The existence of laws has been a significant aspect of several civilizations in the history of humanity. In the Old Testament, God introduced his principles to govern the Israelites when He gave Moses the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai (Lombardo 265). He primarily stipulated these laws for the personal wellbeing of humanity. In Exodus 20:2, it is confirmed that God is the one true supreme being who liberated the people out of Egypt, a land of captivity (Lombardo 267).
He has already freed these people from the shackles of oppression and was allowed to live independently. The Law was given to act as groundwork for the citizens of Israel. However, there are three requirements that constitute a nation such as a common people, land, and constitution. God had already united the Israelites when He called Abraham out of Ur as they headed for common land in Canaan (Lombardo 268). Moreover, the introduction of the Decalogue fulfilled the element of the common law. This paper explores the significance of laws in both the Old and New Testaments.
The Need for Laws in Society
Laws exist in society to uphold a system of fairness and equality. Some of the principles were enacted to ensure that victims of crime receive justice and the criminals get the appropriate punishment for their unlawful deeds. Rabbi Asher Finkel is an influential figure known for his participation in establishing the Graduate Program in Jewish-Christian Studies. He is known for having helped in developing the course’s distinct curriculum, which operates as a model for eradicating preconception through understanding.
The Purpose of Laws, Relationships, and God’s Will
In the Old Testament, God introduced several laws to various prophets in order to improve govern relationships with His will. For example, He established the ten commandments to fulfill His will upon the masses. Therefore, these rules were enacted to help man understand himself. The Almighty has already identified the Israelites as “a kingdom of priests and a holy sovereignty” (Wasserman 40). Additionally, the Decalogue enables Christians to know gain insight into the person of God. Its elements allow individuals to understand the Highest and also why the masses should obey Him. According to Exodus 20, God revealed Himself to Moses in the form of a burning bush (Wasserman 45).
He also recognized Himself as “the Lord,” suggesting He is Yahweh, the Israelites covenant-keeping God. In essence, these directives play a vital role in helping humankind understand the qualities of the Almighty.
The scriptures, specifically the Decalogue, explain what is expected of people to do. The biblical perspective of freedom is not “executing whatever an individual wants” but rather enjoying the importance of doing what they should (David 174). Therefore, by governing relationships in God’s will, He introduced the ten principles to create a peaceful society for everyone. In particular, the last five commandments in the Decalogue explain how people should live in the community (David 177). For example, by refraining from acts of homicide, adultery, stealing, false witnesses, and coveting, people will find it peaceful and living in harmony.
The Ten Commandments Provide a Summary of God’s Laws
Alternatively referred to as Decalogue, these directives were revealed to Moses, and they were imprinted on two stone tablets. The environmental conditions which accompanied this process were extraordinary since there was smoke, earthquakes, and a blast of a trumpet to highlight the benefits of these principles (Lombardo 268). They are portrayed as not only the ten most significant commands among several others but as a summary of the entire Torah. Jesus articulated the fundamental unity of these instructions with the rest of the Law when He summarized them with the concept of love (Lombardo 268). Therefore, the ten commandments require Christians to act with love by being affectionate to the Lord God.
The First Commandment requires humanity to accept God as the only supreme being. It reminds individuals everything in the Torah revolves around the love for God, which in turn is a response to the devotion for the Almighty (Meilaender 338). This commitment was manifested by Yahweh’s emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Therefore, this Law urges people to dedicate their lives to God and renounce other idols such as money, power, sex, and recognition. The second directive informs Christians to renounce the aspect of idolatry. Idols are a representation of gods of individual creation (Meilaender 340).
In ancient times, it was symbolized by worshipping physical objects. In contemporary Christian teachings, anything that undermines people’s relationship with God is regarded as an idol. The third directive reminds humankind not to engage in the wrongful use of the name of the Lord. In this case, “wrongful use” refers to any act involving disrespectful comments, cursing, blaspheming, and slandering (Meilaender 340). It forbids people from claiming’s God’s rulership from individual actions and decisions.
The fourth instruction emphasizes the significance of the Sabbath day. It requires Christians to work for six days and keep the seventh day holy. This concept emanates from God’s creation of the universe where everything was created, including man, but God rested on the seventh day (Meilaender 341). The fifth Commandment is a special one that urges children to respect their parents. Of these directives, this instruction is special because it is the only one with a promise. Regardless of the relationship a person may have with their parents, God reminds them to obey their fathers and mothers so that they may have a more fulfilling life in God’s kingdom (Meilaender 341).
