Chapter 3

God—Not Moses—Gave the Law

From the book Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath?
By Herbert W. Armstrong

This, then, is what I taught that class: In the third month (of the new sacred calendar God had given the Israelites in Egypt), the vast multitude of Israelites came to Mt. Sinai.

Remember they were at least 3 to 4 million strong. There were 600,000 grown men of age 20 and above—not counting women and children.

The Vast Assemblage

This tremendous assemblage of millions of Israelites pitched tents, forming a gigantic encampment—a huge tent-city (Exodus 19:2). This, of course, consumed some little time—though they were highly organized.

Then (verse 3), Moses went up the mountain to meet God. And there the Eternal gave him a proposition to lay before those millions of people. This proposition—or agreement—was that which we call the “Old Covenant”—the covenant agreement for making of these people a nation—God’s own nation on Earth.

The proposition provided that God was to be their sole King and Ruler. Their government was to be a theocracy. God was the Lawmaker, not a congress, or parliament. God would appoint leading men to execute His orders. Moses returned to the vast tent-city.

Thereupon, “Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words …” (verse 7). The people unanimously accepted God’s proposition. You see, in this proposition, the people were so intent on receiving what God promised in this contract—“ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people”—that is, the greatest, most prosperous, most powerful nation on Earth—that they did not consider too seriously the condition:if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant” (verse 5).

And what was to come from the very voice of God for them to obey? A great law that already existed even as the laws of gravity and inertia—the laws of physics and chemistry—already existed. Only this was a spiritual law! God’s voice was to reveal that living, inexorable law in specific words, as a definite code.

A Harsh Law?

Why this law? It’s high time we of today realized the true answer. God Almighty not only is Creator and Ruler over His endless and vast creation of the entire universe. He is a God of love.

In love God created man in His own image. God loves human beings. God wanted the humans He was to create to be happy—to have peace, and to enjoy life in security and interesting, vigorous, abundant living. In order to make such a happy state possible, God set in living motion the spiritual laws which form the very WAY to every physical, mental and spiritual well-being—to avoid sorrow, suffering, anguish, insecurity, boredom, emptiness, frustration, violence and death. These spiritual laws provide the way to happy, invigorating, vital, interesting and joyful living.

God is love—and God knows that love is heartwarming and good. So He fashioned and set in living motion a law of love—a law fulfilled, obeyed, performed by love.

What a wonderful, glorious gift to mankind! You’d think humanity would rejoice and give God ceaseless thanks and praise in deep gratitude! But humanity doesn’t! Good and glorious as this law is, human nature is hostile to it! It was then. It is today. Human nature is the inward pull of vanity, selfishness, greed. Selfishly, it wants to take everything God’s way of life would bring—but, rebelliously, it resents traveling that road to obtain these lavish blessings.

Love is an outgoing concern. It is the way of giving, serving, sharing. Human nature wants to take.

All good things, blessing, benefits, come from God. He is the source of everything good humanity craves. In God’s proposition to be their King and Ruler—to make them the world’s most prosperous, most blessed and powerful nation—they were to have the supreme blessing of having the guidance, protection, help, of the all-wise, all-loving, all-powerful God!

Of course this vast congregation of people looked only to the end-promise—to what they would get—and glibly agreed to the terms of God’s proposition before they heard them.

Then (verse 8), Moses climbed the mountain again to report to God.

The POWER and the GLORY!

God instructed Moses: “Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow … And be ready against the third day: for the third day the [Eternal] will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai” (verses 10-11). On that great day, in the morning, there was a tremendous display of thunder and lightning up on the mountain.

