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Builders of Faith Explorer I:  Exploring Bible Truth

Lesson 18—God’s Laws Summarized

 

 

1.  How many kinds of God’s Laws are there?

 

Answer:  There is no one right way to divide God’s Laws into categories.  However, attempting to do so can make it easier for us to understand which laws still apply and which do not.  So we summarize God’s Laws in the following manner and seek to make clear which ones apply and which do not:

 

A.  Moral Law:  This includes the Ten Commandments and other laws that reflect God’s revealed will for all people in all cultures and all times.

 

B.  Civil Law:  This includes some penalties for violations of some of the Ten Commandments and other laws concerning property rights, inheritance, treatment of slaves, and so forth.

 

C.  Health Law:  This includes dietary restrictions, but also issues concerning quarantine and sanitation.

 

D.  Typical Ceremonial Law (Sanctuary Law):  In this context, typical law refers to law that points forward in time to the completion of an anticipated event.  In Scripture, this is the Sanctuary Law concerning sacrifices, the priest, the Temple, and so on because all these things pointed toward Jesus and the heavenly sanctuary.  Therefore, such law was designed to be temporary until the antitype came.

 

E.  Untypical Ceremonial Law:  This includes laws that point to spiritual truths but have no antitype per se.

 

F.  Law of the Annual Festivals:  Depending upon how you exactly count them, there were six or seven annual festivals in the Old Testament that pointed to future events and/or spiritual conditions.

 

 

2.  Why should Christians keep the Moral Law?

 

Answer:  The major part of the Moral Law is the Ten Commandments.  As we learned in Lesson #8, we should keep this law partly because the adjectives used to describe the Ten Commandments are also used to describe God Himself.  And since we learned that God’s character never changes, and the Ten Commandments reflect His character, then the Ten Commandments can never be changed either.  Please review Lesson #8 to remind you of several other specific reasons we ought to keep them.

 

 

3.  You mentioned in Question #1 above that Moral Law also includes laws that reflect God’s revealed will for all people in all cultures and all times.  Would you give an example of such a part of the Moral Law?

 

“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman.  It is an abomination.”  Leviticus 18:22.  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”  Genesis 2:24.  “…And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you.”  Isaiah 62:5.  “I [God] will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me….”  Hosea 2:19.

 

Answer:  When God created the first marriage in the Garden of Eden, it was between a man and his wife.  God also compares His relationship with His people as a marriage—that He is the bridegroom and His people are the bride.  Thus it is clear that God wants an intimate, albeit spiritual, relationship with His people.  The most intimate relationship between a man and his wife is the sexual act.  Therefore, the sexual act between a man and his wife is also a spiritual act that mirrors the kind of spiritual intimacy that God wants with His people.  When God created marriage, there were no Jews—simply mankind.  Therefore, God designed marriage and its sexual intimacy to be spiritually significant for all people in all cultures and all time.  Any sexual activity outside of God’s definition of marriage perverts God’s will and is thus sin.  Therefore, homosexual behavior—as well as adultery, casual sex, bestiality, rape, and incest—is sin for all people in all cultures and all times.  It is part of God’s Moral Law.

 

 

4.  Should Christians keep God’s Civil Law?

 

“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.”  Matthew 21:43.  “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people….”  I Peter 2:9.  “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.  If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.’”  John 18:36.

 

Answer:  In Old Testament times, Israel, and then Judah, was God’s kingdom.  As a theocracy, God was supposed to be their Ruler.  But from the Matthew and I Peter texts above, we find that Jesus took His kingdom from the Jewish nation, and His new nation became the Christian Church.  As such, He no longer has an earthly political kingdom.  Civil Law, by definition, are laws made to keep peace and harmony within a political nation and concerns such things as property rights, inheritance, penalties for violations of laws, and so on.  Since God has only a spiritual nation, and not a political one, His Civil Law cannot be applied.

 

 

5.  Would you give an example from God’s Civil Law that no longer applies?

 

“Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord.  Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.  You shall kindle no fire throughout your dwellings on the Sabbath day.”  Exodus 35:2-3.

