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GOD'S TWO LAWS
"...there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things..." 1 Corinthians 8:6. From God all beings derive their existence. He who created and upholds all things certainly has the right to govern and control all things. For this reason He is represented in the Scriptures as the one great Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy (see James 4:12). Existence being derived from the benevolence of the Creator, all intelligent creatures are accountable to His just government. Of all God's earthly creation, human beings alone are capable of learning the distinction between right and wrong. Thus we are placed under the control of moral Law.
Deriving our existence from a Being of infinite purity, we were once innocent, pure, and upright. In the beginning we were once the loyal subjects of God--our sole Author and rightful Sovereign. At this time God did not present Himself to man in the position of a Saviour and Redeemer; for we did not then need pardon from sin.
Because we owe all to God, we, as individuals, are under the highest obligation to love Him supremely with all the heart. But there is also a second and equally important obligation. Other human beings share equally with ourselves as creatures of God and therefore have the same rights that we have. We are, therefore, to love our neighbors as ourselves. These two great precepts are the sum of all moral Law.
In rendering obedience to the first of these two precepts, humanity could have no other gods before the Lord; nor could we make or worship idols; neither could we speak the name of God in an irreverent manner; nor could we neglect to hallow the rest day of the Lord which was set apart at creation in memory of the day which the Creator rested.
Equally evident is our duty toward our fellowmen. This comprehends our duty to our parents and the strictest regard to the life, chastity, property, character, and interests of others.
The moral Law, thus divided into two parts and drawn out and expressed in ten rules or precepts, is unchangeable in its character since its precepts were derived from the great Lawgiver. Its existence flows out of immutable relations which humanity sustains toward God and towards their fellowmen. This Law is God's great standard of right, and after we chose to rebel against God it became the great test by which sin is shown to be wrong (see Romans 7:7).
Such was the origin and character of the precepts of the moral Law. Its proclamation by God Himself, prior to His causing any part of the Bible to be written, sufficiently attests the estimate which He places upon it. From its very nature, it exists as early as the principles of morality; in fact, it is but these moral principles put in writing.
But there was a system of other laws that does indeed owe its origin because of sin, a system that could have had no existence had not man become a transgressor. The violation of the moral Law was that which gave existence to the law of rites and ceremonies, which were a shadow of good things to come. There could be no sacrifice for sin until man became a sinner. In Eden, there could be no types and shadows pointing forward to future freedom from sin through the death of Christ, for man was upright and needed no such redemption. Nor did God place upon man before the fall the obligation of carnal ordinances, which looked forward to the time of reformation; for man was innocent and free from guile. Then it must have been a violation of the moral Law that caused the fall of man!
The motive set before Eve by Satan was that she and her husband should become as gods if they ate of that tree (see Genesis 3); and as Adam was not deceived (see 1 Timothy 2:14), it is evident that he chose to follow his wife rather than to obey the Lord. Thus they both violated the first commandment of God's great moral Law.
When man had thus become a sinner and God had promised the means of his redemption, a second relation toward God was brought into existence. Man was a sinner, needing forgiveness; and God was a Saviour, offering pardon. It is plain that the law of types and ceremonies, which pointed forward to redemption through Christ, owes its origin to man's rebellion and to God's infinite benevolence. If man had not sinned, he would have needed no types of future redemption; and if God had not determined to give His Son to die, He would not have instituted a sacrificial system pointing forward to that great event. The existence of such a law, therefore, is in consequence of sin; its precepts are of a ceremonial nature, and its duration is necessarily limited by the great offering that could take away sin. From the fall of Adam through the time of Moses--when this system was written down--until the death of our Lord, this typical sacrificial system of types and ceremonies existed as the shadow of good things to come.
In the New Testament, we find that the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the great sacrifice for sin, was the antitype, or the end result, of which all the Levitical sacrifices pointed towards. The priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ in the heavenly sanctuary is the great antitype of the Levitical priesthood (see Hebrews 8). The heavenly sanctuary itself is the great original after which the earthly sanctuary was patterned (see Hebrews 9:23; Exodus 25:1-9). And the ark of God's testament in the temple in Heaven (see Revelation 11:19) contains this great moral Law. Thus we see under the new dispensation the real Sacrifice instead of a shadowy one, a High Priest who personally ministers and makes atonement (forgiveness and removal of sin) for you and me and who hears our prayers without the need to personally visit a sanctuary or priest on this earth, and that Law, which was broken by man, magnified and made honorable at the same time that God pardons the penitent sinner.
We also find the New Testament to abound with references to the essential difference between these two laws--the ceremonial and the moral--and the distinction is made clear.
NO CAUSE FOR CONFUSION
The ceremonial law is termed "the law of a carnal commandment" (Hebrews 7:16); and the moral Law, it is affirmed, "We know that the law is spiritual." Romans 7:14. The one is that law which Christ took out of the way at His death (see Colossians 2:14); the other Law is "the royal law" which James affirms it is a sin to transgress (see James 2:8-12).
