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Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am יהוה. Leviticus 18:5
O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever! Deuteronomy 5:29
Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as יהוה my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as יהוה our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? Deuteronomy 4:5-8
There are two groups of people working overtime to destroy faith in the ancient scriptures. The first group are atheists who debate the authenticity and utility of the writings, and point out the inconsistencies in how those writings are applied by Christians. The second group are Christians who pay lip service to the divine inspiration of the Bible, but do not follow its rules. This group is more dangerous to the faith, because it is to them that young, uninitiated people look for guidance.
The inconsistencies that the atheists complain of are real. Many Christians will agree that putting someone to death for working on the Sabbath, which is the punishment prescribed by scripture, is too severe. The same Christians will tell you with a straight face that smoking, drinking alcohol, and taking drugs will result in eternal torment in a lake of fire, though the Bible does not prohibit these things. Amazingly, they will all agree that יהוה spoke the former law directly, but the preferred modern rules come from men. It is my position that the ancient laws lead to certainty and justice because they do not change. Modern church rules are developed arbitrarily and capriciously by committees. There is the greatest danger of tyranny when human beings make rules that bind the souls of others.
In spite of the threat of eternal damnation (which is not a penalty given in the old testament), modern Christians claim that יהוה‘s grace has set them free from the necessity of keeping the law given to Moses. In my view, they have simply traded one set of laws for another, and soothe their consciences by rationalizing that the chosen law is better and somehow less harsh than the rejected one. And because the chosen rules must be created anew for each denomination, we end up with whole groups of Christians condemning other groups to hell because they favor a different set of man-made rules. This book was written to challenge this state of affairs and provide simplicity, certainty, and reliability.
To that end, I give no commentary on what the law says. Instead, I present the bare scriptures, organized by topic, so that each person can interpret the words for him- or herself. When it comes to personal spiritual growth, every person will voluntarily endure self-imposed disciplines beyond the letter of the law. This is good, and creates diversity of experience. But let everyone be loathe to impose strictures on his neighbors which יהוה does not require. As it is written,
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of
יהוה your God which I command you. Deuteronomy 4:2
What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. Deuteronomy 12:32
This is not to negate יהוה‘s grace, but grace is misunderstood. Grace allows fallen men, who by committing transgressions have incurred upon themselves the wages of sin which is death, to be mercifully granted the ultimate gift, eternal life with the Father. The law convicts us of transgression. Grace offers us forgiveness. The law, based as it is on unchanging human nature, is forever useful.
Some will object that the law of Moses was formulated to account for the culture of the time. Our culture is different (read: better and smarter), therefore we do not need outdated and outmoded rules. On the contrary. The law was not given to accommodate Hebrew culture. The law was given to define the society that יהוה wanted. It is written,
After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.
Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am יהוה your God.
Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am יהוה. Leviticus 18:3-5.
יהוה was starting from scratch with the Hebrews. He could have given them any laws. We may not understand why some rules were given, but we can be certain that what he told them to do was exactly what he wanted them to do. He did not cater to the culture surrounding his people, nor to that of the Hebrews themselves.
One might question the relevance of ancient laws today. Biblical law provides a framework for justice, as well as worship. It is a complete code of conduct for personal relationships. If there are ambiguities they can be resolved by arbitrators (judges). The law is a profitable personal discipline. It is also useful for community justice. Where it conflicts with existing legal authority, the existing law should be changed. I don’t advocate a particular method of change, but encourage creativity.
Some will object that freedom of religion cannot exist under Biblical law. This is untrue. The law can only regulate what we do, not what we think. The law may forbid certain expressions of religion, but that is true of modern secular laws as well. Many laws forbid such things as smoking hallucinogens, sacrificing animals, and polygamous marriages, even though there are certain religions that require those things. Again, Biblical law is not worse than modern law. It is just different and unfamiliar.
In this book, I use the Hebrew names for the Hebrew gods. This is to emphasize that these gods are personal beings and not nameless corporations. They have feelings, and it is possible to have personal relationships with them. To be perfectly clear, יהוה is the father, יהושע is the son, and רוח הקודש is the holy spirit.