 

Answer:  Under the Old Testament theocracy, the death penalty was given to anyone who broke the Sabbath commandment.  The death penalty was a civil penalty for violating a spiritual law.  Since God has no theocracy today, the fact that the death penalty no longer applies to Sabbath violations does not mean that the Sabbath has been abolished, as some have incorrectly argued.  Among its violations in those days was creating a fire on the Sabbath.  But remember that creating a fire in those days meant time gathering wood and time to create sufficient friction heat for it to catch on fire.  In other words, it involved much work and time.  But there is a valid principle that still applies:  Prepare food as much as possible before the Sabbath hours arrive on Friday evening.  But turning a gas or an electric stove on to heat something up in our day hardly involves any work or time at all.

 

 

6.  In the previous lesson (Lesson #17), you stated that the Health Law still applies for Christians today.  Would you please review the reason for this conclusion?

 

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”  III John 2.  “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  I Corinthians 6:19-20.

 

Answer:  In the previous lesson, as the texts above remind us, God is just as interested in our physical health as He is in our spiritual health.  Regarding the eating of meat, we discovered that virtually all the unclean animals ate other creatures, garbage, pollutants, and/or their own feces.  Common sense tells you that those would be toxic to humans.  And modern science has confirmed the teaching of the Bible regarding these health laws.  Since there is no difference between an Israeli or Jewish physiology and a Gentile’s physiology, then quite obviously this Health Law is valid for Christians also.  The same is true for the rules concerning quarantining people with contagious disease and the sanitation requirements God gave to Israel.  In fact, if Christian Europeans had shown the respect that the Health Law concerning quarantine and sanitation deserves, the bubonic plague would never have killed anywhere close to 25%-50% of Europe’s population in the 14th century.

 

 

7.  Why don’t Christians observe the Sanctuary Law today, other than the fact that there is no sanctuary of God on earth?

 

Answer:  Even if a Third Temple were rebuilt in Jerusalem or elsewhere on earth, it would have no significance for the Christian believer.  The Sanctuary Law, with its rules for animal sacrifices, priests, and Temple, was typical ceremonial law, meaning that it concerned ceremonies or rituals which pointed forward to the first coming of the Messiah, who would be the ultimate sacrifice and then become the only priest (as our high priest) in the heavenly sanctuary.  So when Jesus fulfilled all of these things—when Type met Anti-Type—the Sanctuary Law was no longer necessary; it had been designed from the beginning to be temporary until Jesus fulfilled the Type.

 

A.  John 1:29:  “…’Behold!  The Lamb [Jesus] of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”—This statement, repeated by John the Baptist in verse 36 of the same chapter, is echoed in I Peter 1:19:  “…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”  Moreover, Jesus is referred to as the Lamb 28 times in the book of Revelation alone.  Obviously, all of the Old Testament animal sacrifices were pointing toward Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice for sin.  Also, when Jesus died on the cross, the veil in the Jerusalem Temple was torn in two from top to bottom by unseen hands (Matthew 27:50-51), signifying that everyone now had open access to God the Father through Jesus.

 

B.  Hebrews 4:14:  “…we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God….”—Moreover, Jesus is the only Priest for Christians:  “…there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing.  But He [Jesus], because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood.”  Hebrews 7:23-24.

 

C.  Hebrews 8:1-2:  “…We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.”—The only sanctuary that counts with God’s people is the Sanctuary in heaven, as seen repeatedly by John in vision in the book of Revelation.

 

 

8.  In what category of God’s Laws does circumcision belong, and why is it no longer required of God’s people?

 

“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart…”  Romans 2:28-29.  “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.”  I Corinthians 7:19.  “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.”  Galatians 5:6.  “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.”  Galatians 6:15.

 

Answer:  Physical circumcision of Israelite males was supposed to represent spiritual circumcision of the heart, according to the Romans passage above.  As such, it was a ceremony or ritual which pointed toward the heart but did not point forward to any Anti-Type.  Thus, it was an untypical ceremonial law.  And the New Testament clearly teaches that physical circumcision is no longer required.  Since this is the case, then none of the other Old Testament cleansing ceremonies pointing toward spiritual cleansing would be valid either.  Besides, it appears that Christian baptism is the Christian cleansing ceremony that is supposed to mirror a spiritual cleansing.

