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Deuteronomy 5 – The Law of Israel

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

Moses second message begins at 4:44 and extends to 26:19, detailing the obligations of the covenant.

At Horeb (Mt. Sinai) God made a covenant with the nation of Israel that he brought out of Egypt. This covenant consisted of various testimonies, statutes, and judgments which made up the law, the governing code which regulated every aspect of Israelite life in the Old Testament theocratic kingdom. This kingdom with its governing law code began at Mount Sinai (v. 2). The law and the theocratic kingdom were essentially bound together (vv. 2-3, 6, 15-16, 31, 33). Continuance in and enjoyment of the blessings of the kingdom depended on adherence to this law. This laws governance, authority, administration, and enforcement occurred in the realm of this kingdom.

The Lord through Moses gave the Ten Commandments to Israel (note v. 3). The first four commandments addressed Israel’s responsibilities to the Lord, and the last six their responsibilities to one another.

Israel’s response to this event (cf. v. 22) was frightened awe and amazement. Consequently they feared for their lives and begged Moses to mediate between them and God. God agreed with their assessment, sent them back to their tents, and had Moses remain to receive all the rest of the law that would govern Israel in the promised land.


  1. God gave the law to Israel to govern them in their land. It is distinctly Israelite. It involves details of daily life, as well as morality and worship.
  2. The law is a single code, a unified whole, consisting of individual statutes and judgments. It revealed God’s righteous will for Israel in every aspect of life. Separating it into different laws (such as civil, moral, and ceremonial) invalidates it entirely. Note v. 33, “all…”
  3. Merely hearing God’s Word or being in awe of him are insufficient. These are all external. What is needed is a heart to love, fear, and obey him (vv. 10, 29).
  4. Because the law was from God and obeying it brought blessing, it is good.
  5. The Christian must distinguish between the law as a code and some of its commandments which are also part of the law of Christ. The fact that some individual commandments are part of Christ’s law does not mean Christians are under the Mosaic law. Christians are under the jurisdictional authority of Christ’s law (Rom 8:2-4; Gal 6:2; Jas 2:12) not the Mosaic law (Rom 7:4; 10:4; Gal 5:18) which no longer serves as a governing code (John 1:17; Heb 7:12, 18-19; 8:13).
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