Can you picture it? I think I can—at least partially. Years ago—in early winter, 1934—I was driving around the Mt. Hood Loop in Oregon. Reaching the east of Mt. Hood, there was a spur road leading to the very base, and part way up the mountain. As I reached this spot, a frightening storm developed around the snow-capped peak just above me. A dark, foreboding cloud—the darkest I had ever seen—hovered over the top of the mountain. Lightning flashed, so bright I had to hide my eyes. Thunderclaps resounded louder, sharper, than any I had ever heard in Iowa or Nebraska. I drove back down, away from that storm, as fast as safety would allow. It was the most frightening, terrifying sight I had ever witnessed. It seemed to display the magnitude of the very fury of Almighty God!

I thought, then, of only one thing—this very experience when God thundered down from Mt. Sinai His great spiritual law! Only I realized that what I saw and heard must have been tame by comparison. Yet it caused me to realize what an imagination-defying experience occurred in the sight of all Israel!

Imagine that vast sea of people—millions of them—stretching as far as the eye could see! Then terrifying flashes of blinding lightning, and crashes of thunder that would almost break eardrums! And the GREAT God HIMSELF in the midst of this eye-blinding, ear-splitting display, preparing to thunder His great law in the hearing of that vast assemblage!

No wonder the people were frightened and asked Moses to stand between them and God!

Amid this tremendous manifestation of God’s power and glory, Moses “brought forth the people … to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the [Eternal] descended upon it in fire … and the whole mount quaked greatly” (verses 17-18).

What a setting for the receiving of God’s law!

This was no ordinary occasion! God wanted the paramount importance of this law—God’s perfect way of life—impressed on His people!

Think of it! A whole nation of millions gathered together in one vast, tremendous, history-making assemblage! And the very God Himself speaking through fire, and flashing lightning, and deafening peals of thunder, and a great supernatural voice that needed no microphones or loudspeakers or public-address systems to be heard by millions.

That was not a throng of 100,000 people, such as we see each year in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl football game. This football crowd seems like something tremendous to us today. But it is a puny, tiny grease spot compared to God’s audience. His audience was not 100,000, not 500,000, not 1 million—but 3 or 4 millions of people, in one imagination-defying crowd!

It was not Moses’s voice which delivered God’s law. It was the voice of GOD! The whole nation of people heard the voice of God!

“And God spake all these words, saying, I am the [Eternal] thy God …” and then the voice of God spoke to that mass of people the words of the Ten Commandments!

The Voice of GOD—Not Moses!

How significant! On that very first day of Pentecost (called festival of firstfruits, or festival of weeks, in the Old Testament), amid this tremendous and awesome manifestation by the very forces of nature, God gave His law—His way of life—to the only ones on Earth who were His people. This came at the founding, and setting up, of God’s nation on Earth.

Then, many centuries later, on the day of Pentecost, a.d. 31, with a tremendous and awesome manifestation, God gave His Holy Spirit to His people—the love of God to fulfill that law. And that came at the founding, and setting up, of God’s Church on Earth!

WHO gave the people the Ten Commandments?

Notice it carefully! The people did not receive the Ten Commandments from Moses, as most people seem to believe today. Moses was hearing the very first delivery of the commandments, in this form, along with that whole nation of millions of people! It was not Moses who gave this law to the people—but “God spake all these words.”

Next, notice Deuteronomy 5:4-22. This is later. Moses is talking to the people of Israel. And to the people Moses says: “The [Eternal] talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire … saying …”—then follow the words of the Ten Commandments (verses 6-21).

Read those passages again! Why have you been taught that Moses “gave the law”? Why has this law been called the “law of Moses”?

The Ten Commandments did not come from Moses but from God! The Ten Commandments were not given to the people by Moses, but by God to all the nation, assembled. Moses says: “The [Eternal] talked with you face to face”—with the vast assembly of the whole people!

Moses explains (verse 5), that because the people were frightened, in order to reassure them, he stood in front of them—but he was with them, as merely one of that vast assembly.

But God spoke to all the people assembled, not only to Moses!

Notice further—after completing, in verse 21, the rewriting of the words of the Ten Commandments which God spoke, Moses continues, verse 22, to say to the people of Israel: “These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.”

