The Role of the Law



Ex. 24:12 And Yahweh said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.

Ex. 31:18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of Elohim.

Ex. 32:16 And the tables were the work of Elohim, and the writing was the writing of Elohim, graven upon the tables.

Ex. 34:1, 28; Deut. 4:13; 5:22; 9:11

Deut. 10:1 At that time Yahweh said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me into the mount, and make thee an ark of wood.

Deut. 10:2 And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark.

Deut. 10:3 And I made an ark of shittim wood, and hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having the two tables in mine hand.

Deut. 10:4 And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the Ten Commandments, which Yahweh spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and Yahweh gave them unto me.


Deut. 10:5 And I turned myself and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as Yahweh commanded me.

Ex. 25:16 And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.

Ex. 25:21 And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.

Ex. 40:20 And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark:

We see by the preceding references that there was a law written upon tablets of stone by Yahweh Himself and placed inside the Ark of the Covenant. Later, when the time was right (Gal. 4:4), Yahweh intended to write His laws upon something other than stone. In Ezek. 11:19 and 36:26, Yahweh said He was going to replace our old stony heart with a heart of

flesh, and according to Jer. 31:31-33, He would write His law on this new heart of flesh. This was pointing to the New Covenant according to Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16 which says:

Heb. 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Yahweh; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them an Elohim, and they shall be to me a people:

Heb. 10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith Yahweh, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;

The purpose and result of this would be:

Ezek. 11:20 That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their Elohim.

Ezek. 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Heb. 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Yahweh; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them an Elohim, and they shall be to me a people:

Heb. 8:11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying, Know Yahweh: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

Heb. 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

Heb. 10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

Let us now consider another aspect of the law that is most often understood to be the same as we have been considering above. There is, however, a distinction made in the Scriptures. What we have looked at previously was said to have been written by Yahweh Himself and put inside the ark. That which follows is said to have been written by Moses, and placed, not in the ark, but beside the ark.


Ex. 24:4 And Moses wrote all the words of Yahweh, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.

Ex. 34:27 And Yahweh said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.

Deut. 31:9 And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh, and unto all the elders of Israel.

Deut. 31:24 And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished,

Deut. 31:25 That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of Yahweh, saying,

Deut. 31:26 Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of Yahweh your Elohim, that it may be there for a witness against thee.

Notice where Moses instructed the Levites to put the Book of the Law he had written. Not in the Ark, but “in the side” of the Ark of the Covenant (KJV). Or, as the NKJV, NASB and NIV has it “beside the Ark.”

This is evidently the “book of the law” that was found in the house of Yahweh by Hilkiah the high priest and given to Shaphan to deliver to King Josiah. There are several reasons why I believe this. (1) The ark was in the Most Holy place and only the high priest went into it once a year on the Day of Atonement. They were at this time doing repair work on the temple. (2) No one was permitted to open the ark to look inside. You may recall what happened to the men of Bethshemesh when they looked into the ark (1 Sam. 6:19). (3) Uzzah was struck down for putting his hand on the ark to steady it when the oxen stumbled (2 Sam. 6:6, 7). (4) They found the book of the law, not two stone tablets.

Notice the reaction of King Josiah when the book was read to him.

2Kings 22:10 And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.

2Kings 22:11 And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.

2Kings 22:12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king’s, saying,

2Kings 22:13 Go ye, enquire of Yahweh for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of Yahweh that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.

There is nothing in the Ten Commandments (ten, not nine) to cause such a reaction from the king. There is plenty, however, in the book of the Law of Moses that was put beside the ark. This book of the law set forth the penalties and judgments that would be visited upon the people for their transgression of the eternal law of Yahweh contained on the stone tablets. King Josiah no doubt realized that Israel was about to experience the judgment of Yahweh as set forth in Deut. 28:15-68; 32:1-43, among others.

The Law of Yahweh and the penalties for breaking it existed long before Moses went up on Mount Sinai. Permit me to give a few examples. If there was no law against murder, why did Cain suffer the judgment of Elohim for killing Abel (Gen. 4:8-14)? If the law did not exist in the time of Noah why did Yahweh send the flood to destroy mankind (Gen. 6:11-13)? If the law was not in existence before Sinai, how did Noah know which animals were clean and which were unclean (Gen. 7:1-8)?

Now a question for those who say the law was only for Israel. What laws were Sodom and Gomorrah guilty of breaking, and whose laws were they (Gen. 18:16 through 19:25)? If they were not Yahweh’s, what right did He have to judge them?

Ex. 19:1 In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.

