Christ and His Law
Laws in Christ’s Day
Lesson #1 for April 5, 2014
Jewish men were still expected to pay the half shekel temple tax (Matt. 17:24-27,Exod. 30:13); divorces were still being governed by the stipulations set forth by Moses (Matt. 19:7,Deut. 24:1-4); people still adhered to the law of levirate marriage, in which a widow was to marry her husband’s brother (Matt. 22:24,Deut. 25:5); boys were still circumcised on the eighth day (John 7:23,Lev. 12:3); and adulterers were to be punished by stoning (John 8:5; Deut. 22:23-29).—Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, p. 7.
If Adam had not transgressed the law of God, the ceremonial law would never have been instituted. The gospel of good news was first given to Adam in the declaration made to him that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head; and it was handed down through successive generations to Noah, Abraham, and Moses. The knowledge of God’s law, and the plan of salvation were imparted to Adam and Eve by Christ Himself. They carefully treasured the important lesson, and transmitted it by word of mouth, to their children, and children’s children. Thus the knowledge of God’s law was preserved.—The Signs of the Times, March 14, 1878; Selected Messages, book 1, p. 230.
If man had kept the law of God, as given to Adam after his fall, preserved by Noah, and observed by Abraham [Genesis 26:5], there would have been no necessity for the ordinance of circumcision. And if the descendants of Abraham had kept the covenant, of which circumcision was a sign, they would never have been seduced into idolatry, nor would it have been necessary for them to suffer a life of bondage in Egypt; they would have kept God’s law in mind, and there would have been no necessity for it to be proclaimed from Sinai or engraved upon the tables of stone. And had the people practiced the principles of the Ten Commandments, there would have been no need of the additional directions given to Moses.—Patriarchs and Prophets 364.2 (1890). (Compare 1SM 233-235.) [Words in brackets are added.]
But in heaven, service is not rendered in the spirit of legality. When Satan rebelled against the law of Jehovah, the thought that there was a law came to the angels almost as an awakening to something unthought of. In their ministry the angels are not as servants, but as sons. There is perfect unity between them and their Creator. Obedience is to them no drudgery. Love for God makes their service a joy.—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing 109.2. (See also1 Timothy 6:8-10.)
The main classes of work are 40, save 1. Sowing, plowing, reaping, binding sheaves, threshing, winnowing, cleansing crops, grinding, sifting, kneading, baking, sheering wool, washing, or beating, or dyeing the wool, spinning, weaving, making two loops [one would be all right but not two], weaving two threads, separating two threads, tying a knot, loosening a knot, sewing two stitches, [If the button just fell off a Sabbath suit on the way to church and it is our pastor–he does want to look tidy in the pulpit–that’s too bad. He cannot sew it on.] tearing in order to sew two stitches, hunting a gazelle, slaughtering, or flaying, or salting it or curing it’s skin, scraping it or cutting it up, writing two letters, erasing in order to write two letters, building, pulling down, putting out a fire, lighting a fire, striking with a hammer, or taking out ought from one domain into another. These are the main classes of work, forty save one. [Content in brackets is added.]
Bathing on the Sabbath and drying off!
If a man bathed in the water of a cave or in the water of Tiberias and dried himself, even though it was with 10 towels he may not bring them away in his hand.
You wonder what that would mean. So, there is a footnote:
From fear of offending against the principle of squeezing out however little the moisture in them.
Then you see the point. You are not allowed to squeeze a towel on the Sabbath. But, you want to dry yourself. Well, use 10 towels and none of them will get very wet, and you will not by mistake squeeze them. But, no, that is forbidden. So, the rule goes on like this:
But if 10 men dried themselves with 1 towel [Then it would be very wet; wouldn’t it?] wiping their faces, their hands and their feet, they may bring the towel away in their hands. [Well, how could that be?] So many men would keep each other warned of the danger of squeezing. [Content in brackets is supplied.]
It would be much safer for 10 people to use one towel and get it very wet because they would remind each other that they must not squeeze it. But, if one man used 10 towels–even though the towels would not be very wet–there is the danger he would forget and squeeze one of them. Remember that next time you take a shower!
