SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1 (EGW)

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Chapter 20

1-17 (Nehemiah 9:6-15). Father by Side of Son in Giving Law—When the law was spoken, the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth, stood by the side of His Son, enshrouded in the fire and the smoke on the mount. It was not here that the law was first given; but it was proclaimed, that the children of Israel, whose ideas had become confused in their association with idolaters in Egypt, might be reminded of its terms, and understand what constitutes the true worship of Jehovah (The Signs of the Times, October 15, 1896). 1BC 1103.13

Adam and Eve Knew the Law—Adam and Eve, at their creation, had a knowledge of the law of God. It was printed on their hearts, and they understood its claims upon them (Manuscript 99, 1902). 1BC 1104.1

The law of God existed before man was created. It was adapted to the condition of holy beings; even angels were governed by it. After the fall, the principles of righteousness were unchanged. Nothing was taken from the law; not one of its holy precepts could be improved. And as it has existed from the beginning, so will it continue to exist throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. “Concerning thy testimonies,” says the psalmist, “I have known of old that thou hast founded them forever (The Signs of the Times, April 15, 1886). 1BC 1104.2

Law Suited to Holy Order of Beings—The Sabbath of the fourth commandment was instituted in Eden. After God had made the world, and created man upon the earth, He made the Sabbath for man. After Adam's sin and fall nothing was taken from the law of God. The principles of the ten commandments existed before the fall, and were of a character suited to the condition of a holy order of beings. After the fall, the principles of those precepts were not changed, but additional precepts were given to meet man in his fallen state (Spiritual Gifts 3:295). 1BC 1104.3

Worded to Meet Fallen Intelligences—The law of Jehovah dating back to creation, was comprised in the two great principles, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” These two great principles embrace the first four commandments, showing the duty of man to God, and the last six, showing the duty of man to his fellowman. The principles were more explicitly stated to man after the fall, and worded to meet the case of fallen intelligences. This was necessary in consequence of the minds of men being blinded by transgression (The Signs of the Times, April 15, 1875, reprinted in The Review and Herald, May 6, 1875). 1BC 1104.4

The law of God existed before the creation of man or else Adam could not have sinned. After the transgression of Adam the principles of the law were not changed, but were definitely arranged and expressed to meet man in his fallen condition. Christ, in counsel with His Father, instituted the system of sacrificial offerings; that death, instead of being immediately visited upon the transgressor, should be transferred to a victim which should prefigure the great and perfect offering of the son of God (The Signs of the Times, March 14, 1878). 1BC 1104.5

Precepts Given to Guard Decalogue—In consequence of continual transgression, the moral law was repeated in awful grandeur from Sinai. Christ gave to Moses religious precepts which were to govern everyday life. These statutes were explicitly given to guard the ten commandments. They were not shadowy types to pass away with the death of Christ. They were to be binding upon men in every age as long as time should last. These commands were enforced by the power of the moral law, and they clearly and definitely explained that law (The Signs of the Times, April 15, 1875, reprinted in The Review and Herald, May 6, 1875). 1BC 1104.6

(Isaiah 58:13, 14). Every Specification Is God's Character—The God of heaven has placed a benediction upon them that keep the commandments of God. Shall we stand as a peculiar people of God, or shall we trample upon the law of God and say it is not binding? God might just as well have abolished Himself. In the law every specification is the character of the infinite God (Manuscript 12, 1894). 1BC 1104.7

Law Denounces Slightest Sin—God has given His law for the regulation of the conduct of nations, of families, and of individuals. There is not one worker of wickedness, though his act be the lightest and the most secret, that escapes the denunciation of that law (Manuscript 58, 1897). 1BC 1104.8

Holiness Made Known—Our duty to obey this law is to be the burden of this last message of mercy to the world. God's law is not a new thing. It is not holiness created, but holiness made known. It is a code of principles expressing mercy, goodness, and love. It presents to fallen humanity the character of God, and states plainly the whole duty of man (Manuscript 88, 1897). 1BC 1104.9

(John 14:15). Ten Commandments—Ten Promises—The ten commandments, Thou shalt, and Thou shalt not, are ten promises, assured to us if we render obedience to the law governing the universe. “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Here is the sum and substance of the law of God. The terms of salvation for every son and daughter of Adam are here outlined (Manuscript 41, 1897). 1BC 1105.1

The ten holy precepts spoken by Christ upon Sinai's mount were the revelation of the character of God, and made known to the world the fact that He had jurisdiction over the whole human heritage. That law of ten precepts of the greatest love that can be presented to man is the voice of God from heaven speaking to the soul in promise, “This do, and you will not come under the dominion and control of Satan.” There is not a negative in that law, although it may appear thus. It is DO, and Live (Letter 89, 1898). 1BC 1105.2