Ex. 19:2 For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount.

Ex. 19:3 And Moses went up unto Elohim, and Yahweh called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;

Did you notice what it says in the references above? The Israelites left Egypt on the 15th day of the first month (Ex. 12:1-18), and arrived at Sinai on the 15th day of the third month.

We have an interesting story in Exodus chapter sixteen. It appears the people were hungry and discouraged and they began to murmur against Moses and Aaron. This is when Yahweh began to send Manna. You need to read the whole chapter but I would like to comment on a few verses of this chapter.

Notice verse 28:

Ex. 16:28 And Yahweh said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?

Wait a minute! Somebody told me that law was not given until Moses received it at Sinai. This took place a whole month before they arrived at Sinai. Let us read Ex. 16:1 for proof.

Ex. 16:1 And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.

They did not arrive at Mount Sinai until the third month (Ex. 19:1). Now back to chapter 16.

Ex. 16:22 And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.

Ex. 16:23 And he said unto them, This is that which Yahweh hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto Yahweh: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.

Ex. 16:24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.

Ex. 16:25 And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a Sabbath unto Yahweh: to day ye shall not find it in the field.

Ex. 16:26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none.

Ex. 16:27 And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.

Ex. 16:28 And Yahweh said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?

Ex. 16:29 See, for that Yahweh hath given you the Sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.

Ex. 16:30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

Here we have the children of Israel observing the Sabbath a whole month before Moses went up on Mount Sinai. Could this be why the fourth Commandment says, remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Ex. 20:8)? They were admonished to remember something they already knew. The Law of Yahweh has always been, and always shall be, binding on mankind.

Now let’s take a look at what Yahweh said to Isaac concerning his father Abraham.

Gen. 26:4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;

Gen. 26:5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

Do you realize the significance of what we just read? This informs us that Abraham was keeping Yahweh’s commandments, statutes and laws centuries before the nation of Israel existed. Is it possible that there was a ‘law’ given at Sinai that had not been in effect previously? Perhaps a ‘law’ that was added because of transgressions of the law and commandments that had been in effect for centuries? I’ll comment on this later.

We have seen thus far that the Eternal has always had laws and commandments to which people were held accountable. As already noted, even Abraham was commended for his obedience

to these laws and commandments. Remember, it was to Abraham that the promise was made that through his seed (the Savior) all nations would be blessed (Gen. 22:18; Gal. 3:16). It is through the death, burial and resurrection of this Seed (descendant) of Abraham that we can have the opportunity for eternal life. But how was Yahweh going to accomplish this? We all know the story so I will just touch on the high points.

Yahweh knew when He created man that he would sin and need to be redeemed. He called Abram, whom He later renamed Abraham, and the descendants of Abraham became the nation of Israel, through whom the Messiah, our Savior was born. But I am getting ahead of the story.

The descendants of Abraham came to spend some four hundred years in Egypt. It finally got so hard on them that they began to cry out to the Creator for deliverance. Yahweh answered their cry by sending Moses and Aaron to bring them out. This is the multitude of people we find at Mount Sinai beginning with chapter nineteen of the book of Exodus.

I do not believe Yahweh made a list of new laws and gave them to Moses to give to the people. I believe He codified the laws that He had ordained from the beginning. I have previously shown in this writing where judgment came upon transgressors of Yahweh’s laws before Sinai.

We find the fourth commandment alluded to in the story of creation where the Creator sanctified the seventh day of the week (Gen. 2:1-3). Here is what sanctified means according Brown, Driver, Brigg’s Hebrew Dictionary:

H6942 qâdâsh, sanctified

BDB Definition:

1) to consecrate, sanctify, prepare, dedicate, be hallowed, be holy, be sanctified, be separate
1a) (Qal) 1a1) to be set apart, be consecrated 1a2) to be hallowed

Yahweh set the seventh day apart from the previous six before there was a nation of Israel. Indeed, did not our Savior say the Sabbath was made for man? Notice, He did not say for the Jew only, but for man.

Mark 2:27 And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath:

Notice the following scriptures speaking of the law.

Psa. 19:7 The law of Yahweh is perfect,

Rom. 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

Rom. 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

Rom. 7:22 For I delight in the law of Elohim after the inward man:

1John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of Elohim, when we love Elohim and keep his commandments.

1John 5:3 For this is the love of Elohim, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous (burdensome, NKJV, NASB).

John says Elohim’s commandments are not burdensome. Now notice the reference from Acts chapter fifteen where Peter seems to say the law was a yoke they were not able to bear.

