Monday, November 1, 2010

Law of God - Law of Moses

This is the second part of the series on the Law of Moses. You can find part one here.

In the first post we saw that the Law of God includes all that was written in the Book of the Law of Moses; that is the Torah. All of the Old Covenant law was given by God through Moses - so the law is called the "Law of God" in once place and the law is called the "Law of Moses" in another place. They are the same thing. The Bible agrees with this. The dictionary agrees with this. 3,400 years of Jewish tradition agrees with this.

When Deuteronomy 4: 44 introduces a review of the Law of Moses, what are the very first laws they review? The Ten Commandments (DEU. 5: 1-22)! It is inescapable that the Law of Moses includes the Ten Commandments.

The review ends in Deuteronomy 31. Everything in between is without question included in the Law of Moses (and that most certainly includes Deuteronomy 14). In Joshua 8: 31, Joshua quotes from Deuteronomy and calls it the Book of the Law of Moses. It's not just Deuteronomy that comprises the Law of Moses, but the entire Torah!

Even so, I know from experience what little evidence it takes to convince someone who wants to believe a thing, and what overwhelming proof and time it takes to convince someone that what they hold dear is false. So, let us consider even more evidence.


If you look over the list of verses that I provided in the first post in this series, do you see anything odd about the places where the phrase "Law of Moses" and "Law of God" appear? The one place where they both appear together is in Nehemiah 8.
You will find the phrase "the Law" there as well (which is significant when you study Paul's writings). I think we'll find something interesting in this chapter for sure.

(NEH. 8: 1) Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law [torah] of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel.

On the Feast of Trumpets (first day of the seventh month), the entire Book of the Law of Moses (the Torah) - which was commanded to Israel (not the Gentiles) by God through Moses - was read by Ezra. Here we have all the elements in one sentence: "Law of Moses", "Lord commanded", "Israel". From what Herbert Armstrong taught, you would think that this can never occur, because we are supposedly talking about separate things. Not so! They are all the same.

So Ezra read from the Law of Moses, and in verse 8 we see that he had many helpers who taught the people what it all meant. Let's take a peek at that:

(NEH. 8: 8) So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law [torah] of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

What's this? In verse 1, it was "Law [Torah] of Moses". In verse 8 - the same book - it is "Law [Torah] of God". One book, one set of laws, two ways to describe it. The Law of Moses is the Law of God.
Herbert Armstrong and those like him were simply not telling us the whole truth. The question is, are you willing to accept it?

What did these people find in the Law of Moses? You might want to brace yourself for this...

(NEH. 8: 9) And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law [torah].

They read the Law of Moses and found the Feast of Trumpets. Yes, dear reader, the Holy Days are in the Law of Moses, too! No, dear reader, it's not just the Feast of Trumpets...

(NEH. 8: 14) And they found written in the Law [torah], which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month.

First we had the Feast of Trumpets in verses 1, 9 and 11. Now we have the Feast of Booths mentioned in verse 14; otherwise known as the Feast of Tabernacles. So it's not just a fluke where one Holy Day is mentioned.

Armstrongism teaches that the Holy Days were not part of the Law of Moses, contrary to what you can plainly read right there in your own Bible, and they use this claim to support their doctrine that the Holy Days are still binding today.
But, as we can plainly read in our own Bibles, Trumpets and Tabernacles are in the law of Moses. And if these two Holy Days are, so are the rest. Yes, even Passover!

(II CHR. 35: 6) So slaughter the Passover offerings, consecrate yourselves, and prepare them for your brethren, that they may do according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses.

And, just to be painfully circumspect, even the weekly Sabbath as well.

(NEH. 9: 14) You made known to them Your holy Sabbath, and commanded them precepts, statutes and laws, by the hand of Moses Your servant.

