The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.  (Deuteronomy 29.29)

To me, there appears no doubt that, by antithesis, there is a comparison here made between the doctrine openly set forth in the Law and the hidden and incomprehensible counsel of God, concerning which it is not lawful to inquire…

It is a remarkable passage and especially deserving of our observation for, by it, audacity and excessive curiosity are condemned, while pious minds are aroused to be zealous in seeking instruction.  We know how anxious men are to understand things, the knowledge of which is altogether unprofitable, and even the investigation of them injurious.  All of them would desire to be God’s counselors and to penetrate into the deepest recesses of heaven – nay, they would search into its very cabinets…

On the other hand, what God plainly sets before us and would have familiarly known is either neglected or turned from in disgust or put far away from us as if it were too obscure.  In the first clause, then, Moses briefly reproves and restrains that temerity which leaps beyond the bounds imposed by God and, in the latter, exhorts us to embrace the doctrine of the Law, in which God’s will is declared to us as if He were openly speaking to us.  And, thus, [Moses] encounters the folly of those who fly from the light presented to them and wrongfully accuse of obscurity that doctrine wherein God has let Himself down to the measure of our understanding.  In sum, he declares that God is the best master to all who come to Him as disciples because He faithfully and clearly explains to them all that is useful for them to know.  The perpetuity of the doctrine is also asserted, and that it never is to be let go or to become obsolete by the lapse of ages…

The rule of just and pious living even now retains its force, although we are delivered from the yoke of bondage and from the curse, but the coming of Christ has put an end to its ceremonies in such a way as to prove more certainly that they were not mere vain and empty shadows.  Lastly, Moses requires obedience of the people, and reminds them that the Law was not only given that the Israelites might know what was right, but that they might do all that God taught.  True it is, indeed, that all His precepts cannot be fully obeyed, but the perfection which is required compels those to ask for pardon who otherwise feel themselves to be exposed to God’s judgment…

Besides, we must observe that the doctrine that we must keep the whole Law has this object, that men should not separate one commandment from the others and think that they have done their duty by performing only a part of it, since God admits of no such divorce, having forbidden us to steal no less than to kill (James 2.11). – John Calvin (1509-1564)

Calvin is, here, speaking of the moral law, as expressed in the Ten Commandments.  The ceremonial laws of Israel were fulfilled in Christ.  The civil laws lapsed when Israel ceased to be a nation when Jerusalem’s temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 67-70 (as Christ Himself said it would be [Matthew 24.1-2, and parallels]).  But the moral law, as someone once put it, “is built into the structure of creation” and is permanently in force, as our Lord demonstrated in the Sermon on the Mount.


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