The one who reads the New Testament may get confused about the authorship of the law. Let us look at some passages of Scripture: Jesus healed a leper and commanded him to tell it to no one, but go to the priest and offer what Moses had determined for his purification (Luke 5:12-14). The person reading the miracle supposes that Moses had determined it, but it had been Jehovah, not Moses. The offer that Jesus referred to is in Lev. 14:4-7. Jehovah gave this ordinance. Why does the New Testament attribute it to Moses? We will present another case: The Pharisees tried Jesus, saying: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?” Jesus answered saying that God unites a couple, which become one body. He also said that whatever God has united men couldn’t separate. Then they asked: “Why then did Moses command us to give her a bill of divorce, and divorce her?” (Matt. 19:3-7) But the one who commanded that a letter of divorce be given was Jehovah, not Moses. This is registered in Deut. 24:1-4. Moses only wrote it. Let us go to the third case: Some Saducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, said, tempting Jesus: “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies having a wife, and he is childless, his brother should take the wife, and raise up children for his brother. There were therefore seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died childless. The second took her as wife, and he died childless. The third took her, and likewise the seven all left no children, and died. Afterward the woman also died. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them will she be?” (Luke 20:27-38). Why did the Saducees say, “Moses said”, if the one who ordained the law of the levirate was Jehovah? (Deut. 25:5-10). Jesus himself quotes Moses, instead of quoting Jehovah. Speaking about the tradition of the ancients, he said: “He said to them, ‘Full well do you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, “Honor your father and your mother;” and, “He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death”’” (Mark 7:9-10). The one who said this was Jehovah, in the Law (Ex. 20:12; 21:17). If it was Jehovah who determined it, why did Jesus answer as if Moses had said it? It is understandable that the apostles would remove Jehovah from the context, but is it understandable for Jesus to do the same? Luke, the evangelist, speaking of the circumcision of Jesus, said: “When the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were fulfilled, they brought him up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’), and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, ‘A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons’” (Luke 2:21-24). This text brings up doubts, for it begins by speaking on the Law of Moses in verse 22 and then speaks of the law of Jehovah in verses 23 and 24. Whose is the law? It is the law of Jehovah. Why is it written: “Law of Moses”? After he was risen, Jesus appeared to the disciples and said to them: “This is what I told you, while I was still with you, that all things which are written in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44).
In John 1:17 we read: “For the law was given through Moses. Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ”. This text proves that Jesus did not give the law of Jehovah; therefore he has never been Jehovah, as a group of theologians argue. And John, saying that the grace of Jesus is the truth, suggests that the law of Jehovah is not the truth. Here is a reason by which Jesus credited the law to Moses (the scapegoat). The Jews believed in Jehovah as God. Whoever would say anything that tainted Jehovah’s deity would be punished with death.
The truth, therefore, is that the law is of Jehovah (Ex. 13:9). And Jehovah declares that the law belongs to him. “Then Jehovah said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from the sky for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law, or not’” (Ex. 16:4). This law was given to Moses by Jehovah: “Jehovah said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain, and stay here, and I will give you the tables of stone with the law and the commands that I have written, that you may teach them’” (Ex. 24:12). Therefore, after the authorship of the law was established, attributing it to Moses was a strategic plan to avoid stronger clashes.
- “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men” (Titus 2:11). The grace canceled the condemnation of the law for all men and made the law useless, seeing that it does not condemn anymore (Heb. 7:18). This is why the Christians saved by Jesus are not any longer under the law (Rom. 6:14; 7:6).
- God, the Father, wants to save the sinners, while Jehovah wishes to destroy and kill them (1 Tim. 2:3-4; Gen. 6:7; Ps. 9:17). Now, “Because by the works of the law, no flesh will be justified in his sight. For through the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the law, a righteousness of God has been revealed, being testified by the law and the prophets” (Rom. 3:20-21). So we conclude that man is justified by faith, apart from the works of the law (Rom. 3:28).
- The law does not make anything perfect. In the letter to the Hebrews we read: “For there is an annulling of a foregoing commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect), and a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God” (Heb. 7:18-19). But Jesus makes things perfect. Paul wrote: “Whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1:28).
- “Therefore the law indeed is holy, and the commandment holy, and righteous, and good” (Rom. 7:12). But the law does not make anyone righteous, but on the contrary, the law awakens the lust of the flesh. “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? May it never be! However, I wouldn’t have known sin, except through the law. For I wouldn’t have known coveting, unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, finding occasion through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of coveting. For apart from the law, sin is dead” (Rom. 7:7-8). And it is the lust of the flesh that leads to sin and death: “But each one is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it has conceived, bears sin; and the sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15).
- The law of Jehovah sets the flesh on fire: “For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were through the law, worked in our members to bring forth fruit to death” (Rom. 7:5).
- The law does not make anyone alive: “Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could make alive, most certainly righteousness would have been of the law” (Gal. 3:21). Only the Holy Spirit, given by Jesus, can make anyone alive (Rom. 8:11).
- The law of Jehovah is an unbearable yoke. The gentiles, those who were not Jews, became converted by the thousands. The Jews, converted to Christ, but still prisoners to the law of Jehovah, wanted to force them to be circumcised and to keep the law. There was a great argument, and Peter declared that wishing to place the yoke of the law on the gentiles was like tempting God (Acts 15:5-10).
- The Law of Moses does not reveal the love of God the Father, but the wrath of Jehovah: “For the law works wrath, for where there is no law, neither is there disobedience” (Rom. 4:15). But Jesus Christ reveals the love of God the Father: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
- The law produces slaves. Paul declared: “Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, don’t you listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the handmaid, and one by the free woman. However, the son by the handmaid was born according to the flesh, but the son by the free woman was born through promise. These things contain an allegory, for these are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children to bondage, which is Hagar. For this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answers to the Jerusalem that exists now, for she is in bondage with her children.” (Gal. 4:21-25). Jesus came down to this world to set the slaves free (John 8:36).
- “For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse. For it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who doesn’t continue in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them.’ Now that no man is justified by the law before God is evident, for, ‘The righteous will live by faith’” (Gal. 3:10-11).
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” (Gal. 3:13).
The law of Jehovah has so many flaws and is so imperfect, that in the New Testament it was credited to the man Moses, not to God.
By Olavo Silveira Pereira