Acts 15:10 Now therefore why tempt ye Elohim, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

Col. 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross [stake];

I have heard from many that this means the totality of the law was nailed to the cross [stake] and done away with. Question number 1: What is there about the Ten Commandments that’s against us and contrary to us? They seem to me to be a set of rules governing our conduct toward Yahweh and our fellow man. Question number 2: Why would a law that was perfect, spiritual, holy, just, and good be nailed to the cross [stake] and taken out of the way (Psa. 19:7; Rom. 7:12, 14)? One would think that following such a law would prove beneficial to society.

What was it then that was nailed to the cross [stake] and taken out of the way? To what was Peter referring when he said, “… to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” Think back to Paul’s statement in Rom. 7:22, “For I delight in the law of Elohim after the inward man:” Would he delight in something that was a yoke they were not able to bear? I seriously doubt it, don’t you? How do we then reconcile these seemingly contradictory statements? The obvious answer is that they are referring to a different law, a law that was added to the eternal law of the Eternal Creator.

I believe I have adequately shown that Yahweh has always had His laws and commandments as a standard of conduct for mankind. This, I believe, is the law that was codified at Sinai. I also maintain that Yahweh knew from the beginning that man would sin and need a Savior. When He brought Israel to Sinai He codified His already existing law and added the sacrificial, ritual law as a temporary solution to the sin problem until the promised seed of Abraham came as the permanent solution. It was this sacrificial, ritual system that was the unbearable yoke referred to by Peter in Acts 15, and the handwriting of ordinances that were against us, contrary to us and nailed to the cross [stake] referred to by Paul in Col. 2:14.

Gal. 3:19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

Now would be a good time to give the biblical definition of sin.

1John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

I will now quote several more verses from this chapter and insert in brackets the above definition of sin where the word sin appears in the text.

1John 3:5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our [transgressions of the law]; and in him is no [transgression of the law].

1John 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him [transgresses not the law]: whosoever [transgresses the law] hath not seen him, neither known him.

1John 3:8 He that committeth [transgression of the law] is of the devil; for the devil [transgressed the law] from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of Elohim was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a world wholly governed by the perfect, holy, just, good and spiritual law of Yahweh? I believe Yahweh’s people should follow His law as closely as they possibly can, not in an effort to earn salvation, because that is not possible, for salvation comes only through and by the death, burial and resurrection of our Savior, Yahshua the Messiah. But what is wrong with obeying His law because we are saved and love Him? Notice what the Scriptures say.

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

1John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of Elohim, when we love Elohim, and keep his commandments.

1John 5:3 For this is the love of Elohim, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous [burdensome].

This writing is by no means intended to be an exhaustive exposition of the law, but a brief explanation of different aspects of Yahweh’s law as I understand it. We need to pay close attention to the context of scriptures that speak of the law. The basis of the law is, of course, the Ten Commandments. Much of the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) consists of instructions on the proper understanding and application of the principles of the Ten Commandments, along with the judgment upon those who transgress. We need to keep in mind that it was the sacrificial, ritual law that was an unbearable yoke that was done away in Messiah. He was the once-for-all, all-sufficient sacrifice for sin [transgression of the law]. The sacrificial law pointed forward to His coming, and, when He came and died, was buried and resurrected they were done away, or as Paul said in Col. 2:14, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross [stake].”

Isa. 42:21 Yahweh is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honorable.

Consider the meaning of ‘magnify.’

H1431 gâdal, magnify

BDB Definition:

1) to grow, become great or important, promote, make powerful, praise, magnify, do great things
1a) (Qal) 1a1) to grow up 1a2) to become great 1a3) to be magnified

Rom. 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? May that never be so: yea, we establish the law.

Take a look at the definition of ‘establish.’

G2476 histēmi, establish

Thayer Definition:

1) to cause or make to stand, to place, put, set
1a) to bid to stand by, [set up]
1a1) in the presence of others, in the midst, before judges, before members of the Sanhedrin
1a2) to place
1b) to make firm, fix establish
1b1) to cause a person or a thing to keep his or its place
1b2) to stand, be kept intact (of family, a kingdom), to escape in safety
1b3) to establish a thing, cause it to stand
1b3a) to uphold or sustain the authority or force of anything
Part of Speech: verb

Can we say with the Apostle Paul, “For I delight in the law of Elohim after the inward man” (Rom. 7:22)?

G4913 sunēdomai, delight

Thayer Definition:
1) to rejoice together with (another or others)
2) in the NT once to rejoice or delight with one’s self or inwardly

May Yahweh grant us understanding of His Word.

L. Lawhorn