The "Law of Moses" is the "Law of God" and includes both ceremonial and moral law together- EJ Waggoner response GI Butler


This is lost doctrine to Adventists today and was the major issue in the rejection of the 1888 message. Though it came down to Righteousness by faith. Faith will fulfill the law. Waggoner goes over in this short note how that both the Law of Moses and the Law of God are the very same law and that the terms “Law of God” and “Law of Moses” are used interchangably. This law included both moral and ceremonial laws.

I quote again from your(Elder GI Butler’s) pamphlet:

“The ‘added’ law was ‘ordained by angels

in the hand of a mediator.’ All agree that this ‘mediator’ was Moses, who went between God and the people. The original word for ‘ordained’ is rendered ‘promulgate’ by Greenfield, who cites this text as an illustration. Was it true that the ten commandments were ‘ordained,’ or ‘promulgated, ’ ‘by angels,’ ‘in’ or ‘by the hand of Moses’? God Himself spoke them with a voice that shook the earth, and wrote them with His own finger on the stone tablets. But the other law was given through angels, and written in a ‘book’ by the ‘hand of Moses.’ If the reader desires to see some of the instances where the same expression substantially is used when speaking of the ‘law of Moses,’ we refer him to Leviticus 2649; Numbers 4~37; 1522, 23, and especially Nehemiah 9:13, 14, where the distinction is clearly made between the laws which God spoke, and the ‘precepts, statutes, and laws’ given ‘by the hand of Moses.’”

REPLY BY EJ Waggoner

There are several points in this paragraph, and we will note them in order. First, was the ceremonial law given by angels? Those who hold as you do, say that it was, and quote Galatians 3:19 as proof. But that is not competent testimony on this point, for it is the text under discussion; but, unfortunately for your theory, it is the only text that you can quote. And so the “proof” that the ceremonial law was given by angels is nothing but reasoning in a circle. Thus: You say that Galatians 3:19 refers to the ceremonial law, because it speaks of a law that was “ordained by angels;” then you “prove” that the ceremonial law was spoken by angels, by quoting Galatians 3:19, which you have already “proved” refers to the ceremonial law. This is not proving anything, but is simply begging the question. You started out to show that Galatians 3:19 has reference to the ceremonial law, because it speaks of a law ordained by angels. In order to make that good, you ought to cite at least one other text in the Bible where it is at least implied that the angels gave the ceremonial law; but this you cannot do.

Now, on the other hand, the connection of angels with the giving of the ten commandments from Sinai is most clearly marked. I first citePsalms 68:17: “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels; the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.”Again, I refer to Deuteronomy 33:2: “The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; He shined forth from Mount Paran, and He came with ten thousands of saints [holy ones,—angels]; from His right hand went a fiery law for them.”

These texts show plainly that the angels of God were on Sinai when the law was spoken. They were there evidently for a purpose, though we cannot tell what. But we have a still more emphatic testimony in Stephen’s address, Acts 7:51-53: “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers; who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.”

The law which these wicked Jews had not kept was the moral law, which Stephen said was given “by the disposition of angels,”—the very same term that in Galatians 3:19 is rendered “ordained by angels.”

The word diatasso, rendered “ordain,” means, according to Liddell and Scott, “to range, ordain, establish, to set in order, draw up an army.” The word “disposition,” in Acts 7:53, is from diataxis, a noun derived from the preceding verb, and means, “disposition, arrangement, especially a drawing up of troops, order of battle.” These words have also the signification of “to decree,” to “will,” but the former signification seems to convey the idea of the words as used in the texts quoted.

The text under consideration does not say that the angels spoke the law, and we know very well that they did not speak either the moral or the ceremonial law. The Lord Himself spoke them both, the one directly to the people, and the other to Moses. But the angels were there, evidently in their regular order, as the armies of Heaven. Just what part they had to act no one can tell, for the Bible does not specify. All I claim is that the Scriptures speak of them as being intimately connected with the giving of the moral law; while there is not a text in the Bible which mentions them in connection with the giving of the ceremonial law; and the text in Acts, already quoted, plainly says of the moral law that it was given “by the disposition of angels.” The expression “ordained by angels,” is the one upon which those who argue for the ceremonial law in Galatians, have placed their principal reliance; but even that is against them.