Read that again carefully! That is not what you probably have been told. Read it in your own Bible!

These words of the Ten Commandments the Lord spoke. To whom? “[U]nto all your assembly.” The people did not receive the Ten Commandments from Moses, but direct from the very voice of God, which they all heard!

“[A]nd he added no more.” That was a complete law! It is a spiritual law. It is complete. He added no more—to that law! Any other laws are different, separate laws—no part of that spiritual law! It is complete in itself!

And if you think this law was for “Jews only,” you couldn’t be more wrong! Have you not read, in Acts 7:38, that those Israelites “received the lively oracles to give unto us”—for us who, under the New Testament, are Christians?

All other nations had turned from God and His ways. Now God was choosing a downtrodden slave people as His nation—the only people on Earth who had not cut themselves completely off from God.

This was the basis upon which the Old Covenant was made—but what is the basis of the New Covenant? Read it, in Hebrews 8:10: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.”

It will be made eminently plain, in this booklet, that this was 1) no temporary law to end at the cross; and 2) no special law for one nation only, and forbidden to other nations. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).

The Sabbath Command

Observe more closely, now, the Sabbath command.

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). God said remember this day! So men have insisted on forgetting—or trying to change it to a different day!

Christ said, in the sermon on the mount: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law,” so professing Christians think He did come to destroy it!

Christ said, in the same sermon on the mount: “Swear not,” so professing Christians universally hold up their right hands and swear.

Christ said: “Love your enemies,” so professing Christians—pretending to follow Him—hate their enemies and go to war to kill them.

Christ said: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect,” so professing Christians say, “It’s impossible to keep God’s law, let alone to be perfect. Christ kept it in our stead, and then abolished it.”

Christ commands “Do!”—and His professed followers don’t!

Christ commands “Don’t!” and His professed followers do!

Christ commanded: “REMEMBER the sabbath day”! So pretending followers forget it!

But notice the rest of that same sentence—“to KEEP it holy.” The word keep means to preserve in the same condition. You can’t keep ice water hot—you can only keep hot water hot. You can’t keep an unholy day holy. The only weekly day God ever made holy is His Sabbath. It is utterly impossible to keep Sunday or Friday holy—because God never made them holy, and man has no power to make anything holy. These are not arguments—they are facts that will judge you in God’s judgment!

Now notice verses 9 and 10 (Exodus 20): “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work ….”

Not just any seventh day! Not “one day in seven”—Christ said “the seventh day”! In Matthew 28:1—after the crucifixion and resurrection—after whatever was “nailed to the cross” had been nailed—you will find it is the seventh day of the week—the day before the first day of the week!

Notice further! Christ did not say, “the sabbath of the Jewish people.” He said, distinctly, “the sabbath of the Lord thy God”! If it is the Lord’s Sabbath—the Sabbath of the Lord—then the Sabbath is, truly, “the Lord’s day.”

Right here, let’s put an end to the rebellious arguments about Sunday being the “Lord’s day.” I will make to any reader this challenge: Produce any passage in the Bible identifying Sunday—or the first day of the week—as “the Lord’s day,” and I will proclaim the truth of that passage to the millions of people who hear the World Tomorrow program on the air in every inhabited continent on Earth, and publish it prominently in the Plain Truth, which now has a reading audience of about 7 million people around the world.[1]

God has placed before me one of the most vast audiences in the world today. If you believe Sunday is “the Lord’s Day” and can prove it by the Scripture, here is your opportunity to get it before many millions of people! But before anyone sends in Revelation 1:10, let me call to your attention the fact that 1) this verse is not referring to any day of the week, but to the general period of prophecy mentioned in more than 30 prophecies, as “the day of the Lord.” In this present time we are in the day of man. The “day of the Lord” is the era of time when God is going to intervene directly and supernaturally in world affairs, and begin the take-over of the governments of all nations. And, 2) this verse and its context make no reference to any day of the week, nor do they in any manner mention Sunday or “the first day of the week.” There is absolutely nothing in this verse or context associating it with a weekly day of worship, or changing the day to Sunday. Those who have associated it with Sunday have done so without scriptural authority, and have thus deceived millions of people.

