No separation between laws?

Many have felt that Seventh Day Adventists are wrong when they say that there are differences, or divisions within the 613 laws that were given to the nation of Israel. It is claimed by our opponents that all the laws are the same, and that none should be treated differently from the other. Therefore, they conclude, when the New Testament speaks about a law that has been abolished and nailed to the cross, it includes all of the Old Testament laws, including the 10 Commandments. We find this kind of reasoning to be a bit strange since there are instances in the New Testament where Paul or one of the other authors commands their readers to obey one or more of those commandments. For example, Paul says in the following passage:

Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, be obedient to YOUR parents in union with [the] Lord, for this is righteous: 2 “Honor your father and [your] mother”; which is the first command with a promise: 3 “That it may go well with you and you may endure a long time on the earth.”

Yet we read Paul in another instance say that the commandments have been done away with:

Ephesians 2:15 By means of his flesh he abolished the enmity, the Law of commandments consisting in decrees, that he might create the two peoples in union with himself into one new man and make peace;

Yet despite what our critics might want to say, there is a difference here. One of these is a commandment contained within the Decalogue, the 10 Commandments, of which Moses said that God “added nothing; after which he wrote them upon two tablets of stone” –Deut. 5:22.

The other is, says Paul, “consisting in decrees.” There is not one instance in the New or Old Testament where the 10 Commandments are referred to as decrees or ordinances. What was an ordinances had to do with the various laws which dealt with feast days, the services of the priests, the offerings, and the worldly sanctuary. This easy to understand fact is but one example of instances in the bible where it is made crystal clear that there were differences in the laws.

Another one of these is in the fact that….

One is Spiritual while the other is Carnal.

Notice the following verse:

Hebrews 9:9-10 This very [tent] is an illustration for the appointed time that is now here, and in keeping with it both gifts and sacrifices are offered. However, these are not able to make the [man] doing sacred service perfect as respects his conscience, 10 but have to do only with foods and drinks and various baptisms. They were legal requirements pertaining to the flesh and were imposed until the appointed time to set things straight.

There are those ordinances again. Notice How Paul refers to them as “requirements pertaining to the flesh” which means carnal ordinaces. Were the 10 Commandments also carnal… or spiritual? If spiritual, then there is a clear difference between them. Let’s take a look:

Romans 7:14 For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am fleshly, sold under sin.

By reading the context of Romans 7 we know that the law Paul is referring to here is the law of 10 Commandments, because he quotes the 10th one in verse 7. Therefore when he says that the law is spiritual, he is saying that the 10 Commandments are a spiritual law. We here have clear proof that there is a big difference between the laws of decrees, and the moral law of 10 Commandments, for, one is spiritual, and the other is carnal. Our critics have a hard time dealing with this one, but there is more. Notice that a separation is shown even in…

The manner in which they were given

At the foot of the Mount, Moses and the people stand astonished at the thunderous sound of God’s very own voice blasting from the top of Mount Sinai. Suddenly the following words are heard…

Exodus 20:2 I am Jehovah your God, who have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slaves.

Soon after assuring the people that they have been taken “out” of slavery or bondage, God gives them his perfect law. We note that the first time the law was given to the Israelites, it was publicly spoken by God himself. Let’s take a look:

Deut. 4:12-14 And Jehovah began to speak to YOU out of the middle of the fire. The sound of words was what YOU were hearing, but no form were YOU seeing—nothing but a voice. 13 And he proceeded to state to YOU his covenant, which he commanded YOU to perform—the Ten Words, after which he wrote them upon two tablets of stone. 14 And it was I whom Jehovah commanded at that particular time to teach YOU regulations and judicial decisions, for YOU to do them in the land to which YOU are passing over to take possession of it.

Now let’s quickly break these verses down:

In verses 12 and 13 God publicly "began to speak " the Law of Ten Commandment at their hearing: And Jehovah began to speak to YOU out of the middle of the fire. The sound of words was what YOU were hearing…13 And he proceeded to state to YOU his covenant, which he commanded YOU to perform—the Ten Words, after which he wrote them upon two tablets of stone.
But after “speaking” the 10 Commandments, in verse 14 we read that God privately gives Moses the "regulations and judicial decisions" for him to teach the people: “it was I whom Jehovah commanded at that particular time to teach YOU regulations and judicial decisions

If there were no difference, then friends, why were they treated differently?

