1st EDITION – WRITTEN IN NATURE
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” <Psa.19:1 (NIV)>. The heavens and the skies declare God’s glory and His creation, for the Scriptures affirm Him as the Creator of all things <see Gen.1:8, 14-18; Psa. 8:1; 97:6; Isa.6:3b>, but what do they reveal about God to mankind? Looking up to the skies on a clear night we see millions of stars, looking through a telescope we can see more and see further into the universe, and with the current Space Telescope we learn that there are billions of galaxies, earth being a part of one small galaxy. Science teaches that the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second, which tells us that the light from each star that we see has taken billions of years to travel through space, so that in effect what we see has already occurred far back in time. This should cause us to consider the Creator in respect to the creation, for all that we see in the skies “affirm the work of God’s hands”, and the fact that He is in control of each and every heavenly object, as each one remains in its orbit with no variation; and with all the technology that is available today no human being is able maintain such control of the universe <cf Job 38:31-32>.
Although their voices are silent “Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” <Psa.19:2-4 (NIV)>; their proclamation is audible to all mankind in every corner of the earth. Since all mankind experience that inner craving to satisfy our spiritual need, which has been expressed from the dawn of creation by the desire to establish a “god” that is worshiped, and we have seen this in every people and nation throughout history. Today such “gods” can be in various forms, anything that replaces the true God is nothing but an idol. When mankind fails to acknowledge what has been revealed through nature, we worship nature itself instead of The God who is revealed to us and so we face His wrath <see Rom.1:18-20; Psa.50:6; 89:5-8; 97:6>.
God’s divine Law is therefore revealed to us in nature, and like the sun “nothing is hidden from its heat”, we cannot hide from God <Psa.19:6; cf Heb.4:13>. Unlike the laws created by our governments, God’s Law is prefect, trustworthy, precise, beneficial, untainted and positive; “By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” It keeps us from hidden and willful sins so that they do not control our lives, and causes our speech and meditations to be pleasing to God our Redeemer <Psa.19:7-14>.
2nd EDITION – WRITTEN ON OUR CONSCIENCE
Heathen people, who have no knowledge of God’s Law, who act in accordance to the Law by what is revealed to them in nature, demonstrate the effect of the Law that is working in their minds. “since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.” <Rom.2:15 (NIV)>. J.B. Phillips, in his translation, writes: “Their own consciences endorse the existence of such a law, for there is something which condemns or commends their actions.” The requirements of the Law designed to work in the lives of the Israelites is observed in some degree in the lives of the heathen people; the fact that they know the right action to take shows that the requirement of the Law is etched on their consciences, which confirms an inborn knowledge, causing them to constantly determine what is right or wrong; being forbidden or allowed to act. So here we see that their consciences, or moral nature, functions in a similar manner as the Law did for the Jews.
When a heathen is lead to a personal relationship with God through some incident in life, the full understanding of the requirement of God’s Law is understood <see 2 Kings 5:13-19a>.
3rd EDITION – WRITTEN ON SLABS OF STONE
A study of the Time Chart of Biblical History will indicate that the giving of the Law to Moses occurred some 2500 years after the creation, which means that mankind’s knowledge of God and the requirements of the Law, prior to it being given to Moses, were strictly by conscience. God revealed Himself personally to certain individuals as we read in the Genesis account, while others, specifically the pagans, were dependent upon conscience. The accounts in the book of Exodus reveal the transition to the written Law of God.
“The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction.”” <Ex.24:12 (NIV); 31:18>. Here we read of God calling Moses to the top of the mountain to give him the Law, or covenant, which was written for their instruction. The Law was not given as a means of righteousness for mankind but rather to reveal what was in the heart of mankind, for we see that the people broke the first commandment of the covenant by plunging into idol worship while they awaited Moses’ return <cf Ex.32:1-10; Gal.3:19a>. Previously, God was revealed to mankind by way of conscience, now God is giving the Law to reveal that mankind is not capable of attaining righteousness by any individual action or effort of conscience <cf Gal.3:10-11>. So we see that the Jews were given the Law to instruct them how to worship and live in ways pleasing to God and to be examples to the pagans by obedience to God’s Law.
4th EDITION – THE ENTIRE SCRIPTURES
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us” <Rom.15:4 (NIV)>. When we need to fully understand how a device works we go to the manual or instruction book to read the details; and so it is with God’s Law. The Bible is a collection of books written by God’s messengers of ancient times (O.T.) and of more recent times (N.T.), and the contents were dictated by God Himself for our instruction and teaching in today’s world <cf 2 Tim.3:15-16>. In relation to the Israelites and their adjoining nations “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.” <1 Cor.10:11 (NIV)>, so that we can understand the demands of the Law and what God requires of us as we observe the warnings to those that disobey and ridicule the Law of God. God’s Law and its requirements will be found nowhere else except in the Holy Scriptures, since He is the author and He recorded them.
5th EDITION – CONFIRMED BY CHRIST
As discussed previously, the purpose of the Law was to bring condemnation to the sinner, since the Law only exposes sin and God’s wrath and, in itself, does not produce righteousness <cf Rom.4:15a; Heb.9:22>. God, therefore, had to introduce another way to bring righteousness to all mankind; “For what the law was powerless to do …. God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.” <Rom.8:3 (NIV)>. The Law demanded the death of the sinner, and the sinner had to bring a sacrificial offering, one that would be without defect, which would substitute for the sinner, and this was the pattern under the Old Covenant (O.T.). The N.T. introduced the New Covenant in which God would provide an eternal sacrifice in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the “Word” or “Law”; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” <Jn.1:1, 14 (NIV)>. Now the righteous requirements of the Law has been met through Christ in the life of the believer, who now lives in obedience to the Law out of love for Christ, fulfilling the requirements of the new covenant <cf Rom.8:4; Jer.31:33-34; Gal.3:24-25>. The Lord Jesus Christ thus confirmed the requirements of the Law and provided a way for all mankind to escape the wrath of God.
6th EDITION – INSCRIBED ON THE HEART (INTELLECT)
“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.” <Heb.8:10 (NIV); cf Jer.31:33-34>; here we see the fulfillment of the New Covenant foretold by Jeremiah. The New Covenant is different to and superior to the Mosaic Covenant (Law) <Heb.8:9>. God’s Law now becomes an individual attitude because it is placed in our minds and written on our hearts <Heb.8:10>, which enables us to delight in doing God’s will <cf Ezek.36:26-27; Rom.8:2-4>. Thus we can now have a close relationship with God, our ignorance of God is forever removed and we receive everlasting forgiveness of our sins <Heb.8:10-12>.
7th EDITION – BELIEVERS AS LIVING COMMUNICATORS
“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” <2 Cor.3:2-3 (NIV)> The Corinthian believers, and likewise, all believers in Christ are described by Paul as “a letter from Christ” because the Word of God, God’s Law, is written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit and thus can be read by everyone with whom we are in contact. The work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is permanent because it is eternal, unlike the ink on paper that will eventually fade <cf 2 Cor.3:6>. Unlike the Law that was written on stone tablets, the New Covenant is now written on our hearts <see Jer.31:33; Ezek.11:19; 36:26-27>; and the result of this is, like Moses, the glory of God is reflected in our lives as we live pleasing to Him <see 2 Cor.3:7-18>.