Introduction: Last week we discussed natural law, the moral law,
civil law, and ceremonial law. Which one is the “Law of Moses?”
Moses delivered both the moral law and the ceremonial law in written
form to God’s people when they journeyed to Canaan. However, did they
exist prior to Moses writing them down? Do they apply today? Let’s
plunge into our Bibles and see what we can learn!

  1. Dedicated to God

    1. Read Luke 2:21. What happened on the eighth day to new
      born boys? (They were circumcised and given a name.)

      1. Why? (Read Genesis 17:12. This was part of the law.)

      2. Whose law? What did circumcision represent? (Read
        Genesis 17:9-11. It was God’s command to Abraham. It
        represented the fact that Abraham’s descendants had a
        special relationship with God. However, we find in
        Leviticus 12:3 and John 7:22 that this is later
        included as part of the Mosaic law.)

      3. In Genesis 17:9-10, circumcision is called a
        “covenant” (contract) between humans and God. Why
        would it take place on the eighth day, before the boy
        had any ability to understand what was taking place
        or consent to this contract with God?

    2. Read Galatians 5:2-4 and Galatians 5:6. Recall last week
      that we discussed natural law, civil law, moral law and
      ceremonial law. What type of law does circumcision
      represent? (Paul suggests that the law of circumcision was
      fulfilled in Jesus, therefore it must be a ceremonial

      1. Read Genesis 17:13. How can Paul tell us this law has
        no value when God clearly called it “an everlasting

    3. Read Colossians 2:9-12. How do these verses help us to
      better understand this everlasting covenant? (This tells
      us that the moral law of God is involved. The covenant
      (contract) between God and Abraham’s descendants (the
      Jewish people) was that they would promote His moral law.
      As we discussed last week, this helped them avoid the
      problems presented by natural law.)

      1. How do we, who are not Jewish, keep the everlasting
        covenant with God? (Through acceptance, by baptism,
        of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.)

    4. Read Romans 2:29. How else can we participate in the
      everlasting covenant? (The Holy Spirit living in us
      “circumcises” our heart, so that we want to obey God’s

    5. Read Luke 2:22-24. What else happened to Jesus in accord
      with the ceremonial law? (He was presented to God and a
      sacrifice offered on His behalf.)

    6. How would you apply these principles to a new-born baby
      today? (A dedication to God. If circumcision is replaced
      by baptism, grace and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit,
      then it seems reasonable to invoke all three.)

  2. Relating to the Law

    1. Read Matthew 17:24. This was a tax to support the temple.
      What kind of law requires this tax? (Read Exodus 30:13-16.
      This tax began as part of the law of Moses!)

    2. If you were Peter, how would you answer this question?
      (Moses commanded it! The temple was the central religious
      site. Paying that tax might be a test of religious faith.
      Paying your taxes shows honesty. The obvious answer is
      “Yes, Jesus pays the temple tax!”)

    3. Read Matthew 17:25. What issue had Peter failed to
      consider? (Kings don’t tax their sons. If Jesus is the
      Son of God, He should not pay the tax.)

    4. Read Matthew 17:26. What is the central religious issue
      involved in paying this tax? (The most important question
      for every age: who is Jesus? Is He God or is He merely a

      1. If Jesus paid the temple tax, what would He be saying
        about whether He is God? (It would be a denial of who
        He is.)

    5. Let’s put you in Peter’s shoes again, should Jesus pay the
      temple tax?

    6. Read Matthew 17:27. Does Jesus pay the temple tax?

      1. My bet is that the drachma collectors followed Peter
        to the water so that they could collect. What do you
        think about the way that the coin was obtained by
        Peter? (This, of course, is a miracle. How many fish
        are in the sea? Jesus says go fishing, the first fish
        will have exact change in its mouth!)

        1. What does the method of obtaining the coin say
          about the divinity of Jesus? (It attests to His

      2. Why not just say “No?” (Jesus says “so that we may
        not offend them.”)

        1. In Matthew 12:34 Jesus calls some religious
          leaders a “brood of vipers.” Can we conclude
          that Jesus is concerned about insulting people?
          (If you look at the entire conversation in
          Matthew 12, the religious leaders said Jesus
          was in league with demons. The temple tax
          collectors seem to be simply doing a good thing
          – following the law of Moses.)

    7. What lesson in the temple tax story is Jesus teaching us
      about the law? (The temple system and its support were
      about to end because of Jesus’ mission on earth.
      Nevertheless, Jesus goes as far as He can to avoid giving
      offense, without compromising the central moral

      1. Does the temple tax lesson have anything to do with
        Paul’s teaching on circumcision? (Paul tries to avoid
        “offending” new believers by telling them that they
        have to be circumcised.)

      2. Do we take seriously the lesson of avoiding giving
        offense to others who seek God? (We cannot compromise
        central principles, but we should do all in our power
        to avoid offending those who think they are doing
        God’s will.)

  3. Festivals

    1. New Unger’s Bible Dictionary points out that every
      festival was “connected in some way with the number
      seven.” There is the weekly Sabbath ( Genesis 2:2-3;
      Exodus 20:8-11), the Sabbatical Year ( Exodus 23:10-11),
      the Seventh New Moon (Feast of Trumpets – Numbers 29:1),
      Year of Jubilee (“seven times seven years – Leviticus
      25:8-12). Then there are the “three great annual festivals
      of Israel,” Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread
      ( Leviticus 23:5-6; Exodus 12:1-28), Pentecost (Feast of
      Weeks – Leviticus 23:15-16), Day of Atonement (Leviticus

      1. What lessons can we learn from these festivals which
        are part of the law of Moses?

      2. Should we observe these festivals today? (Those that
        pointed to Jesus, like Passover and the Day of
        Atonement, are clearly fulfilled by Jesus. Pentecost
        marks the new age of the Holy Spirit.)

        1. What about the rest? (Many Christians observe
          to some degree a weekly Sabbath, in a few jobs
          a “Sabbatical” of some sort is provided, but it
          is generally not a year of rest. My thought is
          that I like God’s vacation schedule!)

          1. Is this really about vacation? (In part,
            but consider the religious nature of the
            festivals. We need to spend more time
            resting and contemplating God. How about

  4. Looking Deeper

    1. Read Mark 3:1-4. When Jesus asks about the law, which law
      is he talking about? (Both the moral law ( Exodus 20:8-11)
      and the law of Moses ( Leviticus 23:3) prohibited Sabbath

      1. What is the purpose of Jesus’ question? (He asks the
        religious leaders to look at the reason why the law
        exists. It exists to promote the good of humans.)

    2. Read Mark 3:5. Why was Jesus angry? (The religious leaders
      refused to look deeper into the reason for the law.)

    3. Consider the Mosaic laws we have studied in this lesson:
      circumcision, temple tax, and festivals. What common
      thread of logic runs through the Bible teaching on each?
      (Look for the reason for the law. Don’t offend others who
      seek God because you are fixated on the terms of the law
      rather than the reason for the law.)

    4. Friend, will commit today to look deeper when it comes to
      God’s law?

  5. Next week: Christ and Religious Tradition.