Not only this, but they were also place in “separate” locations. The 10 Commandments were specifically written on Tablets of Stone, and God himself wrote them (Exodus 31:18). Of course because this is such clear cut proof that there were separations within the laws, our opponents have found ways to attack these facts. Let us examine two of their responses:

Critics Response #1: God stopped speaking the 10 Commandments because the people told him to.To the above we are shown the following verses:

Deuteronomy 5:23-27 “And it came about that as soon as YOU had heard the voice out of the middle of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, YOU proceeded to come near to me, all the heads of YOUR tribes and YOUR older men. 24 Then YOU said, ‘Here Jehovah our God has shown us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the middle of the fire. This day we have seen that God may speak with man and he may actually keep living. 25 And now why should we die, for this great fire may consume us? If we are again hearing the voice of Jehovah our God any further, we are also certain to die. 26 For who is there of all flesh that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the middle of the fire as we did and yet goes on living? 27 You yourself go near and hear all that Jehovah our God will say; and you will be the one to speak to us all that Jehovah our God will speak to you, and we shall certainly listen and do.’

It is true that the people responded this way after hearing the words of the Jehovah, but can it really be said that they caused God to stop speaking? Can we really stop God from doing anything? Some might argue that we can (and we disagree), but let us back up just one more verse and include it in our examination:

Deuteronomy 5:22 “These Words Jehovah spoke to all YOUR congregation in the mountain out of the middle of the fire, the cloud and the thick gloom, with a loud voice, and he added nothing; after which he wrote them upon two tablets of stone and gave me them.

Notice that as soon as God spoke the words, the 10 Commandments, Moses said that God “added nothing; after which he wrote them upon two tablets of stone and gave me them.” In other words, God spoke the 10 Commandments, then stopped speaking. He himself chose not to add any more than those 10. Therefore the out-cry of the children of Israel was not what cause God to cease from speaking his law. They did that soon after God stopped speaking the law and “he added nothing; after which he wrote them upon two tablets of stone.”

Critics Response #2: The 10 Commandments are also written in the book of the law; But it was not written in the book of the law by the finger of God! And that's the difference. Although we find the 10 Commandments in the book of the law, God did not write it there... Moses did. So we still see a separation here. God literally wrote the 10 Commandments alone, and Moses wrote the rest of the law, including the history of Mount Sinai with its giving of the 10 Commandments.

In Deuteronomy chapter 5 we find Moses repeating the law to the children of Israel. But there are a couple of things we should keep in mind. The Israelites that were here present, were not the same ones that were present at mount Sinai. At this point in time, when Moses began reiterating the law to the Israelites, was at the point in which they were just about to enter the promised Land of Canaan. Their “fathers,” the ones that were present at Mount Sinai, all died in the wilderness because of their unbelief. God said that they would not enter the land, but that their children would.

And since the tablets of stone containing the written law was placed inside or “in the” the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:16), it was not visible to these who did not experience the burning mount. Therefore, they “needed” to be “reminded” of what their fathers were taught “before” they entered the Promised Land. From chapter 1 of Deuteronomy to chapter 5 we see Moses rehearsing their history to them, so it shouldn’t of been a surprise that we find the 10 Commandments there again.

But note carefully that there is a difference between the 10 Commandments of Deuteronomy 5 and the original one given in Exodus 20.

The Sabbath commandment is spoken differently:

Compare:Exodus 20:8-11 as originally given by God

“Remembering the sabbath day to hold it sacred, 9 you are to render service and you must do all your work six days. 10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to Jehovah your God. You must not do any work, you nor your son nor your daughter, your slave man nor your slave girl nor your domestic animal nor your alien resident who is inside your gates. 11 For in six days Jehovah made the heavens and the earth, the sea and everything that is in them, and he proceeded to rest on the seventh day. That is why Jehovah blessed the sabbath day and proceeded to make it sacred.

