Lectionary Calendar
Friday, July 19th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
StudyLight.org has pledged to help build churches in Uganda. Help us with that pledge and support pastors in the heart of Africa.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Search for…
Prev Entry
Next Entry
Resource Toolbox
Additional Links

The whole history of the Jews is a riddle if Moses' narrative is not authentic. If it is authentic, he was inspired to give the law, because he asserts God's immediate commission. Its recognized inspiration alone can account for the Israelites' acquiescence in a burdensome ritual, and for their intense attachment to the Scriptures which condemn them as a stiffnecked people. A small, isolated people, no way distinguished for science or art, possessed the most spiritual religion the world has ever seen: this cannot have been of themselves, it must be of God. No Israelite writer hints at the possibility of fraud. The consentient belief of the rival kingdoms northern Israel and Judah, the agreement in all essential parts between the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Pentateuch of the Jews who excommunicated the Samaritans as schismatics, accords with the divine origination of the Mosaic law. Even Israel's frequent apostasies magnify the divine power and wisdom which by such seemingly inadequate instruments effected His purpose of preserving true religion and morality, when all the philosophic and celebrated nations sank deeper and deeper into idolatry and profligacy.

Had Egypt with its learning and wisdom, Greece with its philosophy and refinement, or Rome with its political sagacity, been the medium of revelation, its origination would be attributed to man's intellect. As it is, the Mosaic law derived little of its influence from men of mere human genius, and it was actually opposed to the sensual and idolatrous inclinations of the mass of the people. Nothing short of its origin being divine, and its continuance effected by divine interposition, can account for the fact that it was only in their prosperity the law was neglected; when adversity awakened them to reflection they always cried unto God and returned to His law, and invariably found deliverance (Graves, Pent. ii. 3, section 2). Unlike the surrounding nations, the Jews have their history almost solely in the written word.

No museum possesses sculptured figures of Jewish antiquities such as are brought from Egypt, Nineveh, Babylon, Persepolis, Greece, and Rome. The basis of Israel's polity was the Decalogue, the compendium of the moral law which therefore was proclaimed first, then the other religions and civil ordinances. The end of Israel's call by the holy God was that they should be "a holy nation" (Leviticus 19:2), a meadiatorial kingdom between God and the nations, witnessing for Him to them (Isaiah 43:10-12), and between them and Him, performing those sacrificial ordinances through the divinely constituted Aaronic priests, which were to prefigure the one coming Sacrifice, through whom all the Gentile nations were to be blessed. Thus, Israel was to be "a kingdom of priests," each subject a priest (though their exercise of the sacrificial functions was delegated to one family as their representative), and God was at once civil and spiritual king; therefore all the theocratic ordinances of the Sinaitic legislation were designed to minister toward holiness, which is His supreme law.

Hence, the religious ordinances had a civil and judicial sanction annexed and the civil enactments had a religious bearing. Both had a typical and spiritual aspect also, in relation to the kingdom of God yet to come. While minute details are of temporary and local application their fundamental principle is eternal, the promotion of God's glory and man's good. It is because of this principle pervading more or less all the ordinances, civil and ceremonial alike, that it is not always easy to draw a line between them. Even the moral law is not severed from but intimately bound up with both. The moral precepts are eternally obligatory, because based on God's own unchangeable character, which is reflected in the enlightened conscience; their positive enactment is only to clear away the mist which sin has spread over even the conscience.

The positive precepts are obligatory only because of enactment, and so long as the divine Legislator appointed them to remain in force. This is illustrated in Hosea 6:6, "I desired mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." God did desire "sacrifices" (for He instituted them), but moral obedience more: for this is the end for which positive ordinances, as sacrifices, were instituted; i.e., sacrifices and positive ordinances, as the sabbath, were to be observed, but not made the plea for setting aside the moral duties, justice, love, truth, obedience, which are eternally obligatory. Compare 1 Samuel 15:22; Psalms 50:8-9; Psalms 51:16-17; Isaiah 1:11-12; Micah 6:6-8; Matthew 23:23; Matthew 9:13; Matthew 12:7. Torah ("law") means strictly a directory. Authoritative enactment is implied.