The ceremonial is a law of which "there was made of necessity a change" Hebrews 7:12. The moral is that Law of which Christ says, "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Matthew 5:18. The one law was a "shadow of good things to come" (Hebrews 10:1), and was only imposed "until the time of reformation" Hebrews 9:10. But the other was a moral code, of which it is said by John, "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." 1 John 3:4. The one is a yoke not able to be borne (see Acts 15:10); the other is that "law of liberty" by which we shall be judged (see James 2:8-12). The ceremonial is that law which Christ "abolished in His flesh" (see Ephesians 2:15); the moral is that Law which He did not come to destroy (see Matthew 5:17). The one is termed "the handwriting of ordinances" "which was contrary to us," which was nailed to the cross and taken out of the way (see Colossians 2:14). The other is that Law which He came to magnify and make honorable (see Isaiah 42:21). The one was a temporary law which was disannulled "for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof" (see Hebrews 7:18); the other is an eternal unchanging Law which cannot be made void: "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." Romans 3:31. The one is that law which was the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles (see Ephesians 2:14); the other is that Law, the work of which even the Gentiles are said to have written in their hearts (see Romans 2:14-15). The ceremonial is the law of commandments contained in ordinances (see Ephesians 2:15); the moral Law is the commandments of God, which it is the duty of all mankind to keep (see Ecclesiastes 12:13).
This great moral Law of 10 commandments is brought to view by the message of the third angel (see Revelation 14:9-12). This is the Law which the remnant of the seed of the woman were keeping when the dragon made war upon them (see Revelation 12:17). This moral Law will insure, to all those who keep them, the right to enter into heaven and to eat of the tree of life (see Revelation 22:14).
Surely, these two laws should not be confounded. The moral Law was magnified, made honorable, established, and is holy, just, spiritual, good, and royal; while the other was carnal, shadowy, burdensome, and was abolished, broken down, taken out of the way, nailed to the cross, changed, and disannulled on account of its weakness and unprofitableness.
It is true that the precepts of the moral Law are variously interspersed throughout the books of Moses and mingled with the precepts of the ceremonial law. But this can in no way cause them to be included as part of this ceremonial law and also done away with. The moral Law is as eternal as God, while the ceremonial law was only in force until Christ died on the cross. Those who rightly divide the word of truth will never confound these essentially different laws, nor will they apply to God's royal Law the language employed respecting the handwriting of ordinances.
That the Ten Commandments are a perfect code of themselves, appears from several facts: God spake them with His own voice; and it is said, "he added no more" (see Deuteronomy 5:22), thus showing that He had given a complete Law. He wrote them alone on two tables of stone with His own finger, another proof that this was a complete moral code (see Deuteronomy 9:9-11). He caused these alone to be placed under the mercy seat in the second apartment of the sanctuary (see Exodus 30:6; Hebrews 9:4-5), an evident proof that this was the Law that made an atonement necessary because it had been broken. And God expressly calls what He thus wrote on the tables of stone, a Law and commandments (see Exodus 24:12).
Both laws had Sabbaths, yet there were clear differences between them. The seventh-day Sabbath originated in Eden before sin as part of God's immutable Law, and always occurred on the seventh day which we today call Saturday. While the feast day sabbaths originated after sin as part of the ceremonial law, and could take place on any day of the week. The seventh-day Sabbath was written on stone by God's own finger. While the feast day sabbaths were written on cloth, or paper, or skin, by Moses' finger. The seventh-day Sabbath, along with the 9 other commandments, was placed in the ark directly underneath the mercy seat with God's glory and presence above (see Exodus 30:6, 40:20,34), signifying that they were to be enforced permanently and were unchanging. While the feast day sabbaths were placed in the side of the ark (see Deuteronomy 31:26), signifying that they were to be enforced only temporarily until their purpose was accomplished. On the seventh-day Sabbath no cooking was to be done, but all food was to be prepared and cooked on the sixth day or the preparation day (see Exodus 16:23). While on the feast day sabbaths you could prepare and cook your food (see Exodus 12:14-16). And on the seventh-day Sabbath, no work could be done--not even sticks were to be gathered for the preparation of food (see Numbers 15:32-36). While on the feast day sabbaths work could be done in gathering various tree branches (during the feasts of tabernacles) in order to build booths for shelters (see Leviticus 23:34-40).
So there is a clear difference between God's unchanging fourth commandment of the moral Law to keep holy the seventh-day Sabbath, and the temporary types and shadowy feast day sabbaths of the ceremonial law. The seventh-day Sabbath was "made for man" before he had fallen in sin; hence it could not be a type or shadow pointing forward to Christ's death and, hence, could not have been nailed to the cross, but continues pointing backward to the beginning of this earth's history and to the Creator of us all. But the feast day sabbaths, as well as all the other types of the Jewish economy, came into existence after man had fallen and needed a Saviour; hence they were a shadow pointing forward to redemption and were indeed nailed to the cross (see Colossians 2:14).
STILL KEEP BIBLE SABBATH TODAY
Paul even states that God's people are to continue keeping the seventh day Sabbath of the moral Law after Christ's death, but nowhere states the need to keep the ceremonial sabbaths or any other day of the week holy! "For he (God) spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works....There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief." Hebrews 4:4,9-11.
It should be plain to all who wish to see that the doing away with the handwriting of ordinances of the ceremonial law leaves in full force every precept of the royal Law, and also that the law of shadows pointing forward to the death of Christ expired when that event occurred. The breaking of the moral Law was that which caused the Saviour to lay down His life to save you and I from sin. Thus the continued and unchanging sacredness of the 10 commandments may be judged by the fact that God gave His only Son to take its curse upon Himself and to die for our breaking of it.
May we awaken to our duty and remember to patiently and faithfully keep all 10 commandments of God's moral Law through faith in the righteousness and strength of Christ, that we may obtain eternal life and be with our God forevermore!
"Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus....
"Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie." Revelation 14:12, 22:14-15.