Back to Feast page           Hear Elisabeth's song

Covenant Law or "imposed" (Hebrews 9:10) Law?

Covenant Law or imposed Law? Is there a difference?
Among Christians and Messianic believers (i.e. those who embrace the Hebraic Roots of their faith, and observe the Biblical Feasts, Sabbath etc.) there is, today, much confusion re. the Laws of the Old Covenant (Testament). As believers in Yahshua/Jesus, do we 'throw out' the whole of the Old Covenant laws, believing they have been 'nailed to the cross' and in Yahshua/Jesus they have been abolished and 'done away' with? Or, as is the conviction of many 'Messianic' believers, should we observe the Laws of Exodus through to Deuteronomy in their entirety?' Which laws are relevant to believers in our generation, and which are classed as 'not necessary' because of Yahshua's work on Calvary?
Also, what did Paul mean by "the Law that was added..." in Galatians 3? and "...It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made..." So there was a beginning to this added Law, and an END to this 'added' Law. Interesting!
This is such a vast subject, this article serves only as an introduction to this topic, but hopefully one which will contain sufficient evidence and guidelines for you to delve deeper into the subject for yourself, with the help of the Paracletos, or Holy Spirit, Who, according to John 16:13 is sent to "Lead us into all truth.
As seekers for truth ourselves, we have been studying the works of Dr. David Perry. If you are interested in studying this topic in depth, David has written a book called 'Back to the Melchizedek future' and another called 'The Covenants of Promise' both of which are in-depth studies of this subject. Well worth the read, and we are indebted to David for his insight and teaching.
As with all teaching ministries his findings are open for discussion and personal study, and whereas we adhere to certain teachings of such ministries we do not necessarily hold with the entirity of their teaching.

We will now, under 5 main headings relate some of our own convictions for your consideration.

1. Are there two books? i.e. The Book of the Covenant and the Book of the Law?
From much study of the books of Exodus through Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, and books in the New Covenant, especially Paul's writings, we would say a definite "YES!" Here are a few of the many references suggesting two books by way of introduction.


Exodus 24:7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant (Heb.beriyth=ber-eeth=cutting, compact, league) and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, "All that Yahweh has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!"
2 Kings 23:21 Then the king commanded all the people saying, "Celebrate the Passover to the Yahweh your Elohim as it is written in this Book of the Covenant."
2 Kings 23:2 The king went up to the house of Yahweh and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great; and he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which was found in the house of Yahweh.


Exo 24:12 And Yahweh said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables (Heb. luach=polished tablets)of stone, (i.e. Covenant agreement, or testimony, witness) and a law, (Heb. torah, meaning teachings, instructions) and commandments (Heb. mitzva, meaning commanded law) Because of verse 7 when Moses first read the Book of the Covenant to the people and they agreed to it, and then in verse 12 Yahweh is stating that He will give Moses tables of stone and a law it does sound like there were perhaps, two different 'books'. This initial instruction from Yahweh was given to Moses before the incident of the Golden Calf, so at this point it is unlikely that Moses realised that the tables of stone upon which was written the 'decalogue' or 10 Commandments and probably also the terms of Covenant, was to be separate from the 'law' Yahweh had said he would also give to him? Of course we cannot say for sure what the difference was, if any. This chapter is so very interesting, and a good 'beginning point' for study on the subject of Covenant versus 'added Law.' Yahweh knew from the beginning that Israel would break the initial Covenant 'document' engraved in stone, and that they would also therefore need a 'Law'.
The Book of the Law is mentioned in Deut: 30:10. "If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of Yahweh thy Elohim, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, (Heb. Torah=precept or statute, law) and if thou turn unto Yahweh thy Elohim with all thine heart, and with all thy soul."
2Ch 17:9 And they taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of Yahweh with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people.
Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the Law (Gk. nomos=regulations, principles, grazing) are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them."
Deuteronomy 31:24-26 It came about, when Moses finished writing the words of this law in a book until they were complete, that Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of Yahweh, saying, "Take this book of the law and place it beside (Heb. tsad=sidle off, aside, beside) the ark (Heb. aron=a box, chest, ark) of the covenant of Yahweh your Elohim, that it may remain there as a witness against you."
(Notice, interestingly that the Book of the Law is placed, not in the Ark of the Covenant where the 10 Commandments were, but beside the ark 'for a witness against them.')

