Are The Ten Commandments For Jews Alone?

God's purpose for the Jews was to be a model nation. As such they were entrusted with God's standard of character, the Moral law.

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That is what our critics want us to believe: that the Ten Commandments are for Jews alone. They even mock us for saying that we are trying hard to become Jews through our obedience in God’s Moral Law–the Ten Commandments, and eventually label us as the “synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9).

Well, we always respect their opinion but will not accept that kind of reasoning. Instead, we will laid out our position and let the Holy Spirit works on everyone.

“Christians Were Not There When It Was Given”

When God gave the command “not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil”, Eve was not there yet. She might reasoned out that “the command was only given to my husband, and not to me. I was not there yet when God spoke of it.” But we all know what happened next.

Likewise, any single Christian was not there yet when the Ten Commandments were given at Sinai. And so many Christians reason out that that Law is not for us. Could this be another big mistake?

“It Was Given Only To The Jews”

They are using Deuteronomy 5:1-5 to justify their wrong understanding that the Ten Commandments are for Jews alone. And yet upon reading the verses, we cannot find any hint that the keeping of the Ten Commandments are for Jews exclusively.

This passage alone in Isaiah 24:4-5 makes them totally silent. Even Satan could hardly think of a ‘logical reason’ to twist it!

“The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.”

All inhabitants of the earth were found transgressing the law and God’s everlasting covenant–not only the Jews!

What Is The Purpose of the Israel?

The Biblical answer for the question “What is the purpose of Israel?” will definitely lead our critics to the correct answer to another question which is “Are The Ten Commandments For Jews Alone?” Let’s start.

Romans 3:1-2 “What then is the superiority of the Jew? …Much every way. For first, indeed, that they were entrusted with the Words of God”.

Exodus 19:3-6 “..Say to the children of Israel, if thou shall hear my voice, and keep my covenant..ye shall be my own possession’..”. KJV

God had chosen the Israel, and there’s no doubt about it (Genesis 17:4-5).  God had also entrusted them to be the keeper of His words, and that include the laws, statues, oracles, and judgments. Immediately after coming out from the bondage of Egypt, God gave them instructions and ordinances in order for them to exist as an organized nation even when they were not yet into the land of Canaan. God does not want disharmony and lawlessness for His chosen people . From religious activities, to healthful living, to civil orderliness God gave them all laws they needed in order for them to fully exist as a nation.

The giving of the Moral law to the Jews after they were moved out of Egypt does not mean that the moral law started only that time, else it would only mean that God created the world without standard of morality before the Jews came into existence. Please see the article The Ten Commandments Before Sinai for more details on that subject.

Others may argue that God gave “other laws”, not particularly the Ten Commandment, for each generation or period of time in the history of humanity. They reasoned out that God gave separate moral laws for Adam and Eve, another one for Noah and his generation, another law for Abraham’s time, for Moses’ time, for the new testament era, etc.

But I believe that God has only one set of standard of morality for all humanity. He wants the same standard of character for all His children, especially if His plan is to put back all His children in one big family where all living eternally together at the same time under one Ruler, thus the need of one common standard for all.

Imagine one big family with one Ruler but of different standards for each generation or race; Nonsense isn’t it? A trustworthy judge should not have many standards for all His subjects.

What was God’s plan for the Jews?

Ezekiel 5:5 “.. This is Jerusalem; I have set them in the midst of nations, and countries are round about her..”

Why setting Israel in the midst of all nations?

Deuteronomy 4:6 “Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of all the peoples, that shall hear all these statutes, and say, surely this great nation is wise and understanding people.”

Isaiah 60:1-3 “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of Jehovah is risen upon thee…but Jehovah will arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And nations shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.”

So now it is clear that God had chosen the Jews to be the bearer of “the Light that shines among the nations”. This is the reason why I refer to the Israelites as (supposedly) the model nation for humanity. As such they had responsibilities like the “evangelization” of the pagan world. Yes, that “church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38) had some sort of evangelism to do, and it was the same task given to us today: to proclaim that there is only one true God, and invite others to serve Him as well.

In the Old Testament they did their evangelism by means of centripetal attraction, that is why God put them in the middle of the pagan nations.

Through Israel’s proper obedience to God’s law, statues, and judgments the Gentiles who were convinced of God’s mighty leading will naturally join God’s people, and proclaim the goodness of the true God.

Is The Keeping of the Moral Law for the Jews Alone?

So now we know that it was God’s plan to raise a nation which should act as a model to become a witness for the pagans; and that God entrusted them His standard of character (God’s Moral Law or the Ten Commandments).

Having this in mind, do you think it would make sense if these laws were to be kept only by the model nation, and for them alone? If so, then what is the purpose of having a model nation? of putting the Israelites in the middle of these pagan nations? To only make the pagans jealous of the peacefulness and abundance that the model nation are experiencing whenever they are faithful to God? That doesn’t make sense. Our God is a rational God. He has purpose for everything He does.

