The Law of
Why the Law
was Given at Sinai
HOW does Nehemiah describe the giving of the law at Sinai?
"Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest
with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws,
good statutes and commandments: and madest known unto them Thy holy
Sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand
of Moses Thy servant," Neh. 9:13,14.
What is declared to be the chief advantage possessed by the Jews?
"What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there or
circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were
committed the oracles of God." Rom. 3:1,2.
NOTE.-The law was not spoken at this
time exclusively for the benefit of the Hebrews. God honored them by
making them the guardians and keepers of His law, but He intended that
it should be held by them as a sacred trust for the whole world. The
precepts of the decalogue are adapted to all mankind, and they were
given for the instruction and government of all. "Ten precepts, brief,
comprehensive, and authoritative, cover the duty of man to God and to
his fellow men;" and all are based upon the great fundamental principle
of love. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with
all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy
neighbor as thyself." Luke 10:27. In the ten commandments these
principles are carried out in detail, and are made applicable to the
condition and circumstances of man.
Before the giving of the law at Sinai, what did Moses say when Jethro
asked him concerning his judging the people?
"When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and
another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and His laws."
What explanation did Moses give the rulers of Israel concerning the
withholding of the manna on the seventh day in the wilderness of Sin,
before they reached Sinai?
"And he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said,
Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord.... Six days
ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath,
in it there shall be none." Ex. 16:23-26.
When some went out to gather manna on the seventh day, what did the Lord
say to Moses?
"And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep
My commandments and My laws?" Verse 28.
NOTE.-It is evident therefore that
the Sabbath and the law of God existed before the law was given at
What question does Paul ask concerning the law? "Wherefore
then serveth the law?" Gal. 3:19.
NOTE.-That is, of what use or
service was the law announced at Sinai? What special purpose had God in
view in giving it then?
What answer is given to this question?
"It was added, because of transgressions, till the
seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by
angels in the hand of a mediator." Same verse.
NOTES.-The Greek word here
translated "added" is the same one that is translated "spoken" in Heb.
"The meaning is that the law was given to show the true nature of
transgressions, or to show what sin is. It was not to reveal away of
justification, but it was to disclose the true nature of sin; to
deter men from committing it; to declare its penalty; to convince men
of it, and thus to be ancillary to, and preparatory to, the work of
redemption through the Redeemer. This is the true account of the law of
God as given to apostate man, and this use of the law still exists."-Dr.
Albert Barnes, on Gal. 3:19.
How is this same truth again expressed?
"Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and
just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God
forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by
that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding
sinful." Rom. 7:12,13.
what purpose did the law enter?
law entered, that the offense might abound." Rom. 5:20.
NOTE.-By the giving of the law at
Sinai, then, God designed, not to increase or multiply sin, but that men
might, through a new revelation of Him and of His character and will, as
expressed in a plainly spoken and plainly written law, the
better see the awful sinfulness of sin, and thus their utter
helplessness and undone condition. While in Egypt, surrounded
as they were with idolatry and sin, and as the result of their long
bondage and hard servitude, Israel even, the special people of God, had
largely forgotten God and lost sight of His requirements. Until one
realizes that he is a sinner, he cannot see his need of a Saviour from
sin. Hence the entering, or republication, of the law to the world
through Israel at Sinai.
10. By what is the knowledge of sin?
"By the law is the knowledge of sin." Rom. 3:20. See
also Rom. 7:7.
11. Under what condition is the written law good?
"But we know that the law is good, if a man use it
lawfully." 1 Tim. 1:8.
12. And what is indicated as the lawful use of the law?
"Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous
man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and
for sinners, for unholy and profane, for
murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for
manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile
themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars,
for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is
contrary to sound doctrine." Verses 9,10.
NOTE.-In other words, the lawful use
of the written law is to show what sin is, and to convince sinners that
they are sinners, and that they need a Saviour. God's design, then, in
giving the law at Sinai was to shut men up under sin, and thus lead them
13. Who does Christ say need a physician?
"They that be whole need not a physician, but they that
are sick." Matt. 9:12.
NOTE.-Speaking of how to deal with
those "who are not stricken of their sins," and "have no deep conviction
of guilt," D. L. Moody in his "Sermons, Addresses, and Prayers," says:
"Just bring the law of God to bear on these, and show them themselves in
their true light.... Don't try to heal the wound before the hurt is
felt. Don't attempt to give the consolation of the gospel until your
converts see that they have sinned-see it and feel it."
14. Whom does Christ say He came to call to repentance?
"For I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to
repentance." Verse 13.
15. What is the strength of sin?
"The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the
law." 1 Cor. 15:56.
16. What are the wages of sin?
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is
eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom. 6:23.
17. Could a law which condemns men give them life?
"Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for
if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily
righteousness should have been by the law." Gal. 3:21.
18. What, therefore, was the purpose, or special design, of the giving
of the law at Sinai?
"Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ,
that we might be justified by faith." Verse 24.
NOTES.-"What is the law of God for?
for us to keep in order to be saved by it?-Not at all. It is sent in
order to show us that we cannot be saved by works, and to shut us up to
be saved by grace. But if you make out that the law is altered so that a
man can keep it, you have left him his old legal hope, and he is sure to
cling to it. You need a perfect law that shuts man right up to
hopelessness apart from Jesus, puts him into an iron cage, and locks him
up, and offers him no escape but by faith in Jesus; then he begins to
cry, 'Lord, save me by grace, for I perceive that I cannot be saved by
my own works.' This is how Paul describes it to the Galatians: 'The
Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of
Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came,
we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should
afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring
us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.' I say you have
deprived the gospel of its ablest auxiliary when you set aside the law.
You have taken away from it the schoolmaster that is to bring men to
Christ. They will never accept grace till they tremble before a just and
holy law. Therefore the law serves a most necessary and blessed purpose,
and it must not be removed from its place."-"The Perpetuity of the
Law of God," by C. H. Spurgeon, pages10,11.
" And let it be observed that the law did not answer this end merely
among the Jews, in the days of the apostles: it is just as necessary to
the Gentiles to the present hour. Nor do we find that true repentance
takes place where the moral law is not preached and enforced. Those who
preach only the gospel to sinners, at best only heal the hurt of the
daughter of My people slightly."-Dr. Adam Clarke, on Rom. 7:13
Commenting on Gal. 3:23, Mr. Spurgeon, in his "Sermon Notes," CCXII,
says: "Here we have a condensed history of the world before the gospel
was fully revealed by the coming of our Lord Jesus. . . . The history of
each saved soul is a miniature likeness of the story of the ages." That
is, in his experience, each individual that is saved is first in
darkness; he then comes to Sinai and learns that he is a sinner; this
leads him to Calvary for the pardon of his sins, and so to full and
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