Skip to comments.Did the Ten Commandments Exist Before Moses?
Posted on 04/20/2009 5:26:00 PM PDT by DouglasKC
Many people assume that the Ten Commandments and the covenant God established with ancient Israel are identical—and that both were abolished by Jesus Christ's death. They believe that the Sinai Covenant and God's commandments came into existence together and went out of existence together.
But is such reasoning biblical? The facts show it is not. A close look at the Scriptures reveals that breaking the Ten Commandments was a sin before the covenant at Mt. Sinai, so arguments that they came into existence with that covenant and were terminated with it cannot be true. Let's notice the scriptural proof.
God's Word defines sin as "the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4, KJV) or "lawlessness" (New King James Version, NIV). Therefore, "where there is no law there is no transgression" (Romans 4:15). This is what the Bible clearly says! So do we find transgressions of the Ten Commandments described as sinful before Mt. Sinai? Clearly we do.
For example, Genesis 13:13 tells us that "the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord." Since sin is violating God's law, the people of Sodom could not have been punished for being wicked and sinful if no law condemned what they were doing. We must conclude, therefore, that God had already made available the knowledge of what is sinful.
Here is a clear example. Genesis 20:3-9 and 39:7-9 describe adultery as "a great sin" and a "sin against God." Adultery breaks the Seventh Commandment.
In Genesis 3:6 and 17, God punishes Adam and Eve for their coveting and stealing—breaking the Tenth and Eighth Commandments. They also dishonored Him as their parent, violating the Fifth Commandment.
In Genesis 4:9-12, God punishes Cain for murder and lying—violations of the Sixth and Ninth Commandments.
In Exodus 16:4, several days to several weeks before God established His covenant with the Israelites at Mt. Sinai, we find God giving them a test to see "whether they will walk in My law or not." His test involved whether they would rest on the seventh-day Sabbath as He commanded in the Fourth Commandment of that law—with which they were at least partly familiar. The seventh day had been hallowed—set aside as holy by God—from the time of Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:1-3).
God's reaction to their disobedience is revealing. He exclaims, "How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?" (Exodus 16: 28). God clearly speaks of both His "commandments and . . . laws" as already existing and in force well before He listed the Ten Commandments verbally at Mt. Sinai, as described four chapters later! Therefore, the Ten Commandments were only codified—written in stone as part of a formal covenant—at Mt. Sinai. Scripture clearly shows that they existed and were in force well before then.
This is stated explicitly in Genesis 26:5, where God tells Isaac that He blessed his father Abraham "because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws." This event took place centuries before the covenant at Mt. Sinai, centuries before Moses and two generations before Judah, head of the tribe that much later would become known as the Jews, was born! (Be sure to read "Did Abraham Keep the Same Commandments God Gave to Moses?" on page 13).
In Leviticus 18:21 and 27, God calls the idolatrous practices of the people of the land of Canaan "abominations"—actions so filthy and degrading that God compared their expulsion to being "vomited out" of the land (verse 28). What was their sin? Among other things, idolatry (the worship of false gods) and human sacrifice, which violated the First, Second and Sixth Commandments.
The Bible shows that the Ten Commandments did not originate with Moses or in his time. Nor were they in any way limited only to the Jews. They were in effect and known long before Moses or a people known as the Jews existed. They are the foundation of God's laws that show us how to love God (defined by the first four Commandments) and how to love our fellow man (defined by the last six).
This is why, after Jesus Christ returns to establish His glorious Kingdom on earth, Isaiah 2:3 tells us that "many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."
At that time, all of mankind will at last be taught to live according to all of God's laws and commandments!
Jesus did not come to abolish The Law, He came to fulfill it. There is a big difference!
sounds like the author never heard of the Noachide laws.
And the point is? Those of us who are Bible teachers have known this...it is not new information. So the author’s point is what?
God says he has written His law on the hearts of men - that is why all cultures had certain prohibitions. Additionally, Christ came to fulfil the law, not abolish it. The Law’s purpose is so we realize that we are, in fact, sinners and deeply so and the Law is so that realizing we are sinners we will be ready to accept Him who came to set us free from sin and death. If we do not acknowledge that we are sinners, then we really have no need for a Savior, then do we? Of course, that’s the problemo for many today - they think they sin not apparently, or that there is NO law other than man-made. Well, wait til they find out otherwise (uh oh).