The elements of the law already existed, but scattered and much obscured amidst incongruous usages which men's passions had created. The law "was added because of the transgressions" of it, i.e., not to remove all transgressions, for the law rather stimulates the corrupt heart to disobedience (Romans 7:13), but to bring them out into clearer view (Galatians 3:19; Romans 3:20 end, Romans 4:15; Romans 5:13; Romans 7:7-9), to make men more conscious of their sins as being transgressions of the law, so to make them feel need and longing for the promised Saviour (Galatians 3:17-24), "the law was our "schoolmaster" (paidagoogos , rather guardian-servant leading us to school), to bring us to Christ." The law is closely connected with the promise to Abraham, "in thy seed shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:3).

It witnessed to the evil in all men, from which the promised Seed should deliver men, and its provisions on the other hand were the chief fence by which Israel was kept separate from surrounding pagandom, the repository of divine revelation for the future good of the world, when the fullness of the time should come. The giving of the law marked the transition of Israel from nonage to full national life. The law formally sanctioned, and grouped together, many of the fragmentary ordinances of God which existed before. The sabbath, marriage, sacrifices (Genesis 2; Genesis 4; Exodus 16:23-29), distinction of clean and unclean (Genesis 7:2), the shedding of blood for blood (Genesis 9:6), circumcision (Genesis 17), the penalty for fornication, and the Levirate usage (a brother being bound to marry and raise up seed by a deceased brother's widow, Genesis 38:8; Genesis 38:24) were some of the patriarchal customs which were adopted with modifications by the Mosaic code. In some cases, as divorce, it corrected rather than sanctioned objectionable existing usages, suffering their existence at all only because of the hardness of their hearts (Matthew 19:7-8).

So in the case of a disobedient son (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), severe as is the penalty, it is an improvement upon existing custom, substituting a judicial appeal to the community for arbitrary parental power of life and death. The Levirate law limited rather than approved of existing custom. The law of the avenger of involuntarily-shed blood (Deuteronomy 19:1-13; Numbers 35) mercifully restrained the usage which was too universally recognized to admit of any but gradual abolition. It withdrew the involuntary homicide from before the eyes of the incensed relatives of the deceased. No satisfaction was allowed for murder; the murderer had no asylum, but could be dragged from the altar (Exodus 21:14; 1 Kings 2:28-34). The comparative smallness of that portion of the Sinaitic law which concerns the political constitution harmonizes with the alleged time of its promulgation, when as yet the form of government was not permanently settled.

The existing patriarchal authorities in the family and tribe are recognized, while the priests and Levites are appointed to take wholly the sacred functions and in part also the judicial ones. The contingency of a kingly government is provided for in general directions (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). The outline of the law is given in Exodus 20-23; the outline of the ceremonial law is given in Exodus 25-31. The Decalogue (a term first found in Clement of Alexandria's Pedag. iii. 12) is the heart of the whole, and therefore was laid up in the ark of the covenant beneath the "mercy-seat" or "propitiatory" (hilasteerion ), intimating that it is only as covered over by divine atoning mercy that the law could be the center of the (Romans 3:25-26) covenant of God with us. The law is the reflection of the holy character of the God of the covenant, the embodiment of the inner spirit of the Mosaic code. "The ten commandments" (Hebrew words, Exodus 34:28) are frequently called "the testimony," namely, of Jehovah against all who should transgress (Deuteronomy 31:26-27).

By the law came "the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20; Romans 7:7). Conscience (without the law) caused only a vague discomfort to the sinner. But the law of the Decalogue, when expressed definitely, convicted of sin and was therefore "a ministration of condemnation" and "of death written and engraven on stones" (2 Corinthians 3:7; 2 Corinthians 3:9). Its preeminence is marked by its being the first part revealed; not like the rest of the code through Moses, but by Jehovah Himself, with attendant angels (Deuteronomy 33:2; Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:2); written by God's finger, and on stone tables to mark its permanence. The number ten expresses completeness, perfection (Psalms 19:7; Exodus 27:12 1 Kings 7:27; Matthew 25:1). They were "the tables of the covenant," and the ark, because containing them, was called "the ark of the covenant" (Deuteronomy 4:13; Joshua 3:11). The record in Deuteronomy 5:6-21 is a slight variation of Exodus 20:2-17.

