 2 Corinthians 5:20. (See 2 Timothy 2:24-26.)
How can man escape the penalty of sin?
"The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23.
NOTE: "God threatens to punish all who transgress these Commandments: we should, therefore, fear his anger, and do nothing against such Commandments. But He promised grace and every blessing to all who keep them: we should, therefore, love and trust in Him, and gladly obey His Commandments." -—Luther's Small Catechism, in Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom (Harper), Vol. 3, p. 77.
"Through the atonement of Christ more honor is done to the law, and consequently the law is more established, than if the law had been literally executed, and all mankind had been condemned." -—Jonathan Edwards (Congregationalist), Works (1842 ad.), Vol.2, p. 369.