After the initial proposal from Yahweh to Israel in Exodus 24:5-6 "...If you will obey my voice... a holy nation" we are suggesting that the Book of the Covenant 'proper' (see link below) at Sinai reads from Exodus 19:16 up to and including Exodus 24:8, where we read that it was sealed, or ratified with blood, and later on, in verses 9-11 Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and seventy of the elders returned to Yahweh where they celebrated with a Covenant meal, just as in a marriage on earth.
Exo 24:8-11 "And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which Yahweh hath made with you concerning all these words....And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw Elohim, and did eat and drink."

After calling Moses back up the mountain to receive the tablets (Covenant written down) Israel, impatient for his return as we know immediately broke the Covenant they had made and created and worshipped the Golden Calf (Exodus 32). Yahweh knew exactly what was happening at the foot of the mountain and telling Moses of the broken covenant sent him back down to deal with them. Yahweh was obviously extremely angry with Israel and said later to Moses, which we read in chapter 33:3-6 "Depart thou and the people...into a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way..." He instructed Moses to remove the Tabernacle from among them 'outside the camp' (v. 7) and He did indeed plague His rebellious people because of the calf (Ex 32:35). Yahweh then instructed Moses to hew two new tablets of stone and that He would write the words He had written on the first tablets on them. (Exodus 34:1)
Moses then begged Yahweh to go with them and have mercy.(Exodus 34:9) In response, Yahweh said He would make a Covenant with him 'before' (Heb: in front of, over against, in sight of) the people of Israel and that He would do wonders and signs through him before 'all your people' 'such as have not been done in all the earth...' (v.10) Yahweh did not say He was renewing Covenant with Israel at this point, only making Covenant with Moses. The laws written after the Golden Calf incident, begin here, in verse 11 "observe that which I command you this day..." and carry on throughout the Book of Exodus through Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy is the Book of the Law. After Moses pleaded with Yahweh not to destroy His people, He relented, and instead of casting them off, in His mercy, He gave them a book of rules to follow, until Messiah came. Or, as Paul wrote, "until the Reformation." (Gk. diorthosis=straighten thoroughly, specifically the Messianic restoration) (Heb.9:9-10)
This is not to say that we are to ignore these 'added' laws, for they are a wonderful source of information where we are able to glean insight into the righteousness of the Almighty, learn more about how to celebrate the four major Feasts (Sabbath, Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles) and how He expects His people to behave and live, in accordance with His principals and justice. "Rightly dividing the Word of truth" as mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:15.

2. The Eternal Covenant was from the beginning.

Also, worth mentioning here, is that from Genesis 1 the Eternal Covenant of Yahweh existed in the hearts of His righteous people. Adam himself had the perfect covenantal relationship with Yahweh. He had fellowship each day, they conversed together. Gen 3:8-9 "And they heard the voice of the Yahweh Elohim walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Yahweh Elohim amongst the trees of the garden. And Yahweh Elohim called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?"
Sadly, Adam, we read, broke the Covenant. Hos 6:7 "But they like men ( Heb = 'aw-dawm' 'ruddy, an individual of mankind') have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me." After losing his relationship with Yahweh, Adam would have been dealt with by Yahshua according to Lev. 7:8 "And the priest that offereth any man's burnt offering, even the priest shall have to himself the skin of the burnt offering which he hath offered." We know this because Yahshua had the skins of the animals and clothed them.
After Adam, we are able to trace a line of people who were in Covenantal relationship with Yahweh. We read of Seth, Enoch, Jude 1:14 "And Enoch also, the seventh (i.e. preacher of righteousness) from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints," We read about Noah, being the 'eighth' preacher of rightousness. 2Pe 2:5 "And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;" Note here, that Noah was the 8th. preacher of righteousness. (in Covenant with Yahweh) We are able to work backwards to the other great Covenantal men from the beginning. And we are able to continue to trace forwards through the generations to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David and others. We read of the men of faith in Hebrews 10, all in Covenantal relationship with Yahweh through faith, to when the great Mediator of the New/Renewed Covenant appeard on the scene, Yahshua (Jesus) the Messiah, Who ratified the Covenant in His own blood.

