A Review of God's Moral Law
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 5, with the understanding that chapter 5 literally begins with chapter 4, verse 44. You are aware that the chapter divisions in our Bibles were put there by men. I have said to you before and I repeat that we owe a great debt of gratitude to these sanctified, dedicated men, who spent all the time they did in dividing the Bible up into verses. Did you ever stop to think how difficult it would be to practically use your Bible if it were not divided into verses and chapters? These dedicated men did that, but I think that all Bible scholars are agreed that oftentimes the division is not in the best place for the clarity of text. This is one of those instances because chapter 5 really should begin with verse 44 of chapter 4.

We are beginning a study of what we referred to in our introductory study of the book of Deuteronomy as the second discourse . Keep in mind that we told you that the book of Deuteronomy is made up of three discourses: one song, one prophecy, and one obituary, all of them delivered by Moses to the children of Israel over a period of forty days. We have already discussed the first discourse, which is presented in our Bibles in the first four chapters through verse 43.

We are ready to begin a discussion of the second discourse which will begin with chapter 5 in the manner I have described and go through chapter 26. That is a long portion of Scripture, and you may wonder how we will be able to cover all of it. I think that you will realize as we go along that there will be no need to discuss publicly every single verse in this particular section because this section is made up of the repetition of the law of God. Remember, we told you that the first discourse represented a review of the failures of the children of Israel, a reminder of God's faithfulness, and a revelation of what the Word of God could do in the believer's life. This division is a repetition of the law of God.

The discourse on the repetition of the law of God falls naturally into three divisions. The first division concerns the moral law of God and is written in chapters 5-11. The second division comprises the ceremonial law of God and is presented to us in chapters 12-16. The third division discusses for us the judicial law of God and is presented to us in chapters 17-26. So there is the moral law, the ceremonial law and the judicial law.

When we had our introduction to the entire book, we told you that we are going to notice differences in the ceremonial law in Deuteronomy than what we did in Leviticus because certain things related to ceremonies were done in the wilderness which were not done in the Promised Land. Certain things were done in the Promised Land which were not done in the wilderness, so there were changes in the ceremonial law. There were changes along the same order in the judicial regulations, but we emphasize there were no changes in the moral law, and we want to emphasize that again because the moral law is presented exactly the same in the book of Deuteronomy as it is in the book of Exodus, with the exception of exhortation and amplification. The reason for that is that God's principles always remain the same. They never change.

That is particularly important for us to emphasize in this day in which we are living because we are told that we need to bring the church up-to-date—make it communicate with this generation. We are told that we should bring our preaching up-to-date and let our preaching communicate with this generation. We would like to emphasize that sin is still sin, righteousness is still righteousness, and the principles of God are still the same in any generation. That will definitely be emphasized as we look at the moral law which is presented to us here in Deuteronomy, chapter 5.

Notice the introduction, beginning with chapter 4, verse 44:

Deuteronomy 4:

44And this is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel:
45These are the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which Moses spake unto the children of Israel, after they came forth out of Egypt.
46On this side Jordan, in the valley over against Bethpeor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon, whom Moses and the children of Israel smote, after they were come forth out of Egypt:
47And they possessed his land, and the land of Og king of Bashan, two kings of the Amorites, which were on this side Jordan toward the sunrising;
48From Aroer, which is by the bank of the river Arnon, even unto mount Sion, which is Hermon,
49And all the plain on this side Jordan eastward, even unto the sea of the plain, under the springs of Pisgah.

Manner in Which Law is Given

I am reminding us in the introductory words the children of Israel were still on this side of Jordan and the second discourse was going to have for its theme, if you will glance at verse 45, the testimonies, the statutes and the judgments which were spoken by Moses. Time will not permit the reading of this entire discourse if we get through the things we had in mind for our discussion, so I would like to suggest that you notice one or two sections of Scripture out of the chapter that will portray some truths that I believe we need to receive. Notice in verse 4, Moses, describing the manner in which the law was delivered to the children of Israel, said:

Deuteronomy 5:

4The Lord talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire,

Then in verse 3:

Deuteronomy 5:

3The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.