Observance of the Old Covenant Holy Days is a major difference between Armstrongism and other Adventist groups. In fact, demanding the Holy Days be kept is one of the main reasons why Herbert Armstrong was fired from the ministry of the COG7. The ministers in the COG7 told him everything that I tell you now, but he refused to listen. He shut his ears and barreled ahead regardless of any evidence contrary to what he wanted to believe. He knew! He knew every bit of this decades ago... and he didn't care.
Only... Armstrongism doesn't teach the building of booths during the Feast of Booths. Nor does it teach the blowing up trumpets on the Feast of Trumpets. Why demand something be required, then refuse to do all that you've bound yourself to? Oh, the law! The law! Just not THAT law.
It would appear Herbert Armstrong was wrong about this on many levels, and modern patsies like Richard Rives now follow in tow. The question is, do you follow a man?


I have read a few arguments in favor of Herbert Armstrong's position. I would like to address a few of the trickier ones. These may not be the arguments you'll hear most often, but I found them worth responding to because I want to address the sheer desperation of the attempt to twist and distort and make the Bible say what it does not say.

A Distinction
In trying to demonstrate that there is a logical distinction between the Ten Commandments and the Law of Moses, some point to II Kings 21: 8:

(II KIN. 21: 8) and I will not make the feet of Israel wander anymore from the land which I gave their fathers—only if they are careful to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law [torah] that My servant Moses commanded them.

See those two underlined areas in that verse above? The first argument is that God makes a clear logical distinction from what set of laws He commanded Israel to do (the Ten Commandments) and what different set of laws Moses commanded Israel to do (the Law of Moses).
Does that stand up? No.
Why not? Primarily because it's "Torah of God" in one place and "Torah of Moses" in another. Same Torah! No distinction.

Are we to believe that Moses made up the ceremonial law on his own? That's ridiculous! We know it came from God.
Jesus gives one and only one example of Moses going it alone and allowing divorce (MAT. 19: 7-8). Then how can anyone claim that God commands the Ten Commandments (and a handful of other things) and Moses commands all the rest? Yet that is precisely what this argument is saying.

Everything we've done to this point, in the previous post and this, has demonstrated that what God commands and what Moses commands are not separate things; they are the same things. We cannot just sweep that evidence all under the proverbial rug and hope it goes away.

All this argument can hope to do is show that a distinction exists. I contend that it has failed to do this.
But if a distinction does indeed exist, where is that distinction clearly defined? Where does God tell us what is in His law and what is in Moses' law? Nowhere. Not in this verse, that's for sure! And this verse is held up as the premier example. Over and over again God lets us know no distinction exists because they are one and the same. So the legalists need to find something - anything - that appears to answer this.

And that leads us to the next argument.

But What Distinction?
The next argument is to claim there is a physical distinction between the Ten Commandments and the Law of Moses. The hope in this argument is to show that God made a physical distinction between what is His law and what is Moses' law.
To demonstrate this, we turn to DEU. 31: 24-26:

(DEU. 31: 24-26) 24 So it was, when Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, when they were finished, 25 that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying: 26 “Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there as a witness against you..."

See how the book that Moses wrote was placed beside the Ark that contained the Ten Commandments of the Covenant, and not inside it? "It was kept separate," they claim, "so therefore they can't be the same thing."
Does that stand up? No.
Why not? Because the Ten Commandments are in both places.

So, the Ten Commandments "of God" written and engraved in stone were in the Ark, but the Book of the Law "of Moses" was not in the Ark. Do you realize by making this claim that they have proven my point in Nehemiah 8?
Think about it. If only the Decalogue is distinct, then what of tithes, meats, and Holy Days? None of them are the Ten Commandments. None of them were in the Ark of the Covenant where only the "Law of God" supposedly was. To prove one thing, they've completely undone another.

But they've proven nothing. Let's weigh the evidence.

In verse 24 we read that Moses wrote the words of the law in a book. In verse 26 we see the phrase "Book of the Law." Do you know what the Hebrew word is that has been translated as "law" in both of those verses? (By now you should.) It's "torah"! Strong's H8451: torah: From H3384; a precept or statute, especially the Decalogue or Pentateuch: - law.
Moses wrote the Torah - the first five books of the Bible - in a single collected volume called "The Book of the Law". Are the Ten Commandments separate from the Torah? Have you read Exodus 20: 1-18 lately? Well, what about Deuteronomy 5: 1-22, then? The Torah is the first 5 books of the Bible - the Pentateuch - but note carefully that the word "torah" especially refers to the Decalogue - the Ten Commandments.

So, the Ten Commandments were on tablets inside the Ark, and in a book beside the Ark. At the same time! Problem is, people are so eager to make any distinction they can that they don't think through what they're saying.

Let's look at another interesting verse:

(JOS. 24: 26a) Then Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law [torah] of God.

Again, "law" is from the Hebrew word "Torah." In some places it's "Book of the Torah of Moses" and some places it's "Book of the Torah of God." In some places it's "Torah of Moses" and some places it's "Torah of God." One Torah; more than one way to describe it. No distinction.
Yet we are told that this distinction in terms is precisely how we can know there are two sets of laws.

Are we to believe there were two books as well? No. But we see Book of Moses and Book of God. Why aren't there two books?
So this reasoning supposedly works in one place (law) but not in the other (books)?
What I mean by that is, when we see "Law of Moses" and "Law of God" we are told those are two separate things, but when we see "Book of the Law of Moses" and "Book of the Law of God" those are undeniably one and the same.
The reasoning falls down completely.

Hopefully now you can see that it doesn't work that way. Hopefully you can see this is the exact same thing that we demonstrated earlier when we reviewed Nehemiah 8... two ways to describe the exact same thing.

This argument is undone.


Even when they say the Ten Commandments are separate, that's not what they really mean. This claim just gets the foot in the door. It's not just the Ten Commandments after all, but a cherry-picked list of other laws whatsoever Herbert Armstrong (or Ellen White or whomever else) determines by their own authority. Want proof?

(JER. 31: 33) But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law [torah] in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

See there? God will write His torah on the very hearts of the house of Israel. "AHA!" the legalists exclaim, "In the New Covenant, God will write His law on our hearts! The law is still in effect!" But, oh ye of little faith, WHICH law?

It says that He will write His torah on the hearts of Israel. Are we Israel? Some people will say yes, we are Spiritual Israel. OK. Then the torah should be written on your heart.
We've seen what torah means in the Old Covenant: the first five books of the Bible and everything therein. Every jot and tittle! Ceremonial as well as moral.

Faced with this, the legalist must backtrack. We can't be sacrificing animals at the temple, or building booths from trees, or travelling to Jerusalem three times every year. Are we, then, to believe that "torah" means only the Ten Commandments? Doubtful. I have never heard of a system, apart from the Church of God (Seventh Day), who only believe the Ten Commandments are brought forward. The list of legalistic requirements always grows and grows. Even the COG7 dips its toe into other areas of law.
So, back to the whole law, then? Not by any means! The goal is to have some law but to wiggle out from under most of the law. They accomplish this by artificially dividing it into Law of God and Law of Moses, then dump 98% of it. So, what then? Neither the Ten nor every jot and tittle. What is it?
It is none other than what I told you... a cherry-picked list of laws whatsoever Herbert Armstrong (or Ellen White or whomever else) determines by their own authority.

The argument is completely circular.
The Ten are separate, they claim. But not just the Ten - it never stops there - there's also meats laws, tithes, holy days, and etc. But none of those additional items are in the Ten. So now it's the whole Torah and every jot. But then that binds too much. So it's not every jot after all, it's just the Ten because those are separate. Oh! Plus a few.
...And round and round we go.

Contrary to their hopes, God never once defines "Law of God" as something separate from "Law of Moses." In one place it's "commandments and statutes and laws", so it is in another place.
The legalists, undeterred, have to step in and they decide which. They compile the lists, not God - and few of them seem to agree. If it were just about the Ten, then why not just go to the Seventh Day Baptist church? Well, we need something to make us distinct, of course, and to give a reason why our coffers should be filled with your money, and not theirs.

Legalists make their claims, reciting verses that they think work in their favor, but they only pretend to know the law (I TIM. 3: 7). Do you want to know what law was written on our hearts? Read this: If You Love Me Keep My Commandments.

Do you think these people who invent these "distinctions" have read that received that conclusion from the Bible, or did they come to their conclusions then try to insert that into the Bible?
In your heart of hearts you know as well as I do, they forced the words to mean what they wanted them to mean. They are forcing a conclusion into the Bible rather than letting the Bible determine their conclusions.
That isn't letting the Bible interpret the Bible. In fact, it's in direct violation of the Bible!

(DEU. 4: 2) You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

They have added to and taken away by creating artificial distinctions within the law. They add a division called "Law of God" and those are the things they feel like keeping (partially). Everything else - the things they find too bothersome to trouble themselves with while they condemn the world for not keeping the law - is whisked away by another division... and they blame it on Moses!
They add to so that they can take away. By whose authority do they do this?? Their own. And this is supposed to please God?


I understand that some people get confused by these things.
When you think in terms of requirements, it is hard to understand how righteousness is not from the law in the New Covenant, so some try to find some way, any way, to continue in the law.

For three decades I listened to people make these kinds of claims and I said, "Yes! That sounds good! Yes, yes!" And I would spend my time in little else than reading the publications of advocates of the way I wanted to follow. I was deceived (II TIM. 3: 13)! I didn't understand God's righteousness comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit by faith in Christ alone. I was blind (II COR. 3: 14)! But not because I wanted to be. My heart wanted to please God. I simply thought God wanted me to change myself into a good person, rather than letting God Himself be the goodness within me.
It was simple mistakes that took me far from the mark.

You cannot squeeze righteousness from the law any more than you can squeeze blood from a turnip. We have all sinned already. Once the law shows us that sin, that is the place where the law can do no more.
The law cannot make a person righteous, nor can a person make themselves righteous through the law. (The presence of Christ makes holy!) The law doesn't bring righteousness; it brings the knowledge of our ugliness and sin. (Christ washes clean!) The law cannot forgive, it only condemns. (Christ forgives to the uttermost!) The law can only show us our failures and our need for a Savior. (We don't need a Savior anymore - we have a Savior!)

What need have we of the shadow any longer??

Friends, go to God on your knees and deeply desire Him to explain it if it doesn't make sense you. But to assert that the Ten Commandments are not in the Law of Moses, or to assert that the Law of Moses and the Law of God are not one and the same thing, is simply not being truthful. The question is, do you love the truth?


What I fail to understand is how anyone can be so bold in claiming that the Law of Moses and the Law of God are two distinct and separate things, when even the most simple Bible study in the world will disprove the claim.
Dear and valued reader, I didn't do anything fancy here. I didn't do anything you can't verify for yourself. I didn't play games with words to conjure up something that isn't there. I didn't wrangle. I revealed the wrangling! In hopes that you will love the truth and reject the wrangling for what it is - a lie.

Please do yourself a huge favor and do not confuse the English translation of a word for the original meaning. What I mean is, every time you see the word "commandment," don't jump to the conclusion that it can only mean the Ten Commandments. When you see "works" don't jump to the conclusion that it means "law". The false ministers with their false gospels will trip you up when you least expect it; exploiting you with deceptive words (II PET. 2: 3). They will use the very law of God to separate you from God. Many things would have prevented the confusion from ever springing up in the first place, and this one mistake is at the top of the list.

I know how hard it is to let go of a thing you've held so dear for so long. I know how hard it is to admit you were fooled. It seems like an affront to your whole faith. It takes great faith to step out into the unknown. I promise you, the truth is never an affront to faith. God's word is truth. Insisting upon keeping an idea that is not true is entirely an affront. If the teaching about the Law of Moses is not true, then it can't be of God. The question is, of whom is it, then?

It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ;-)
Acts 17:11


donne said...

The Law of God and The Law of Moses are Two different things , colossians 2:16 is speaking in reference to the Law of Moses .. the feast and festivals and sabbath weeks months and years not the Law of God .. The Ten Commandments Have not and will not be done away with

xHWA said...

Donne, God's blessings to you.

That's a fine assertion and everything, but based on what? All you've made is a claim. I've given all sorts of evidence for my position, what evidence do you give for yours?
We're long past definitive assertions established on air here at ABD. They mean nothing to us.

We don't tell you what to believe, but we tell you what we believe and why and we go into detail about it. Now we ask that if you disagree then at least return us the favor and detail your reasoning.

Travis said...

Great article! This is the backbone of HRM movement also but when we show there is no distinction between law of God from law of moses, one and same thing, all there arguments fall like flies.

ddfskip said...

It is interesting to me that when someone such as yourself is asked what exactly is it in the Law specifically that you think is no longer binding? Do you believe we should kill, steal, commit adulteyr, have false Gods, take Gods name in vain, disobey parents,etc. Most people who believe as you say NO. Those are still good things. But when asked about the Sabbath that is entirely a different story. It seems to be the main reason people go thru the exercise of ending Gods Law. The 10 commandments existed long before Sinai along with Gods Sabbath. It was He who blessed it at creation and made it HOLY. Without Law sin is not imputed and yet death reigned from Adam to Moses. Cain killing Abel is just one instance of 6th commandment being broken. Its hard to believe what people will do to abolish Gods Law. Rom 3:31 states clearly that faith does not make void the Law. And Paul later states that The Law is Holy , Just and GOOD(present tense)Why do you suppose it is that God wrote the 10 comm. with His own finger, yet only spoke to Moses regarding ceremonial laws, etc. Why make that KIND of a distinction if it is all one in the same??

xHWA said...

Thanks for the comment ddfskip. God's blessings!

What I find interesting is when people in general can't address a point they are more than willing to resort to illogical arguments, for example building a straw man to knock down, rather than thoughtful introspection.

Let's take your straw man for example.
I have not said, nor have "people like me" said, that the Sabbath is gone. Should you have read what I did say about the subject before you set out to construct your straw man you would have known this.
What we have said has been recorded here on this website many, many times. In summary - the Sabbath is no longer in a weekday but perpetual, and no longer physical rest but spiritual. And this we have backed up with both scripture and writings from the early church.

Everything else that you've said (except for the non sequitur comment about God writing the Ten with His finger) has been dealt with in other places on this website over and over. We refer you to the FAQ and the Categories pages.

ddfskip said...

thank you for your response. since we are being good Bereans and studing faithfully the word of God. Here is a sight which contains quite a different point of view of what scripture teaches if you will allow it. I was responding directly to what you say in Law of God vs Law of Moses. I will try to read the rest of what you say on the site, to see if you touch on the points I brought up, but that will take some time. Something that I am quite short of at the moment. Thanks for your thoughts, it only inspires to study further.

Seeker Of Truth said...

I have signed a lot of rental agreement's in my time, all very similar, though different. That they were similar did not mean they were the same contract or with the same landlord.
God had two different contracts, similar yet different. Each stating the details that were to be adhered to.
The first contract had been fulfilled (Mt. 5:17) once our Lord Jesus had died on the cross - "It is finished," - bringing about the new contract (Jer 31:31-32)- see also: He 8:7-12, 1 Co 11:25, Ga 4:24, He 9:15 also see: Is 28:15,18; All summed up - In 15:12

When I moved out of my last house, that contract had been fulfilled. I have a new one now, similar, but not the same one. The Old Contract God drew up met it's purpose and was fulfilled. We now have a new one signed in the blood of our Christ, Jesus.

May God bless you in your walk & lead you in the light of His righteous path!

~Seeker Of Truth

Seeker Of Truth said...


That was to say: all summed up in Jn 15:12.

Kindle Fire decided it should say "In" rather than "Jn."

I hope you're not getting too burried in snow!
God bless!