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10. The Law

My notes for teaching the Old Testament, by Mama Brenda.

Leader’s notes: Lesson 10 - The Law Exodus 20:1-17; Micah 6:8; Matthew 22:37-40.

Teach through page 33, and page 34 as far as point 2.

You are giving information which will then allow more class participation later in the lesson.

Student's worksheet: Lesson 10 The Law Exodus 20:1-17, Micah 6:8, Matthew 22:37-40

The Law, the rules by which the Israelites were to live, was given by God to Moses while they camped near Sinai after leaving Egypt.

In our Bibles this Law comes in:

Exodus 20:1-31:18; 34:1-39:31 - an account of what was said and written at Sinai

Leviticus 1:1-8:36; 11:1-27:34 - mainly relating to the Levites, the sons of Levi,

the priests, offerings and festivals

Numbers 5:1-6:21 - rules with specific relevance to camp living, and


Deuteronomy 4:1-14; 5:11-26:19; 31:1-13 - a farewell address from Moses, repeating the Law

Let’s ask some questions here.

1. What does the Law contain?

When we read the whole of the Law in the references above we discover that there are three main divisions.

(1) There is religious ceremonial law:

Describing how the Tabernacle, the symbol of God’s presence, was to be made and set up; Giving the rules for the life and work of the priests, the sons of Levi;

Showing us pictures of the sacrificial Lamb, the sacrifices to atone for sin, the Passover celebration.

When we looked at the first Passover (see earlier page 26) just before the Israelites left Egypt, we said that Jesus Christ fulfilled all that those pictures represented. He is our great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14 “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.”) The pictures are now not needed anymore. We have the reality in Jesus Christ.

We are His priests, 1 Peter 2:5 “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood.”

And we are the symbol of His presence in our world today.

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

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Leader's notes: Lesson 10 - the Law

You may want to ask some questions towards the end of section 1 (What does the Law contain? From halfway down page 33). Try to make sure the ladies are following you.

Use questions like:

How many kinds of Law were there?

What was the ceremonial law?

Do we still need to make sacrifices for our sins?


Work through point 2 together with all of the Old and New Testament references.

Student's worksheet: Lesson 10 - the Law.

So we see that the ceremonial law is fulfilled in Christ and transformed in the mission He has given us in our world. We can still learn from it, but it is superseded in the reality of Jesus Christ and His presence in the world today.

We also see in the Law two other types: (2) moral law and (3) civil law. Moral law tells us how to behave ourselves, and civil law regulates how groups of people – nations, states and districts - live together.

The Ten Commandments summarise the moral law and are the basis of the civil law.

Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17 say “You shall not murder”, number six of the ten commandments. So the moral command to us as individuals is that we should not intentionally set out to kill anybody. The Old Testament Law expands its conditions in great detail to cover killing by accident, and the punishments for various situations. The judiciary of the state may have the right to take life if life has been taken.

Remember that when the Law was given there were no prisons because the Israelites were then a nomadic people! This changed as they settled into towns. The civil law in the Old Testament covers all kinds of details in life - criminal law, family law, treatment of animals - from rules for a king to not taking slaves of your own people - from treating servants as people not as animals, to not being mean with what you left to be gleaned around the fields.

2. So we do not have to follow the ceremonial law, but what about the moral and civil laws?

We cannot adopt the whole civil law because situations of life have changed over the centuries, but we need to take the moral law in its entirety and work it out its practical implications and applications to our lives.

Moses himself summarised the Law in Deuteronomy 10:12-13, 18-20 but the Israelites did not do well with following the moral law. Years later they were being called back by the prophets of God to live the right way, as well as to ceremonially sacrifice the right way.

Isaiah 1:10-17

Zechariah 7:8-10

Micah 6:8

Hosea 6: 6

Jesus summarised the Law: Matthew 12: 1-8

Matthew 22: 34-40

Matthew 22:37-40

Matthew 25: 31-46

Mark 12: 28-33

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Leader's notes: Lesson 10 - the Law.

Discuss the two pages of the Ten Commandments, pages 35 and 36 – especially discussing applications for today as you go through.

For point 3 you will know the minor expletives that are used where you are.

Let God speak to the class on this (and other) issues.

