The setting is 1445 BC. God had just delivered His chosen nation from Egyptian bondage.
“In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt…they came to the Wilderness of Sinai.” Exodus 19:1
It was at Mount Sinai that God spoke to Moses reminding him it was He (God) who had just delivered Israel from slavery on eagles’ wings. He proclaimed Israel would be a special people, above all people on the earth, if they would obey His voice.
God then announced He would reveal His law, i.e. standard of righteousness, to the fledging nation.
Moses relayed God’s word to the people, and their response:
“Then all the people answered together…‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do.’” Exodus 19:8
Thus the Ten Commandments were given. The ‘law’ actually began with the Passover several months earlier. Recall God told the people the Passover was an ordinance that was to be celebrated perpetually. The Hebrew for ‘ordinance’ is synonymous with ‘law.’
It needs to be understood that when the term ‘Moses’ Law’ is used it means God’s law given through Moses.
The last verse in the book of Leviticus:
“These are the commandments which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel on Mount Sinai.” Leviticus 27:34
Then forty years after the Exodus, just before crossing the Jordan River to enter the Promised Land, Moses reminded the people of the importance of obedience.
“Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” Deuteronomy 4:5-6
Israel was chosen to represent God’s standard of righteousness to all the nations on earth. Their relationship to God and obedience to His statutes would cause all nations to look to Israel with great emulation.
And then approximately 800 years after the law was given at Mount Sinai, in the last book in the Old Testament, obedience was again emphasized.
“Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb (Sinai) for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.” Malachi 4:4
Approximately 400 years later on God’s predetermined time line, His Son Jesus walked on the earth. Very early in Jesus’ initial earthly mission He made an extremely profound proclamation.
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17
Several significant words in His statement need to be examined closely.
The Greek word for ‘destroy’ in the present context means to ‘dissolve,’ ‘overthrow,’ or ‘abolish.’
In fact as Jesus continued His statement about the law, He said:
“…whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:19b
After Jesus said that His purpose was not to destroy the law, He added that He had come to fulfill the law.
The Greek word for ‘fulfill’ means to ‘complete,’ and ‘perfect.’
“For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will be no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
Heaven and earth will never pass away (perish); they will be restored and remain forever, as will God’s righteous standard for His highest creation.
Every detail and every word spoken by the prophets will be fulfilled in finite detail.
Jesus’ mission was to fulfill the law in its entirety.
The Christians in Galatia had difficulty in placing total faith in the gift of grace without some level of performance on their part.
“Therefore the law was our tutor (schoolmaster) to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Galatians 3:24
The law revealed God’s immutable standard of righteousness which no man could attain. Only faith in the Son of God who fulfilled the law by obeying it fully, can one be justified.