With:Deuteronomy 5:12-15 as rehearsed by Moses

“‘Keeping the sabbath day to hold it sacred, just as Jehovah your God commanded you, 13 you are to render service and you must do all your work six days. 14 But the seventh day is a sabbath to Jehovah your God. You must not do any work, you nor your son nor your daughter nor your slave man nor your slave girl nor your bull nor your ass nor any domestic animal of yours nor your alien resident who is inside your gates, in order that your slave man and your slave girl may rest the same as you. 15 And you must remember that you became a slave in the land of Egypt and Jehovah your God proceeded to bring you out from there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. That is why Jehovah your God commanded you to carry on the sabbath day.

Quite a difference, but the same has been done to the fifth commandment:

Compare:Exodus 20:12 as originally given by God

“Honor your father and your mother in order that your days may prove long upon the ground that Jehovah your God is giving you.

With:Deuteronomy 5:16 as rehearsed by Moses

“‘Honor your father and your mother, just as Jehovah your God has commanded you; in order that your days may prove long and it may go well with you on the ground that Jehovah your God is giving you.
Notice the rest of the law:
Compare:Exodus 20:14-17 as originally given by God

14 “You must not commit adultery.
15 “You must not steal.
16 “You must not testify falsely as a witness against your fellowman.
17 “You must not desire your fellowman’s house. You must not desire your fellowman’s wife, nor his slave man nor his slave girl nor his bull nor his ass nor anything that belongs to your fellowman.”

With:Deuteronomy 5:18-21 as rehearsed by Moses

18 “‘Neither must you commit adultery.
19 “‘Neither must you steal.
20 “‘Neither must you testify to a falsehood against your fellowman.
21 “‘Neither must you desire your fellowman’s wife. Neither must you selfishly crave your fellowman’s house, his field or his slave man or his slave girl, his bull or his ass or anything that belongs to your fellowman.’

The point is that since the original was hidden inside the Ark, Moses had to depend on his memory to be able to rehearse the law once again to the children of the Israelite fathers. Those found in Deuteronomy is “not” the original law, but simple a rehearsing of the original. Therefore if we remove the “book of Moses” along with its recap of history, we still have the original law as spoken by God in Exodus 20. And that the original law as spoken by God will endure forever is made crystal clear by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:19, where he says in regards to the Christian way of living:

1 Corinthians 7:19 Circumcision does not mean a thing, and uncircumcision means not a thing, but observance of God’s commandments [does].

Another distinction between the ceremonial law of circumcision and the commandments of God.

Some have argued that Paul is not taking about any of the 10 Commandments in this chapter, but we disagree. If this entire chapter is read one will quickly notice from the immediate context that Paul is talking about the 10 Commandments:

1 Corinthians 7:1-2 Now concerning the things about which YOU wrote, it is well for a man not to touch a woman; 2 yet, because of prevalence of fornication, let each man have his own wife and each woman have her own husband.

The bible teaches that God’s commandments are “broad” –Psalm 119:96. And since fornication is a sexual sin, it is related to the seventh commandment, the one forbidding adultery. In fact, even a look at the Greek word translated fornication will show this: porneia From G4203; harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively idolatry: - fornication.

Paul is teaching throughout this chapter that it does not matter in what position you are found when you come to the Lord, as long as that in that position you don’t violate God’s commandments. For circumcision is nothing… but keeping God’s commandments IS something (verse 19)!

Another example of a separation between laws if found in Leviticus chapter 23. Here…God himself makes a separation.

When the seventh day Sabbath and the feast days are introduced, God is careful to let them know that the seventh day Sabbath is to be regarded as “separate” from the feast days:

Lev 23:37-38 “‘These are the seasonal festivals of Jehovah that YOU should proclaim as holy conventions, for presenting an offering made by fire to Jehovah: the burnt offering and the grain offering of the sacrifice and the drink offerings according to the daily schedule, 38 besides (Hebrew: separation) the sabbaths of Jehovah and besides YOUR gifts and besides all YOUR vow offerings and besides all YOUR voluntary offerings, which YOU should give to Jehovah.

The literal translation of “beside the sabbaths of the Lord’ means just that… besides the Sabbaths of the Lord! Notice that as God began introducing the ceremonial sabbath feast days, he included the seventh day Sabbath because it too is a “holy convention” –verse 37. But he makes sure they understand that the Sabbath of the Lord and these feast sabbaths are to be regarded as “separate.”

