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We have several web sites dedicated to the understanding of this subject and other related topics such as the Ceremonial law, Col 2:16, Gal 4:9-10, Colossians 2:16 Feasts Holy Days, Colossians 2:16 Ordinances, Rom 14:5-6 and the Bible Ten Commandments etc. so this site is for personal feedback. Please use the above links for some insight on the various misunderstood passages associated with this law for some guidance before submitting your article.
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What is the difference between the Ten Commandments and the ceremonial law? The Ten Commandments are God’s moral that defines love for our Creator and our neighbour. Breaking these Commandments is sin and hence transgresses this law that God wrote in stone as scripture informs us. 1 John 3:4 “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” Scripture shows us the Ten Commandments written in stone are also a reflection of God’s loving Character and so clearly the Commandments are a law of love just as God is also love. (1 John 4:8)
The ceremonial law on the other hand is not a law of love. It is a law of sacrifices that had to be carried out to make atonement for sin before the cross. Hence this law ended at the cross when Jesus said “it is finished” and bowed His head and died. At this time, an unseen hand tore the temple curtain from top to bottom exposing the most holy place signifying an end to the sacrificial system forever as Christ became that one final and perfect sacrifice for us. Mark 15:37-38 “And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.”
The animals sacrificed on the alter did not take away sin themselves but pointed forward to Christ’s work on the cross which redeemed us from the consequences of sin, which is death. Hebrews 10-14 “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins … we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. … And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: … But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; … For by one offering he has perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”
So was there a relationship between the ceremonial law and the Ten Commandments? When a man sinned he broke LAW No. 1, the moral law of the Ten Commandments. To receive forgiveness for his sin he had to bring his sacrificial offering, according to LAW No. 2, the law of sacrifices. LAW No. 1 defines sin, for sin is the transgression of the moral law, the Ten Commandments. (1 John 3:4) LAW No. 2 defined sacrifices, the ceremonial law which was the remedy for sin. When the Israelite sinned, he broke the first law, God’s law of love. To secure forgiveness he had to obey the second law, which is not a law of love but a law of sacrifices to make atonement for breaking God’s law of love the Ten Commandments. So here are two very distinct laws that no one can deny.
There are in the Bible two main types of laws spoken of in several places. The moral law of God, which is the Ten Commandments and a sacrificial law that is also called the ordinances and the Mosaic Law as it was written by Moses. The Ten Commandments already existed long before the Mosaic Law requirements were ever given. The ceremonial law was written in Moses handwriting on parchment and placed in the side of the ark of the covenant. Deuteronomy 31:26 “Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.”
The purpose of this law was to make atonement for sin. It was to point the way to the true Lamb of God. Each person who was to sacrifice a Lamb was to realize that in the future the true Lamb of God Jesus would come and be sacrificed for our sins once for all. The ceremonial law is a law of types and shadows of things to come which all pointed to Christ and were finished at the cross. This is why this law was a temporary law. For example, the ceremonial Passover. The Israelites were to take a lamb and kill it, take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood and to strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood, in order that when the Lord was to pass through to smite the Egyptians he would see the blood on the lintel and two side posts and pass over the door and those inside were saved. The fulfillment of this type can be seen when Jesus the ultimate Passover Lamb was sacrificed to make atonement for sin once for all. We were sinners and deserved the punishment of death, but now when God looks at us He sees us washed in the blood of Jesus that was sacrificed for us and we are saved from the consequences of sin.
The ceremonial law which was a witness against us was nailed to the cross. Colossians 2:14 “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” The Ten Commandment law however was not abolished, as the ceremonial law was a temporary law, but the Moral law is an eternal law. It is by this law we know what sin is. 1 John 3:4 “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” The Ten Commandment law was understandably not to be abolished as for all eternity we will be required to obey it as there will be no sin in heaven. As Jesus himself said in Matthew 5:17-18 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
The ceremonial laws given by God to Moses, and more accurately, by Christ (per 1 Corinthians, chapter 10), had a very important place in salvation, not for Israel alone, but for the whole world that the Israelites were to evangelize. Certainly, they must not be confused with the Moral Law, those principles written in stone. The ceremonial laws were subordinated to the Ten Commandments as was taught to Israel by their placement in the holy sanctuary. The two tablets of Ten Commandments were placed in direct relationship to the “Mercy seat,” undergirding the throne of God, who was King not only among the tribes of Israel, but throughout the families of heaven and Earth. That holy standard was the transcript of the King’s character. He is holy, period. By association, His people must be holy also. But His holiness does not dispense with mercy; to the contrary, mercy embellishes His throne. Justice and correction undergird mercy and patience; gentleness and joy beautify and ennoble the strength of truth and judgment.
But beyond the wonders of divine mercy and justice in the Ten Commandments, a second law was given to Israel, and through them to the world. This law, placed to the side of the mercy seat, was implemented to bring the people into appreciation of the mercy and truth that built up the throne of God. His people’s hearts were hardened by generations of abusive control received in Egypt . The children of Israel had no capacity to accept the mercy of God, let alone His justice and discipline. Thus, in His mercy, God would, through their senses, lead them to understand their need of Him. Through the work of seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, feeling, and action, they could be taught the mysteries of self-sufficiency and pride, in other words, the mystery of sin and their need for righteousness.
Nothing like death and loss of treasure, has greater affect to sober us up and awaken a sense of responsibility. In the death of a toddler lamb or kid goat lie a gentle shock treatment that had the potential to break the human heart of its stubbornness and resistance against the truth of sin. Still today we need this. The world is suffering from pervasive lack of sorrow for sin. When Christ finally came as the innocent ewe Lamb of God, He fulfilled, yes exceeded, all that the ceremonial law could accomplish for fallen man. In all His life, and especially during His 3 ½ year ministry of love, He qualified Himself as our friend, the most candid but gentle of friends, which is the best kind of friend. In all that He did, it was for us. Self never entered into anything. And when He was then murdered at our ignorant hand, He was found forgiving and interceding to God for us till His very last breath. There, with arms pinned open widely enough to accept anyone, even the whole world, His feet unable to budge from His mighty work, and raised up for all to see, we are also converted if we look. No ceremonial law, however holy, can exceed the work of His sacrifice; those laws were merely shadows in comparison to the real, live Act of the ages.
The Law of God must still stand. It is even magnified by the life which Christ taught and lived. But when the brilliant light from the Law became abundant through the life of the world’s Messiah, His mercy and grace became much more abundant also. Neither the ceremonial law nor the sacrifice of Christ played down the precepts of His Father’s Law. And when we allow the death of God’s dear Son to reconcile us to Him, we find we are reconciled to His moral Law also. Even more powerful for transformation than the ceremonial system of the Old Testament, the great work of Christ’s sacrifice results in our being dead to sin and alive to righteousness, establishing our Father’s Law and becoming His witnesses.
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