4. The Moral law of God

4 • God’s Moral Law Given to Moses

The people of the world, descendents of Noah, still behaved in ungodly ways even after the global flood, but God chose a special people called the Israelites. God sent them to live in Egypt for 400 years, about 3600 years ago, because of a regional famine (Genesis 41-47). The Egyptians treated them badly and oppressed them. God appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai in Arabia in a burning bush (Exodus 3:2-8). Moses was an Israelite who previously lived in Egypt and had fled for his life, because he had murdered an Egyptian (Exodus 2:12). After wandering as a shepherd in the desert of Arabia for 40 years God appeared to Him. God told Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egypt to Mount Sinai to serve Him as His own people (Exodus 3:7-12). Moses reluctantly obeyed God and through miraculous signs and wonders God delivered the nation of Israel from the Egyptians (Exodus 7-12).

The Israelite population numbered about 2 million at that time. God destroyed the army, nation and livestock of Egypt with His awesome power because of the Egyptians’ rebellion and sinfulness and for His own glory. God demonstrated through miraculous wonders that the gods the Egyptians served did not exist. God had a purpose for His people Israel. When the Israelites came to Mount Sinai, God told Moses to climb the mountain alone. There, on the mountaintop, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, engraved by His finger in stone tablets, amidst lighting, thunder and fire after Moses had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights (Exodus 19:18-20:19; Exodus 24:18). The Ten Commandments given to Moses showed the Israelites how God wanted them to live as His own people. The Ten Commandments expressed God’s character, nature and holiness. They show us what God expects of us and what our relationship with God and our fellow human beings should be.

God again made a covenant with His people Israel at the mountain and said that He would be Israel’s God if they obeyed His commandments and statutes. The sacrificial ordinances, by which animals had to be slaughtered, were part of God’s covenant with them (Leviticus 1-7). God’s Book (the Bible) states in Romans 2:15 that God’s moral law is written within each person’s heart. This means that God has given us a conscience to live by. This conscience (knowledge of the divine), is within us. God has written His laws in our hearts even if we have never heard of the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments are: ‘You shall have no other gods before Me’; ‘You shall not make any idol nor bow down or worship any god  besides Me’ ; ‘You shall not take the Name of the Lord in vain’ ; ‘You shall keep the Sabbath holy’ ; ‘You shall honour your mother and father’; ‘You shall not murder’; ‘You shall not commit adultery’; ‘You shall not steal’; ‘You shall not bear false testimony’ and ‘You shall not covet’ [See Exodus 20:1-21 for the full version.]  The New Testament reveals the real meaning of the law. Jesus said that only looking at a woman with lust is adultery with her in the heart (Matthew 5:28) and 1 John 3:15 says that if you hate your brother you have committed murder in your heart. Romans 7:12 says that the ‘law of God is holy and the commandment holy and just and good.’ Romans 3:19, 20 state that the law shows that the whole world is guilty before a holy God and that through the law comes knowledge of sin. Psalm 19:7 says ‘the law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul.’ No human being who has ever lived, except Jesus, has kept the Ten Commandments (Romans 3:9-12). The law shows us we are guilty before God and that we deserve God’s punishment.

Question to consider: Have you ever experienced God speaking to your heart? God can speak to you through your conscience. What God says through it will always agree with and never contradict the Ten Commandments given to Moses and Israel by God.

Read: Genesis 41-47; Exodus 2:12; Exodus 3:2-8; Exodus 3 :7-12 ; Exodus 7-12; Exodus 19:18-20:19; Exodus 24 :18 ; Romans 2:15; Matthew 5:28 ; 1 John 3 :15 ; Romans 7:12 ; Romans 3:19,29 ; Psalm 19:7 ; Romans 3:9-12; Galatians 3:24.

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