No separation between laws?

Many have felt that Seventh Day Adventists are wrong when they say that there are differences, or divisions within the 613 laws that were given to the nation of Israel. It is claimed by our opponents that all the laws are the same, and that none should be treated differently from the other. Therefore, they conclude, when the New Testament speaks about a law that has been abolished and nailed to the cross, it includes all of the Old Testament laws, including the 10 Commandments. We find this kind of reasoning to be a bit strange since there are instances in the New Testament where Paul or one of the other authors commands their readers to obey one or more of those commandments. For example, Paul says in the following passage:

Ephesians 6:1-3
(1) Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
(2) Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
(3) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

Yet we read Paul in another instance say that the commandments have been done away with:

Ephesians 2:15
(15) Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace

Yet despite what our critics might want to say, there is a difference here. One of these is a commandment contained within the Decalogue, the 10 Commandments, of which Moses said that God “added no more” –Deut. 5:22. The other is, says Paul, “contained in ordinances.” If then Moses said in Deuteronomy 5:22 that God added no more to the Ten Commandments, why do our critics insist that he did?

There is not one instance in the New or Old Testament where the 10 Commandments are referred to as ordinances. However, we find some other laws referred to as ordinances. Notice:

Exodus 12:17
And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.

Exodus 12:43
And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the Passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof:

Numbers 19:2
This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke

Numbers 18:8
And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Behold, I also have given thee the charge of mine heave offerings of all the hallowed things of the children of Israel; unto thee have I given them by reason of the anointing, and to thy sons, by an ordinance for ever.

Hebrews 9:1
Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary

As we can see from the above examples, what was an ordinances had to do with the various laws which dealt with feast days, the services of the priests, the offerings, and the worldly sanctuary. This easy to understand fact is but one example of instances in the bible where it is made crystal clear that there were differences in the laws. Another one of these is in the fact that….

One is Spiritual while the other is Carnal.

Notice the following verse:

Hebrews 9:9-10
(9) Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
(10) Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

There are those ordinances again. Notice How Paul refers to them as carnal. Were the 10 Commandments also carnal… or spiritual? If spiritual, then there is a clear difference between them. Let’s take a look:

Romans 7:14
(14) For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

By reading the context of Romans 7 we know that the law Paul is referring to here is the law of 10 Commandments, because he quotes the 10th one in verse 7. Therefore when he says that the law is spiritual, he is saying that the 10 Commandments are a spiritual law. We here have clear proof that there is a big difference between the laws of ordinances, and the moral law of 10 Commandments, for, one is spiritual, and the other is carnal.

Our critics have a hard time dealing with this one, but there is more. Notice that a separation is shown even in…

The manner in which they were given.

At the foot of the Mount, Moses and the people stand astonished at the thunderous sound of God’s very own voice blasting from the top of Mount Sinai. Suddenly the following words are heard…

Exodus 20:2
I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage…

Soon after assuring the people that they have been taken “out” of bondage, God gives them his perfect law. We note that the first time the law if given to the Israelites it was publicly spoken by God himself. Let’s take a look:

Deut. 4:12-14
(12) And the LORD spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice.
(13) And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.
(14) And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it.

Now let’s quickly break these verses down:

In verses 12 and 13 God publicly "spoke" the Law of Ten Commandment at their hearing:

“And the LORD spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words… he declared unto you his covenant… even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.”

But after “speaking” the 10 Commandments, in verse 14 we read that God privately gives Moses the "statutes and judgments" for him to teach the people:

“And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it.”

If there were no difference, then friends, why were they treated differently? Not only this, but they were also place in “separate” locations. The 10 Commandments were specifically written on Tablets of Stone, and God himself wrote them (Exodus 31:18). Of course because this is such clear cut proof that there were separations within the laws, our opponents have found ways to attack these facts. Let us examine two of their responses:

Critics Response #1: God stopped speaking the 10 Commandments because the people told him to.

To the above we are shown the following verses:

Deuteronomy 5:23-27
(23) And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders;
(24) And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth.
(25) Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, then we shall die.
(26) For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?
(27) Go thou near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it.

It is true that the people responded this way after hearing the words of the Lord, but can it really be said that they caused God to stop speaking? Can we really stop God from doing anything? Some might argue that we can (and we disagree), but let us back up just one more verse and include it in our examination:

Deuteronomy 5:22
These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.