Could you say, “I do what I do because God has told me to, and He has the power to reward and destroy”? Is this why you don’t murder or commit adultery, because God has said you mustn’t? You would otherwise, but you can’t afford to incur His displeasure.
This might be all right for a beginner or a little child, but it suggests that God’s laws are arbitrary and do not make good sense in themselves. That does not speak very favorably of God.
Would you rather say, “I do what I do as a believer because God has told me to, and I love Him and want to please Him”? Is this why you don’t steal or tell lies? You would see nothing wrong or harmful about doing these things. It is just that you want so much to please God. For some reason He does not like it when you steal or lie, and since He has been so good to us, you feel under some obligation to please Him. It would only be grateful and fair.
Again, this might be all right for a beginner or child. It might even be progress beyond the obedience prompted only by fear of punishment and desire of reward. But it still implies an arbitrariness in God’s commandments and does not speak so well of His character and government.
There is another possible approach to obedience. Could you say this? “I do what I do because I have found it to be right and sensible to do so, and I have increasing admiration and reverence for the One who so advised and commanded me in the days of my ignorance and immaturity.” Then hastening to add, “Being still somewhat ignorant and immature, I am willing to trust and obey the One whose counsel has always proved to be so sensible, when He commands me to do something beyond my present understanding.—A. Graham Maxwell, I Want to Be Free, pages 33,34.
© 2014, Kenneth Hart, MD, MA, MPH. Permission is hereby granted for any noncommercial use of these materials. Free distribution is encouraged. It is our goal to see them spread as widely and freely as possible. If you would like to use them for your class or even make copies of portions of them, feel free to do so. We always enjoy hearing about how you might be using the materials, and we might even want to share good ideas with others. So, let us know. [email protected]
Last Modified: February 28, 2014
Lesson 2: Christ and the Law of Moses
58:30:00 | Apr. 12, 2014
Lesson 3: Christ and Religious Tradition
58:30:00 | Apr. 19, 2014
Lesson 4: Christ and the Law in the Sermon on the Mount
58:30:00 | Apr. 26, 2014
Lesson 5: Christ and the Sabbath
58:30:00 | May. 03, 2014
Lesson 6: Christ's Death and the Law
58:30:00 | May. 10, 2014
Lesson 7: Christ, the End of the Law
58:30:00 | May. 17, 2014
Lesson 8: The Law of God and the Law of Christ
58:30:00 | May. 24, 2014
Lesson 9: Christ, the Law and the Gospel
58:30:00 | May. 31, 2014
Lesson 10: Christ, the Law and the Covenants
58:30:00 | Jun. 07, 2014
Lesson 11: The Apostles and the Law
58:30:00 | Jun. 14, 2014
Lesson 12: Christ's Church and the Law
58:30:00 | Jun. 21, 2014
Lesson 13: Christ's Kingdom and the Law
58:30:00 | Jun. 28, 2014
Lesson 6: Struggling with All Energy
56:30 | Aug. 06, 2022
Lesson 5: Extreme Heat
58:30 | Jul. 30, 2022
Lesson 4: Seeing the Goldsmith's Face
58:30 | Jul. 23, 2022
Lesson 3: The Birdcage
58:30 | Jul. 16, 2022
Lesson 2: The Crucibles That Come
58:30 | Jul. 09, 2022
Lesson 1: The Shepherd's Crucible
58:30 | Jul. 02, 2022
Lesson 13: Israel in Egypt
58:30 | Jun. 25, 2022
Lesson 12: Joseph, Prince of Egypt
58:30 | Jun. 18, 2022
Lesson 11: Joseph, Master of Dreams
58:30 | Jun. 11, 2022
Lesson 10: Jacob-Israel
58:30 | Jun. 04, 2022
Lesson 9: Jacob the Supplanter
58:30 | May. 28, 2022
Lesson 8: The Promise
58:30 | May. 21, 2022
Lesson 7: The Covenant With Abraham
58:30 | May. 14, 2022