The Moral Law and
the Ceremonial Law
During our last teaching on the so-called moral and ceremonial laws, we defined the Hebrew word translated as commandments. As we earlier discussed, the scriptures make no mention or separation of moral, ceremonial or civil laws. As a matter of fact, the word moral, morals, morality, civil or judicial are not found in scripture in the English. The one occurrence of the word ceremonies in the text is found in Bemidebar (Numbers) 9:3 and refers to the Passover.
"In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies [mishpat] thereof, shall ye keep it."
The Passover is referred to as a judgment. My focus in the introduction was to point out that the words in Hebrew translated as commandments are words directly associated with that which comes out of our Fathers' mouth. I have found that many of the web sites devoted to teaching that our Creator is limited to judicial jurisdictions, think like typical westerners think. They see the words of our Father as legislative rather than parental. If we can just adjust our thinking to seeing God's commands as parental rather than legislative, the scriptures soon begin to point to a house, a family and a fruitful piece of land rather than a court, a jury and a burial plot. The bottom line to this discussion on moral and ceremonial law is that from the beginning there has only been one body, one spirit, one family and one God. Why do religious systems continue to refer to laws for the church and laws for the Jews?
Before proceeding to the defining of ordinances I would like to take some time to talk about morals and the whole idea of moral law as contrasted to ceremonial law. Remember that it is man that has produced the whole concept of ceremonial law in the first place. There is no sscriptural equivalent for this English word. The meaning and various applications would have to be in the mind of the person promoting this concept. In other words, it would be up to him/her as to what constitutes a ceremonial law from other laws. Most western thinkers consider the feasts of YHVH to be ceremonial laws. But based upon what criteria? The argument is that the ten commandments are from God and all other laws are from Moses. This position goes on to state that the ten commandments are directly from God to the people and the other laws are spoken by God to Moses to reveal to the people. The ten commandments were written by God, all others were written by Moses. The ten commandments are moral and the words of Moses FROM God are ceremonial. One of their examples is Shemot (Exodus) 24:2-4:
"And Moses alone shall come near YHVH: but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him. And Moses came and told the people all the words of YHVH, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which YHVH hath said will we do. And Moses wrote all the words of YHVH, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel."
They are suggesting that there is a diffence between the overall validity of the words from God as opposed to the words spoken by Moses FROM God. Now my first reaction is WHAT! Are you kidding me? This kind of exegesis would quickly lead me to conclude that we should just eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. In Shemot chapter 20:1 they say that God spoke directly to the people, and in chapter 24 YHVH speaks through Moses to the people. So therefore, the application and validity of the words of God were not the same. The commandments of chapter 20 are for all people and the commandments from God, to Moses, to the people were only for the Jews. YES! You heard me correctly. That is their argument.
I am not even sure where to begin with this. No wonder our nation leads the world in all the immoral issues of the day. Our major religious systems are leading the way in this toilet of ethics. Right and wrong has become so blurred that it is increasingly difficult to trace back where we used to see a marked distinction. It is this writers opinion that even the preachers and ministries that cry for a return to the Bible have little clue what they are calling this nation back to. It is this kind of theology that dissects God like a frog in a biology lab that has been right in the forefront of our moral collapse. I say to all Christian and religious organizations that teach that ANY commandments of our Master have been done away with, that YOU are the very reason for the moral and ethical implosion of this nation. YOU have led us down the Darwinian path of self destruction, and YOU will answer for every self indulgent, idle word that has proceeded from your pulpits.
All right, now that I have that out of my system let's move on. What are moral laws? Once again, there is no mention of moral laws in the English. In modern Hebrew the word for this English word is musar. This word comes from the root yasar, which etymologically means to instruct or discipline. Here are a few examples of how this word is used in scripture.
Mishlei (Proverbs) 1:2-3
"To know wisdom and instruction [musar]; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;"
Iyov (Job) 36:10
"He openeth also their ear to discipline [musar], and commandeth that they return from iniquity."
Devariym (Deuteronomy) 4:36-39
"Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire. And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt; To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day. Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that YHVH he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else. Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which YHVH "thy God giveth thee, for ever.
This word means to instruct, discipline and correct. You can find this word most used in Mishlei or the Proverbs. It is used in context with the judgements, statutes and ordinances throughout scripture. As you can see, this word is even used before Mt. Sinai. In the book of Devariym this word is used to describe the words from our Masters' mouth AND as given to Moses to the children of Israel as you can see in 4:36-39. One of the cognates (family words) of this word is masor, which is the Hebrew word for traditions or something handed down. There is a direct relationship here between discipline and tradition. Paul clearly alludes to this in 1 Corinthians 11:1-2 when speaking of the ordinances that were handed down to him from the Messiah. We should keep in mind that Yeshua‘ kept all the statutes and ordinances that He wrote in the first place. It might also be noted that this is the root word for the Massorites that were responsible for maintaining these things handed down by their introduction of the vowels into the written Hebrew text.
1 Corinthians 11:1-2
"Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Messiah. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances [masor], as I delivered them to you."
It is not happenstance that these two words are family related. For in Hebrew thinking, you know, those people who penned the Scriptures, the feasts of YHVH are part of the discipline of YHVH. For His feasts train and instruct us how to love YHVH our ’Elohiym with all our heart. They are designed as is all of the Word of YHVH to discipline a culture and people as to how and when to worship their Creator. So I suppose the question still remains. Are the feasts of YHVH (Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:1) just religious ritual? Are they actually amoral?
The English word morals comes from the Latin mores. This word in Latin means customs. Hmmm. According to William Funk's 'Word Origins' the paternal ancestor of this word meant that which was in accordance with the manners and customs of a tribe. One that was immoral was against the customs of another tribe. In our original 1828 Noah Webster's Dictionary under the first definition listed moral is relating to the practice, manners or conduct of men as social beings in relation to each other, and with reference to right and wrong. Let me ask a simple question to those of you who are in the habit of applying good ole down home country common sense. Would the keeping of celebrations, the food we eat and when we rest qualify as a practice and manner of conduct? Uhhhhhhh. Our religious culture, saturated with dispensational, timeline, Darwinian thinking, fails to connect anything moral with the ordinances and statutes that Yeshua‘ kept. The bottom line is that modern religious systems have redefined the paradigm of morality and this is why most of the commandments of the scriptures are considered to be outside the moral laws. Hey! How convenient! By constantly finding ways to pigeonhole the commandments of God, man continues to suffer the consequences even though he also is able to conveniently blame the devil for his calamities. Halleluyah, I can toss out most of His instructions and do with His seal of approval. Christianity has been very very good to me. Oh well, I quess we will cover the meaning of ordinances next time.