The fourth commandment begins with "keep" instead of "remember," the reason for its observance in Deuteronomy is Israel's deliverance from Egypt instead of God's resting from creation. Deuteronomy is an inspired free repetition of the original in Exodus, suited to Moses' purpose of exhortation; hence he refers to the original, in the fifth commandment adding "as the Lord thy God commanded thee." "And" is inserted as suited to the narrative style which Deuteronomy combines with the legislative. "Desire" is substituted for "covet" in the tenth. None but Moses himself would have ventured to alter an iota of what Moses had ascribed to God in Exodus. The special reason for the fourth, applying to the Israelites, does not interfere with the earlier and more universal reason in Exodus, but is an additional motive for their observing the ordinance already resting on the worldwide basis. Coveting the house in Exodus precedes, but in Deuteronomy succeeds, coveting the wife; evidently all kinds of coveting are comprised in the one tenth commandment.

As the seventh and eighth forbid acts of adultery and theft, so the tenth forbids the desire and so seals the inner spirituality of all the commandments of the second table. The claims of God stand first. The love of God is the true spring of the love of our fellow men. Josephus (contra Apion ii. 17) says: "Moses did not (as other legislators) make religion part of virtue, but all other virtues parts of religion." The order of the ten indicates the divine hand; God's being, unity, exclusive deity, "have no other gods before My face" (Hebrews 4:13); His worship as a Spirit without idol symbol; His name; His day; His earthly representatives, parents, to be honoured; then regard for one's neighbour's life; for his second self, his wife; his property; character; bridling the desires, the fence of duty to one's neighbour and one's self. As deed is fenced by the sixth, seventh, and eighth, so speech by the ninth, and the heart by the tenth. It begins with God, ends with the heart. The fourth and fifth have a positive form, the rest negative.

It is a witness against man's sin, rather than a giver of holiness. Philo and Josephus (Ant. 3:6, section 5) comprise the first five in the first table, the last five in the second. Augustine, to bring out the Trinity, made our first and second one, and divided our tenth into coveting the wife and coveting the rest; thus, three in the first table, seven in the second. But the command to have only one God is quite distinct from the prohibition to worship Him by an image, and coveting the wife and the other objects falls under one category of unlawful desire. Love to God is expressly taught in the second commandment, "mercy to thousands in them that love Me and keep My commandments." The five and five division is the best. Five implies imperfection; our duty to God being imperfect if divorced from duty to our neighbour. Five and ten predominate in the proportions of the tabernacle. Piety toward the earthly father is closely joined to piety towards the heavenly (Hebrews 12:9; 1 Timothy 5:4; Mark 7:11). Special sanctions are attached to the second, third, fourth, and fifth commandments.

Paul (Romans 13:8; Romans 13:9) makes the second table, or duty to our neighbour, comprise the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth, but not the fifth commandment. Spiritual Jews penetrated beneath the surface, and so found in the law peace and purity viewed in connection with the promised Redeemer (Psalms 1:2; Psalms 1:19; Psalms 1:119; Psalms 1:15; Psalms 1:24; Isaiah 1:10-18; Romans 2:28-29). As (1) the Decalogue gave the moral tone to all the rest of the law, so (2) the ceremonial part taught symbolically purity, as required by all true subjects of the kingdom of God. It declared the touch of the dead defiling, to remind men that sin's wages is death. It distinguished clean from unclean foods, to teach men to choose moral good and reject evil. The sacrificial part (3) taught the hope of propitiation, and thus represented the original covenant of promise, and pointed on to Messiah, through whom the sense of guilt, awakened by the moral law which only condemns men through their own inability to keep it, is taken away, and peace with God is realized.

