If you find yourself a bit hesitant to embrace the topic of our Bible study next quarter, Christ and the Law, please reconsider your reluctance. You will forfeit many blessings, if you don’t join Seventh-day Adventists around the world in looking at this aspect of our discipleship.
Trust me, this isn’t a “cookie cutter” approach to Bible study. Each of us will make our own spiritual discoveries and the best place to share them is in the Sabbath School setting, where brothers and sisters in the faith explore and compare our findings, growing our faith in the process.
Here are some reasons why I feel the Law is worthy of our study:
Most of the world, including many Christians, are under the impression that the Ten Commandments, as delivered to Moses, are a series of “Thou Shalt Nots”, and not worthy of our full attention. In other words, if we love God and love our fellow man we are keeping the Ten Commandments already.
This, of course, is basically true. But when we stop and think that the Ten Commandments are the only part of the Bible that was written with God’s own hand and not through a prophet, we might have reason to give them a second look and might come to understand and agree with David in Psalm 19:7, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul…”
David, who is referred to as a friend of God, was in love with the law. One has only to read Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, to see this aspect of their relationship. Can we really love God without loving the Ten Commandments, which has been called a transcript of His character?
This is why I’m happy to be studying the law in our next quarter’s lessons, especially as it relates to our love for God.
I hope you have found yourself meditating on the law as well. If not, perhaps the next few months will give you that opportunity. I can testify that you will be greatly blessed.
Taking a look at the Ten Commandments is like looking at God. As a matter of fact, it’s the closest description we have of Him in the Bible. Jesus’ life revealed a lot, of course, but obviously the lifetime He spent with us could not be enough to fully disclose Him to us.
How important was the law to Jesus anyway? In the next quarter, we will discover the law’s importance, especially as it relates to Christ. I hope we can all prepare our hearts for this study, and come to the place that we actually look forward to what there is to learn about the law, because it’s the only way we can safely define morality in our sin-sick world.
Studying the law doesn’t make us legalists. It just makes us good disciples. We want to please God and worship Him as He prescribes in the law.
Here are a few of the interesting things I have found in my own personal meditations on the Ten Commandments. Perhaps they will whet your appetite for your own spiritual discoveries about the law:
- The two commandments which do not begin with “Thou shalt not” are the 4th and 5th commandments. Remember the Sabbath and honor your parents.
- They are both about honoring someone. #4 is about honoring God and #5 about honoring our parents.
- Both are right in the center of the commandments.
- God gave us life, and so did our parents.
- We honor God on the Sabbath because God made this earth for us and rested that day, and we honor our parents in order to keep living on the land (earth) God gave us. (Read the complete fifth commandment in Exodus 20.)
- Right in the center of the first four commandments, the ones about loving God, are two commandments which are tied to specific behaviors—making graven images and not taking the Lord’s name in vain.
- Right in the center of the commandments about loving man are commandments about our behavior too—not killing, committing adultery, stealing, and lying.
- These commandments about behavior begin and end with commandments about our thoughts, where our hearts lie.
- The 1st commandment tells us to worship God above all other gods, and the 5th commandment tells us to honor our parents above other adults. Indeed as youth, we are trained to honor God by first honoring our parents.
- The 4th commandment tells us how we can avoid breaking the 2nd and 3rd ones, by remembering His Sabbath; by appreciating the beautiful earth God made for us, and not worshiping Him in vain on any other day or through graven images.
- The 10th commandment tells us how we can avoid breaking the 6th-9th commandments by not coveting, by remembering to appreciate what we have.
- The language used in the 4th and the 10th commandments is similar too. In the 4th, it mentions “thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gate”. The 10th commandment is about not coveting “thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.” (Read the complete verses for these commandments too.)
- The 1st and the 2nd commandments are related in that they both address having other gods besides our Creator God.
- The 3rd and 4th commandments are similarly related. The 3rd prevents us from using God’s name in vain. The 4th would have us not worship Him in vain either, by keeping any other day but His.
- The 2nd and the 4th commandments have similar language. The 2nd says not to make graven images to worship “any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” And the 4th commandment says that “the Lord made heavens and earth, the sea, and all that in them is”. One is also reminded of a verse in Revelation 14:7, which tells us to fear God and “worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” All three texts point to a Creator God, which John, chapter 1, reveals is none other than Christ Himself!
And just one more observation: the word “love” is actually in the Ten Commandments. Look for it in Exodus 20:6 and you will discover HOW to keep the commandments and also HOW to express our love to God.
Whether you are the poetic type or the scientific type, the physical type or the technology type, everyone can glean precious spiritual treasures from studying God’s moral law, as revealed in the Bible. Please join me in our deep study of Christ and the law next quarter. I think we’ll be amazed at what God has to show us.