I attended the National Conference on Jewish Law for several years. The participants were devout Jewish law professors, rabbis, judges, lawyers, and one non-Jew — me.
On Saturday, I was taking notes on one of the lectures. The man seated to my right nudged me with his elbow and snapped, “It’s Shabbat.” In other words, I was breaking the laws of the Sabbath and by using a tool (pen). The man seated on my left whispered back, “It’s okay. He’s Goyim.” In other words, since I was a Gentile, the Mosaic laws did not apply to me. The first man politely apologized.
Law of Noah (Telestial)
Rabbis teach that God gave Adam and Eve certain basic laws that apply to all mankind. These laws were reestablished by Noah and are known as the “Noahide Laws” or the “Seven Laws of Noah.” They are:
- Thou shalt not worship idols.
- Thou shalt not curse God.
- Thou shalt not commit murder.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery or sexual immorality.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not eat flesh torn from living animals.
- Thou shalt establish courts of justice.
Since we live in a telestial world, the basic, bottom-line Noahide laws are telestial laws.
“And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory.” (D&C 88:24)
Law of Moses (Terrestrial)
From Mount Sinai, Moses gave 613 commandments. These are called the “Laws of Moses.” There are 248 positive commandments, “Thou Shalt,” and 365 negative commandments “Thou Shalt Not.”
Rabbis teach that there is one positive commandment for each part of the human body (248), and one negative commandment for each day of the year (365).
These Laws of Moses applied to the House of Israel. These laws and commandments were designed, in part, to elevate them to a terrestrial level.
“And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory.” (D&C 88:23)
Law of Jesus (Celestial)
The laws of Moses came from Mount Sinai, and the higher laws of Jesus were given in the Sermon on the Mount.
In the Beatitudes, Jesus commanded his followers to be:
- Pure in heart
- The Salt of the Earth
- The Light of the World
The Law of Moses was the “schoolmaster” to bring Israel to Christ. (Gal. 3:23-24) It was a “preparatory gospel.” (D&C 84:23-27) The law of Moses governed outward “performances and ordinances.” (Mosiah 13:29-20) The law of Moses is the “letter of the law,” whereas the law of Jesus is the “spirit of the law.”
Jesus did not void the Ten Commandments and laws of Moses. Instead, Jesus “added upon” them. He came “not to destroy, but to fulfill, the law.” (Matt. 5:17)
A. Jesus said: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time [Law of Moses], Thou shalt not kill… But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of judgment.” (Matt 5:21-26)
B. Christ declared: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old [Law of Moses], Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matt. 5: 27-28)
C. The Savior proclaimed: “Ye have heard that it hath been said [Law of Moses] an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, that whosever shall smith thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matt. 5: 38-42)
D. The Redeemer explained: “Ye have heard that it hath been said [Law of Moses], Thou shalt love they neighbor and hate thine enemy, But I say unto You, Love your enemies, bless that that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which persecute you.” (Matt. 5: 43-44)
Thus, Jesus gave the “higher law.” His laws govern the “inner man,” in addition to “outward observances.” His laws were designed to raise the covenant people to a celestial level.
“Whosoever shall do and teach them [Law of Jesus], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:19) “For he who is not able to abide the law of the celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.” (D&C 88:22)
In conclusion, Jesus commanded “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is Perfect.” (Matt 5:28)
(See: “The Law After Christ,” Stephen E. Robinson, LDS website; “Three Realms of Law, Light, and Life,” Lili Anderson, BYU-I Devotional, Feb 1, 2005; “Law of Moses,” “613 Commandments,” “Noahide Law,” “Seven Laws of Noah,” Wikipedia.)