Two particulars are noticeable: (1) Moses does not inculcate as sanctions of his laws the rewards and punish. merits of a future life; (2) he does use as a sanction God's declaration that He visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of them that fear Him, and shows mercy unto thousands (to the thousandth generation) of them that love Him and keep His commandments" (Exodus 20:5-6). The only way we can account for the omission of a future sanction, which all other ancient lawgivers deemed indispensable (Warburton, Div. Legation), is the fact established on independent proofs, namely, that Israel's government was administered by an extraordinary providence, distributing reward and punishment according to obedience or disobedience severally.

But while not sanctioning his law by future rewards or punishments, Moses shows both that he believed in them himself, and sets forth such proofs of them as would suggest themselves to every thoughtful and devout Israelite, though less clearly than they were revealed subsequently under David, Solomon, and the prophets, when they became matter of general belief. Christ shows that in the very title, "the God of Abraham," etc., in the Pentateuch the promise of the resurrection is by implication contained (Matthew 22:31-32). (See RESURRECTION.) Scripture (Hebrews 4:2; Galatians 3:8) affirms the gospel was preached unto Abraham and to Israel in the wilderness, as well as unto us. The Sinai law in its sacrifices was the bud, the gospel was the flower and the ripened fruit. The law was the gospel in miniature, which Jesus the Sun of righteousness expanded.

So David (Psalm 32; Romans 4:6). On the hope of a future life being held by those under the law see Numbers 23:10; Psalms 16:8-11; Psalms 17:15; Psalms 21:4; Psalms 73:24; Psalms 49:14-15; Isaiah 26:19; Isaiah 25:8; Isaiah 57:1-2; Daniel 7:9-10; Daniel 7:13-14; Daniel 12:2. The sense of Psalms 139:24 is "see if there be any way of "idolatry" (otseb , as in Isaiah 48:5; the Hebrew also means pain which is the sure issue of idolatry) in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" promised to David and his seed in Messiah (compare 1 John 5:21; Proverbs 8:35; Proverbs 12:28; Proverbs 14:32; Proverbs 21:16; Proverbs 24:11; Ecclesiastes 8:11-12; Ecclesiastes 11:9; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; 2 Kings 2:11-12; 2 Kings 13:21; Ezekiel 37; Hosea 13:14; Hosea 6:2; Joel 2:32; Job 19:23-27).

Life in man is in Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 2:7, distinguished from life in brutes: "Jehovah 'Εlohim breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul"; "God created man in His own image." It is not immateriality which distinguishes man's life from the brutes' life, for the vital principle is immaterial in the brute as in man; it can only be the continuance of life after death of the body, conscience, spirit, and sense of moral responsibility, as well as power of abstract reasoning. Acts 24:14-15; Acts 24:25 shows the prevalent belief in Paul's day as to the resurrection and judgment to come. Christ asserts that by searching the Old Testament scriptures eternal life and the promise of Messiah was to be found (John 5:39). The barrenness of Judea has been made an objection by Voltaire against Scripture truth, which represents it as "flowing with milk and honey."

But the very barrenness is the accomplishment of Scripture prophecies, and powerfully confirms the Old Testament The structure of the Mosaic history confirms the reality of the miracles on which the truth of the extraordinary providence rests. Common events are joined with the miraculous so closely that the acknowledged history of this singular people would become unaccountable, unless the (See MIRACLES with which it is inseparably joined be admitted. The miracles could not have been credited by the contemporary generation, nor introduced subsequently into the national records and the national religion, if they had not been real and divine. The Jewish ritual and the singular constitution of the tribe of Levi commemorated them perpetually, and rested on their truth. The political constitution and civil laws presuppose an extraordinary providence limiting the legislative and executive authorities. So also the distribution and tenure of land, the sabbatic and Jubilee years, the three great feasts requiring all males to meet at the central sanctuary thrice each year.

Present, rather than invisible and future, sanctions were best fitted at that time to establish the superiority of the true God before Israel and heathendom. The low intellectual and moral state of most Israelites incapacitated them from rising above the desires of the present world to look forward to future retributions, which their spiritual dullness would make them feel doubtful of, until first a present special providence visibly proved His claim on their faith and obedience, and prepared them to believe that the same divine justice which had heretofore visibly governed the youth of Israel's existence would in a future state reward or punish according to men's deserts, when the present extraordinary providence should be withdrawn. Moreover, national obedience or transgression could as such be recompensed only by temporal prosperity or adversity (for nations have their existence only in the present time). Therefore, the Divine King of the theocracy dispensed with these by an immediate and visible execution, which only partially appears in His present more invisible, though not less real, government of all nations.