Amen and Amen.
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You would be surprised that many Christians think that the ten commandments are no longer applicable to Christians.
I guess God felt He had to write ‘em down. It worked too. :-D.
On the hearts of men who repent and accept the sacrifice of Christ under the new covenant:
Heb 10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
Heb 10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
Additionally, Christ came to fulfil the law, not abolish it. The Laws purpose is so we realize that we are, in fact, sinners and deeply so and the Law is so that realizing we are sinners we will be ready to accept Him who came to set us free from sin and death.
Well, yes, but to fulfill means also to fill it up, to reveal it's true spiritual intent and purpose.
If we do not acknowledge that we are sinners, then we really have no need for a Savior, then do we? Of course, thats the problemo for many today - they think they sin not apparently, or that there is NO law other than man-made. Well, wait til they find out otherwise (uh oh).
I disagree - God has written His law on the hearts of ALL men and that is why no man will ever be able to stand before God and say He didn’t know. I agree with everything you say except that. What man does is try to override that law and squelch it.
Do you have any scripture to support that statement?
Other than the one that says he has written the Law on the hearts of men? (he he). I’ll try to find the specific verse but I’ve studied this many years ago and am pretty confident. It makes sense too if you think about it.
Why would God NOT write His law on the hearts of men so they would SEEK Him when not all people will have Billy Grahams, Bibles, Christian radio, etc. etc. or nice people like you to witness to them.
"Then they were pricked in their hearts...."
That is the fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:33
"Deep within them I will plant my Law, writing it on their hearts."
The Jerusalem Bible
Worth a look. Too bad most will not look.
They show that what the law requires is written in their hearts, a fact to which their own consciences testify, and their thoughts will either accuse or excuse them
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;)
Bible in Basic English:
Because the work of the law is seen in their hearts, their sense of right and wrong giving witness to it, while their minds are at one time judging them and at another giving them approval;
Thank you. I'd never looked at Acts 2:37 in that context before.
Seems like as soon as they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that man became aware of what sin was and subject to the law of sin and death.
That is when the new law was written. On the hearts of men who were gathered together in order to celebrate Pentecost.
What holiday celebrates the giving of the law to Israel by Moses on tablets of stone?
It is all so very simple.
The article is flawed. It ignores two things; 1. that God created man with a CONSCIENCE. The Apostle Paul explains it quite well in Romans 1. Man instinctively knows that actions mentioned in the law are right or wrong. Man failed to live up to the things his conscience told him was right.
2. God gave laws to NOAH, commonly called the “Noachian laws.” In so doing, human government was mandated. Man failed to establish righteousness on earth through that human government.
The point of the Torah (Pentateuch) is not that we need laws. It is that laws do not make a man righteous before God. Only faith can do that. “Abraham “...believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (Gen 15:6).
Agreed and nice way to put it.
At the fall of man, Eve was enticed when told by satan that by eating the fruit she would become “like God,” knowing good and evil.
Often, we know what’s right and wrong; we justify what we do by “legalizing” what is and is not “sin.”
Deu 5:1 And 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.
Deu 5:2 The LORD our God made a COVENANT WITH US in Horeb.
Deu 5:3 The LORD made NOT THIS COVENANT WITH OUR FATHERS, but with US, [even] US, who [are] all of us here alive this day.
Deu 5:4 The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire,
Deu 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,
Deu 5:6 I [am] the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
Deu 5:7 Thou shalt have none other gods before me. ........
Ah...I thought so. Thanks.
Heb 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
Eze 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh:
Eze 11:20 That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
Eze 36:26 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 a heart of flesh.
Eze 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
Deu 30:6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
Act 7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
I believe that all these verse describe the process by which Christians are given a new heart. Part of the process is that we receive the holy spirit of the Lord which indwells in us and writes God's laws on our hearts.
Those who are not God's have hearts of stone.
So what about this?
Rom 2:14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,
Rom 2:15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)
The answer to this seeming quandary is that punctuation is not inspired.
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law,
Move the comma:
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law by nature, do the things in the law,
Who had the law by nature? Israel. God taught them the law. It was theirs by nature.
Paul is making the case that gentiles who have God's spirit, Christians, God's laws written on their hearts, will do the things in the law not because they've been raised with them but because they're written in their hearts.
You might check out this site if you haven’t seen it. It has some good information about this subject (and many others.)
