Set in Stone, Engraved Upon the Heart

Updated: Jun 29



THE TEN COMMANDMENTS BEFORE MT SINAI


The Ten Commandments did not exist before the time of Moses. One of the objections that professed Christians make against the Law of God is that it did not exist before it was given by God to Moses on Mt Sinai. One might say that as we live since the time of Moses, the law applies to us, and we might dismiss the matter. However if we were to admit that the world moved along for centuries without the Ten Commandments we would have half prepared ourselves for the next objection, namely that the law was abolished at the cross and that if godly men like Enoch and Abraham didnʼt need the Ten Commandments then neither do Christians. On the face of it the objection is unbelievable. The commandments forbid idolatry, killing, stealing, adultery etc. Could we bring ourselves to believe that such a code of laws was not in force before Moses?

None of the leading denominations thus believe as the various church creeds show. The argument is that none before the law was given by Moses broke the Ten Commandment law. The objector admits that the angels sinned (2 Pet 2:4); that Adam sinned long before the law was written down (Rom 5:12-14); that the Sodomites were sinners (Gen 13) which vexed Lot with their “unlawful deeds” (2 Pet 2:8). But the objector claims, non of these “sinners” violated the “law” which was not given till Moses. But the conclusion does not follow. Just because the law was not written down till Moses time, does not mean that it did not exist before Mt Sinai. The 10 commandments are nothing but love in divided into ten (Rom 13:9-10) and as such are as eternal as love. Love existed before Sinai and will exist forever. Adam and Eve were created with the law of God written in their minds and hearts.

Paul tells us that the knowledge of Godʼs requirements was known form earliest times and that those who sinned were “without excuse.” (Rom 1:20). How could they be without excuse unless they had the knowledge of Godʼs requirements? We only become accountable for sin when we know what we are doing (See John 15:22). Paul adds that even those “having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness. (Rom 2:14-15). The RSV says “They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness...”

Unless we hold that those before Moses knew sufficient of the law of God to understand the import of their acts, we charge God with injustice for destroying them because of their evil deeds. The only possible way for the objector to avoid this embarrassing position is to claim that those before Moses knew nothing of the Ten Commandments but knew of certain eternal moral principles. If this reasoning has any validity it must reside in the assumption that these eternal principles - left undefined by the objector - were different to the Ten Commandments. Only thus can it be held that the Ten Commandments are not eternal. But what principles could be more eternally moral than the Ten Commandments? If all evil deeds can be defined by the Ten Commandments then what need for some other standard?

But we are not left to speculation as to what law defines sin. Sin is breaking the Ten Commandments (See 1John 3:4; Rom 7:7). As sin existed before Sinai the law must have existed before Sinai (See Rom 4:15; 3:20).

The Sabbath commandment within the 10 commandments indicates that the Sabbath was already known because it begins, “Remember the Sabbath day...” Indeed it was obviously known in Exo 16.

James shows that sin is the transgression of the Ten Commandments by quoting from them. (James 2:9-11).

John says “Sin is the transgression of the law” 1 John 3:4 Sin is not the breaking of some undefined law. It is the transgression of the Ten Commandments which have been the standard in all ages even before they were written on stone at Sinai.


The Law of God was in existence even from the beginning, long before it was formally given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Its precepts are for the good of man. It is the good way. Jeremiah 6:16. It is the works which God had before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10


Many professed Christians do not understand the place of the Law of God in the gospel. They have this feeling that somehow the Ten Commandments are important but at the same time do not feel it important enough to live by all ten of them especially as the Law speaks about keeping the fourth commandment, the Seventh Day Sabbath, or Saturday, a day which the majority of professed Christians never sanctify or set aside for a holy purpose.


Many Christians believe that the Law was only given to the people of Israel at Mt Sinai. Is HE the God only of Israel? The Bible says: "Thy first father hath sinned, and thy teachers have transgressed against me." Isaiah 43:27. Adam sinned and the scripture teaches, "What shall we say then? [is] the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." Romans 7:7


Therefore, the law was in existence in the beginning and Adam sinned by transgressing the Law of God's word. Spiritually Adam and Eve broke the majority of the commandments of the law.


The following clearly shows that the the Law of God was in existence long before Mt Sinai.


THE FIRST COMMANDMENT

"And God spake all these words, saying, I [am] the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me." EXODUS 20:1-3


The Bible says: "Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." Genesis 26:5.


Abraham kept God's commandments long before the Lord gave them on tablets of stone to Moses at Sinai.


"Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that [were] with him, Put away the strange gods that [are] among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which [were] in their hand, and [all their] earrings which [were] in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which [was] by Shechem." Genesis 35:2-4


How did Jacob know that these were strange Gods unless he knew about the first commandment?


"And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, [even] Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods."


Similarly Terah, Abraham's father served other gods besides the one true God.

THE SECOND COMMANDMENT

"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth:

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." Exodus 20:4-6


"And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images that [were] her father's. Genesis 31:19

"And now, [though] thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou sore longedst after thy father's house, [yet] wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?" Genesis 31:30


THE THIRD COMMANDMENT

"Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." Exodus 20:7


What was the yardstick of wickedness in Noah's day if the third commandment was not in existence and the people not aware of it.


"Lest there [be] any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright." Hebrews 12:16


THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT

"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

But the seventh day [is] the sabbath of the LORD thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates: For [in] six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them [is], and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." Exodus 20:8-11


In Exodus 16 we have a situation where the law was in existence before it was formerly given to Moses on tablets of stone at Mt Sinai and recorded in Exodus 20.


"Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare [that] which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily." Exodus 16:4,5 and Exodus 16:15-29


THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT

"Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." Exodus 20:12


If there was no commandment to honor father and mother, then Jacob’s sons did not commit any wrong by deceiving their father and telling him lies. (Genesis 37:28-35). In Genesis 50:15-17, Joseph’s brothers acknowledged their wicked deed which they called “trespass,” “sin,” “evil,” and asked Joseph to forgive them.


THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT

"Thou shalt not kill." Exodus 20:13


"And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him." Genesis 4:8-13


Cain was punished for murdering his brother. If the sixth commandment did not exist, then God had no reason to punish Cain.


THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT

"Thou shalt not commit adultery." Exodus 20:14

Sin is the transgression of the Law - 1John 3:4. If there was no law against adultery, then it would have been fine for Joseph to be seduced by Potiphar's wife in the following verses. But Joseph called it "great wickedness, and sin against God." And sin is defined as the transgression of the law - 1John 3:4. Hence Joseph was well aware of the 7th commandment well before Mt Sinai.


"And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what [is] with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; [There is] none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me Potiphar's wife seducing Joseph

but thee, because thou [art] his wife: how

then can I do this great wickedness, and sin

against God?" Genesis 39:7-9


THE EIGHT COMMANDMENT

"Thou shalt not steal." Exodus 20:15


"And he said, Thy brother came with subtlety, and hath taken away thy blessing. And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?" Genesis 27:35,36


Jacob paid the penalty for violating the law in stealing the blessing which belonged to his brother and had to flee from home.


THE NINETH COMMANDMENT

"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." Exodus 20:16


Jacob practised deception and falsehood. It wouldn't have been the case if there was no commandment which prohibited such a course. Genesis 27:17-24


THE TENTH COMMANDMENT

"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that [is] thy neighbour's." Exodus 20:17


Eve coveted something in the Garden and did that which God had said not to do. Genesis 2:16, 17 and Genesis 3:6 The end result of transgression is where we currently find ourselves, in a wicked, sin sick world.



THE COMMANDMENTS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT


Jesus said: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. " Matthew 5:19

Jesus said:"If you love me keep my commandments" John 14:15

Jesus said: "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love."John 15:10


Someone came to Jesus and asked him the question: "..., Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." Matthew 19:16,17


THE FIRST COMMANDMENT

"And God spake all these words, saying, I [am] the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me." EXODUS 20:1-3


"Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him." Matthew 4:8-11


THE SECOND COMMANDMENT

"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth:

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." Exodus 20:4-6


"“Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” 1John 5:21


THE THIRD COMMANDMENT

"Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." Exodus 20:7


“Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and [his] doctrine be not blasphemed.” 1Timothy 6:1


THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT

"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

But the seventh day [is] the sabbath of the LORD thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates: For [in] six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them [is], and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." Exodus 20:8-11


“And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:” Mark 2:27,28


THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT

"Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." Exodus 20:12


“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” Ephesians 6:1-3


THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT

"Thou shalt not kill." Exodus 20:13


Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: Matthew 5:21


THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT

"Thou shalt not commit adultery." Exodus 20:14


“For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery,…” Romans 13:9


THE EIGHT COMMANDMENT

"Thou shalt not steal." Exodus 20:15


“He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery,Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,” Matthew 19:18


"Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with [his] hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth." Ephesians 4:28


THE NINETH COMMANDMENT

"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." Exodus 20:16


“He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,” Matthew 19:18


Matthew 19:18 “…Thou shalt not bear false witness,

Mark 10:19 “…Do not bear false witness,…”

Luke 18:20 “… Do not bear false witness,…”

Romans 13:9 “…Thou shalt not bear false witness, …”


THE TENTH COMMANDMENT

"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that [is] thy neighbour's." Exodus 20:17


Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? [Is] the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

Romans 13:9 “For this, … Thou shalt not covet; …”


THE MORAL LAW

1. God spoke this law (Exodus 20:1, 22)

2. God wrote this law (Exodus 31:18; 32:16)

3. It was written on stone to last forever (Exodus 31:18)

4. God to Moses (Exodus 31:18)

5. This law was kept inside the ark (Deut 10:5.)

6. Moral precepts (Exodus 20:3-17)

7. The Law reveals sin (Romans 7:7)

8. Sin if broken (1 John 3:4)

9. Taught to keep (James 2:10)

10. To be judged by (James 2:12)

11. Blessing if observed (James 1:25)

12. Perfect law of liberty (James 1:25)

13. A delight (Romans 7:22)

14. Established (Romans 3:31)

15. Christ magnified the law (Isaiah 42:21)

16. The Law is Spiritual (Romans 7:14)


The Law is God's MORAL standard. It is forever. The wages or penalty of breaking the law is death. The Law, therefore, can't save you because we have all broken the Law. We need a saviour, Jesus Christ. "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." Romans 3:31 We establish the Law through faith in a perfect saviour who "...did no sin neither was guile found in his mouth." 1Peter 2:22


God says in the New Covenant: "But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Jeremiah 31:31-34 cf Hebrews 8:7-13


The Law has never been done away with. It is the foundation of God's government. It is the moral law which guides us as to what is right or wrong. It points out sin which leads to death. It leads us to Christ to find salvation from sin. It is the very character of God expressed to man and embodied in Christ who fulfilled the law. God wants to write his law in our hearts so that it becomes a part of us, the natural WAY of life for us - the keeping of his commandments and that includes the seventh day Sabbath (Saturday), by His grace.


Grace and Peace be with you.