Monday, January 17, 2011

The Torah and The Ten Commandments

The Bible Says in Matthew 5:19, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."

Negating the fact that the law 'in its entirety' was fulfilled and nailed to the cross when Jesus died, Seventh-day Adventists enforce the Ten Commandments because they say that they are God's eternal moral laws. It is true that moral laws are still enforced today but moral laws were in effect through the conscious before the written law was given on Mt. Sinai. Seventh-day Adventists maintain this position because they buy into the division of the law into categories such as moral, civil and ceremonial. They also maintain this posture because included in the Ten Commandments is the 7th day Sabbath command, which according to their teaching, is the end-time test and seal for those who will be saved. 

According to the teachings of the Adventist church, only the ceremonial laws (sacrifices, etc.) were nailed to the cross.  The irony is that the 7th day Sabbath commandment positioned in the middle of the Ten Commandments is a ceremonial law.  Furthermore, no where in the Bible will we find that the Ten Commandments are God's eternal moral laws. The Bible Says in 1 Cor. 13:13 NLT, "Three things will last forever -- faith, hope and love -- and the greatest of these is love."  The Bible also says, the Ten Commandments was a covenant statement between God and the children of Israel. The covenant statement summarized the entire law or Torah, which consisted of 613 commands including the Ten Commandments.

The Bible Says in Exodus 34:28 (NIV), “Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant--the Ten Commandments.” (emphasis mine)

Although man has taken the liberty to categorize God's law, God did no such thing.  In fact, He told the Israelites that they were to keep ALL his laws, decrees and commands. They were a unit and could not be separated. If the Israelites broke one of these 613 laws, they were guilty of breaking them all.  

During my studies, I found no division of the law so out of curiosity I decided to inquire of a Rabbi via email to see if his answer agreed with what I had learned in Scripture. Why a Rabbi? Because they were given the law and are an authority regarding its purpose and interpretation.  Following is a copy of the email correspondence: 

From: Patricia Allen
I understand that the Torah consists of 613 laws including the Ten Commandments. Are the 613 commandments considered a unit or are there categories like civil, moral and ceremonial laws? When Scripture speaks of The Law is it speaking of the entire law (Torah)? Can the Ten Commandments be separated from the Torah?

Thanks for your response.

Shalom Patricia,
I like your question, as there are some very important key concepts contained within, important to Jews, and important to non-Jews. You have classified yourself as a ben Noach, which is quite correct, as anyone who is not Jewish is under G-d's Noachide Covenant. It is a positive thing to identify oneself honestly and straightforwardly as a ben Noach for this is the direction G-d wants every non-Jew to take. BTW: One should not think that G-d's Noachide Covenant is a simple set of seven laws. It is nothing of the kind. It is an entire way of thinking, an entire way of living, and it is a philosophical and intellectual exercise without end.

As to the Ten Commandments, there is no such thing. I realize that everyone thinks it is the Ten Commandments, and therefore calling it anything else would be troublesome, and as so even most knowing people stick to the title. However, the Hebrew term for "Ten Commandments" would be, "Aseres Mitzvos," and that is NOT what these commandments are called. They are called the "Aseres HaDibros," the Ten STATEMENTS. The Rambam (Maimonides) explains to us that the Aseres Hadibros are actually 14 commandments, couched within Ten Statements.

You ask if the Aseres Hadibros stand alone away from the Torah, away from the 613? No, they do not. They are a reflection of G-d's complete law to the Jewish people. The 613 do not stand alone either. AND, the Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noach (Seven Laws of Noah) also do not stand alone. G-d's covenants to the Jews and to the rest of humankind are all encompassing modes of daily behavior. What needs to be clearly understood is that G-d's laws to the Jewish people are NOT the same as G-d's laws to everyone else, and a person is to learn and follow HIS set of laws, be they Jewish or Noachide. He is not to become confused and think he is to follow the other person's rules.

The laws making up BOTH G-d's Jewish and Noachide covenants were both given over at Sinai, and are both incorporated within G-d's Torah. The key to understanding those laws, both Jewish and Noachide, lie with the knowledgeable and observant of the recipients of those laws at Sinai, that is, the Jews. The Aseres HaDibros (Ten Statements) are NOT incumbent upon a ben Noach, and there are sections, such as Shaboos observance, which is not even allowed for a ben Noach. However, righteousness can be achieved BOTH by a Jew and by a ben Noach if he understands and follows his own set of rules, and makes them the basis for his continual improvement throughout his life.

I do hope this is helpful.

Regards, Eliahu Levenson

What the Rabbi cites is indeed compatible with Scripture. Also note that he said that Shaboos Observance (Sabbath Observance) is not even allowed by a Ben Noachide (Gentile). Israelite law was not meant for Gentiles to observe. 
The Bible Says in Ephesians 2:11-13 (NIV), 11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)-- 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” (emphasis mine)

After Jesus shed His blood, died for our sins and rose again, the Gentiles (non-Jews) were given the Good News of the Gospel.  Jesus tore down the dividing wall and all people were invited in.

According to Scripture, the law was first given at Mt. Sinai to the Israelites only.  Gentile Christians were never under the law.  In fact, the entire law had already been nailed to the cross and/or fulfilled before Gentiles were even extended the invitation to hear the Good News of the Gospel.

Romans 2:14-16 reads,  "14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel." (emphasis mine)

The Bible is clear that the law was not given to the Gentiles and it is also clear that the law was given 430 years after Abraham and it was in effect only until Christ the Seed came to fulfill it.

Galatians 3:17, 19 NIV reads, 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise." 19 What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. (emphasis mine)

I believe that the reason there is so much confusion in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church is because of deliberate deceit and the teaching that they (SDAs) are numbered with Israel. The following excerpt is taken from a booklet written by E. B. Jones entitled, “40 Bible-Supported Reasons Why You Should Not Be An SDA”. This is reason 24: The SDAs Teach that They, as a Denomination Are “Numbered with Israel” … “the Representatives of Heaven that Make Up the True Church of Christ”! 

In the book, “Ministry of Healing,” p 405 (edition of 1909), Mrs. White says: “We (or SDAs) are numbered with Israel. All the instruction given to the Israelites of old …, all the promises of blessings through obedience, are for us.” And in the book, Prophets and Kings,: p.74 (edition 1917), Mrs. White says: “wherein they (Israel of old) were weak, even to the point of failure, the Israel of God today (that is, the SDAs), the representatives of heaven that make up the true church of Christ, must be strong; for upon them devolves the task of finishing the work that has been committed to man, and of ushering in the day of final awards.”

The Bible teaches that Israel, the natural ‘seed of Abraham,’ and the Church, the Spirit-begotten ‘body of Christ,” are wholly distinct from the other; ….. When SDAs and other religions take huge portions of Scripture that was intended indisputably and exclusively for Jews both in meaning and application and place it upon themselves, claiming to be Israel, appropriating to themselves Jewish promises and Jewish hopes; and would put the consciences of Christians under the bondage of Old Covenant legalism, they are doing Satan’s work and making Christ’s death in vain.

Abundant blessings as you discover what The Bible Says….

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