The Reading of the Law
Israel was required to read the Law (first five books of the Bible) at least once every seven years.
Deuteronomy 31:9 And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all the elders of Israel. 10 And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, 11 When all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: 13 And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.
This reading of the law was done at least three times in Israel's history:
(1) Joshua 8:34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.
(2) II Kings 23:1 And the king [Josiah] sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. 2 And the king went up into the house of the Lord, 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 ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord. 3 And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.
(3) Nehemiah 8:1 And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel. 2 And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law. 4 And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. 5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people; ) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: 6 And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground. 7 Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. 8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. 9 And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength. 11 So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved. 12 And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.
It is plain that "the Law" refers to the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, written by Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. This is the portion of the Bible that specifically states the Creator's rules for His people. Some of those who profess to obey the Eternal's laws have never read and expounded upon these laws. Not once in seven years. Never.
Why the Law Is Important
Obedience to these laws made Abraham the father of the faithful: Genesis 26:5 "Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws."
David loved the law and constantly meditated on the law: Psalms 119:97 "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day." He said that righteousness is defined by the commandments: Psalms 119:172, "My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness."
The apostle Paul called the law holy, just and good: Romans 7:12, 14, "Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good....the law is spiritual." Furthermore, he showed that love is the fulfilling of the law: Romans 13:8-10, "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."
James referred to the regal nature of the law of liberty: James 2:8, 12 "If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:...So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty."
The apostle John said that sin is the transgression of the law, I John 3:4. Only those who keep the commandments will have eternal life: Revelation 22:14, "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." John 13:34-35, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
Whole Bible Based Upon Two Great Commandments
The Messiah said the law must be kept to enter eternal life: Matthew 22:36-40, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with ALL thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang ALL the law and the prophets."
Notice that the whole five books of the Torah and the Old Testament prophets hang on the two overall laws of love to God and love to neighbor. The Ten Commandments are divided into two parts: love to God and love to neighbor. And all the laws hang on one or more of the Ten Commandments. This is further amplified in Matthew 7:12, "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."
Jesus did not come to destroy the law or the prophets: Matthew 5:17 "Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." The Savior Y'shua came to magnify the law to its full spiritual intent: Isaiah 42:21 "The LORD...will magnify the law, and make it [Him] honourable." The New Testament is merely a magnification of the old. The law, the prophets, and the New Testament, that is, the entire Bible, is summed up in the two great commandments: love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. All Bible teachings "hang," or relate, to one of these two summary laws.
The Law IS the Gospel
"Why do you speak so much about the law?" some may ask, "you should speak more of the gospel." The answer to this may be surprising to you. The gospel of the Kingdom of God concerns four primary things: (1) the king (Messiah) and His co-rulers (us, if we qualify to rule with Him), (2) the subjects of the kingdom (the physical people who will live on into the millennium and raise families), (3) the territory of the Kingdom (the earth, NOT Heaven), and (4) the laws of the kingdom (the commandments, laws, statutes and judgments of the Bible).
The true Gospel of the Kingdom of God is not confined to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John or just the New Testament, but is proclaimed throughout the whole Bible. Moses preached the gospel to Israel, Hebrews 4:2 (and 3:16-19). The Law IS the Gospel! It is sad but true that the law is the most misunderstood, maligned and neglected portion of the gospel message.
There are at least three ways one can read the law (1) verse by verse in book and chapter order, and (2) alphabetically by topics, according to subject, or (3) grouped according to the Ten Commandments. With the aid of Scripture Scanner, a Bible computer software program, all these methods are presented for portions of the Law that give the most specific statements of the Eternal's commandments, statutes and judgments. We believe that the laws grouped by the Ten Commandments present the most meaningful study reference.
Note that this study is confined to the first five books of the Bible. A future study is planned to cover the law as expounded in the rest of the Bible.
The end, or purpose, of the law is shown in I Timothy 1:5, "Now the end of the commandment is charity [love] out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned." Ecclesiastes 12:13, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man."
Read the Law this Feast of Tabernacles. Live it all the days of your life. Enter into the joy of the LORD.W