"For the law was given by Moses but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (John 1:17) The scriptures reveal that there are two systems of written law, which God has given to mankind. In this passage, we came to learn that the law was given through Moses and that there is another law given by Christ. We need to recognise too that the law, which God gave through Moses, did not contain God's grace and truth, as did the one brought by Christ.
The Bible reveals that the Old Testament Law was given at a particular time, to a particular people, for a particular time period, with a particular purpose. Failure to understand this truth about these basic facts will result not only in a misunderstanding of the entire purpose of the Old Testament, but will also lead to a misunderstanding of the very purpose and plan of God. It was God's intention to save mankind in Christ, by the blood of Christ and in the body of Christ, the church. Genesis 3:15 reveals that it would be through the seed of a woman that man would experience salvation. Yet, Galatians 4:4-5 states: "But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law. To redeem them that was under the law, that we might receive the
adoption of sons." The word 'redeem' means to "buy out", "to rescue", "to release". Whatever law Christ was made under, that is the same one from which we have been redeemed. Since Christ was under the ten commandment law, then we have been bought out, rescued and released from that law. While we were under that law, we could never be God's adopted children.
GIVEN AT A SPECIAL TIME
The Bible teaches that the law was given four hundred, and thirty years after the promise was made to Abraham. There are some who teach that the law was given at creation, but not in a codified form until God finally gave it at Sinai. However, the Bible does not teach this. Listen to the scriptures "This is my argument: The law, which began four hundred and thirty years after the covenant [concerning the coming
messiah does not, and cannot annul the covenant previously established by God so as to abolish the promise and make it void" (Gal. 3:17). Even though the law came after the promise was made to Abraham, it does not destroy that promise.
The Bible further teaches that the law was given after man actually sinned and that it was given to expose sin which was already committed. It is wrong then to think that the Ten Commandments are the only measuring rod for sin. People were sinning before the Ten Commandment law was given. "To be sure, sin was in the world before ever the law was given but sin is not charged to men's account where there is no law to transgress." (Romans 5:13) This passage teaches that it is sin then law and not the other way around. Hear the word of God again "Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made and it was ordained by angels through an intermediary." (Gal 3:19) Listen to the living New Testament's translation of Romans 5:20 "The Ten Commandments were given so that all should see the extent of their failure to obey God's law." People were already sinning and as a result the Ten Commandments were given.
When the Bible says that it was added or entered, it means that the law came in additionally, that it was thrown alongside. It was never given from creation and therefore could never have existed from the beginning. It was made known at Sinai (Neh. 9:12 – 14). No one before Sinai knew about the Ten Commandments.
GIVEN TO A SPECIFIC NATION
The Bible teaches that the law was given to Israel only so that at no time has the Bible ever implied or taught that it was given to other nations or people. It was never given to any one before Moses. (Duet. 5:1-3) After calling all Israel and setting out to
them the Ten Commandments, Moses says that the covenant made in Horeb (Sinai) was not made with their forefathers; nor was it made with the Gentiles (Romans 2:14) neither was it made with Christians. (Acts 15:5-6, 23-4) There was no commandment to keep the law. In Ex 20:1-2, it was given to those who were brought out of the land of Egypt. In Duet. 5:15, it was given to those who were slaves in Egypt? In Ezekiel 20:10-12, it is a sign between God and those who were brought out of Egypt into the wilderness. Duet. 4:8 shows that it was only Israel who got the law and this is confirmed by Paul in Romans 9:4. Only the Jews had the Ten Commandment system.
The Bible teaches that the law was given with a limited duration in mind from the very outset. Gal. 3:19 says it was added till the seed should come that is Christ and that now that Christ has come we are no longer under the schoolmaster which is the law (verses 23-5) Paul's' argument inverse 19 is that since this law could not have given life then there was need for another, hence, the temporary nature of the law. Paul says that it was added, "fill the seed should come." and that law would end when faith came (v23). Paul says that the law was our schoolmaster and that we are no longer under it. Gal 3:21-31 shows that the law has been cast out or abolished.
GIVEN FOR A SPECIFIC PURPOSE
The Bible teaches that the law was given for a purpose that of preserving the promise God made to Abraham. It was given to protect the lineage of Christ (Gen 12:1-3; Gal. 3:7-8). In its separation of Jews and Gentiles and its rigid legalities, it would safeguard the promises to Abraham. The law was given to point out sin, preserve righteousness and expose the sinfulness of sin (Gal. 3:19) Romans 5:20, 3:20, 7:7). It was given to prepare the way for Christ (Gal. 3:24-25). Having served its purpose the law was taken out of the way and nailed to the cross. (Col 2:12-16) We are freed from it so that we can marry Christ (Romans 7:1-7)and it was old ready to vanished away. (Heb 8:8-13).
We are now under a new system. "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? God forbid. (Romans 6:14-15).
It is important that we keep in mind Galatians Chapter 3. All the important truths about the law are shown here. The law was given to the children of Israel after they left Egypt to preserve righteousness until Christ and his Church should come.