3. The Covenant on Sinai with all Israel
The Covenant which Yahweh made with Abraham in Genesis chapters 12 and 15 was to go on to include the whole nation of Israel on Mount Sinai. Sadly, it did not do so, simply because of the unfaithfulness and idolatry of Israel. However, the Covenant was made, even though it was broken shortly afterwards. To recap:
a. The proposal: Exo 19:5-6 "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel."
b. The answer, the marriage contract, Exo 19:8 "And all the people answered together, and said, All that Yahweh hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto Yahweh."

He then commanded them to prepare themselves to come near Him, which entailed the washing of their clothes, and to be sanctified. (19:14-15) Then amidst thunders and lighnings, thick clouds and trumpet sounding, the people came before Yahweh at the foot of the mount.

We then read the Covenantal expectations which Moses gave to the people from Yahweh. These we read from Exodus 20:1 beginning with the 10 Commandments, commands re. altars and on to offerings they could give to Him for thanksgiving and peace.
After chapter 20 Yahweh continues with other precepts and statutes He expected from them tied in with the Covenant they had made. From chapter 21 on to the end of chapter 31 we read on issues of laws for servants, against violence to others, punishment for mistreatment of parents by children, judgements on those breaking the expected standards, responsibility towards animals, repayment if you or your animal causes harm, rules on restitution, judgement on theiving, injustices of all kinds, social justice, dowries, punishments for witches and immorality.

Here is a written copy of whole of the Book of the Covenant given to Moses,
for Israel on Mount Sinai before the sin of the Golden Calf.

4. The Covenant on Sinai with all Israel
There are also explanations of the main Commandments and what it means to obey them. Then Yahweh enlarges on the Sabbath and states His expectancy for Feast-keeping. He then promises their conquest of Canaan and His Presence with them. The people again affirmed their allegiance (Exodus 24:3)"And Moses came and told the people all the words of Yahweh, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which Yahweh hath said will we do."
So, essentially, they had no excuse in that they knew what was expected of them, a people in Covenant with Yahweh. Moses had written all these expectations down in 'The Book of the Covenant' which he read out to them after which they again affirmed their side of the Covenant.(Exodus 24:7) Moses sprinkled the people with the blood of the sacrifice he had made prior to reading the Book of the Covenant. The people then, represented by Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and 70 of the elders of Israel ate and drank before Yahweh (v.11) as a confirmation or 'celebration' of their marriage vows and agreement with Yahweh, much like a modern day marriage supper or 'reception.'

Moses was then called again into the Presence of Yahweh (chapter 25) and Yahweh began talking to Him about the Tabernacle, the sanctuary and offerings for the tabernacle. He also gave instructions for the Ark, the Table of Shewbread, the Lampstand, the Bronze Altar and indeed all the furniture and utensils to be used. He spoke to him about the Priests, their garments, the Altar of Incense, the Census, the men who would work on everything used in the Tabernacle. He finally enlarged on the keeping of the Sabbath Day.
This was all before Israel sinned. Everything was in place in Moses' heart, and all was written down in readiness. THEN came the catastrophe which ruined everything. In verse 1 of chapter 32 we read about Israel's idolatry with the Golden Calf, and Moses is sent back down the mountain to deal with the situation.

4. The Covenant, became broken
As well as reading the account in Exodus, it is reiterated in Deu 9:9-12, so we have a double witness of the events.
"When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which Yahweh made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water: And Yahweh delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of Elohim; and on them was written according to all the words, which Yahweh spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly. And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights, that Yahweh gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant. And Yahweh said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image."
After Moses returned down the mountain, he, overcome perhaps with grief at Israel's sin, smashed the tablets upon which was written the Covenant agreement including the terms of that Covenant. It is interesting that in Exodus 24:12 Yahweh said, perhaps with foresight, that He would give Moses "tables of stone, and a law and commandments..." (Exodus 24:12). Was this Law then, not part of the original Covenant, was it in fact extra, and "added because of transgressions" as we read in Galatians 3:19 " Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made" This 'seed' was and is Yahshua (Jesus) Who Himself took that and all transgression upon Himself on Calvary. This Book of the Law, is now done away with in Yahshua, and is not the Book of the Covenant!

