This is a question I used to think on often.
Here are some of my thoughts and understanding on this that I wanted to share here as we journey into Torah :) Please check everything I say and find out for youself in God's Word if what I am sharing is the Truth :)
Now before I go on, I just wanted to say up front that, in case anyone get the idea that I just think this journey of faith is all about 'works' alone; I want to be crystal clear to say it is NOT! God desires our hearts and in obedience to Him, we do what is on HIS heart! James talks about this in depth saying that faith and actions work together and in doing so, our faith is made complete (James 2:22). We do not obey Him because we want to be loved by Him, rather BECAUSE we are loved by Him, we chose to obey Him :) Ok, with that said, I wanted to move on to how God defines what we obey; is it just the Ten Commandments or was there more to it than that?
We have to remember that the 'law' in our Bibles is a poor translation for God's instructions. God wrote down the Torah (instructions) and gave it to His people, named Israel, at Mt Sinai. (You can read about WHO ISRAEL, His people are, HERE.)
What were the instructions that God gave to His people through Moses?
What did God ask the people to obey?
Well let's look first at Exodus 19. Before He gives Israel the instructions, He tells them the condition of the covenant and the people responded together with, "We will DO EVERYTHING YHVH (the LORD) has SAID." (Exodus 19:8)
Then we get the 10 commandments being given in chapt 20 of Exodus. YHVH (God) gets through saying these and then the people say to Moses, 'You speak to us and we will listen but do not have God speak to us or we will die". (Exodus 20:19)
YHVH (God) had intended to give the entire law (instructions) to all the people but THEY CHOSE not to listen even as they were being given! Moses went up to the mountain where God gave the rest of the instructions to him and God said, "Tell the Israelites this..." (Exodus 20:22) and he launches in to the rest of the instructions that Moses is to 'set before them' (Exodus 21:1).
Did God ask them to just obey the 'Ten Commandments'? Remember, the people covenentally agreed to do everything that God said. So was it just the Ten Commandments that He said? If you read through Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy specifically, you will see that He said more than just the Ten Commandments to his people.
Here are some verses that show us it is not just the Ten Commandments that He asked us to follow.
"Be careful that you do not forget YHVH (the LORD) your Elohim (God), failing to OBSERVE HIS COMMANDS, HIS LAWS, AND HIS DECREES that I am giving you this day". (Deuteronomy 8:11)
"Take care to follow the COMMANDS, DECREES AND LAWS I give you today." (Deuteronomy 7:12)
YHVH (God) said to Moses, "You stay here with me so that I may give you ALL THE COMMANDS, DECREES AND LAWS you are to teach the to follow..." (Deuteronomy 5:31)
"Be sure to keep the COMMANDS OF THE LORD YOUR GOD AND THE STIPULATIONS AND DECREES HE HAS GIVEN YOU". (Deuteronomy 6:17)
See how God is not saying to them, 'Just keep the 10 commandments I gave you; that shall be your law". No the entirety of the Torah were to be the loving boundaries our Awesome Dad put in place for us!
And what about when Israel, the people of the Most High, decided to do their own thing and walk in their own way? Did He rebuke them through the prophets by saying, 'You transgressed the 10 Commandments"?
Here's some of what He said, "God warned them to return to the LAW, but they became arrogant and disobeyed your COMMANDS. They sinned against your ORDINANCES by which a man will LIVE if he choses to obey them" (Nehemia 9:29)
They..."have not walked in my ways, nor done what is RIGHT in my eyes, nor kept my STATUTES and LAWS as David, Solomon's father did". (1 Kings 11:33)
How did King David, the 'man after God's own heart' treat the Torah? Did he ONLY uphold the 10 Commandments? This is what he said about the Torah, "The LAW of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The STATUTES of the LORD are trustworthy, making the wise simple. The PRECEPTS of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The COMMANDS of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes". (Psalm 19:7-8) Far out! This blows me away so much! Notice he upholds the Law, Statutes, Precepts and Commands of God? Notice what he says about them? They are PERFECT, they REVIVE the soul, they are TRUSTWORTHY, RIGHT, RADIANT, bringing JOY to the heart and LIGHT to the eyes!!! Who wouldn't want to know His Ways and His Words - and ALL of them!!!
Check out Deuteronomy 10:12-13..."And now O Israel (we are now Israel since we have been grafted in! He only has ONE people or ONE body as it says in Ephesians 4:4) what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to WALK IN HIS WAYS, to LOVE Him, to SERVE the LORD your God with ALL YOUR HEART AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL and to OBSERVE the LORD's COMMANDS and DECREES that I am giving you today for your own good?"