The sixth Commandment forbids humankind from committing murder humans were created in God’s image. According to the scriptures, El Shaddai values human life and expects humanity to appreciate and choose life as well (Meilaender 341). He is the giver of life since He gave the breath of life to Adam, which suggests that His plan is to give every person an opportunity to get eternal life. Therefore, Christians should enlighten the mass on the significance of the concept of life.
The seventh directive requires individuals to refrain from adulterous acts. Such deeds violate marriage commitment since they involve having sex outside wedlock. God envisioned the sexual bond between man and wife to be a private, intimate union to bolster the marriage relationship (Meilaender 340). As such, the injunction of extramarital sex was developed to safeguard the sacrosanctity of marriage and exhibit the benefit of devotion. The eight Commandment reminds people to refrain from stealing of any kind. Today, embezzlement, armed robbery, shoplifting, and appropriation of intellectual property are regarded as different forms of stealing. The ninth Commandment forbids individuals from accusing others falsely. This tenet incorporates all elements of lying, and as the Bible affirms, Jesus identifies Satan as “the father” of lies (Meilaender 342).
It informs Christians to refrain from bearing false witness against their neighbor. Finally, the tenth directive informs people not to be consumed by the desire to have their neighbor’s possession (Meilaender 342). The former refers to anything that a person has, such as their properties, servants, spouse, and many more. This principle was enacted to supplement the first Commandment.
The Laws of the Children of Noah and the Ten Commandments
In the Old Testament, when God approached Noah, the former was directed that a set of laws will be enacted, and his descendants will also abide by these rules as affirmed in Genesis 9:9. The children of Noah were instructed to abide by seven commandments with the goal of promoting a peaceful coexistence while also promoting the greatness of God (Van Zile 386). These directives were stipulated to inform the people to establish the laws, refrain from cursing God, desisting from idolatry, illicit sexuality, bloodshed, theft, and consuming flesh from a living animal (Van Zile 400).
In essence, the embargo placed on idolatry particularly refers to idol worship and does not involve beliefs. In subsequent generations, Jews had the responsibility of determining whether the established religious cultures were sacrilegious (Wasserman 65). Since Islam is primarily a monotheistic religion, Muslims have been frequently referred to as Noahides. Since the subsequent Middle Ages, Jews have accepted that the Holy Trinity was not the same was different from idolatry, and they were also identified as Noahides (Van Zile 390). Therefore, the concept of worshipping one God was primarily the ideal point of Noah’s laws.
Another significant part of these laws revolves around dishonesty and stealing. Noah and his descendants were also forbidden from acts of robbery such as kidnapping, deceiving an employee or employee, and a wide range of similar acts (Van Zile 391). In addition, God instructed these groups of people to refrain from any illicit sexuality. In particular, having an illegal sexual relationship with a parent and any other sibling is regarded as illegitimate from God’s perspective (Van Zile 392). It also includes developing such an association with another man’s wife, step-sister, brother, a male homosexual bond, and bestiality (Van Zile 390). Consumption of flesh from a living animal is how the Rabbis comprehended the verse from the Bible “But flesh with its life, which is its blood, thou shall not consume” (Wasserman 65). It has been indicated that the practice of eating a section of an animal was a way to maintain the freshness of the meat in the days before technology.
The prohibition of blasphemy is also highlighted in these commandments. From God’s perspective, any action that involves speaking sacrilegiously about Him or denying His sovereignty involves the commission of profanity (Van Zile 390). This directive emanates from the first instruction requiring Noahides to refrain from idol worship with the objective of preventing separation from God and compels an individual to acknowledge His authority. Therefore, sacrilege was assigned a distinct command because it educates the extraordinary power of human speech (Van Zile 400).
When God created man, he was made different from other creations by his potency of choice and intellect and in his power of speech. In essence, verbal communication is a special gift from God bestowed upon his people, and as such, individuals should use it only for a good course. The scriptures also teach Christians that they should not use this privilege to mock the One Who gave it while also not speaking evil about others.
The prohibition of murder is a command which is not limited to homicide but also any other harm caused to an individual. This directive teaches Christians the value of a person’s life and its sacredness (Wasserman 45). God created humankind so that they can help and save each other in times of predicament. According to the scriptures, God created Adam as the first man, and his purpose was to promote peace and show the greatness of the Almighty (Wasserman 45). Since God created man in His image and likeness, individuals should be loving to other people because it fulfills the will of Yahweh.
The command to establish courts of justice requires that the society should be governed by upholding acts of fairness and equality. Therefore, every individual is obligated to building a foundation of good behavior, which creates a just environment for everyone (Wasserman 55). Additionally, influential people are indebted to use their position to impart moral values to others. For example, parents should use their niche to include standards and principles promoting good behavior in society.