I purposely read the verses in the order in which I have for the sake of emphasis. Moses was reminding the children of Israel of what a privileged people they were. God spoke to them face-to-face. He had never done that for any other nation, and because He deigned to speak to them face-to-face, as is described in verse 4, there rested upon them a very personal responsibility, as is described in verse 3, for there you read:

Deuteronomy 5:

3The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.

The critics see this verse and pounce upon it and indicate another error in the sacred text because we have already learned that the parents of this generation which was being addressed had died in the wilderness with the exception of Moses, Joshua and Caleb. Folk say, “You see how inaccurate the Bible is. Moses said, ‘The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers but with us, even us, who are even all of us here alive this day,' and yet, this covenant, Exodus, chapter 20, was made with the fathers of that immediate generation.”

The reason that this poses a problem for the critics is that they either forget or deliberately forget that the word fathers , as it is used in the context here, refers not to the flesh and blood fathers of the generation which is being addressed; it refers to the patriarchs of Israel: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God did not speak in the manner and on the subject with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that he spoke with these people. This is the covenant God gives you, and it is your personal responsibility.

For the sake of personal application, we would remind you that truth carries with it responsibility; and once you know the truth, you are obligated to obey.

You would think they would have enjoyed the privilege of God's speaking with them face-to-face, but we discover as we look at this chapter that they did not enjoy it. It struck real terror to their hearts, and they wanted to avoid such a relationship, lest they die. Notice verse 5, where Moses said:

Deuteronomy 5:

5(I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to shew you the word of the Lord: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount;) saying,
6I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

Then he describes what God told him for them because they were afraid of this face-to-face contact. Further evidence is suggested down in the paragraph which begins with verse 22:

Deuteronomy 5:

22These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.
23And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders;
24And ye said, Behold, the Lord our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth [that is, “We are still alive even though God has spoken to us, but we might not continue to live if this goes forth,” so in verse 25:].
25Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die.
26For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?
27 [Notice now what they said to Moses] Go thou near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it.

Summing all of this paragraph up into one simple sentence, what they were saying is, “Moses, when we hear the voice of God, when we are in close proximity to God, we feel our utter unworthiness. We need somebody to stand between us and God.” When the people made this statement, they laid the groundwork for the doctrine of the mediatorial work of the Lord Jesus Christ, for when they asked Moses to be their mediator, they were giving us an Old Testament picture of a New Testament truth.

They were not the first to realize that man could not be comfortable in his own flesh in the presence of God. Job was such an individual. Turn in your Bibles to the book of Job, chapter 9. Job, you will recall, was a man whom God looked upon as a perfect man, and yet he recognizied his need as few people do. Notice Job, chapter 9, verse 30, where Job said:

Job 9:

30If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean;
31Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.
32For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment.
33Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.

Did you notice what he said? “If I wash myself with snow water—the purest water known to man—and make my hands as clean as it is possible, humanly speaking, to make them, yet I have the feeling that God will plunge me into the ditch and mine own clothes will be dirty because of their contact with me.” Job said, “Why do I feel this way? Because God is not a man as I am a man that I should answer him. I have no link of communication with Him.” Then, he expressed the deep desire of his heart, when he said, “Neither is there any daysman betwixt us that might lay his hand upon us both.” What Job wanted was somebody big enough to reach up with one hand and get hold of God and reach down with the other hand and get hold of Job and bring the two together, for that is the business of a daysman. Poor Job didn't know anybody like that.

Go back to the book of Deuteronomy. The children of Israel had the same sense of helplessness, but Moses was there to be the mediator between God and them, for they sincerely wanted to do what God wanted them to do. That is the reason they said, in verse 27:

Deuteronomy 5:

27Go thou near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee; [notice now] and we will hear it, and do it.

They did not know their own weakness, but God appreciated the intent of their hearts, and I would like to emphasize that to you. God appreciates your wanting to do what is right. He doesn't excuse you and say, “Oh, just don't worry about it. Just forget it.” I don't want to leave that impression, but even though He knows that you probably won't be able to do what you tell Him you want to do, He is glad to hear you say that you want to do it. That is certainly indicated by what is in verse 28, where we read:

Deuteronomy 5:

28And the Lord heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and the Lord said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken.

