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Exodus 23:1-2

“You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice.”

Expositors of the Mosaic Laws tend to distinguish them into three categories—moral, civil, and ceremonial—generally agreeing that the moral laws comprise the Ten Commandments, civil laws comprise chapters 21-23, and ceremonial laws cover the remainder of the Pentateuch. But while this classification is helpful in distinguishing the particular contexts in which these laws are given, I prefer to focus on the fact that all laws are revelations of God’s character, meaning that all laws are moral, civil, and ceremonial by nature. That is, God’s holiness isn’t divisible in practice the way it is in hermeneutics.

For example, notice how the civil law above reiterates almost verbatim the moral laws from Exodus 20: ‘Thou shalt not lie’ and ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness.’ So, these are moral laws too. Yet, remember that all of life is worship, which makes Exodus 23 ceremonial as well. In fact, God says in Isaiah 1, “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? ... Bring no more vain offerings … they have become a burden to me. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression.” David writes a similar thought in Psalm 15 where he says, “Who, O LORD, shall sojourn in your tent? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks the truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend—who swears to his own hurt and does not change … He who does these things will never be moved.” So truth is as good as a dove on the altar. Virtue is as holy as frankincense and myrrh. Integrity is as sacramental as showbread.

God’s perfection is the telos of these Mosaic laws, friend, no matter how we distinguish them. He is immovable in His goodness; He is unshakable in His righteousness; and He is unbreakable in His faithfulness. And by the daily conditioning of spiritual discipline, by the sanctifying work of grace in our hearts, we can be too.