 

 

9.  Does Deuteronomy 22:11 really mean that Christians cannot wear clothes made from different materials?

 

“You shall not sow your vineyard with different kinds of seed, lest the yield of the seed which you have sown and the fruit of your vineyard be [defiled].  You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.  You shall not wear a garment of different sorts, such as wool and linen mixed together.”  Deuteronomy 22:9-11.  (Compare also Leviticus 19:19.)  “Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine woven linen and blue, purple, and scarlet thread….”  Exodus 26:1.  “You shall make a veil woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen.”  Exodus 26:31.  “It [anointing oil] shall not be poured on man’s flesh; nor shall you make any other like it, according to its composition.  It is holy, and it shall be holy to you.”  Exodus 30:32.  “But as for the incense which you shall make, you shall not make any for yourselves, according to its composition.  It shall be to you holy for the Lord.”  Exodus 30:37.

 

Answer:  The Hebrew word translated as “defiled” in verse 9 actually means “holy”.  In the Old Testament context, anything that is holy is set apart for holy use—meaning that it was to be given to the Tabernacle (or later Temple) for use by the priests.  The other passages above reveal that mixed materials were used in the building of the Tabernacle.  Also, the oil and the incense used in the Tabernacle could not be made for any other use because each item was holy.  Therefore, we conclude that the Law of Mixtures was meant to teach people that the Tabernacle was unique.  But since there is no Tabernacle or Temple today—and even if one were built again, it would not be valid—then the Law of Mixtures no longer applies to anyone today.

 

 

10.  Are Christians forbidden to shave the head or beard in certain ways and to have tattoos?

 

“You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard.  You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you:  I am the Lord.”  Leviticus 19:27-28.  “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”  I Corinthians 6:19.

 

Answer:  The context of the above verses show that these practices were associated with certain pagan customs of the Canaanites around God’s people.  Therefore, one may cut his hair or beard today as long as the principles of modesty and ornamentation are kept in mind.  As for cutting the flesh or having tattoos, the Christian believes our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit.  God made us with all the holes in the right places; can we improve on His work?  And tattoos are certainly ornamental in nature no matter what they stand for.  So for that reason, believers should avoid the practice of tattooing the body.

 

 

11.  Some Christians say that we should observe the seven annual festivals taught in the Old Testament because they originated before they were given to Israel.  When did these festivals originate?

 

“Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years….”  Genesis 1:14.

 

Answer:  The Hebrew word for “seasons” in the text above is derived from a word for “appointment” and is variously translated in the Old Testament as “appointed time(s)” or “appointed season(s)”.  It is indeed often used in reference to the annual festivals.  This is the major argument for the belief that the annual festivals were kept by God’s people long before they were given to Israel.  However, the following evidence rebuts this argument:

 

A.  First, the same Hebrew word is also used in connection with natural cycles of time involving when animals know when to migrate, and so forth.  Therefore, the use of that word in Genesis 1:14 is certainly not necessarily a reference to the annual festivals.

 

B.  Second, Genesis 1:14 forms part of the account of the 4th day of Creation week, where the natural way to understand the reference to “seasons” is to the climatic seasons, which are determined by earth’s movement in relationship to the sun.

 

C.  Finally, none of the pre-Flood patriarchs could have observed Passover before the historical night involving the Israelites in Egypt had taken place.  Therefore, we reject the idea that the annual festivals are of Creation origin and thus given for all people to celebrate in all ages.

 

 

12.  What is the origin of the annual festivals, and what does this tell us about Christians keeping or not keeping them?

 

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”  Galatians 3:28-29.  “For He Himself [Jesus] is our peace, who has made both [Jews and Gentiles] one….  …in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord….”  Ephesians 2:14, 21.

