Sunday: God’s Laws and Regulations

The word torah is a commonly used Hebrew word in the Old Testament and is often translated as law.

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The New Testament uses the Greek, nomos, (law) to translate torahTorah means ‘direction’ or ‘guidance’. Because the Bible is a record of God’s relationship with humans, law in the Bible generally refers to all of God’s instructions to His people. Because God Himself is good and righteous, and guides and instructs His people in goodness and righteousness, we rightly assume that His law reveals His goodness and righteousness. Or, as we like to say, the law is a reflection of God’s character.

What do the following texts tell us about the law and, ultimately, about God? Ps. 19:7-8Rom. 7:12Ps. 119:151-152172.

It is by way of the Bible that God has explicitly revealed Himself to humankind. As one reads through the sacred texts, one comes across an abundance of materials that are, basically, directions or instructions that cover many aspects of human life: morality, ethics, health, sexuality, diet, work, et cetera. Some of these instructions are clearly universal; others appear to be more limited in time and scope. But because all of them are God’s instructions (torah), the greatest care is needed in the development of principles that help us to understand what is universal and what is limited. Seventh-day Adventists and many other Christian groups generally make a distinction between ‘ceremonial’ laws (regulations that teach the plan of salvation by symbols and ritual practices), ‘civil’ laws (instructions regarding the community life of the nation of ancient Israel), and ‘moral’ laws (instructions of God’s pattern of conduct for humanity).

The book of Leviticus contains a great deal of ceremonial laws, especially with regard to the sanctuary service and its ritual system. The nature of civil laws and the principle of justice underlying them can be seen, for example, in Exodus 23:1-9. Then there is the moral law, the Ten Commandments, which most Christians (in theory at least) believe are still God’s law for all humanity.

Look through Exodus 23:1-9. What universal moral principles can we take from what was given specifically to ancient Israel?



Sunday: God’s Laws and Regulations — 5 Comments

  1. Are we supposed to keep moral, ceremonial and civil laws? If not, how about the mode of eating and dressing as it elaborated in the book of Leviticus?

    • I agree. Those three neat divisions would only seem to work for those who don't actually read or study their Bibles. In the case of some laws, it can be difficult to determine just one "box" into which to place them. And what about the dietary laws? Where do they fit in? Also, I find a great deal of moral instruction in addition to the Ten Commandments. I have to wonder just what is accomplished by the kind of oversimplification which we see in this lesson.

      There are laws which are plainly ceremonial, and we know those are obsolete. We know that God wrote the Ten Commandments on tables of stone. Beyond that, do we need to evaluate each law by the exercise of a kind of sanctified common sense?

  2. Good question Samson. The way I understand it is the the only laws that were done away with are the ones that pointed toward the cross, such as passover and the feast days. The diet and dress laws do not point towards the cross. therefore they were not a shadow of things to come like the feast days were. Colossians 2:13-17

  3. [Moderator's Note: Please use full names when commenting.]

    Jesus said not one jot or title of the law shall pass until all is complete. In Romans 3:31 Paul said, do we nullify the law by this faith? Heavens no, we uphold the Law". Nowhere in the Bible will you find the Law categorized into ceremonial, civil, or other categories. God's Law isn't meant as a check list, but it all still applies to whom it was given. Much of the Law was given specifically to the Levites. Christ brought much of the Law to its fullest meaning and he fully preached the Law of God. So does this mean we we walk as Christ walked and keep the seventh day Sabbath and feasts that memorialize what Christ has done as the fulfillment of God's Law? The 1st century Christians did. Polycarp, Bishop of smear na did. And so do I.


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