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THE WORD OF GOD

A CONSIDERATION OF GOD'S UNCHANGING LAW 1

By Aldwyn Lake

THEME: TITLE:

THE WORD OF GOD A CONSIDERATION OF GOD'S UNCHANGING LAW 1

PRIMARY TEXT: EXODUS 19-20:23

INTRODUCTION On a previous occasion, I pointed out, from the scripture, that God enacted a New Covenant with Israel and the rest of the world, and that this New Covenant is different from and better than the Old. The differences observed are that: 1. Whereas in the Old, fallen humanity, in the people of the nation Israel, would become the people of God only on the condition of an external obedience to all that He commanded them, Exodus 19:5-6, in the New, members of fallen humanity will become God's people by Him crediting to their account, full obedience of the Law upon their faith in Jesus Christ, Romans 3:21-22. 2. Whereas in the Old, God summarized His Law and wrote them on tablets of stone, Exodus 20:1-17, in the New God places the whole Law in the heart of all who are made God's people, Hebrews 8:7-12. In addition to that I previously pointed out that in our time some persons who describe themselves as the only true worshipers of God, have failed to recognize, acknowledge or accept the New Covenant and are seeking to be accepted by God, by endeavoring to keep the Law in accordance with the terms of the Old, that which God has already abolished. Another observation made was that there are others who have misunderstood the terms of the New Covenant and have concluded that they do not have an obligation to observe God's Law (the Ten Commandments). They base this conclusion on a misunderstanding of the scripture. They conclude that once they have been made the children of God by belief in Christ as their Lord and Saviour and are not under the Old Covenant, they are not obligated to keep the Ten Commandments because it was given as part of that covenant. In that regard they quote but misapply the words of the apostle Paul, "we are

By Aldwyn Lake

not under law but under grace". (Romans 6:14) Both these groups and their practices are wrong. In this and the other articles that I will present under the heading of God's Unchanging Law, I will seek to represent the biblical understanding of how any person who claims to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, under the terms of the New Covenant, is to relate to the written summary of God's Law - the Ten Commandments. In so doing, I will seek to address the nature of and purpose for God's Law. Before addressing those areas, however, I will like to consider the circumstances surrounding the giving of the Law. THE CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE GIVING OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS This is important because there are vital lessons to be learnt from those circumstances that would aid our understanding and obedience. The first thing I will consider is the fact that it is God who called the people into His presence that He might speak to them. This is always the case. It is always God who calls. We are the ones who always go away and go astray. Out of His grace, even at that time, He called and He still calls. He called them back to speak to and reason with them, giving them the rule for an acceptable life in His presence, as He does with us today. Before they could approach the presence of God, however, they were required to make adequate preparations. They were required by God to undergo a period of outward physical cleansing. In that regard God said to Moses, Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments, and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai, in the sight of all the people. (Exodus 19:10-11) In this we see that God requires that we must make adequate preparation to enter into His presence. It was required then and exhibited by the external cleansing stipulated by God. It is still required now, as that exhibition would have been a picture of what God requires perpetually and spiritually; God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Adequate preparation will primarily be of a spiritual nature, therefore. It must be noted, however, that in coming to worship God at the stated
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meetings and assembly of His people, we must take the time to properly prepare ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually, remembering the nature of the One with whom we have to do. In that regard this cleansing requirement also pictures to us the holiness or purity of God that forbids anything unclean to enter into or stand in His presence. The next thing that must be considered is Gods fearful and dramatic manifestation of Himself in appearing to the people to present His Law. Gods appearance was accompanied by a thick cloud, thunder, flashes of lightning, the loud sounding of a trumpet, fire and earthquake (Exodus 19:16-18). This shows that God is superior to us in every respect and His presence elicits a sense of awe, of fear and of trembling. We need also to bear in mind that as the giving of the Law was accompanied by such an aweinspiring manifestation, His standing to judge any breaking of it will be a much more fearful encounter to those who will be judged. That truth is also presented in the scripture, for although there are many other occasions when it is said that God spoke, this is the only occasion when His speaking was accompanied by these external phenomena, and the only other time that these fearsome activities are said to attend Gods speaking, is when He will come in judgment at the end of the world, (Revelation 11:18-19). This should cause us to attach a great deal of importance to Gods giving of the Law. We see here that God had spoken directly without a mediator and when the people heard the voice of God it elicited fear, trembling, a sense of unworthiness and condemnation. This is what will always result if God deals with us without a mediator. We will always stand condemned before His awful presence in fear and trembling, awaiting His judgments (Exodus 20:18-19). It is only when a mediator is provided that we can stand and listen to the voice of God. At that time Moses was provided as the mediator and it was given to him to approach the presence of God and listen to His voice. Moses was the picture of Christ, the true mediator between God and man who was yet to come. It is only through Him, Jesus Christ, that any sinner can approach God to stand in His presence and listen to His voice.