 

Answer:  The annual festivals were given to the nation of Israel, beginning with the Passover the night of their exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:43-51) and the other festivals shortly thereafter, as explained in greater detail in Leviticus 23 and elsewhere.  They were given to teach certain salvation truths and events to the nation of Israel.  Although these truths are still valid for Christians, the festivals were given in the context of ancient Israel’s unique history, national identity, and agricultural economy.  That last point means that the timing of each festival was tied directly or indirectly to the agricultural season in the Middle East.  In the specific context of their origin, how can it be said that Christians have to observe these festivals?  Moreover, the passages quoted above explicitly tell us that there is now no spiritual significance to being a literal Jew or Gentile.  Therefore, those laws of God that are not distinctly Moral Law or laws that reflect God’s will for all people in all cultures and times do not need to be observed by anyone now.

 

 

13.  How can Christians be expected to keep the annual festivals when there is no sacrificial system, earthly priesthood, or earthly Temple?

 

Answer:  Every single one of the annual festivals required the sacrifice of at least one animal.  Moreover, often they involve priests and the Tabernacle (or Temple).  Look up the passages in the list below:

 

A.  Passover:  See Exodus 12:1-14 and Deuteronomy 16:1-7.

 

B.  Feast of Unleavened Bread:  See Numbers 28:17-25.

 

C.  Feast of First Fruits:  See Leviticus 23:9-14.

 

D.  Feast of Weeks (Pentecost):  See Leviticus 23:15-21.

 

E.  Feast of Trumpets:  See Numbers 29:1-6.

 

F.  Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur):  See Leviticus chapter 16 and Numbers 29:7-11.

 

G.  Feast of Tabernacles (Booths):  See Numbers 29:12-40 and Leviticus 23:37.

 

Even though we know that early Christians observed at least the Passover beyond the 1st century, we have no record of how they kept it; neither does the Bible give us any indication how to keep the festivals apart from the sacrificial system, earthly priesthood, and earthly sanctuary.  Therefore, we would have to invent a non-Biblical way of observing these festivals, thus placing the Church in the position of having to enforce a manner of observance which lacks the authority of Scripture.

 

 

14.  Doesn’t the Holy Communion service tell us that the festivals no longer need to be observed?

 

“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened.  For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”  I Corinthians 5:7-8.

 

Answer:  As studied in Lesson #14, the unleavened bread and unfermented wine of the Communion service, which occurred at Passover time, represent the body and blood of Jesus, respectively.  So we eat those emblems rather than a roasted lamb since the lamb represented Jesus, the Lamb of God.  It is also evident that the Communion service replaced the Passover because Paul refers to the frequency of this service with the phrase, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup…”, indicating an indefinite frequency in contrast to the annual Passover.  Finally, in the text above, Paul calls on the Church at Corinth to “purge out the old leaven”, specifically referring in context to a church member who was openly living in a sexually immoral relationship.  In other words, Christians should be free from the control of sin (be unleavened).  So when he wrote that we should keep the feast “with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”, he obviously referred to a spiritual and continuous observance rather than to a literal and annual observance of Passover.  And if the Passover festival is not kept literally by Christians, then none of the other festivals need be kept either.  This suggests that early Christians who observed the annual Passover festival did not yet understand that this was unnecessary.

 

 

15.  Is there no spiritual value then for Christians in the annual festivals?

 

Answer:  The conclusion that Christians do not have to observe the annual festivals does not mean that they have no spiritual value for believers.  They do, after all, illustrate spiritual lessons and events in salvation history that are even more important for Christians.  We suggest, but have no authority to require, that the Church could promote spiritual renewal by establishing an annual spiritual calendar to guide in the preparation of Bible lessons and sermons that focus on these salvation themes at the special festival times throughout the year.

 

 

Quiz for Lesson 18—God’s Laws Summarized

 

1.  Which of the following statements about God’s laws accurately reflect Bible teaching? (3)

  The Ten Commandments are at the heart of God’s Moral Law.

  The Old Testament law that provided the death penalty for breaking the Sabbath is an example of God’s Civil Law.

  God’s Civil Law applies whenever believers can get their government to pass them.