Student worksheet: Lesson 10 - the Law.

3. So what do the Ten Commandments say for us today?

Christians have taken the Ten Commandments as a shortened version of the Law.

I remember having to learn the Ten Commandments in day school when I was 8 or 9 years old. This moral code is the basis of the British legal justice system. Even in a largely un-Christian United Kingdom, that fact is still largely acknowledged. It means that with the way history has happened, many other countries which had British influence also have the morals of the Ten Commandments enshrined in their national laws.

1. “You shall have no other gods before me.” Deuteronomy 5:7

’Before Me’ meaning more important than. There should be nothing in your life or

mine that is more important than God.

This prohibits God’s people from having other gods - our exclusive allegiance is

to God. This is not a philosophical idea but a practical loyalty.

2. “You shall not make for yourself an idol……You shall not worship them.”

Deuteronomy 5:8-10 Make no images of God.

A statue is lifeless, visible, finite.

Our God is life itself, invisible, infinite.

This is a command with punishment for disobedience.

3. “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 5:11.

We must not use the name of God worthlessly - supporting lies, supporting evil

intentions, as blasphemy, in hollow mindlessness or thoughtlessly.

Honest women and men do not need to resort to oaths: their word is sufficient.

We know major expletives contravene this law but what about ‘minor’ expletives?

Many are euphemisms for ‘major’ ones.

Like: for heaven’s sake

what the heck/what the hell

for God’s sake

God knows

This is a command with guilt potential.

4. “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” Deuteronomy 5:12-15

Use a Sabbath to remember what God has done in creation (in Exodus 20:8-11)

and in rescuing His people (Deuteronomy 5:12-15).

One day in seven is to be different. This is a creation gift, a deliberate device,

to stop work and money from taking over seven days out of seven. It is to be to the

benefit of all - the boss, the workers, the servants, the animals. Mark 2:27 - the

Sabbath was to benefit man, not for men and women to have rules to obey.

See also Luke 13:10-16: Luke 6:1-11.

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Leader's notes: Lesson 10 - the Law.

7. Control of the mind is not reserved for men – women need to control their minds.

In this instance especially in sexual thinking? wishing? imagining?

Are some of these thoughts you have, not what you would like to explain to Jesus?

By the way – He knows them anyway!

8. Stealing covers many issues – boundary markers and true weights are still valid

examples. But so are ideas, like using written material from the Web as your own

writing when you copy it word for word into your essays for the teacher.

10. There is a line between saying things are nice, or we like them, and desperately wanting what someone else has for ourselves. Think carefully – think…..think….keep control of YOUR mind.

Student's worksheet: Lesson 10 - the Law.

5. “Honour your father and your mother.” Deuteronomy 5:16

This is not only or even primarily to children of a young age. We are all children

even if we are also parents, especially in an extended family. ‘Honour’ means to

respect, appreciate, esteem, as well as including to obey. This is a command with


6. “You shall not murder.” Deuteronomy 5:17

Killing with intention is wrong. Any form of illegal or unauthorised killing is wrong.

The basic reasoning here is from Genesis 1:24-27. Men and women are special

creations, made in the image of God, and are therefore worthy of greater respect

than animals. God has the right to take life. The state may have the right to take life.

We do not have the right to say who lives and who dies.

Matthew 5:21,22 Jesus widens the definition of murder – to include murder of the


7. “You shall not commit adultery.” Deuteronomy 5:18

Many laws about family matters also fit in this area.

Matthew 5: 27-28 Jesus also widens the definition of adultery!

8. “You shall not steal.” Deuteronomy 5:19

19:14 says don’t move boundary markers and

25:13-16 talks about using true weights

9. “You shall not give false testimony.” Deuteronomy 5:20

19:15-21 at least two or three honest witnesses required.

19:18-19 if a witness is proven to be lying he must be punished with the

punishment he was trying to inflict on the accused.

10. “You shall not covet.” Deuteronomy 5:21

This takes me being able to control my mind and you being able to control your

mind. My neighbour, according to the parable of the Samaritan, is anyone I meet –

not just my next door neighbour

For the next time please look at Joshua 1:1-8:35; Judges 1:19-2:23; Ruth, and

1 Samuel 1:1-3:1.

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