The pagan nations were not excluded in God’s plan of salvation. The choosing of the Jews is only a part of God’s plan for saving the fallen humanity.

Leviticus 17:8, 10; 20:2 Ezek 47:22; 14:7 Leviticus 19:34 “But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” “For every one of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that journey with them, that separates himself from me..I, Jehovah will answer him by myself..”

The moral laws were not meant for the Jews alone. They were supposedly to keep it as an example, so that even the strangers will proclaim that Jehovah is God.

God Rebuked The Gentile Nations Using His Own Standard of Morality

Ruth, as well as Rahab and her family were some of the ‘fruits’ from Israel’s ‘evangelism’. In Jonah’s time, Nineveh (a gentile nation) was spared from punishment because they turned back to God. God sent Obadiah as a prophet for the Edomites. Edomites were not Jews. Read the books of Jeremiah and other minor prophets of the Old Testament. You might be surprised that most of the contents of these books are warnings and admonitions to the gentile nations.

And the reason why God rebuked them is that these nations did not adhere to the message of salvation. It is all evident by their actions which were all against the universal law of God, the Ten Commandments.

Now, if the Ten Commandments are not meant for the Gentiles, then there is no reason for God to rebuke these nations using the prophets from His own people. If the Ten Commandments are not meant for the Gentiles, then God should not use His Moral Law against the Gentiles. Where will God base His judgment to the Gentile nations apart from His Moral Law?

If God has a separate standard of morality for the Gentiles then God should use the prophets and prophetesses of these pagan nations, and use the pagan’s standards of morality when rebuking them. But God did not do that. He used His own prophets. He used His own standard of morality. God wanted the Gentiles to follow His standard too. And thus the Ten Commandments cover all humanity.

The strangers were part of the blessings and curses that come from obeying or disobeying God’s moral law.

How About The Other Laws In The Jewish System?

There were also civil laws in the Jewish government system which were made only after they were moved out of Egypt. As such other nations or people who were not under Israel’s sovereignty were logically not oblige to obey it. But the Moral law is a standard that shows God’s characters and He gave it to humanity even from the very start of this world. Not a single Jew even existed then. (See The Ten Commandments Exist Even Before the Israelites).

Israel Failed To Their Purpose

But now we all know that time came when Israel has failed to live according to their purpose. They put so much emphasis on the obedience to the law (legalism) rather than looking into the Messiah, the One that makes everyone righteous. That is why when Christ came they did not know Him. Hebrew 8:7-13 tells us the whole story about this. The Israel failed to hold on to their promise of keeping their covenant with God.

Christians Are The New Role Models

So whose group are now expecting by God to be the role model for this fallen humanity?

1Peter 2:9 “But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:” KJV

Notice that Peter borrowed this verse from the Old Testament, a passage that supposedly applicable for the Jewish nation. But now Peter is applying this to the Christians, the adopted children of Abraham. So now Christians should be the light-bearers, the model spiritual Israel nation.

Matthew 5:14, 16 “Let your light shines upon all men that they might see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” KJV

One can only show good works by obeying the Moral Law of God. And once the world sees how mighty our God is they too will be attracted to enter into God’s kingdom (model nation) and eventually glorify our Father in heaven.

Bottomline

There is only one standard that God is using for all generations, and this standard of morality is God’s character. This character can all be seen in the Ten Commandments of God, and will never be obeyed properly and successfully without Jesus and the working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

God’s purpose for the Jews was to be a model nation. As such they were entrusted with God’s standard of character, the Moral law. Upon keeping the Moral Law the right way it is expected to result in a shining glory of the light of the Son of Man in their existence as a nation. Thus, the Gentiles will be attracted to God’s leading and join His fold, and eventually they too will proclaim God as the one true God.

But since the Jews failed in keeping their promise to obey His covenant, God is calling us, Christians, to continue to the obedience of His Moral law. By obeying God’s law the right way, Christians are reflecting His Light to this darkened world.

Heb 8:10  “.. I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people..” KJV

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4 comments

  1. harry coronel Reply

    i think you havent made it clear that the moral law of the pagans must necessarily be the ten commandments romans 2:14…

    1. j2rbkk Reply

      I explained here (http://angtinigsailang.org/articles/ten-commandments/right-attitude-towards-gods-law/) that the Ten Commandments should also be obeyed not only in letters but also in its spirit (principles); and Rom 2:14 is saying “..these,…are the law unto themselves.”

  2. harry coronel Reply

    one more thing, can you cite a verse that gives God’s judgment against any pagan nation for not keeping the sabbath…for you assumed that the ten commandments are universal laws.kindly substantiate your claim

    1. j2rbkk Reply

      One cannot do sabbath-keeping without acknowledging God’s sovereignty first. A pagan stumbled on that ‘acknowledgment’ so it will be futile to mention their non-adherence to sabbath-keeping. James 2:10 says that if they stumbled on that part they are also guilty of the other parts.

      Further, the same blessings are given to ‘strangers’ who obey the sabbath-keeping (Isaiah 56:6).