  Laws regulating the actions and dress of priests in the Old Testament were examples of God’s Law of the Annual Festivals.

  God’s Health Law included dietary instructions that are still valid for Christians today. 

Answer

The Ten Commandments are at the heart of God’s Moral Law.
The Old Testament law that provided the death penalty for breaking the Sabbath is an example of God’s Civil Law.
God’s Health Law included dietary instructions that are still valid for Christians today.

2.  Any sexual activity outside of God’s definition of marriage, such as homosexuality and casual sex, is sin as a violation of God’s Moral Law. (1)

  True

  False

Answer

True

3.  Which of the following statements about God’s Health Law are true? (3)

  God’s Health Law was meant for Christians too because there is no difference between a Jew’s physiology and that of a Gentile.

  God is just as interested in our physical health as He is our spiritual health.

  The unclean animals eat other animals, garbage, pollutants, and/or their own feces.

  God’s Health Law represents general principles, but the Christian is not under obligation to keep them as strictly as they read in the Bible.

Answer

God’s Health Law was meant for Christians too because there is no difference between a Jew’s physiology and that of a Gentile.
God is just as interested in our physical health as He is our spiritual health.
The unclean animals eat other animals, garbage, pollutants, and/or their own feces.

4.  What should the Christian do if a Third Temple were built in Jerusalem? (1)

  He should go to Jerusalem every Day of Atonement and offer an animal sacrifice.

  He should ignore such a Temple since no earthly Temple would belong to God since Jesus the Lamb has already been sacrificed for our sins.

  He would not have to go to that Temple, but he should pray in the direction of it as a sign of reverence for God’s Temple.

Answer

He should ignore such a Temple since no earthly Temple would belong to God since Jesus the Lamb has already been sacrificed for our sins.

5.  Which of the following statements about the Law of Mixtures are true? (4)

  Cloth of mixed materials was holy and belonged only in the Temple in the Old Testament.

  Christians should not wear clothes consisting of different kinds of material.

  The Law of Mixtures was meant to teach the people that the Tabernacle or Temple was unique.

  Even the formula for making the oil for the Temple was not to be used outside the Temple.

  The Law of Mixtures does not apply now that there is no earthly Temple.

Answer

Cloth of mixed materials was holy and belonged only in the Temple in the Old Testament.
The Law of Mixtures was meant to teach the people that the Tabernacle or Temple was unique.
Even the formula for making the oil for the Temple was not to be used outside the Temple.
The Law of Mixtures does not apply now that there is no earthly Temple.

6.  A Christian may wear a tattoo as long as it is the kind that can be removed. (1)

  True

  False

Answer

False

7.  When and to whom were the annual festivals first given to people in the Bible? (1)

  They were given to all mankind during Creation week, although they are only implied there.

  They were given to the nation of Israel shortly after the exodus from Egypt.

  They were given only to the Jewish people about the time of Ezekiel.

Answer

They were given to the nation of Israel shortly after the exodus from Egypt.

8.  Which of the following statements about the annual festivals are true? (3)

  They pointed to significant spiritual truths and/or events in salvation history.

  They were based on Israel’s history and agricultural seasons.

  Now that Jesus has died, none of them has any spiritual significance today.

  Most of them are explained in the most detail in Leviticus 23.

Answer

They pointed to significant spiritual truths and/or events in salvation history.
They were based on Israel’s history and agricultural seasons.
Most of them are explained in the most detail in Leviticus 23.

9.  Celebrating the annual festivals involved which of the following below? (3)

  Animal sacrifices

  Feasting on good food

  Priests

  Earthly Temple

Answer

Animal sacrifices
Priests
Earthly Temple

10.  What does the Bible teaching about the Communion service tell us about keeping or not keeping the annual festivals as Christians? (2)

  The Communion service seems to be a replacement for the Passover.

  The Passover that Christians should observe is a spiritual and continual observance, not a literal and annual observance.

  Christians are expected to observe both the Communion service and the annual Passover.

Answer

The Communion service seems to be a replacement for the Passover.
The Passover that Christians should observe is a spiritual and continual observance, not a literal and annual observance.