The Law in Matthew and the Four Relationships
The coming of the Messiah brought several questions, which were later explained in detail. In the New Testament, Jesus clarified in the book of Matthew that He did not come to earth to abolish the Law or the prophets but to fulfill them (McKinney 220). From these scriptures, it is evident that Christ did not talk about the Sabbath day, but rather, He encouraged people to practice and teach the Commandments of God, for they will be called great in the Heavens.
There are several relationships mentioned in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament. The first association involves a rapport that exists between an individual and other people. It is related to social ethics, which govern individual union with others (McKinney 220). Second, a family relationship involves the love shared among people with common ancestry. In the Bible, it is described as storge as seen in the case of Noah and his descendants. Thirdly, the relationship that an individual has for themselves is also associated with personal ethics (McKinney 223). Finally, the last association is a relationship that exists between an individual and God. In the Holy Book, it has been described as the Agape love, the highest and most virtuous form of adoration.
Morality in Roman Catholic Church
Moral theology incorporates Roman Catholic sexual and medical ethics, social teachings, and a wide range of doctrines on individual moral virtue and theory. The Catholic Church’s perspective of principles involves several aspects. There are three determinants that decide the goodness of an act such as the object selected, the intention, and the circumstances surrounding the action (Wright 10). It suggests that the above mentioned are the “sources” of the morality of individual acts. In this case, the item represents the idea chosen by thought processes which may either result in good or evil deeds (Wright 15). Therefore, whether an undertaking of the mind is virtuous or sinful depends upon the object selected by the will.
Second, the intention with which an individual executes an act is different from the reason selected by the strength of character. It implies that a similar undertaking can be performed with a good or bad motive. Therefore, an immoral aim can render an action depraved that in itself can be virtuous, such as giving donations to the less fortunate to flaunt before others. A noble purpose, however, can never alter an act that is inherently evil into one that is upright (Wright 20).
As indicated above, it is the object’s nature which decides whether a deed is decent or debauched in itself. Third, the circumstances surrounding an undertaking do not transform the nature of action from evil to righteous, but they can lead to increasing or deteriorating the moral integrity or evil of human acts (Wright 20). An individual’s situation can either intensify or lower their responsibility for an action.
How the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12 Fulfill the Ten Commandments
The Beatitudes are one of the most significant works of Christ, which were introduced during the Sermon on the Mount next to the sea of Galilee. They acquainted the masses with and set the platform for Jesus’ teachings by emphasizing the humble state of humanity and the righteousness of the Almighty (Winston 3). Each Beatification portrays the ideal personality of a child of God’s kingdom. In this tranquil moment, the believer experiences plentiful spiritual blessings. The beatitudes are famously known for the “blessed sayings” that emanate from the opening verses of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew (Winston 4). Here, Jesus spoke of several blessings, each starting with the phrase, “blessed are.” Each saying emphasizes the kind of consecration that will be bestowed upon those who possess a particular character quality.
Comparing the Mosaic Decalogue and The Beatitudes indicates a significant distinction. The Commandments emphasize the concept of punishment that would befall any person for their wrongful deeds. In contrast, The Beatifications come with the possibility for benediction for any individual willing to sacrifice enough focus to come to some comprehension of what they are to say (Winston 10). However, both of them play a vital role in Christianity because they teach empathy and enables an individual to develop their spiritual growth. Compliance with the Hebrew Decalogue, incorporated by the practice of the teachings of The Beatitudes, brings into a person’s experience a growing sense of health, happiness, and harmony. It also provides a gateway to absolute salvation from the immorality, failures, and miseries to which the human sense of humanity is purportedly successor.
The first Beatitude is a fulfillment of the opening directive in the Mosaic Decalogue. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus revealed, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them” (Winston 11). The words that explain the concept of the less fortunate in the Messianic era include the aspects of few possessions and spiritual oppression. These people had no resources as they also had to rely on others for sustenance. Prophet Isaiah preached the good news to the people before Christ, and Jesus achieved it by presenting the gospel and evangelizing the “good news” of the Almighty (Winston 12).
Therefore, individuals who are “poor in spirit” are the ones who are unpretentious before God. The First Commandment, “you shall not have other gods before me,” is improved and fulfilled in the first Beatitude (Winston 10). As the first directive of the Hebrew law requires individuals to prioritize their relationship with God, the first Beatification comes as a reward for keeping and upholding this association.
The Commandment prohibiting adulterous acts is obeyed by Christians, and it was fulfilled by the sixth Beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see the Creator.” The sense beyond this saying is that it describes both the inner purity and straightforwardness of the mind. In the Bible, the “heart” is used to depict the will and choices (Winston 12). Therefore, a pure heart implies that the decisions a person makes, the desire they have, the thoughts and intention of the will, are unblemished by sin.