Some have argued that verse 38 is actually making a separation between the offerings of the feast days and the offerings of the Sabbath day. We agree! But that separation is found in the “remaining” portion of verse 38:“…and besides YOUR gifts and besides all YOUR vow offerings and besides all YOUR voluntary offerings, which YOU should give to Jehovah.”

The beginning part of thise verse, however, is a separation between the seventh day Sabbath and the feast sabbaths. Some critics have cited us this same verse but from the New International Version, which reads as follows:

Leviticus 23:38 These offerings are in addition to those for the LORD’s Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the LORD.

However, notice how honest the NIV translators were, that in a footnote at the bottom of this chapter, they gave an alternate way of rendering verse 38:23:38 - These feasts are in addition to the LORD's Sabbaths, and these offerings are..

Its a good thing that their being honest, because not only is this the intended meaning of this verse as rendered by most versions, it is also what the original Hebrew expresses. Literally, the beginning part of verse 38 reads:

Interlinear Scripture Analyzer aside-from sabbaths-of Yahweh and-aside-from gifts-of-you...

So verse 38 is yet another clear fact that there is certiantly a distinction made by God between the sabbath feast days and the “Lord’s Sabbath,” which is the Seventh day Sabbath (see Isaiah 58:13).

Yet the word “besides” is not only used here to separate the feast days from the seventh day Sabbath; it is also used in another location, where a separation is made between the covenant made in Moab (where this book of the law was written) and the covenant made at Sinai.

Deuteronomy 29:1 These are the words of the covenant that Jehovah commanded Moses to conclude with the sons of Israel in the land of Mo´ab aside (hebrew: separation) from the covenant that he had concluded with them in Ho´reb.

Horeb and Sinai are two names for the same location. Note carefully that God once again sets a separation between the covenant given in Moab and that which was given as the 10 Commandments at Mount Sinai. How much clearer can God be!
Some have tried going to Jewish sources to prove their points, but we have chosen not to go to erring man, but to the bible. And the bible is very clear on this point… there are distinctions made between laws in the Old Testament.

Your Thought Questions Answered

Question #1: Isn’t the Sabbath also referred to as an ordinance in Ezekiel 20:19-21?

Answer: At first glance it might seem so, but one must read the whole chapter to get the proper context. When that is done, the reader will notice verses 11-12:
Ezekiel 20:11-12 “‘“And I proceeded to give them my statutes; and my judicial decisions I made known to them, in order that the man who keeps doing them might also keep living by them. 12 And my sabbaths I also gave to them, to become a sign between me and them, in order [for them] to know that I am Jehovah who is sanctifying them.

Note carefully that after mentioning the “statutes and my judicial decisions” in verse 11, verse 12 begins with the words “my sabbaths I also,” showing that God gave the statutes and judgments, then moreover also, or, besides, additionally or furthermore (see your Thesaurus or Dictionary) God gave the Sabbath. A separation is seen within these verses. Therefore when we continue reading and make it to verses 19-20, it will have already been understood that God is speaking about two separate laws.

Question #2: Do you have any other proof that shows that there is a separation between laws?

Answer: Yes. Notice the following few verses:

2 Kings 21:8 And I shall not again make the foot of Israel wander from the ground that I gave to their forefathers, provided only they are careful to do according to all that I have commanded them, even concerning all the law that my servant Moses commanded them.”

Note: A separation is here made with the word “even" being set between the phrase “to do according to all that I have commanded them” and “all the law that my servant Moses commanded them.” If both what God commanded and what Moses commanded were the same, it would have rather said “all that I have commanded” and that’s it.

2 Chronicles 33:8 And I shall not remove the foot of Israel again from off the ground that I assigned to their forefathers, provided only that they take care to do all that I have commanded them concerning all the law and the regulations and the judicial decisions by the hand of Moses.”

Note: Once again the word “and” is placed between what God has commanded (the whole law) and those “regulations and the judicial decisions by the hand of Moses.”

Daniel 9:10-11 And we have not obeyed the voice of Jehovah our God by walking in his laws. And all of Israel have overstepped your law, so that you poured upon us the curse and the sworn oath that is written in the law of Moses.

Note: One of these laws is called “his (God’s) laws,” while the other is called the law “of” Moses.

Question #3: Its true that it was God who gave the law of 10 Commandments. But why are there cases in the bible where it seems to say that it was Moses who gave the 10 Commandments, like Mark 7:10 and John 7:19 for example?