Notice that as soon as God spoke the words, the 10 Commandments, Moses said that God “added no more.” In other words, God spoke the 10 Commandments, then stopped speaking. He himself chose not to add any more then those 10. Therefore the out-cry of the children of Israel was not what cause God to cease from speaking his law. They did that soon after God stopped speaking the law and “added no more.”

Critics Response #2: The 10 Commandments are also written in the book of the law.

But it was not written in the book of the law by the finger of God! And that's the difference. Although we find the 10 Commandments in the book of the law, God did not write it there... Moses did. So we still see a separation here. God literally wrote the 10 Commandments alone, and Moses wrote the rest of the law, including the history of Mount Sinai with its giving of the 10 Commandments.

In Deuteronomy chapter 5 we find Moses repeating the law to the children of Israel. But there are a couple of things we should keep in mind. The Israelites that were here present, were not the same ones that were present at mount Sinai. At this point in time, when Moses began reiterating the law to the Israelites, was at the point in which they were just about to enter the promised Land of Canaan. Their “fathers,” the ones that were present at Mount Sinai, all died in the wilderness because of their unbelief. God said that they would not enter the land, but that their children would. And since the tablets of stone containing the written law was placed “inside” the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:16), it was not visible to these who did not experience the burning mount. Therefore, they “needed” to be “reminded” of what their fathers were taught “before” they entered the Promised Land. From chapter 1 of Deuteronomy to chapter 5 we see Moses rehearsing their history to them, so it shouldn’t of been a surprise that we find the 10 Commandments there again. But note carefully that there is a difference between the 10 Commandments of Deuteronomy 5 and the original one given in Exodus 20. The Sabbath commandment is spoken differently:


Exodus 20:8-11 as originally given by God
(8) Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
(9) Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
(10) But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
(11) For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.


Deuteronomy 5:12-15 as rehearsed by Moses
(12) Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.
(13) Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:
(14) But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.
(15) And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.

Quite a difference, but the same has been done to the fifth commandment:


Exodus 20:12 as originally given by God
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.


Deuteronomy 5:16 as rehearsed by Moses
(16) Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Notice the rest of the law:


Exodus 20:14-17 as originally given by God
(14) Thou shalt not commit adultery.
(15) Thou shalt not steal.
(16) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
(17) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.


Deuteronomy 5:18-21 as rehearsed by Moses
(18) Neither shalt thou commit adultery.
(19) Neither shalt thou steal.
(20) Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.
(21) Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's.

The point is that since the original was hidden inside the Ark, Moses had to depend on his memory to be able to rehearse the law once again to the children of the Israelite fathers. Those found in Deuteronomy is “not” the original law, but simple a rehearsing of the original. Therefore if we remove the “book of the law” along with its recap of history, we still have the original law as spoken by God in Exodus 20. And that the original law as spoken by God will endure forever is made crystal clear by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:19, where he says in regards to the Christian way of living:

1Corinthians 7:19
Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

In fact, this verse also shows…

Another distinction between the ceremonial law of circumcision and the commandments of God.

Some have argued that Paul is not taking about any of the 10 Commandments in this chapter, but we disagree. If this entire chapter is read one will quickly notice from the immediate context that Paul is talking about the 10 Commandments:

1 Corinthians 7:1-2
(1) Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
(2) Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

The bible teaches that God’s commandments are “broad” –Psalm 119:96. And since fornication is a sexual sin, it is related to the seventh commandment, the one forbidding adultery. In fact, even a look at the Greek word translated fornication will show this:

From G4203; harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively idolatry: - fornication.

Paul is teaching throughout this chapter that it does not matter in what position you are found when you come to the Lord, as long as that in that position you don’t violate God’s commandments. For circumcision is nothing… but keeping God’s commandments IS something (verse 19)!

Another example of a separation between laws if found in Leviticus chapter 23. Here…

God himself makes sets a separation.

When the seventh day Sabbath and the feast days are introduced, God is careful to let them know that the seventh day Sabbath is to be regarded as “separate” from the feast days:

Lev 23:37-38
(37) These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day:
(38) Beside (Hebrew: separation) the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD.

The literal translation of “beside the sabbaths of the Lord’ means just that… besides the Sabbaths of the Lord! Notice that as God began introducing the ceremonial sabbath feast days, he included the seventh day Sabbath because it too is a “holy convocation” –verse 2. But he makes sure they understand that the Sabbath of the Lord and these feast sabbaths are to be regarded as “separate.” Some have argued that verse 38 is actually making a separation between the offerings of the feast days and the offerings of the Sabbath day. We agree! But that separation is found in the “remaining” portion of verse 38:

“…. and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD.”