By Aldwyn Lake

On that occasion in the giving of the Law God did not only speak, but He also wrote it Himself. We have no other occasion recorded for us in the scripture where it is said that God wrote with His own fingers, (Exodus 24:12; 32:15-16). This Law of God was given in a way that no other word of God was given. In this it appears that God intended that the occasion stand out and create an unforgettable impression on the minds of those who witnessed it and also on the mind of every succeeding generation of mankind. This appears to be consistent with God intending that this Law be not only applicable for a short period of time to the nation Israel, which He had made His favoured nation, nor was it intended for them only throughout their generations, but that it was binding upon every generation of mankind until the end of the world. This must be so because it is His only rule of government by which the life and practices of mankind are regulated, both with respect to his relationship to God Himself and to his fellow men. It is therefore a perpetual and all embracing Law. In this the Law reflects the holy and unchanging character of God, for it to change or for it to be no longer binding upon all humanity for all times, the character of God must first change. Since there will never be any change in the character of God there will never be any change in the rule of His government. Mankind will always be required to obey it. As His character is unchanging, so is His Law. This rule of Gods government was written on stone by God at that time but before, it was written upon the heart of man when he was created. It was the rule of Law by which he was to live then and it is still the rule by which he is to live today. By his disobedience, however, created man violated and corrupted the Law that was written in his heart and he had no means by which to repair the damage. As a consequence, his life thereafter has been governed by a corrupted Law within him. The writing of the Law upon tablets of stone by God, puts it in a place where it will be ever before mans eyes and where he cannot reach out and corrupt it. In this way it remains the objective Law of God to which unconditional obedience is demanded.

By Aldwyn Lake

We have seen that at Mount Sinai God spoke and wrote the Law Himself. Even more than that, God also made provision for the preservation of the written Law. It is for this Law alone that God instructed an ark be built, into which it was deposited, guarded by cherubim and secured in the innermost part of the tabernacle. This level of attention was never accorded any other spoken word of God, indicating its importance and perpetuity in His divine government. (Ex.25:18-21) THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE WRITTEN LAW As the law is held up against the nation Israel and all those who are seeking to attain to Gods righteousness by keeping it, it is to them a ministration of condemnation. This is so because they will always fall short of fulfilling it perfectly and once that happens, the Law condemns, it will not justify. The conclusion is that contrary to those who say that we are not required to live by the Law of God, referring to the Ten Commandments, the scripture clearly teaches that God requires and will accept nothing less. Since their belief is not consistent with scripture, following them will put us at variance with God. We are to live by Gods law. Gods rule will always be Thou Shalt Not Steal, for example. To those who object and ask, Has not the Law been fully abolished by the coming of Jesus Christ into the world? Why then should any church seek to bring their members under this heavy yoke of bondage which none has ever been able to bear, especially since the New Testament expressly declares that we are not under Law but under grace? The answer is: So far from the Law being abolished by the coming of Jesus Christ, He stated to the contrary, that He did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it and that til heaven and earth passes away, not one jot or tittle shall pass from the Law til all be fulfilled (Matt. 5:17-18). Seeing that He has already fulfilled it, under the covenant of works, and as He was not condemned by it, the Christians, those who are described as being in Him; His true disciples, are not under the Law as a Covenant of Works to attain to righteousness nor as a ministration of condemnation. Rather, they are under it as their only rule of life and as their means of sanctification. Obedience to it is to be their delight and necessary expression of love for God their Father and only Law Giver. All who would please God as His children are therefore obligated to keep the Law, which He has written in their hearts.
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