Did people keep the Ten Commandments before Moses?


By BibleAsk Team

The Ten Commandments Were Given at the Very beginning

The Ten Commandments existed from the very beginning of time and before Moses. God gave His law because it showed men what sin is. “I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet” (Romans 7:7). The Bible defines sin as, “the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). Sin is lawlessness, and all lawlessness is sin.

The Bible tells us that the fourth Commandment of the Sabbath was instituted at the very beginning, about 2500 years before the Jews and Moses. The Sabbath was given at end of the creation week. “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:2-3).

Another example that the law was kept from the very beginning is the story of Cain and Abel. Cain understood clearly that he had committed the horrible sin of killing his brother. And later his descendants were punished by the flood for their sins against God’s Moral law. Thus, before Moses, the Lord offered His children the system of offerings to atone for their sins of violating His Moral law (Genesis 4; 8:20). Therefore, from the very beginning of time, God formulated His laws to guide people, to enable them to enjoy life fully, and to save them from sin (Exodus 20:1).

Abraham Kept God’s Law

Further, the Bible says that Abraham kept all of God’s laws. God stated, “Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws” (Genesis 26:5). God’s own testimony, here given, makes it certain, that Abraham was faithful in keeping God’s moral law of the Ten Commandments.

The word “commandments” refer to the precepts given by God (1 Samuel 13:13; 1 Kings 13:21). Such a precept, to walk perfectly before God, had been enjoined upon Abraham at the age of 99 (Genesis 17:1). As for the statues, they refer to divine laws, ceremonial (Exodus 13:10; Numbers 9:14; etc.) as well as moral (Deuteronomy 4:5, 8, 14; 6:24; etc.). As for the laws, they refer to the ethical instructions as well as ceremonial and spiritual precepts (Job 22:22; Isaiah 8:16, 20.)

Abraham diligently observed them all, whether they came directly from God or whether they had been handed down from past generations. He purposed in his heart to obey God implicitly. And when he failed, he approached God with the sacrifice of repentance (Hebrews 7:25; 8:1–4).

Israel Kept the Sabbath Before the Ten Commandments

The Bible teaches that the Israelites did keep God’s law including the fourth commandment of the seventh day holy before the Lord gave Moses the Ten Commandment. One example to that is given in the instruction for the gathering of the Manna. The Israelites were instructed to gather daily an omer for every person. And they were not to leave of it until the morning. Some attempted to keep a supply until the next day, but it was then found to be unfit for eating (Exodus 16:20).

On the sixth day, the people were instructed to gather two omers instead of just one as in the rest of the days. Moses said, “Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.’ ” So they laid it up till morning, as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it. Then Moses said, “Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none” (Exodus 16:22-26).

Every week during their 40 years in the wilderness, the Israelites witnessed a threefold miracle. This miracle intended to teach them the sacredness of God’s law and the seventh day. A double amount of manna fell on the sixth day, nothing on the seventh. And the serving needed for the seventh day was preserved without getting spoiled. When if any were kept over at any other time it became unfit for eating.

In being instructed to gather every Friday a double portion of manna, the sacred nature of the seventh day of rest was taught. And when some of them went out on the seventh day to gather manna, the Lord said to them, “How long refuse ye to keep My commandments and My laws?” (Exodus 16:28). Thus, this is the clear evidence that God’s law including the fourth commandment of the Sabbath was not first instituted, as some claim, when the Ten Commandments were given at Sinai.

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

Categories Law

We'd love your feedback, so leave a comment!

If you feel an answer is not 100% Bible based, then leave a comment, and we'll be sure to review it.
Our aim is to share the Word and be true to it.

Leave a Reply

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments