There has been much misunderstanding concerning the three laws that have been issued by God since the creation. And people should keep in mind that, under each of those laws, or dispensations, much of the same things were expected of man. Some of those which were never changing can be summed up as faith, morality and obedience.
If man could not believe, or accept, God as the creator and ruler of the universe, then he could not be expected to be a child of God. And that faith had to be strong enough to cause the believer to obey God. Those two factors have been, and always will be, paramount. Morality has always been, and always will be, required of God as a portion of our obedience. So, you see, the things which have been different are things befitting the circumstances of the times. Let us try and determine just what and why these differences have occurred.
The first dispensation is referred to as the “patriarchal age”, which identifies how it was given. From Adam onward, God spoke to the patriarchs and gave them instructions as to how they were to conduct themselves. It was not written, it was simply told to the original fathers and they were expected to pass this on to their children. There is no evidence that God continued to repeat his rules and regulations to each father, but it was expected to be taught to each generation by their father.
The first law is not revealed in great detail in the Holy Scriptures, yet we can determine certain things that were contained in it. The offering of sacrifices was a command. We can know that by the early story of Cain and Abel. It can even be determined that animal sacrifices were to be made since Cain failed to do that and his vegetable sacrifices were unacceptable to God. We also know that murder of another human was forbidden, because of Cain’s punishment when he slew his brother.
It is this writer’s conviction that those things told to the patriarchs were very similar to what God reiterated to Moses on Mount Sinai. Especially most of those things covered in the ten commandments. So now, we are faced with determining the reason the second law was instituted.
It is most obvious, that the original law, before writing was introduced, was desperately lacking in success. Many of the patriarchs assuredly did not train up their children in the way they should go because the world had all but totally abandoned God…twice. In the period before God destroyed the earth with a universal flood, only eight people could be found who were still obedient to God, from the entire world populace. An amazing thing, yet it is typical of man. Under all dispensations, only a fraction of a percentage have remained faithful to God.
God planned, before the creation, to form a program which would allow man to rid himself of sins. It is urged that one would here read the second chapter of Acts, paying particular attention to verses 22, 23 and 24, especially verse 23. Peter explains that the establishment of Jesus’ church was planned by the “determinate counsel” before the creation. This counsel had to have included the three entities of the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
This plan included the coming of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and for this reason, various things must be done. There must be a lineage formed from His chosen people to bring the Christ Child to earth and Abraham was chosen as the one to begin that lineage via a son who was given the aged couple miraculously and from him, another chosen one. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob whose name was later changed to Israel.
Through the providential guidance, along with some miracles as needed, God guided the lives of the twelve sons of Israel to be prolific and proficient. When they became subservient to the pharaoh of Egypt, God watched over them and brought up Moses to be their leader when he miraculously led them from the Egyptian captivity.
Keeping in mind that the Law of God at this point was still the law given in the beginning and had virtually been abandoned by the world population excluding the Israelites. Jacob had ruled his family well and had remained in the favor of God. Upon their departure from Egypt, they came to Mount Sinai, with Moses being their leader. It was here that God called upon Moses to come to him in the mountain and he gave Moses the ten commandments engraven in stone. These ten commandments were to be the basis for their law, but they were not nearly all of the law. He continued to instruct Moses who wrote the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These books contained history and information concerning the Israelites but also contained an enormous amount of laws for those people to obey.
The thing to remember here is that this law was for the Israelites, and them alone. Paul explains this in Galatians 3:24, saying: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” There were several reasons for giving them a law to themselves. One, it was to set them apart from the rest of the world, that they might be a shining light and the world could see their prosperity and enviable lifestyle. The remainder of the world remained subject to the old original patriarchal law, albeit only an infinitesimal number remained true to it. Another reason, the setting the Jews apart to be His chosen people, brought envy to those others and caused the Jews themselves to feel superior to the others and thereby developed enmity.
So, from Mount Sinai, for some 1525 years, the world was under the Patriarchal Law and the Jews were under God’s law given through Moses. Many people today have never learned the significance of this. Jesus came to replace the Law of Moses and the Patriarchal Law, with his Perfect Law of Liberty. All nations and all people were eligible to participate in this new law and were made culpable to it. No more Jew and Greek, all who do not accept Jesus’ law are guilty of sin.
God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, plainly telling of the coming of the new law, or testament, which would replace the law given to them. Read Jeremiah 31:31-34 and this scripture is so important you can also read it quoted by the writer of the book of Hebrews in chapter 8. Plus that book tells you still more about the reason for the new law. So, none of the old testament law is now the law of Christians…none. We have Jesus law. It condemns killing, adultery and many other things contained in the old law. But we are prohibited from these things because they are in the Law of Christ, not because they are in the Law of Moses. It is important that we understand that, because, if one tries to be justified by the old testament law, they make the death of Jesus Christ of none effect. Jesus took away the old law, nailing it to his cross. (Colossians 2:14)