Offenses against the state and individuals were punished, as also offenses against God its head. In Israel's history a visible specimen was given of what is true in all ages and nations, though less immediately seen now when our calling is to believe and wait, that "righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14:34). The distraction of clean and unclean animals relates to sacrifices. Some animals by filthy, wild, and noxious natures suggest the presence of evil in nature, and therefore give the feeling of unfitness for being offered as symbols of atonement or thanksgiving before the holy God. Others, tame, docile, useful to man, of the flock and herd, seem suitable for offering, as sheep, goats, cows, doves, and the like. Those that both chew the cud and divide the hoof men generally have taken for food by a common instinct. So fish with fins and scales, but not shellfish as less digestible; insects leaping upon the earth, raised above the crawling slimy brood. Other animals, etc., as swine, dogs, etc., offered by idolaters, are called "abominations."

The aim of the distinction was ethical, to symbolize separation from moral defilement, and to teach to the true Israel self cleansing from all pollution of flesh and spirit (2 Corinthians 7:1). The lesson in Acts 10 is that whereas God granted sanctification of spirit to the Gentiles, as He had to Cornelius, the outward symbol of separation between them and the Jews, namely, the distinction of clean and unclean meats, was needless (Matthew 15:11; 1 Timothy 4:4; Romans 14:17). So the impurity contracted by childbirth (Leviticus 12; 15), requiring the mother's purification, points to the taint of birth sin (Psalms 51:5). The uncleanness after a female birth lasted 66 days, after a male 33, to mark the fall as coming through the woman first (1 Timothy 2:14-15). In the penal code idolatry is the capital crime, treason against the Head of the state and its fundamental constitution. One was bound not to spare the dearest relative, if guilty of tempting to it; any city apostatizing to it was to be destroyed with its spoil and inhabitants (Deuteronomy 13:6).

Human sacrifices burnt to Moloch were especially marked for judgment on all who took part in them (Leviticus 20:1-5). The wizard, witch, and their consulters violated the allegiance due to Jehovah, who alone reveals His will to His people (Numbers 9:7-8; Numbers 27:21; Joshua 9:14; Judges 1:1; 2 Samuel 5:23) and controls future events, and were therefore to die (1 Chronicles 10:13; Leviticus 20:27). So the blasphemer, presumptuous sabbath breaker, and false prophet (Leviticus 24:11-16; Numbers 15:30-36; Deuteronomy 17:12; Deuteronomy 18:20). So the violator of the command to rest from work on the day of atonement (Leviticus 23:29; Leviticus 23:30), of the Passover (Exodus 12:15; Exodus 12:19); the willful defiler of the sanctuary (Numbers 19:13; Leviticus 22:3); the perpetrator of unnatural crimes (Numbers 18; Numbers 20).

The prohibitions of rounding the hair and beard, of wearing a garment of wool and linen mixed, of sowing a field with divers seeds, of women using men's garments (besides tending to preserve feminine modesty and purity), were directed against existing idolatrous usages in the worship of Baal and Ashteroth (Numbers 19:19; Numbers 19:27; Deuteronomy 22:5). The ordeal by the water of jealousy depended on an extraordinary providence (Numbers 5:11). It could injure the guilty only by miracle, the innocent not at all; whereas in the ordeals of the Middle Ages the innocent could scarcely escape but by miracle. Prohibitions such as human tribunals could hardly take cognizance of were sanctioned by penalties which God undertook to execute. He as Sovereign reserved exclusively to Himself the right of legislation. Sins of impurity, next to idolatry, were punished with peculiar severity (Leviticus 18; the adulterer and adulteress, Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22-30; Deuteronomy 27:20-26).