God was not only pleased with their desire to please Him, but He was pleased with their realization that they needed somebody to stand between them and God. Moses was only a human mediator, and his mediatorial work was not enough. It could last on a human basis for a short time, but a greater mediator was needed than he. God knew that, so in His mercy and in His grace, He provided that mediator.

One Mediator

Turn in your Bibles, please, to Paul's first letter to Timothy, chapter 2, verse 5. The paragraph begins with an exhortation to pray for all men who are in authority that we might lead a peaceable life because God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, that all men should have the knowledge of the truth. The reason for that is given in verse 5, where he said:

I Timothy 2:

5For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

I am glad to be able to declare that what Moses could not do even in the effort he expended, the Lord Jesus Christ has done. I am glad to be able to emphasize that Moses, an imperfect mediator, died like any ordinary mortal; but our Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ, lives forever to make much better provisions than Moses could possibly have done.

Many passages of Scripture will emphasize that, but I want to share with you one that is recorded in the book of Hebrews, chapter 12. Turn there and notice the emphasis which is made. The Apostle Paul, having in mind the very thing that we are talking about in relation to the children of Israel and the wonderful difference in the Lord Jesus Christ and His mediatorial work, said in verse 18:

Hebrews 12:

18For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,
19And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:
20(For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:
21And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)
22But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect [notice carefully now],
24And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant which spoke death for nearly everyone who had any contact with it, but the Lord Jesus Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant which means life for everyone involved in it.

Repetition with Exhortation and Amplification

Go back to Deuteronomy, chapter 5, as we look at some other things in the chapter. I said when we began this discussion that this was going to be the repetition of the law, and it is that; but we don't want you to be left with the impression that it is the mere repetition of words like the repetition of a poem. It is the repetition of the law with some exhortation and amplification. That you might be able to see that, I want you to compare and contrast with me some passages in Deuteronomy, chapter 5, and Exodus, chapter 20. Notice Deuteronomy chapter 5, verse 12:

Deuteronomy 5:

12Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee.
13Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:
14But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.
15And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.

So that you will be thinking along the same line, notice that we have read a paragraph which describes the importance of the Sabbath Day and the reason the children of Israel were instructed to keep it. Go with me to Exodus, chapter 20, and notice the record of the original giving of this portion of the law of God. Exodus, chapter 20, beginning with verse 8:

Exodus 20:

8Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy [That sounds the same, doesn't it?].
9Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work [That sounds the same, doesn't it?]:
10But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates [That sounds the same, doesn't it?]:
11For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

That doesn't sound the same, does it? Do you follow me? The reason given in Exodus, chapter 20, for keeping the Sabbath Day is that God rested on the seventh day; therefore, man should rest on the seventh day. But the reason given in Deuteronomy, chapter 5, for keeping the Sabbath Day is that the children of Israel were delivered from the land of Egypt from the slavery which they endured there. This put a very personal responsibility upon the children of Israel for keeping the Sabbath Day and for us who do not keep the Sabbath Day, but instead of keeping the Sabbath Day through the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ enter into the rest which is symbolized by that Sabbath Day, have another reason to make the picture clearer. Not only did our God rest on the seventh day after six days of labor, looking upon all His creation and saying, “It is very good. There is nothing more to add to it,” thus reminding us that through the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, all is well, and there is nothing that we can add to our salvation.

In the Deuteronomy account, we have another illustration of the purpose of God's resting as it is illustrated in the deliverance of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt. For as they were delivered from the land of Egypt, we have been delivered from the kingdom of darkness and have been translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son.

Look in Deuteronomy, chapter 5, verse 16:

Deuteronomy 5:

16Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Let's go back to the book of Exodus, chapter 20, and notice the original record and see if we can find any difference. Look at verse 12:

Exodus 20:

12Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Any difference? Look at Exodus, chapter 20, verse 12, again:

Exodus 20:

12Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Look at Deuteronomy, chapter 5, verse 16:

Deuteronomy 5:

16Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, [It is the same up to this point, isn't it? And then you read:] and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

An added incentive is given for carrying out an eternal principle. Turn to Paul's letter to the Ephesians, chapter 6, as I remind you that every one of the commandments given in these two passages of Scripture at which we have looked are repeated in the New Testament as principles of Christian living with the exception of the command related to the Sabbath Day. This should be the happy medium at which we should all arrive.