The “Lord’s day” is the day the Lord is lord of—the day that is HIS day—and in Mark 2:28 Jesus Christ said He is Lord of the Sabbath—not of Sunday.

In this present verse—Exodus 20:10—He said to all the people assembled, “But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God ….” Not the Sabbath “of the Jewish people”—but “of the Lord thy God.”

Sabbath Not MY Day

Let me illustrate this verse further. Some 30 years ago, when I was holding night services in the Chamber of Commerce Auditorium, in downtown Seattle, a woman shaking hands with me at the entrance after the service paused to say:

“Mr. Armstrong, I have been told that Saturday is your day. I do hope that is not true!”

“It certainly is not true,” I replied. “Sunday is my day.”

“Oh, I’m so glad!” she exclaimed.

“But wait a minute,” I said quickly. “I see you don’t understand. Sunday is my day—and Monday, and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday—those are all my days—but Friday sunset until Saturday sunset is not my day—that is God’s daythat is THE Lord’s day!”

Read the wording of Christ in the commandment again: “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work”—those are our days, for our work—“But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God”—the seventh day is the Lord’s day. This very commandment, in the law which defines sin, plainly says so!

In 1 John 3:4 you read the Bible definition of what constitutes sin. “[S]in is the transgression of the law.” In Romans 7:7 you read which law it is sin to disobey—the law that says, “Thou shalt not covet”—quoted from this very law—Exodus 20:17. In James 2:9-11 you will read which law defines sin. It is a law subdivided into “points” (verse 10). One of its “points” is “Do not commit adultery,” quoted from this very law (Exodus 20:14), and another of its 10 “points” is “Do not kill,” also quoted from this same law (Exodus 20:13).

In James 2:10 you read that if you break any one of these 10 points you are guilty of sin. The same law also says: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. … [T]he seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God.” Whoever disobeys that command commits SIN!

This is probably far from what you have believed or been taught. But if any wish to argue, I should suggest they save their arguments for the Judgment, and then try to argue face to face with their Savior and their Maker, Jesus Christ!

Called Sabbath From Creation

Before leaving Exodus 20, notice one more important fact.

In verse 11 you will read, “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth … and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

Now when did the Lord bless and hallow this seventh day? You will read, as explained before, in Genesis 2:3, that He did this blessing and hallowing on that seventh day of original creation week. And this Sabbath command says plainly, “[T]he Lord blessed the sabbath day.” He did this blessing and hallowing the very day after the creation of Adam and Eve. And what He then blessed and hallowed, says Exodus 20:11, was the Sabbath day. It was God’s Sabbath day from that very original creation week. That is when the Lord made the Sabbath.

Many have used the deceptive argument that God never made the Sabbath until He gave the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai. But this says plainly that the seventh day of creation week, which the Lord then blessed and hallowed was, then, the Sabbath day. Further, as emphatically proved above, the Sabbath existed, and was God’s holy day before the children of Israel arrived at Mt. Sinai—as shown in Exodus 16.

So, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the “Logos” (John 1:1—Greek), or the “YHVH” (Hebrew) of Genesis 2, who made everything that was made, did make the Sabbath, as Jesus plainly stated in Mark 2:27. It is one of the things He made—and it was made on the seventh day of the very first week—creation week. The Sabbath has existed from creation, and, more than two millenniums later, this same Lord, the Person of the Godhead who became Jesus Christ, commanded His people to keep it holy! And, about another 2,000 years after that, He said He is Lord of that day!

[1] Since Mr. Armstrong’s death in 1986, the World Tomorrow program has been discontinued and the Plain Truth is out of print.

Continue Reading: Chapter 4: A Special Eternal Covenant