The beginning part of thise verse, however, is a separation between the seventh day Sabbath and the feast sabbaths. Some critics have cited us this same verse but from the New International Version, which reads as follows:

Leviticus 23:38
These offerings are in addition to those for the LORD’s Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the LORD.

However, notice how honest the NIV translators were, that in a footnote at the bottom of this chapter, they gave an alternate way of rendering verse 38:

23:38 Or These feasts are in addition to the LORD's Sabbaths, and these offerings are

Its a good thing that their being honest, because not only is this the intended meaning of this verse as rendered by most versions, it is also what the original Hebrew expresses. Literally, the beginning part of verse 38 reads:

Interlinear Scripture Analyzer

aside-from sabbaths-of Yahweh and-aside-from gifts-of-you...

So verse 38 is yet another clear fact that there is certiantly a distinction made by God between the sabbath feast days and the “Lord’s Sabbath,” which is the Seventh day Sabbath (see Isaiah 58:13). Yet the word “besides” is not only used here to separate the feast days from the seventh day Sabbath; it is also used in another location, where a separation is made between the covenant made in Moab (where this book of the law was written) and the covenant made at Sinai. Notice:

Deuteronomy 29:1
(1) These are the words of the covenant, which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside (hebrew: separation) the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.

Horeb and Sinai are two names for the same location. Note carefully that God once again sets a separation between the covenant given in Moab and that which was given as the 10 Commandments at Mount Sinai. How much clearer can God be!

Some have tried going to Jewish sources to prove their points, but we have chosen not to go to erring man, but to the bible. And the bible is very clear on this point… there are distinctions made between laws in the Old Testament.

Your Thought Questions Answered

Question #1: Isn’t the Sabbath also referred to as an ordinance in Ezekiel 20:19-21?

Answer: At first glance it might seem so, but one must read the whole chapter to get the proper context. When that is done, the reader will notice verses 11-12:

Ezekiel 20:11-12
(11) And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.
(12) Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.

Note carefully that after mentioning the “statutes and judgments” in verse 11, verse 12 begins with the words “moreover also,” showing that God gave the statutes and judgments, then moreover also, or, besides, additionally or furthermore (see your Thesaurus or Dictionary) God gave the Sabbath. A separation is seen within these verses. Therefore when we continue reading and make it to verses 19-20, it will have already been understood that God is speaking about two separate laws.

Question #2: Do you have any other proof that shows that there is a separation between laws?
Answer: Yes. Notice the following few verses:

2 Kings 21:8
(8) Neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of the land which I gave their fathers; only if they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them.

Note: A separation is here made with the word “and” being set between the words “observe to do according to all that I have commanded” and “all the law of my servant Moses.” If both what God commanded and what Moses commanded were the same, it would have rather said “all that I have commanded” and that’s it.

2 Chronicles 33:8
(8) Neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land which I have appointed for your fathers; so that they will take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses.

Note: Once again the word “and” is placed between what God has commanded (the whole law) and those “statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses.”

Daniel 9:10-11
(10) Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
(11) Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.

Note: One of these laws is called “his (God’s) law,” while the other is called the law “of” Moses.

Question #3: Its true that it was God who gave the law of 10 Commandments. But why are there cases in the bible where it seems to say that it was Moses who gave the 10 Commandments, like Mark 7:10 and John 7:19 for example?

Answer: The word of God does not contradict itself. Don’t forget that the Israelites that went through the Mount Sinai experience died 40 years after, and that Moses had to repeat the whole law to the children of those Israelites just before they entered the land of Canaan. In this way Moses had to “speak” or “give” them the law. But keep in mind that even while the Israelites had to be given the whole law for the second time, he still explains the manner in which God gave it (to them publicly and to Moses privately). Even here they were shown the separation God made between the law of 10 Commandments and the law of Moses. This is clearly seen in Deuteronomy 4:13-14… as already shown above.

-Got more questions? Send us an email!

-For further study, see:

1: Colossians 2:14-16: The Sabbath a shadow? Which Sabbath?
2: Jeremiah 3:14-17: Proof that the 10 commandments were to be abolished when Messiah came?