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"Hearken unto Me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is My law.” Isa. 51: 7.
It marks every departure from righteousness as sin.
“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3: 4.
It is not a code merely for the regulation of outward conduct. It is the moral law - the primal standard of righteousness established by the Creator for His creatures. There is not an impulse of the inmost soul that is not reached by it. It is the word which, living and powerful, is “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Heb. 4: 12.
Face to face with this holy law, we hear in it the voice of God saying, “Be ye holy; for I am holy.” Every soul must confess its guilt before the searching power of God's law. All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. "Guiltyi" we confess. Left alone with our guilt, there could be no ray of hope.
“The threatenings of the broken law
Impress the soul with dread;
It strikes the spirit dead.”
“But Thine illustrious sacrifice
Hath answered these demands,
Are offered by Thy hands."
God's Law from the Beginning The law of God existed from the beginning. When Adam sinned, he transgressed this holy law; for "sin is the transgression of the law.” God's law was not committed to writing until the days of Moses, when the Lord began to make
His written revelations to the children of men. But from Adam to Moses the precepts of the law of God were teaching righteousness and convicting of sin.
“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: (for until the law (the giving of it at Sinai) sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses.)” Rom. 5: 12-14.
The declaration of this scripture is: Without the law there can be no sin. But sin and death were from Adam to Moses, in whose day the law was spoken on Sinai; therefore the law of God was in force from the beginning. Its precepts were witnessed to by every preacher of righteousness raised up by God in the days before the deluge and in the patriarchal age following. Of Abraham the Lord says,
“Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws." Gen. 26: 5.
The Lord called His people out of Egypt, that they might keep his law. His message to Pharaoh was, “Let my people go, that they may serve Me." Ex. 9:1. He delivered them from bondage by His mighty arm, and cleit the Red Sea to lead them forth to obedience, as the psalmist said,
"He brought forth His people with joy, and His chosen with gladness: ... that they might observe His statutes, and keep His laws.” Ps. 105: 43-45.
In Egyptian bondage the children of Abraham must have lost much of the purity of God's truth; yet the Lord held them under obligation to know His law — the Sabbath pre
cept particularly — before they came to Sinai, or ever He had proclaimed the law in their hearing. He tested them in the matter by the giving of the manna, as He said,
“That I may prove them, whether they will walk in My law, or no.” Ex. 16:4.
From the beginning, God's holy law demanded the loyal obedience of every human being.
Proclaimed Anew at Sinai The Lord had delivered the people of Israel from Egyptian bondage that they might serve Him and make His ways known to the nations. This was according to the prom
ise made to Abraham. To them was committed the written revelation of God, and through them was to come in the fulness of time the promised Messiah.
While the Lord at this time “made known His ways unto Moses," and there was begun the written revelation which grew into "the volume of the book," the Holy Scriptures, one portion of revelation was not left for the prophet of God to speak or for the inspired pen to write. The Lord proclaimed His holy law with His own voice, and gave to men a copy "written with the finger of God." Moses said of this:
' “The Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice. 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." Deut. 4:12, 13.
This display of majesty and glory indescribable was designed to teach how sacred and holy is the law, and to cause men to fear to transgress its precepts. Ex. 20:20.
It was not for themselves alone that the law was committed to Israel. They were to teach the truth to others. As the New Testament says, it was greatly to their advantage that “unto them were committed the oracles of God.” Rom. 3:2. But they "received the lively oracles to give unto us." Through obedience to the divine law, they were to be a light to the nations.
“Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them?” Deut. 4:6, 7.
An interesting comment upon these words is supplied by a speech of Phalerius, librarian to Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt. Urging the king by all means to secure copies of the sacred books of the Jews for his great library in Alexandria, Phalerius said:
“Now it is necessary that thou shouldst have accurate copies of them. And indeed this legislation is full of hidden wisdom, and entirely blameless, as being the legislation of God; for which cause it is, as Hecateus of Abdera says, that the poets and historians make no mention of it, nor of those men who lead their lives according to it, since it is a holy law, and ought not to be published by profane mouths.”- Josephus, “Antiquities,” book 12, chap. 2, sec. 4.
Unfaithful as the Jewish people oftentimes were, yet through their testimony and the dealings of God with them, the fame of the living oracles was spread abroad among the ancient nations.
One God - One Moral Standard "There is one Lawgiver.” James 4:12. He is ever the same, and His law is the standard of righteousness for all mankind. There was not one moral standard before Christ and another after. Christ's death upon the cross because man had broken the law, is the divine testimony to all the universe that God's law can never be set aside nor its force suspended. Jesus opened His public teaching with the declaration:
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 5: 17-19.
The moral law of ten commandments is one code, every precept equally sacred and equally binding:
“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.
The law of God still speaks with all the force of that voice from Sinai, and it speaks to every soul on earth: