The Temporary and Permanent Law of Moses
It is important for us to understand the book of the Law of Moses called the Law. You must understand the Law of Moses in the bible to understand most of what Paul had to say about the Law. In the bible, Paul writes both positive and negative things about the Law of Moses, which can be very confusing. This is because the positive things are about the righteousness in the Law of Moses. Moses wrote the Law and delivered it to the priests. He commanded them saying: “Take this book of the law and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 31:9-26) Moses wrote this law after the Ten Commandments and the book of the covenant.
The Ten Commandments are distinct from the book of the Law of Moses. The Law has blessings and curses of a covenant written in it. (Deuteronomy 29:21, Joshua 8:34) It is a witness against Israel. (Deuteronomy 31:26) A large part of it existed at the beginning of the world. It even has a version of the Ten Commandments. It has law abolished or done away with under the New Covenant. This part of the Law is what ended with the Old Covenant. However, this whole law is not abolished or done away with under the New Covenant. This is because the Law also has righteousness, which is the way of the Lord. (Genesis 18:19)
The Temporary Law of Moses
There are many volumes written about the book of the Law of Moses ending in the bible. The Bible makes it clear that the lord gave laws that would end. Therefore, there is general agreement on this point. The bible even says the Lord gave statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not live. (Ezekiel 20:25) Most people agree that these not good laws would end with the old covenant because the Lord promised to make a new covenant with the houses of Israel and Judah. The Lord said the days were coming when He would make a new covenant with the houses of Israel and Judah. He said this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days. I will put My laws in their mind and write it on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they will be My people. In that the Lord says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:7-13)
Most servants of God believe that the entire book of the law of Moses was abolished under the new covenant. They also believe that all of the Lord’s law was done away with under the new covenant. However, the Bible shows that this is not true. The Bible shows that the Old Covenant had laws associated with it that would not end. The Bible also shows that the Old Covenant had laws associated with it that would end. Two scriptures prove that the Lord gave laws that would end.
- Galatians 3:19 says that these laws were added until the seed would come to whom the Lord had made the promise.
- Hebrews 9:10 says that these laws were imposed until a time of reformation.
Two more scriptures shed some light on why some laws were temporary.
- Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; My ears You have opened; burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. (Psalm 40:6)
- You do not delight in sacrifice. Otherwise, I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. (Psalm 51:16)
The following scriptures show that Ezekiel is simply saying that the Lord instituted some temporary laws. These scriptures also show that it is only these temporary, not good laws that ended with the Old Covenant.
Why the not good law then? It was added because of transgressions, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. (Galatians 3:19)
Thus, it has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that faith may justify us. Now since faith has come, we are not under a tutor. (Galatians 3:24-25)
Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:14)
By abolishing in His flesh, the enmity, which is the law of commandments contained in ordinances. (Ephesians 2:15)
Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for based on it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be appointed according to the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. (Hebrews 7:11-12)
Moreover, this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become such not based on a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. (Hebrews 7:15-16)
For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness. (Hebrews 7:18)
This is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly, both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation. (Hebrews 9:9-10)
Galatians 3:19 explains the time of reformation. These two scriptures go together with one another. Thus, the time of reformation started when the seed (Christ) came to Abraham, to whom the promise had been made.
For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices that they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. (Hebrews 10:1)
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Hebrews 10:4)
Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:18)
When we study the scriptures above, we see the characteristics of the law abolished or done away with are:
- A tutor
- Certificate of debt
- Commandments contained in ordinances
- Weak and useless
- Relate only to food and drink and various washings
- Regulations for the body
It is easy to see that the part of the book of the Law of Moses that was abolished or done away with under the New Covenant was not good law. Therefore, it is quite easy to prove from the Bible that God gave temporary laws. However, it is not as easy to prove from the Bible that God also gave Israel permanent laws.