Second, the distinction which is made between the moral and the ceremonial law, namely, that the moral law was spoken by the Lord, and the ceremonial law by Moses, will not hold. The very texts which you cite are against this distinction. I will take the first one, Leviticus 26:46. It reads: “These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the Lord made between Him and the children of Israel in Mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.” This is the last verse of the chapter. The first two verses of the chapter read thus: “Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it; for I am the Lord your God. Ye shall keep My Sabbaths, and reverence My sanctuary; I am the Lord.” And then the chapter goes on with instructions to keep the commandments of the Lord, to walk in His statutes, tells what judgments shall come upon them if they break the commandments, especially the Sabbath, and closes with the words first quoted. But in all the chapter there is not a shadow of a reference to the ceremonial law.

Your next reference, Numbers 4:37, has no reference to either the moral or the ceremonial law. It simply states that Moses and Aaron numbered the families of the Kohathites, “according to the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses.”

Your third reference, Numbers 15:22, 23, has unmistakable reference to the moral law, and to that alone, as will be seen if the twenty-fourth, twenty-fifth, and twenty-sixth verses are read in connection. I will quote them: “And if ye have erred, and not observed all these commandments, which the Lord hath spoken unto Moses, even all that the Lord hath commanded you by the hand of Moses, from the day that the Lord commanded Moses, and henceforward among your generations; then it shall be, if ought be committed by ignorance without the knowledge of the congregation, that all the congregation shall offer one young bullock for a burnt offering. … And the priest shall make an atonement for all the congregation of the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them; for it is ignorance; and they shall bring their offering, a sacrifice made by fire unto the Lord, and their sin-offering before the Lord, for their ignorance; and it shall be forgiven all the congregation of the children of Israel.” All this atoning sacrifice was to be made on account of sins against what the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses. But nothing is sin except violation of the ten commandments.

Your last reference, Nehemiah 9:13, 14, may have reference to both the moral and the ceremonial law. I will quote the verses: “Thou camest down also upon Mount Sinai, and spakest with them from Heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments; and madest known unto them Thy holy Sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses Thy servant.” This is the only text of all to which you have referred, which even by implication refers to the ceremonial law. And it is certainly a strained implication that limits “by the hand of Moses” to the last part of verse 14. All the other texts, at any rate, when they refer to any law at all, refer solely to the moral law, which is said to have been commanded “by the hand of Moses.”

You will perhaps say that I have broken down the distinction between the moral and the ceremonial law, and have opened the way for the enemies of the law to confuse the two. But I have not. I have simply quoted the texts to which you refer, and have shown their exact application. There is no chance for confusion concerning the two laws, for we have this plain distinction: The moral law was spoken by the Lord with an audible voice, from the fire and smoke of Sinai. The ten commandments are all that were given in this manner (Deuteronomy 5:22) and they alone were written on tables of stone by the finger of God. The ceremonial law was given in a more private manner. This certainly forbids any confusion. Both the moral and the ceremonial law, however, are, as we have seen in the texts quoted, said to have been given by the hand of Moses, and both were written in the book of the law.

But there is still this distinction, that the ceremonial law was written only in the book, while the moral law was written on the tables of stone, with the finger of God, and also in a book. That the term, “the law of Moses,” does sometimes refer to the ten commandments, will be evident to anyone who will carefully read Deuteronomy 4:44 to 5:22 and onward; Joshua 23:6, 7; 1 Kings 2:3, 4; 2 Kings 23:24, 25, etc. See also Great Controversy, vol. 2, pp. 217, 218, beginning with last paragraph on page 217. On the other hand, the term “the law of the Lord” is applied to the ceremonial ordinances. For instance, see Luke 2:23, 24. Thus the terms, “the law of Moses,” and “the law of the Lord,” are used interchangeably of both laws.

“The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders [E.J.] Waggoner and [A. T.] Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God.” {Ellen White, LDE 200.1}

Some are saying the Law of Moses is the Ceremonial Law and that this law was the law in Galatians. But clearly as Waggoner expressed above the Law of Moses and the Law of God are the same Law. According to the Spirit of Prophecy the Law in Galatians included both the Moral and Ceremonial Law.

“I am asked concerning the law in Galatians. What law is the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ? I answer: Both the ceremonial and the moral code of Ten Commandments.” {The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 1725.1}

Malachi 4:4 “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.”

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