Seventh-Day Adventists/The moral and the ceremonial
Could it be that the first covenant had 2 parts, the moral and the ceremonial? The Bible says so, “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary” (Hebrews 9:1 KJV). It was this ceremonial law that was nailed to the cross. “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:14 KJV). The moral law was then written on the hearts of all God’s people in the New Covenant. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:31-33 KJV). Therefore, the Sabbath remains a necessary practice for God’s people since it is part of the moral law written in stone. BTW why do you think the God wrote the Ten Commandments in stone? Was it not to show its permanence?
Thank you so very much for your questions.
Unless you are a Jew and/or have Jewish heritage, whether the first covenant had one, two or three parts is not relevant because the first or old covenant was given the Jews/Israelites only.
Gentiles (non-Jews) were never given the law given to the Jews and they were never subject to Jewish law.
Romans 2:14-15 (KJV)
14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law
, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
The law (aka Torah or Pentateuch, which consisted of 613 commands including the Ten Commandments) was a unit and was not divided into categories such as moral, ceremonial and civil. You will not find this teaching to be biblical. The division of the law into categories can be credited to a Thomas Aquinas, a 13th-century Roman Catholic philosopher-theologian.
When I was an SDA, I was taught that only the so-called ceremonial laws were nailed to the cross and that the law was divided into categories. The Bible did not seem to agree with this teaching so out of curiosity, I decided to contact a Rabbi to get his perspective. My reasoning was, "Who better to answer this question than a Jew because they were the recipients of the law and would know the true meaning behind it? Following is a copy of our correspondence (all emphasis mine):
From: Patricia Allen
I understand that the Torah consists of 613 laws including the Ten Commandments.
Are the 613 commandments considered a unit or are there categories like civil,
moral and ceremonial laws? When Scripture speaks of The Law, is it speaking of the
entire law (Torah)? Can the Ten Commandments be separated from the Torah?
Thanks for your response.
I like your question, as there are some very important key concepts contained
within, important to Jews, and important to non-Jews. You have classified yourself
as a ben Noach, which is quite correct, as anyone who is not Jewish is under G-d's
Noachide Covenant. It is a positive thing to identify oneself honestly and
straightforwardly as a ben Noach for this is the direction G-d wants every non-Jew
to take. BTW: One should not think that G-d's Noachide Covenant is a simple set of
seven laws. It is nothing of the kind. It is an entire way of thinking, an entire way of
living, and it is a philosophical and intellectual exercise without end.
As to the Ten Commandments, there is no such thing. I realize that everyone thinks
it is the Ten Commandments, and therefore calling it anything else would be
troublesome, and as so even most knowing people stick to the title. However, the
Hebrew term for "Ten Commandments" would be, "Aseres Mitzvos," and that is
NOT what these commandments are called. They are called the "Aseres HaDibros,"
the Ten STATEMENTS. The Rambam (Maimonides) explains to us that the Aseres
Hadibros are actually 14 commandments, couched within Ten Statements.
You ask if the Aseres Hadibros stand alone away from the Torah, away from the 613?
No, they do not. They are a reflection of G-d's complete law to the Jewish
The 613 do not stand alone either. AND, the Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noach
(Seven Laws of Noah) also do not stand alone. G-d's covenants to the Jews and to
the rest of humankind are all encompassing modes of daily behavior. What needs to
be clearly understood is that G-d's laws to the Jewish people are NOT the same as
G-d's laws to everyone else, and a person is to learn and follow HIS set of laws, be
they Jewish or Noachide. He is not to become confused and think he is to follow the
other person's rules.
The laws making up BOTH G-d's Jewish and Noachide covenants were both given
over at Sinai, and are both incorporated within G-d's Torah. The key to
understanding those laws, both Jewish and Noachide, lie with the knowledgeable
and observant of the recipients of those laws at Sinai, that is, the Jews. The Aseres
HaDibros (Ten Statements) are NOT incumbent upon a ben Noach, and there are
sections, such as Shaboos observance, which is not even allowed for a ben Noach .
However, righteousness can be achieved BOTH by a Jew and by a ben Noach if he
understands and follows his own set of rules, and makes them the basis for his
continual improvement throughout his life.
I do hope this is helpful.
Regards, Eliahu Levenson
Rhonda, you will note that according to the Rabbi and what I discovered in my studies from the Bible, there was a set of laws for the Jews and there was a different set of laws for the Gentiles (you can do an Internet search on Ben Noach laws). Each group was to abide by his own set of laws. Note that he also said that Sabbath observance is not even allowed by a Gentile and that the law given on Mt. Sinai was given as a unit (no division). Therefore, the entire Torah, which included the Ten Commandments, was nailed to the cross.
Your first statement was:
"Could it be that the first covenant had 2 parts, the moral and the ceremonial? The Bible says so, “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary” (Hebrews 9:1 KJV)."
Please notice the little word 'also'. The first covenant had ALSO ordinances, etc. 'Also' means that there was something else included. It wasn't just ordinances but laws, commands, decrees, etc. The law was a unit.