Answer: The word of God does not contradict itself. Don’t forget that the Israelites that went through the Mount Sinai experience died 40 years after, and that Moses had to repeat the whole law to the children of those Israelites just before they entered the land of Canaan. In this way Moses had to “speak” or “give” them the law. But keep in mind that even while the Israelites had to be given the whole law for the second time, he still explains the manner in which God gave it (to them publicly and to Moses privately). Even here they were shown the separation God made between the law of 10 Commandments and the law of Moses. This is clearly seen in Deuteronomy 4:13-14… as already shown above.

Question #4: Christ did not make a distinction?

Answer: Our critics says Christ did not make a distinction between the moral and ceremonial laws. The critics point to Mat 5:17-48 where they say since Christ mixed both laws in the Matt 5 by mentioning, ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth’ with the 10 commandments of the Moral law, there is no separation between the two.

Firstly, we have already seen that there is abundant evidence as to the clear separation between the two laws. There is no question about that & neither is Christ contradicting. It wasn’t unusual for Christ to reveal light on a particular topic that did not confine it to just one event or subject. For instance in Matt 24, Jesus at first speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem and his return and he places the two events in immediate connection. No one could say that Matt 24 is not referring to two separate subjects.

Secondly, Christ did not have to repeat the distinction in this instance because people understood it since it is clearly revealed in the scriptures. Christ infact does make a distinction.

Mark 12:32-34 loving him with ones whole heart and with one’s whole understanding and this loving one’s neighbor as oneself, is worth more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. At this Jesus discerning he had answered intelligently, said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God”.

Note: The principle underlying God's moral 10 commandments is love (i.e. Love for God & love for man). In Mark 12:32-34, Jesus affirmed the distinction between moral and the ceremonial by acknowledging that the man had “answered intelligently”, i.e. love towards God ( first 4 commandments of the moral law) and love towards man (last 6 commandments of the moral law) is worth more than the all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices (which is part of the ceremonial law).

Jesus said, he did not come to “destroy the Law “in Matt 5:17 but to fulfill (keep) it. Fulfilled in Matt 5:17 means to keep it. In Gal 6:2, we are asked to “fulfill” the law of Christ by carrying one another’s burdens. That means we are to keep and not to do away with it.

Paul an apostle of Christ says one law is abolished (Colossians 2:14) and another is established - not abolished (Rom 3:31). Can something vanish away (be obsolete) and be established? It is the blood sacrifices and ceremonies of the Law of Moses that were discontinued, but the Ten Commandment law that remains. Otherwise, you would have a TERRIBLE CONTRADCITON in the New Testament. Therefore Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ knew very well what the master

That is not all. The scriptures says, there is a whole law NOT to be kept; otherwise, he has departed from Christ.

Galatians 5:2, 3 See! I, Paul, am telling you that if you become circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. Moreover, I bear witness again to every man getting circumcised that he is under obligation to perform the whole Law.’”

In Acts 15:5 the law which commands circumcision is called the Law of Moses.

However there is also a whole law to be kept:

James 2:10 to 12: ‘For whoever observes all the Law but makes a false step in one point, he has become an offender against them all. For he who said: “You must not commit adultery,” said also: “You must not murder.” If, now, you do not commit adultery but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of law. Judged by the law of a free people.’

So that circumcision and other parts of the Law of Moses are no longer necessary, but the keeping of the Commandments is? Is it?

That is exactly what Paul conveys in 1 Corinthians 7:19: ‘Circumcision does not mean a thing, and uncircumcision means not a thing, but observance of God’s commandments [does].’

Romans 6:14, 15 Shall we commit a sin (break the law) because we are not under law, never may that happen!

Luke 16:17 It is easier heaven and earth to pass away than for one particle of a letter of the law to go unfulfilled.

Note: If God's law could be changed, it would not have been necessary for Jesus to die on the cross. God could have changed the law & then Christ need not die. But God didn't. Moral law points out sin, ceremonial law was (added because of sin). We still need specific commandments as a definition of God’s will, or we in our ignorance can err. In Romans 7 Paul says that he did not even know it was wrong to covet until he was confronted with the commandment that forbids coveting. Bible is very clear that there is a distinction between the laws.