Out of 176 verses in Psalm 119, there are only three that do not discuss God’s law in some way. In addition to the word “law,” 173 verses use words like commandments, testimonies, precepts, statutes, judgments, word, ways, name and faithfulness.
The most frequent word used is law. The Hebrew word for “law” is torah, and it comes from the root word yarah, which means to teach or instruct. The main purpose of God’s law is to teach us!
This law is not man-made. It flows from heaven, God’s current seat of authority. God wants you to learn His law so that you may be able to teach it in the future. In order for you to learn this law, however, it must be real to you.
Psalm 119:1 says, “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.” Walking is a form of exercise, so another way to word this verse is, “Blessed are those who exercise in the law of the Eternal.” The more you exercise physically, the stronger your muscles become. The same applies spiritually.
Let’s take some time to exercise with God’s law. Breaking it down and looking at it in pieces—and then putting it back together to see the big picture once again—will help make God’s law more real to you. It will strengthen your spiritual muscles and prepare you to teach this law in the future.
God’s Law is Love
God’s character can be summed up in one word: love. 1 John 4:8 says, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” God enumerated His commandments as an embodiment of His love. It is that simple. God’s law is also quite detailed, however, so it is important to understand how each part of it flows from God’s love—the overarching principle.
Verse 16 says, “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” We learn to both receive and give God’s love by keeping His law! God’s law teaches us how to love the way He does.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3). Grievous means burdensome. Society tells us that rules, boundaries and laws are a burden and keep us from being happy. God tells us just the opposite. If the Being who created you—who sent His Son to die for you and who loves you—gives you laws that will help you become full of joy, why would they seem like a burden?
We have a tendency to think of God’s law as a burden because of our human nature, which is actually Satan’s nature. That nature causes us to be inherently hostile to God and His law (Romans 8:7). It doesn’t want to admit that the real burden is sin.
When the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians, it was a burden on them, and God had to deliver them. Egypt is a type of sin, and God must deliver us from sin! This is what we picture each year during the Days of Unleavened Bread. This time of year is intrinsically tied together with deliverance from the burden of sin—and the freedom found in God’s law!
Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). God’s law isn’t the burden—sin is! God’s law exposes sin and helps us to see it for what it truly is.
The law also helps us see ourselves as we really are. James 1:23-25 compares God’s “perfect law of liberty” to a mirror. If you hold God’s law up to your life and the attitudes and actions within your life, it will reflect who you really are. You will see how you measure up against God’s perfect standard. Use this mirror. You will be astounded at how clearly you see yourself when you do.
“God’s law brings us the ultimate, most wonderful freedom of all,” editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes in No Freedom Without Law. “It protects our families. It protects our children. It protects us from all the evil in this world.”
When you measure yourself with God’s law, you will see all the areas where you still have sin in your life and the bondage associated with it; you will also see true freedom in areas where God’s law is being kept.
The Ten Commandments
In Matthew 22, Jesus Christ divides the one great principle of God’s law—love—into two great commandments: love toward God and love toward neighbor (verses 37-40). These two great commandments are then subdivided into the Ten Commandments. You have probably known the Ten Commandments since you were a small child, but how well are you living them? Do they make sense to you? Have you seen them work when you have obeyed them, and have you seen them require a penalty when they are broken? Are God’s laws real to you?
Out of the Ten Commandments, the first four show love toward God, which fulfills the first great commandment. The last six show love toward your neighbor, which fulfills the second great commandment.
God uttered the Ten Commandments to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai on the day of Pentecost. The Days of Unleavened Bread had already passed—as had their exodus from Egypt—but God wanted the lesson of the Days of Unleavened Bread and the Exodus—coming out of sin—to remain at the forefront of their minds.
When He delivered these commandments to the Israelites, God wanted to make a lasting impression on them. He wanted a way of etching the miracles He had performed for them into their minds. He wanted to make His laws real to His people. Try to picture the scene that God set for the uttering of His Ten Commandments:
“And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly” (Exodus 19:16-18). After this dramatic show upon the mountain, God sent Moses down to deliver His law to the people (verse 24-25).
“And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:1-2).
This is the introduction to the Ten Commandments. God was about to give this new nation His laws to govern their conduct, but He first reminded them of an important fact: You used to live in Egypt—in sin. Remember that I freed you from the house of bondage—the house of slaves. The law I am about to give you is true freedom! Never forget that!