Mildness and exact equity pervaded the code so far as was compatible with the state of the people and the age. Interest or "usury" was not to be taken from an Israelite, and only in strict equity from the foreigner. The poor should be relieved liberally (Deuteronomy 15:7-11). The hired labourer's wages were to be paid at once (Deuteronomy 24:14-15). Intrusion into a neighbour's house to recover a loan was forbidden, not to hurt his feelings. The pledged raiment was to be restored, so as not to leave him without a coverlet at night (Deuteronomy 24:10-13).

Other characteristic precepts of the law are: reverence to the old; tenderness toward those having bodily infirmity (Deuteronomy 24:19-21); gleanings to be left for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow (Leviticus 19:14-32); faithfulness in rebuking a neighbour's sin; the dispersion of the Levites, the ministers of religion, forming a sacred He among all the tribes; studied opposition to all the usages of idolaters, as the pagan historian Tacitus notices: "all we hold sacred are with them profane: they offer the ram in contempt of Ammon ... and an ox, which the Egyptians worship as Apis (Hist. 5:4); the Jews deem those profane who form any images of the gods ... the Divinity they conceive as one, and only to be understood by the mind; with images they would not honour Caesars or flatter kings." Personal violence was punished retributively in kind, "life for life, eye for eye, tooth for a tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." The false witness had to suffer what he thought to inflict on another (Deuteronomy 19:16-21; Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:18-21).

This did not sanction individual retaliation, but it was to regulate the magistrate's award of damages, namely, the worth in money of the bodily power lost by the injured person. It was to protect the community, not to regulate the believer, who when he penetrated beneath the letter into the spirit of the law, which the gospel afterward brought to light, felt constrained to love his enemy and not do to him the injury the latter had done or intended to do. Our Lord quoted the form of the law (Matthew 5:38) in order to contrast the pharisaic view, which looked only to the letter, with the true view which looks to the spirit. A striking feature of the penal code, in which it was superior to most codes, was that no crime against mere property incurred death. Bond service until the sabbatic year was the extreme penalty; restitution and fine were the ordinary penalty. The slave's life was guarded as carefully as the master's. If the master caused even the loss of a tooth the servant was to be set free. The chastity of female slaves was strictly protected.

No Jew could be kept in bondage more than seven years, and then was to be sent away with liberal gifts (Exodus 21:7-26; Deuteronomy 15:13-15). In fact Israelite bond service was only a going into service for a term of years, that the creditor might reap the benefit. The creditor could not imprison nor scourge so as to injure the bond debtor, but in Rome the creditor could imprison and even kill him according to the old law. Men stealers were to be put to death. What a contrast to the cruel oppression of slaves in other nations, the Spartans butchering the helots, the Romans torturing their slaves for trifles and goading them to servile rebellions which cost some of Horne's bravest blood, and enacting that where a master was murdered all the slaves in the house, or within hearing of it, should be killed! In Israel the public peace was never threatened by such a cause. Trials were public, in the city gates. The judges, the elders, and Levitical ministers and officers, as our jurors, were taken from the people. No torture before conviction, no cruelty after it, was permitted.

Forty stripes were the extreme limit of bodily punishment (Deuteronomy 25:3). Capital convictions could only be by the agreeing testimony of two witnesses (Deuteronomy 17:6). The even distribution of lands, the non-alienation of them from the family and tribe (Numbers 27; Numbers 36), admirably guarded against those agrarian disturbances and intestine discords which in other states and in all ages have flowed from an uneven distribution and an uncertain tenure of property. Love to God, love to one's neighbour and even to enemies, benevolence to strangers, the poor, the fatherless and widows, repentance and restitution for injuries, sincere worship of the heart and obedience of the life required to accompany outward ceremonial worship, all these are characteristics of the law, such as never originated from the nation itself, long enslaved, and not remarkable for high intellectual and moral capacity, and such as did not then exist in the code of any other nation. The Originator can have only been, as Scripture says, God Himself.