The Permanent Law of Moses
It is not easy to abolish or do away with the book of the law of Moses. Most servants of God do not have a godly mindset when it comes to the laws of God in the Bible. However, it should be just the opposite when it comes to the laws of the God. A servant of God should have a biblical mindset when it comes to His law. You see it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of the letter of God’s law to fail. (Luke 16:17) God wants us to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness. (Genesis 18:19)
He wants the righteous requirements of the book of the Law of Moses to be fulfilled in His servants. (Romans 8:4) God gave statutes and ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live. But, the house of Israel rebelled against God in the wilderness. They did not walk in His statutes, and they rejected His ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live. (Ezekiel 20:11, 13) Ezekiel 20:11 and 13 are like Christ saying that God’s commandment is life; so, the things He spoke, He spoke as God had told Him. (John 12:50) Also, the book of Proverbs says to keep His commandments and live. (Proverbs 4:4, Proverbs 7:1-3) It should be obvious that “live” in these scriptures means eternal life. The scriptures below also show that righteousness leads to life.
So, you must keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the Lord. (Leviticus 18:5)
15 “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, which I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So, choose life so that you may live, you and your descendants. (Deuteronomy 30)
Moreover, admonished them to turn them back to Your law. They acted arrogantly and did not listen to Your commandments but sinned against Your ordinances, by which if a man observes them he shall live. Also, they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck, and would not listen. (Nehemiah 9:29)
Then he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live.” (Proverbs 4:4)
My son keep my words and treasure my commandments within you. Keep my commandments and live, and my teaching as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 7:1-3)
However, if you have warned the righteous man that the righteous should not sin and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; and you have delivered yourself. (Ezekiel 3:21)
9 “If he walks in My statutes and My ordinances to deal faithfully—he is righteous and will surely live,” declares the Lord GOD. 17 He keeps his hand from the poor, does not take interest or increase, but executes My ordinances, and walks in My statutes; he will not die for his father’s iniquity, he will surely live. 19 “Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity?’ When the son has practiced justice and righteousness and has observed all My statutes and done them, he shall surely live. (Ezekiel 18)
21 “But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 All his transgressions, which he has committed, will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness, which he has practiced, he will live. 27 Again, when a wicked man turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practiced justice and righteousness, he will save his life. 28 Because he considered and turned away from all his transgressions, which he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. (Ezekiel 18)
11 I gave them My statutes and informed them of My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live. 13 However, the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness. They did not walk in My statutes, and they rejected My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live; and My Sabbaths they greatly profaned. Then I resolved to pour out My wrath on them in the wilderness, to annihilate them. 21 However the children rebelled against Me; they did not walk in My statutes, nor were they careful to observe My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live. (Ezekiel 20)
14 But when I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and he turns from his sin and practices justice and righteousness, 15 if a wicked man restores a pledge, pays back what he has taken by robbery, walks by the statutes which ensure life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 19 Moreover, when the wicked turns from his wickedness and practices justice and righteousness, he will live by them. (Ezekiel 33)
At least twice, Christ said that if you want to inherit eternal life, keep the commandments of God. (Luke 10:28, Luke 18:20) Christ also said that God’s commandment is life. (John 12:50) Furthermore, He said that it is the righteous that inherit eternal life. (Matthew 25:46) Even Paul said that the commandment was to result in life. (Romans 7:10) So, God gave laws that are tied to everlasting life. But does that mean that such laws are eternal? Once a servant of God inherits eternal life, will these laws still be valid? These are indeed two very good questions.
The bible never says that sin will be done away with or abolished. It does say that death will be done away with or abolished. (1 Corinthians 15:26) But it does not say anywhere that such a thing will happen to sin. This is because God has only created beings with freedom of choice. As long as His created beings have freedom of choice, the possibility of sin exists. This includes those who have reached eternal. And as long as the possibility of sin exists, God’s laws of righteousness must exist. Any immortal person who sins will simply join Satan in the lake of fire.
When it comes to the Book of the Law of Moses,
you cannot through the baby out with the bath water.