The subject of God’s law has everything to do with the Passover, the Night to Be Much Observed and the Days of Unleavened Bread! Teens, as you celebrate the spring holy days this year, use the information in this article to motivate you to an even deeper study of God’s law and how it pertains to this special time of year.
Learning the specifics of God’s law will help make that law more real to you. That is why God delivered the Ten Commandments to the Israelites in such a striking fashion. He spoke with the Israelites “from heaven” (verse 22) to help them remember Him and His law. Then He had that law canonized in the Bible so that we may go back and study it often—especially around this time of year. Take advantage of it! To understand the specific applications and intents of God’s law, please read and carefully study the booklet offered on the back of this magazine: The Ten Commandments. Parents, this would make an inspiring set of family Bible studies.
The Statutes and Judgments
We have explained that the overarching principle of God’s law is love, and then we’ve refined that into the two great commandments, which can be broken down into the Ten Commandments. The next section of God’s law gets even more specific: the civil statutes and judgments.
Deuteronomy 4:1 says, “Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you.”
God used Moses to establish these statutes and judgments as specific applications of the Ten Commandments for ancient Israel. Statutes magnified God’s law. They regulated certain matters of lesser significance than the Ten Commandments. Judgments were given to protect everyone’s legal rights. They were binding decisions made to settle disputes between people. You can read Exodus 20:22 through chapter 23 for more details about the specific statutes and judgments that God enforced through Moses.
“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” (Deuteronomy 4:6). Obeying God’s law will open your mind to understanding!
The Ceremonial and Sacrificial Laws
God created the statutes and judgments to give the Israelites physical ways to keep His laws, but His people still sinned. Exodus 32 gives an account of the Israelites breaking the second commandment only a short time after they had received the command straight from God in the third heaven.
Because of Israel’s sins, God had to create another set of laws. These were the ceremonial and sacrificial laws. They required hard work, with rituals performed at morning, noon and night. Read the first seven chapters of Leviticus for the specific requirements of each sacrifice.
Lesson 21 of the Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course elaborates on the ceremonial laws and their purpose in ancient Israel: “When God made His covenant with ancient Israel, He wrote the Ten Commandments on two tables of stone. At that time He also had Moses write His civil statutes and judgments in a book. But this book did not, at first, contain the laws of burnt offerings, sacrifices and washings. God had these added about 10 months later (see Exodus 24:17-18 and Numbers 1:1-2)—as a separate part of the civil statutes—because the Israelites had transgressed His laws. …
“These ceremonial laws foreshadowed the sacrifice of Christ. The sacrifices were a ‘reminder of sin’ to teach the people the need of the Messiah—the true Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7)—who would pay the penalty of human transgression for all mankind (Hebrews 10), at which time these sacrificial laws would cease. The rituals and washings were a temporary substitute for the Holy Spirit; with things to do daily, they instilled the habit of obedience, until the Holy Spirit would come and provide the heart to obey.”
Today, we no longer follow the sacrificial and ceremonial laws since Christ has already been sacrificed. But studying accounts of the Israelites’ observing those laws can still help us get a clear picture of sin’s costly price.
Follow Ezra’s Example
God wants you to have a detailed understanding of His law—from the broadest definition to the most specific statute regulating a sacrifice. He wants you to be spiritually strong in the law.
One man who thoroughly knew God’s law was Ezra, a scribe of God’s law. “This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him. … For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments” (Ezra 7:6, 10).
Follow Ezra’s example. He came out of Babylon—a type of this world—and you should too. He sought after God’s law, obeyed it, and later taught it. God wants you to do the same thing! He wants you to know the law so well that you can teach it to everyone else in the World Tomorrow!
Ezra was a priest and “a scribe of the law of the God of heaven” (verse 12). God wants you to be a king-priest as well (Revelation 5:10). You are the only teenagers in the entire world whom God is working with, using and preparing at this time.
Don’t allow yourself to get dirty in this world. God’s law can keep you clean (Psalm 119:9). Use it as the mirror that it is. It will show you where you are clean and where you are dirty. Don’t wander around in the dark (verse 10). Use the light of God’s Word. Use the law to show you the right path. Allow God to open your mind to seek and obey His law (verse 18). Use the spring holy day season in particular to strengthen your spiritual muscles. Then prepare to teach the law of the God of heaven.