From many of the facts we have stated, even with our limited understanding and the text we are studying, we can safely agree with Paul that there does appear to be 'a law that was added' in the form of a 'book.' This was not the same as the Book of the Covenant which Moses read to Israel on the mountain in Exodus 24:7. The Book of the Law was added because Israel broke Yahweh's Covenant on Mount Sinai after He had brought them out of the bondage of Egypt. He set them free that He may make them His own special treasure, His bride, His Covenant people. But, because of their 'unfaithfulness' He had to impose a Law of 'Commandments set in ordinances' upon them, which was, the Book of the Law.

The need for the Book of the Law came about because of the broken Covenant, the great loss of Israel's Covenantal relationship with Yahweh. In order for His grace to continue towards Israel, He imposed various laws and ordinances upon them, and the Book of the Law came into existance. Heb 9:10 "Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation."
There had also to be a change in the duties of the priesthood to enable them to offer sacrifices to 'cover' Israel's sins, and be the 'go between' if you like between the 'estranged wife' and Himself, until such time that the Great Mediator, His Son, Yahshua would come and shed His blood to make that ultimate sacrifice for sin, and make the New Covenant with the House of Israel. Worth mentioning here is the role of Aaron and how that changed from offering peace and thanksgiving offerings before the 'transgression' to the need to offer animals as sacrifices for sin.

Aaron's office and duties before the golden calf incident, the transgression.
Exo 28:1 "And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons.
Note, there is no mention at this time of a blood sacrifice for sin, only a Priesthood to be the tenders of the Tabernacle. Aaron's chief duty was to bear the names of the tribes of Israel before Yahweh in the Sanctuary. His was a holy office of prayer and thanksgiving, and the administration of justice, and we can only speculate what this actually meant at the time, but there was no mention of sacrificing animals for sin. Where there is a bull killed, it was purely for consecration as we see in Exo 29:21. "And thou shalt take of the blood that is upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his sons with him"
Yes, Aaron was to judge the people righteously, as we read in Exo 28:30 "And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim...when he goeth in before Yahweh: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before Yahweh continually.
However, this all changed when Israel grossly sinned, breaking their Covenant with Yahweh. They chose to worship the Golden Calf. Because of their blatant sin and their refusal to honour their 'marriage vows,' or the Covenant they made, drastic changes took place. Yahweh stated to Moses that He would completely destroy them and make a new nation from him.
Exo 32:10 "Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation." Moses pleaded with Yahweh, and Yahweh had mercy on Israel, but there were changes. He 'imposed' necessary laws upon them because of the lost relationship through the sin of the Golden Calf.
There also had to be a change in Aaron's office and duties.

Aaron's office and duties after the Golden Calf incident.
First, after Moses' pleading with Yahweh not to destroy His people, the following took place.
i. First there was a plague. Exo 32:35 And the LORD plagued the people, because they worshipped the calf, which Aaron made.
ii. Then Yahweh caused them to mourn, because of their idolatry and sin. Exo 33:3-6...for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way. And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments...
iii. The next thing was the removal of the Tabernacle. Yahweh moved His Presence from among them. Exo 33:7 And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation...
iv. Lastly, Moses pleaded with Yahweh once again for His Presence to go with them, which Yahweh heard and answered. Exo 33:17 And Yahweh said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.
But then of course, because of the broken Covenant a system was set up which lasted from then on, way into the future, the system of animal sacrifices for sin. Because of the refusal of Israel to a) have a relationship with Elohim, and b) because they became entrenched in idolatrous worship, the people had to continually bring offerings to the priests who officiated in their killing of their sin substitutes to enable them once more to become adherents to the added law, and thus remain in a 'relationship' with Yahweh.
Lev 4:32-34 And if he bring a lamb for a sin offering, he shall bring it a female without blemish. And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering. And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar:

Next page

Top of the page