Generally, individuals of this nature are associated with good things such as acts of affection and compassion, desire for morality and justice, and generally decisions that delight the Almighty. When Jesus emphasized this Beatification, the element of the Mosaic Decalogue, which forbids committing adultery, was fulfilled when Christ promised the pure at heart the chance to see the Heavenly Father (Winston 32). The Messiah confirmed that the pure in heart are entirely blessed, for their untarnished thoughts reveal the nature of absolute, unadulterated mind, and they express joy in the knowledge of spiritual manhood and womanhood in the Creator’s pure likeness.
This Commandment was also fulfilled in the third Beatitude, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” According to the Bible, the humble are those individuals who have the essence of kindness and self-discipline (Winston 22). They are generally free from any form of evil and a patronizing spirit. The Holy Book also describes them as peaceful as they do not oppress others. They have been seen as having emulated the character of Jesus in their daily lives. However, it does not imply that they are feeble or unproductive in life. They may be kind and self-effacing, but they can and do defend the necessities of the helpless and the tormented.
Jesus Christ promised the meek that they would possess the land. According to the Bible, the land refers to the land which God promised the Israelites after their delivery from the bondage of the Egyptians (Winston 25). In the New Testament, the promised land refers to the Heavens (paradise), where those who believe that Christ died on the cross for the sins of humankind will inherit, as indicated in the book of John (Winston 25). The meek are therefore blessed because they are honest, selfless, and loving. Their spiritual potency, originating from the divine principle, cleanses human desire by obeying God’s will and annuls every idea to rob or steal (Winston 25). The legitimate meek refrain from defaming other characters or trespassing upon an individual’s rights.
This Commandment was also fulfilled in the fourth Beatitude, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” According to the Hebrew Scriptures, the symbol of starvation and eagerness associates this determination for decency with the deepest and most fundamental human needs (Winston 30). Human starvation and dehydration constantly require satisfaction, and this implies the desire to execute the will of God as that continuous and firm. This Beatification is describing people who attempt to do good things. It is explaining their desire in life since they hunger and thirst for it (Winston 35). Similarly, the poor and the meek are individuals who prioritize their lives as they put them in the hand of God.
When Jesus used this Beatitude, He explained that these people would be filled. He meant that it would be done so in the future when He establishes His reign of righteousness. Theologically, this will occur in several phases, and the first stage will involve the desire to be right, which will be filled by the gracious gift of virtue, referred to as justification (Winston 24). As a disciple of Christ, the Savior, the passion for doing virtuous works will find fulfillment by the power of the Spirit. This is referred to as practical sanctification, where a person becomes more like Jesus. In the future, when the King returns and lays a foundation for His rule and universal righteousness, every person will be changed, and this is referred to as glorification.
The Commandment, which prohibits an individual from coveting their neighbors’ belongings, has significance in the contemporary world since covetousness, materialism, self-will, and self-interest are prevalent in the domestic and economic landscapes. Therefore, the vices mentioned in this element of the Hebrew Decalogue are fulfilled and remedied in the fifth Beatitude. It states, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Winston 45).
There is one concept that is common to the less fortunate, the meek, and the ones who hunger for virtue. They appreciate mercy since they are aware of their individual inadequacies, flawlessness, dependence, and incompleteness. When these people receive kind and merciful abundance from Christ, they sequentially learn to show compassion to others (Winston 34). This practice involves both forgiveness of the sinner and empathy for those in misery. They are blessed because they prioritize showing sympathy above their rights. Generally, they are not compassionate by nature since they have been shown mercy by God and continuous reliance on the Lord.
This paper has explored the significant aspects of both the Old and New Testaments with an emphasis on the Mosaic law. The Decalogue is still regarded as one of the most remarkable sets of guidelines establishing a foundation for contemporary Christianity. The origin of laws can be traced back to the Old Testament when God approached Moses and handed him the Ten Commandments. Laws have therefore remained a significant part of society as they instill foundations for justice and equality. God gave His people the Hebrew principles to fulfill His promises to the masses and to also create a world governed with justice and fairness.
During the ancient times, the Almighty also approached Noah and gave him a composition of seven guidelines that would rule his generations years to come. In the New Testament, when Jesus arrived on earth, He used several methods of teaching such as the parables, and more significantly, the Beatitudes. Therefore, the Beatifications acted as a fulfillment of what was addressed in the Mosaic Decalogue. The paper has also covered the Roman Catholic’s concept of morality. It explains that ethical acts are determined by three significant aspects, which involve the object of action, intention, and the circumstances surrounding the undertaking.
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