2 Kings 17:34-38 (NIV)
34 To this day they persist in their former practices. They neither worship the LORD nor adhere to the decrees and ordinances, the laws and commands
that the LORD gave the descendants of Jacob, whom he named Israel.
35 When the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: "Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them.
36 But the LORD, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices
37 You must always be careful to keep the decrees and ordinances, the laws and commands he wrote for you
. Do not worship other gods.
38 Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods.
Notice verse 36, in it you will find one of the Ten Commandments (worship no other gods) and a so-called ceremonial law (offer sacrifices to Him (God)). Also note that there is no distinction between His decrees, ordinances, laws and commands. They all fit perfectly together. Break one and break all. So how can we conclude that we can nail one to the cross and leave the others? The Ten Commandments as a unit was nailed to the cross along with the laws, decrees, ordinances, etc. but under the New Covenant we are under Christ's Law, the law of love and we are commanded to love God and others, which entail some of the commands that were part of the Ten.
Now, let's look at what the covenant was. According to the Bible in....
Exodus 34:28 (KJV)
28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
The Ten Commandments was the covenant which is why it was placed in the Ark of the Covenant. The rest of the law consisted of ordinances, decrees, commands, etc. that explained how the Israelites were to worship in the earthly sanctuary, (as referenced in Hebrews 9:1), how to treat and love God and others, how to observe special feasts, festivals and Sabbaths, what to tithe and how to eat the tithe, how, what and where to offer sacrifices, etc. The Book of the Law, which was placed on the outside of the ark gave instructions on how to keep the covenant (the Ten Commandments).
Some Adventist stress the importance of the Ten Commandments being placed on the inside of the ark. Where else should they have been placed since the Ark of the Covenant was built specifically to hold the covenant which also contained God's sign between Him and Israel? Also be mindful that the law consisted of the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. This means that the Ten Commandments were placed both inside AND outside of the ark
since they are contained in Exodus.
In essence, the law is the law. Even though it might prove convenient for some to categorize the 613 commands into moral, ceremonial and civil, the bottom line is that it is not biblical.
The reason Christ came to earth as a Jew was to fulfill Jewish law
, stamping it 'paid in full' by His blood and by perfect obedience to it. He came to crumble the dividing wall that separated Jews and Gentiles and placed us on equal footing. Now, we all have equal access to Him.
So if the entire unit of the Old Covenant law was nailed to the cross, why would that same law be written on our hearts? Under the New Covenant and in these last days, we are to listen to the Son. When we become believers we are Spirit led. We live under the Law of Christ, aka the Royal Law of love. The Spirit leads and directs our lives. The Spirit whispers and tells us which path to take, etc. Stone cannot talk.
Romans 8:14 (KJV)
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
The Bible was written for the use of all people BUT everything that is written in the Bible is NOT FOR ALL PEOPLE. The Bible has to be read in context. Context is key! In some of Paul's letters, part of a letter would address Jewish believers, who had been under the law and parts of that same letter would address Gentile believers who had never been under the law. Whenever Paul quoted the law or referenced the law, you will discover that he was addressing believers who had been under the law. It's hard to separate from a lifetime of legalism and sometimes the habit of law-keeping would try to raise its ugly head and Paul would address it.
"Therefore, the Sabbath remains a necessary practice for God’s people since it is part of the moral law written in stone. BTW why do you think the God wrote the Ten Commandments in stone? Was it not to show its permanence?"
The Sabbath was given to the Jews/Israelites only and only until the Seed came. the Sabbath is not a necessary practice for believers. The Sabbath is a Person (Jesus) and IN HIM we find rest for our souls.
Exodus 31:12-18 (KJV)
12 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
13 Speak thou also unto the children of Israel
, saying, Verily my sabbaths
ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations;
that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.
14 Ye shall keep the sabbath
therefore; for it
is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest
, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath
day, he shall surely be put to death.
16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant
17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever:
for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
Please note that 'sabbath and sabbaths' are used interchangeably. No where in the Bible will you find God commanding Gentiles and New Covenant believers to keep the sabbath. The sabbath was made reference to in Hebrews but no command was given to worship on any particular day after the resurrection and the ushering in of the New Covenant. When Jesus rose from the grave, according to the Bible, He was on earth for 40 days but you will not find not even one instance of Him keeping the sabbath after His resurrection
. Why? Because He came as a Jew to fulfill Jewish law and the law in its entirety had been fulfilled and nailed to the cross. Sabbath keeping was no longer necessary. All believers are now under grace, not law.
Romans 6:14 (KJV)
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
You asked why I thought the Ten Commandments were written in stone and was it not to show their permanence. Well, stone can be classified in the 'long lasting' category but by no means permanent. Remember Moses broke the commandments
that were written on stone
, so stone can be broken. I don't know that the Bible explains why they were written on stone but I heard Joyce Meyers once say that perhaps
they were written on stone to represent the stony hearts
of the people.
Ezekiel 36:26 (KJV)
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart
out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
The law was in effect only UNTIL, the One it foreshadowed came to perfectly obey it and fulfill its terms with His blood.
Galatians 3:19 (NIV)
19 What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.
The Seed was Christ.
I hope this answer has been helpful. Sorry for the length.