Thanks for the wonderful scripture. It’s evident that God’s laws did exist and there penalties for violating them. But of course the old covenant was established with Israel.
Thanks...it looks like a great website.
or maybe we all just think alike
I think you did.
I’m not sure if you are agreeing with me but I do believe the Scripture you quoted does support my contention which is that even NON-believers have the Law written in their heart. Of course, true repentance only comes to those who recognize the GIVER of that law.
Meanwhile, there is another scripture in the OT that discusses how God has set eternity in the hearts of men and that is another verse that supports that God writes in the hearts of men the fact that eternity exists so that those who believe we just die are gravely wrong.
Oh we are good at that alright. In fact the Jews got it down to a science with all the laws that they came up with even more detailed and filled with minutiae that makes the entire Levitical laws look like easy.
I used to work with a lovely Jewish man and he received a weekly fax about some Jewish law and how it was applied. It was quite drawn out and fascinated me. I remember one in particular and it was about gossip and what was gossip and what wasn’t and so and and so forth for pages and pages.
Yes, God has the 10 and we turn it into the 8 billion.
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed [it] unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"
The Letter of Paul to the Romans, chapter 1
Basic Catholic theology. And since the Founding Fathers (of the U.S.) had made so many references to natural law in the foundational documents, I had thought it had long been basic Protestant theology. Then again:
"And many things were forgotten, which should not have been forgotten"
J.R.R. Tolkein, in The Lord of the Rings
God knows how many "Catholics" don't learn any theology these days, so I won't pick on any Protestants if this preacher feels it necessary to teach his flock.
>> You would be surprised that many Christians think that the ten commandments are no longer applicable to Christians. <<
It’s called antinomianism. My understanding was that even the Lutherans are no longer antinomianism. They have rehabilitated Luther’s antinomianism to say that those living in grace no longer desire to do wicked things... which was, of course, the Catholics’ position all along.
Well, although I WASN’T BORN in the show me state, I also like proof.
There was clearly a knowledge of sacrifice to God withing the first generation of Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve having a knowledge of good and evil would of certainly had a knowledge of sin.
Well, while you check, I’ll get to work on the parking lot. Because we all know what they did after they paved paradise... :D
Of course, the covenant was a promise, not the imposition of the law. The law was imposed on all mankind, from the time of creation; the covenant was the promise God made to Israel .
Every pothead and hippy alive made a remake of the same annoying song?
I’d better keep my faith strong, because I know what song will be playing on the elevator to Hell if I don’t.
LOL!! Unfortunately, that is happening where I live way, way too much.
Here’s what I found in NIV (below) and sorry it’s not the best looking but I’ve got to get to sleep and don’t have time to HTML-pretty-it-up. I was always taught that those who have the law apart from being given the law (e.g the Gentiles vs. the Jews who were given the law) have it b/c it is written on their hearts. Of course, the gentiles would be anyone who was not the chosen people who were set apart. Now, we Christians have also been given the Law if we were brought up in a Christian home or came to faith in Christ. But, I am convinced that non-Christians in places that may never hear a whisper of the Gospel (and they do still exist in spite of our wonderful Bible missionaries and so on) have the law written on their heart by God Himself and that is why they know to seek HIM even when they might not know HIS name. I’ve heard of stories of missionaries who have gone into the jungles of places that no man has been and they preached the Gospel and the people said, “Oh, THAT’S His name!” They KNEW Him already.
I am NO expert by any means and I’m not saying my take on this is necessarily the right one but I believe it, just as I believe the Trinity, which is not specifically spoken about either.
12All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
I’ve enjoying this little exchange. As the Lord tells us, we are to come and reason together. We grow as Christians in this way, I believe, and it helps us in being better witnesses. There is no problem with us wondering and asking each other questions. If it were so simple there would not be millions of scholarly works written on every book in the Bible, eh?
Bless you both tonight.
“You would be surprised that many Christians think that the ten commandments are no longer applicable to Christians.”
Who teaches that?
In your estimation, in what sense are the applicable to Christians?
He has written The Law on the hearts of all men...or He would be unjust to hold all men accountable!
They are the written definition of perfect love toward God and toward our fellow man. They show Christians where they are falling short spiritually and physically in letting the spirit of Christ live in them and through them. If one could let the perfect love of Christ live fully through them, the outward and inward appearance would be that they were keeping the ten commandments perfectly.