(Romans 12:1; 2 Peter 1:4). A Wall of Protection—In the ten commandments God has laid down the laws of His kingdom. Any violation of the laws of nature is a violation of the law of God. 1BC 1105.3

The Lord has given His holy commandments to be a wall of protection around His created beings, and those who will keep themselves from the defilement of appetite and passion may become partakers of the divine nature. Their perceptions will be clear. They will know how to preserve every faculty in health, so that it may be presented to God in service. The Lord can use them: for they understand the words of the great apostle, “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Manuscript 153, 1899). 1BC 1105.4

3-17 (Proverbs 4:20-22). Health in Obedience to God's Law—The love of Jesus in the soul will banish all hatred, selfishness, and envy; for the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. There is health in obedience to God's law. The affections of the obedient are drawn out after God. Looking unto the Lord Jesus, we may encourage and serve one another. The love of Christ is shed abroad in our souls, and there is no dissension and strife among us (Manuscript 152, 1901). 1BC 1105.5

No Others Professed to Keep Commandments—The ancient Jewish church were the highly favored people of God, brought out of Egypt and acknowledged as His own peculiar treasure. The many and exceeding great and precious promises to them as a people, were the hope and confidence of the Jewish church. Herein they trusted, and believed their salvation sure. No other people professed to be governed by the commandments of God (Redemption Or The First Advent Of Christ With His Life And Ministry, 35). 1BC 1105.6

3. Self-dependence Is Idolatry—Idolaters are condemned by the Word of God. Their folly consists in trusting in self for salvation, in bowing down to the works of their own hands. God classes as idolaters those who trust in their own wisdom, their own devising, depending for success on their riches and power, striving to strengthen themselves by alliance with men whom the world calls great, but who fail to discern the binding claims of His law (The Review and Herald, March 15, 1906). 1BC 1105.7

False Conceptions of God Are Idolatry—Are we worshipers of Jehovah, or of Baal? of the living God, or of idols? No outward shrines may be visible; there may be no image for the eye to rest upon; yet we may be practising idolatry. It is as easy to make an idol of cherished ideas or objects as to fashion gods of wood or stone. Thousands have a false conception of God and His attributes. They are as verily serving a false god as were the servants of Baal (The Review and Herald, December 3, 1908). 1BC 1105.8

Satan Plants Throne Between Heaven and Earth—Satan accomplished the fall of man, and since that time it has been his work to efface in man the image of God, and to stamp upon human hearts his own image. Possessing supremacy in guilt, he claims supremacy for himself, and exercises over his subjects the power of royalty. He cannot expel God from His throne, but through the system of idolatry, he plants his own throne between the heaven and the earth, between God and the human worshiper (The Review and Herald, October 22, 1895). 1BC 1105.9

4-6. Second Commandment and Pictures—A few condemned pictures, urging that they are prohibited by the second commandment, and that everything of this kind should be destroyed.... The second commandment prohibits image worship; but God himself employed pictures and symbols to represent to His prophets lessons which He would have them give to the people, and which could thus be better understood than if given in any other way. He appealed to the understanding through the sense of sight. Prophetic history was presented to Daniel and John in symbols, and these were to be represented plainly upon tables, that he who read might understand (Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, 212). 1BC 1106.1

8-11 (Genesis 2:9, 16, 17; Exodus 16:29). Sabbath, a Test of Loyalty—Every man has been placed on trial, as were Adam and Eve in Eden. As the tree of knowledge was placed in the midst of the garden of Eden, so the Sabbath command is placed in the midst of the decalogue. In regard to the fruit of the tree of knowledge, the restriction was made, “Ye shall not eat of it, ... lest ye die” [Genesis 3:3]. Of the Sabbath, God said, Ye shall not defile it, but keep it holy.... As the tree of knowledge was the test of Adam's obedience, so the fourth command is the test that God has given to prove the loyalty of all His people. The experience of Adam is to be a warning to us so long as time shall last. It warns us not to receive any assurance from the mouth of men or of angels that will detract one jot or tittle from the sacred law of Jehovah (The Review and Herald, August 30, 1898). 1BC 1106.2

14. False Worship Is Spiritual Adultery—All false worship is spiritual adultery. The second precept, which forbids false worship, is also a command to worship God, and Him only serve. The Lord is a jealous God. He will not Be trifled with. He has spoken concerning the manner in which He should be worshiped. He has a hatred of idolatry; for its influence is corrupting. It debases the mind, and leads to sensuality and all kinds of sin (Manuscript 126, 1901). 1BC 1106.3

16 (Galatians 6:7). Flippant Speech May Be False Witness—Slander covers more ground than we suppose. The command, “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” means very much more than we realize. False witness is borne again and again in flippant speech concerning even the workers whom God has sent. The seeds of envy, of evil thinking and evil speaking, germinate and produce a harvest of their kind, to be garnered by the one who planted the seed. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Letter 9, 1892). 1BC 1106.4