There are individuals who emphasize the keeping of the Sabbath Day and suggest that those of us who do not believe in observing the Sabbath Day from a religious standpoint are already wearing the mark of the beast. That is one extreme.

Then there is another extreme that says that the Ten Commandments have no bearing on us today. You don't even need to try to learn them. We shouldn't even think about them. I have even had parents ask me if I thought you should teach the Ten Commandments to your children in this Age of Grace. That is the other extreme. Paul gives you the happy medium here. Notice verse 1:

Ephesians 6:

1Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) [the first commandment God gave to which He attached a promise, and this is the promise:]
3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

Paul was writing this to the Ephesian church, which is recognized by Bible scholars as representing the Body of Christ rather than emphasizing the idea of the local church as some feel such epistles such as I Corinthians do. Yet, this very spiritual letter, as it is referred to by some Bible scholars, takes this very practical commandment and says, “Children, honor your father and your mother. This is the first commandment, Children, to which God attached a promise, and the promise is that if you honor your father and your mother, it will be well with you, and you will live long on the earth.”

I think that I would be out of place to suggest to you that every person who has honored his father and his mother has lived to a ripe old age. We know that people have died at an early age without any reference to this commandment. What is the point of it then? The point is that God is establishing a principle. You should teach your children that they should honor you as father and mother because that is the only way to live a successful life. It is the only way for things to be well with them. It isn't so much that you want the respect and the honor that is your due, but it is the only way that things will ever go well with them.

It is a practical thing. The greatest killer of men today is what? Some might say, “Cancer.” Someone else might name another disease, but do you know the greatest killer of men today is tension. That is killing more people than any other one thing—tension. It follows that if you teach your children to honor you so they will know how to live, there will not be the tension that is in the lives of a great many people, and their lives ordinarily would be longer. That is the sense of the passage of Scripture. It isn't just a blanket rule that everybody who honors their father and mother will never die. They might get run over by an automobile, but it is a principle of life and that is the thing that needs to be emphasized.

Go back with me, please, to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 5, and notice the paragraph which begins with verse 17. Notice:

Deuteronomy 5:

17Thou shalt not kill.
18Neither shalt thou commit adultery.
19Neither shalt thou steal.
20Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.
21Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's.

Then go back to Exodus, chapter 20, and notice the paragraph which begins with verse 13:

Exodus 20:

13Thou shalt not kill.
14Thou shalt not commit adultery.
15Thou shalt not steal.
16Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
17Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

Notice in Deuteronomy, chapter 5, one thing that makes a difference between the account in Deuteronomy and the account in Exodus. It is one word. It is the word neither . You don't find it in the Exodus account. You do find it in the account in Deuteronomy. Do you recall what I said to you in the beginning of our discussion—that the repetition would not be mere repetition; it would be repetition with exhortation and amplification. This is an illustration of the amplification because this word neither in the Deuteronomy account puts the second table of the decalog together as though it were one commandment and that is exactly what the Lord Jesus Christ Himself did. It is what the Apostle Paul did when he was commenting on this very thing.

Turn with me, please, to the book of Romans, chapter 13, and notice why I say to you that the Deuteronomy account amplifies the record to indicate to us that the second table of the decalog is as though it were one commandment; so if you break any one of the second table, you have broken them all. Notice Romans, chapter 13, verse 8:

Romans 13:

8Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
9For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

You see, the Apostle Paul recognized the amplification of the Holy Spirit through Moses in the book of Deuteronomy. That is the reason it is so important for us to study the Word of God by comparing Scripture with Scripture. When we fail to do that, we tend to get a little bit lopsided and oftentimes go off into error.

Conclusion

We are going to close with the emphasis on the suggestion in Deuteronomy, chapter 5, verse 1:

Deuteronomy 5:

1And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them.

The purpose of hearing the Word of God, whether it was the children of Israel on Mt. Sinai or this group of people gathered at Abilene Bible Church. What is the purpose of your hearing the Word of God? It should be to learn it. It should be to keep it in the sense of guarding it in its purity so that you will be able to have the Word of God and to perform it. There isn't any point in your causing yourself to learn it, there isn't any point in your keeping it as the pure Word of God unless you perform it.


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