Besides, whatever doubts may be raised respecting the inspiration or authorship, the fact remains and is indisputable, that it was given and was in force ages before Lycurgus or Minos or other noted legislators lived, and that it has retained its influence upon legislation from the time of its promulgation until now, the British and all other codes of civilized nations being based upon it. This is one of those facts which neither evolution, nor revolution, can overthrow. The letter and outward ordinances were the casket, the spirit as brought out by the gospel was the jewel. The sacrifices gave present relief to awakened consciences by the hope of forgiveness through God's mercy, resting on the promise of the Redeemer.

The law could not give life, that was reserved for the gospel (Galatians 3:21-22; Galatians 4:6). Spiritual Jews, as David, when convicted by the law of failure in obedience, fell back on the earlier covenant of promise, the covenant of grace, as distinguished from the law the covenant of works (which required perfect obedience as the condition of life, and cursed all who disobeyed in the least point: Galatians 3:6-18; Leviticus 18:5), and by the Spirit cried for a clean heart (Psalms 51:10-11). So they could love the law, not as an outward yoke, but as the law of God's will cherished in the heart (Psalms 37:31), such as it was in Him who should come (Psalms 40:8). In most Jews, because of the nonconformity between their inward state and the law's requirements as a rule from without, its tendency was "to gender to bondage" (Galatians 2:4; Galatians 4:3; Galatians 4:9; Galatians 4:24-25; Galatians 5:1). Inclination rebelled against it.

They either burst its bond for open paganism; or, as in post captivity times, scrupulously held the letter, but had none of its spirit, "love, the fulfilling of the law" (Romans 13:8-10; Leviticus 19:18; 1 Timothy 1:5; Galatians 5:14; Matthew 7:12; Matthew 22:37-40; James 2:8). Hence, the prophets looked on to gospel times when God would write the law by His Spirit in the heart (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Jeremiah 31:39; Ezekiel 36:26-27; Ezekiel 11:19-20). In one respect the law continues, in another it is superseded (Matthew 5:17-18). In its antitypical realization in Jesus, it is all being fulfilled or has been so. In its spirit, "holy, just, and good," it is of everlasting obligation as it reflects the mind of God. In its Old Testament form it gives place to its fully developed perfection in the New Testament The temporary and successional Aaronic priesthood gives place to the abiding and intransmissible Melchizedek priesthood of Jesus, the sacrificial types, to the one antitypical sacrifice, never to be repeated (Hebrew 5; Hebrew 7; Hebrew 8; Hebrew 9; Hebrew 10).

So believers, insofar as they are under the gospel law of Christ (Galatians 6:2), which is the law of love in the heart, are no longer under the law, as an outward letter ordinance. Through Christ's death they are dead to the law, as a law of condemnation, and have the Spirit enabling them to "serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter" (Romans 2:29; Romans 7:1-6; 2 Corinthians 3:6). "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness (both justification and sanctification) to every one that believeth" Romans 10:4; Romans 8:1-3). He gave not so much new laws of morality as new motives for observing the old law. As a covenant of works, and a provisional mode of discipline, and a typical representation of atonement, the law is no more. As the revelation of God's righteousness it is everlasting. Free from the letter, the believer fulfills the spirit and end of the law, conformity to God's will. Moses, in foretelling the rise of the "Prophet like unto himself" and God's rejection of all who should reject Him (Deuteronomy 18:15, etc.), by the Spirit intimates that the law was to give place to the gospel of Jesus.

Moses anticipates also by the Spirit the evils which actually befell them, their being besieged, their captivity, dispersion, and restoration (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 32). The words in Deuteronomy 34:10-12 (compare Numbers 12:1-8) prove that no other prophet or succession of prophets can exhaustively fulfill the prophecy. Both Peter and Stephen authoritatively decide that Messiah is "the Prophet" (Acts 3:22; Acts 7:37). The gospel attracted and detached from the Jewish nation almost every pure and pious soul, sifting the chaff from the wheat. The destruction of the temple with which Judaism and the ceremonial law were inseparably connected was God's explicit setting of them aside. The danger to the church from Judaizing Christians, which was among its first trials (Acts 11; 15; Galatians 3:5), was thereby diminished, and "the fall of the Jews is the riches of the world" in this as in other respects (Romans 11:12).

Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Law'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​fbd/​l/law.html. 1949.
Ads FreeProfile