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From the time of Moses to that of Christ, God revealed Himself in a special, almost exclusive, manner to one nation on earth - to Israel. The Lord not only set them apart by giving them His ceremonial law to govern their worship ceremonies, but He also directly provided for and governed their daily, civil affairs. After Israel's exodus from Egypt, God reigned over them as a nation in a unique, exclusive sense. He established a theocratic form of civil government for Israel.

After Christ's death, His kingdom enlarged from focusing upon one nation to being worldwide in scope. Its physical emphasis became more spiritual. The prophets, priests, and kings of Old Testament Israel found their spiritual fulfillment in the New Testament Prophet, Priest, and King - Jesus Christ, and in the New Testament "Israel" - God's people, His Church. Jesus' kingdom's boundaries, citizens, means of governing, and seat of rule became more spiritual. With this change from the national form of God's revelation to the ecclesiastical form, God's specific ceremonial and civil laws for theocratic Israel were ended in the sense of their literal use.

As with God's ceremonial law for Israel, however, so with His civil law for them, there is an abiding, profitable use for us today. We are to study the bases, principles, and teachings found in Israel's theocratic laws and utilize them in the establishment of our civil laws today.

For instance, when studying Israel's civil laws requiring the death penalty for striking or cursing one's own parents (Leviticus 20:9), blasphemy (Leviticus 24: 16}, or sabbath desecration (Exodus 35:2), this does not mean that today in our society we should put to death all who commit these sins. Studying these civil laws, however, teaches us that the previously stated sins are viewed by God as very serious and harmful to the health of society.

As with its ceremonial laws, the direct use of Israel's Old Testament civil laws ended with its direct theocracy - the national form of God's revelation. The principles of Israel's civil laws, however, are to be studied by us today and to be reflected in our thoughts,

  • Exclusive - Belonging solely to one group and excluding all others
  • Theocratic - Government by immediate direction of God
  • Ecclesiastical - Worldwide church; God's salvation being proclaimed to all people without distinction

    Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is My kingdom not from hence.

    - John 18:36

    Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

    - Luke 17:21

    Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

    - John 3:5

    For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink: but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

    - Romans 14:17


    Is the death penalty for murder only an Old Testament civil law of Israel? Why not?
    (See Genesis 9:6.)

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