Do we really think, just looking at this verse above, that we can pick out bits and disregard bits of His Word? Surely we believe that it is still relevant and important to walk in his ways, to love him and to serve him? Then why is it that we get to the next part the 'observe the LORD's commands and decrees' and say that no longer applies to us? I used to think that but I just want to encourage you, if that's how you see it, to really look into the Word deeper and see if God just meant the Ten Commandments or if he meant the entirety of all the instructions He gave His children.
The Ten Commandments were actually called the 'Ten Words' (or Aseret ha-D'bharîm in Hebrew). ALL of the TORAH (instructions) given to us can be SUMMED up under these ten words! They are like Ten Headings or Ten Themes or Ten Main Ideas and every little instruction YHVH gave us falls under one of the ten headings! And even the Ten Words or headings can be SUMMED up into just 2; Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul and all your mind and all your strength and Love your neighbour as yourself. Just because they can be summed up into these headings, doesn't mean that it erases them; it simply means that can be SUMMED up into those words! If you want to see just how all the Torah can fit under the 10 words, you can READ THIS ARTICLE from Water in the Desert. Scroll to page 12 specifically and from there onwards to see how all the Torah instructions really do fit under the headings of the 10 Words.
What did Yeshua (Jesus) teach? He taught the Torah! Everything you read in Matthew 5 in the 'Beattuitudes' is from the Torah! Did you know it says in the Torah that we are not to hate our brother in our heart?! Did you, like me not long ago, think that Jesus said that for the first time? It's in Leviticus 19:17 and it says, "Do not hate your brother in your heart". The way that the Torah had been taught by the Pharisees and teachers of the law had been incorrect. If you've been reading this blog for a while you'll probably have already read that there was a BIG difference between the man-made oral law (what Jesus refers to as man's traditions or the traditions of the elders) and the written commandments that YHVH Most High God gave. Yeshua (Jesus) didn't obey the tradition of the elders (see Mark 7) but He did completely obey the written commandments of Elohim (God). Did he come to do away with the 'small, insignificant' parts of the law? No! He said that not even the smallest stroke of the law would be done away with until heaven and earth pass away (Matthew 5:17-18). Heaven and earth still stand and therefore so does the entirety of the Torah :)
What did Paul hold to? Romans 3:31 reaffirms exactly what I believe - that we are not justified by the law but that doesn't mean we get rid of it! Paul said in this vers, 'We UPHOLD the LAW'. He also testifies in Acts 24:14 "I believe EVERYTHING that agrees with the LAW and that is written in the Prophets..."
If you are still convinced that only the Ten Commandments matter now, then may I be so bold as to ask your thoughts on Exodus 34? God says these are the exact same commandments He gave the first time, and yet we see the commands about celebrating the Appointed Feasts of YHVH (God) and about blood sacrifice and about the firstborn offspring. Do you obey these to the best of your ability? The reason these are the 'same' as the commands written the first time are that there IS NO DIFFERENCE between any of the Instructions He gave us! These commandments are just as important as the better known version of the Ten Commandments! He said they are His commandments!!!
Last little bit of food for thought:
I wonder if you've seen what I hadn't until recently...Abraham, the man of faith, "OBEYED me and KEPT my REQUIREMENTS, MY COMMANDS, MY DECREES AND MY LAWS" (Genesis 26:5) Have you ever wondered how Abraham could possibly obey these things since he lived BEFORE Moses was given the Torah on My Sinai? While we are here, why was Noah told to take both 'clean and unclean' (Genesis7:2) animals on the ark? How did he know the difference before the Law was given? Why were Cain and Abel sacrificing before the 'sacrificial system' was put in place? And why was the nation of Israel celebrating Sabbath (Exodus 16:23) before the Sabbath was commanded in the 'Ten Commandments'? It is clear that the many things that He gave to His people in the Torah were the same as what He'd given before to His people - firstly he told them and then He wrote it down for them! He is consistent from the beginning to the end; and if you read in some of the prophetic 'end times' passages, you'll see that these things are still in play when our Messiah returns to the earth again!
Remember, He never EVER said His ways (laws, commands, decrees, statutes and precepts) are burdensome! He never told us to do all the laws all at once! He, like any loving parent, wants what is best for us His kids! He wants us to do our best in walking out His ways. He will lead us by His Spirit as He lovingly guides and teaches us how :)
Well, that'll be it for today :) I hope and pray that someone, even one person, will be encouraged to dig deeper, searching for the riches in the Truth of His Word. Yeshua (Jesus) is the Word made flesh (John 1:14) so when we find these nuggets of truth, we are finding more of Him! May He open our hearts and teach us how to walk in His ways.
All my love to you,