What’s the difference between Ordinances and Commandments?
Discusses the differences between the Ten Commandments law of God and the Ceremonial Law, also known as the Ordinances.
ten commandments,ceremonial law,ordinances
There seems to be a lot of confusion among Christians about the need to follow the Ten Commandment law of God. Many have been unable to differentiate between the ceremonial law, also called the Ordinances, that were done away with at the cross, and the Ten Commandments, which are eternal. This misunderstanding has led some to conclude that all Ten of the Commandments have been abolished and that we are now “Under Grace not the Law”.
What actually did change at the cross? Were all of the commandments and ordinances abolished? Can we now commit any actions we desire and have them not called sin? The Bible, after all, defines sin as transgressing of the law. As ludicrous as this sounds, many are today preaching that we no longer have to keep the Ten Commandments. This implies that murdering, stealing, committing adultery etc are all okay. They may say in response to such an argument that we should only keep the laws of the land – a view that would explain why over 50% of Christian marriages are today ending in divorce and sex before marriage and adultery are almost as common among Christians, as they are in the secular world.
We need to be able to distinguish between the ceremonial law that was given to the Jews to follow until the coming of the Messiah, and the Ten Commandment law, which God wrote in stone, as an eternal covenant between Himself and man.
All of the ordinances (ceremonial law) were written in Moses’ handwriting and were placed in a pocket at the side of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ten Commandments were written in stone and placed inside the Ark. The Ceremonial law included many special feasts and Holy days, which were all a representation of the work that Christ would do.
The Ceremonial Law, with its sacrificial system, pointed the people to the coming of the Messiah. Every time an animal was sacrificed and it’s blood was shed in the old Jewish temple, it was a reminder to the onlookers that someday a Saviour would come and die for their sins. Hence, John the Baptist pointed to our Lord Jesus Christ and declared, “Behold the Lamb of God”.
When Jesus died on Calvary’s cross, the veil of the great temple curtain was torn from top to bottom, signifying that the entire ceremonial and sacrificial system was forever finished. No longer did the priests have any need to offer up sacrifices. The One great and perfect Sacrifice was offered that day, when the true Passover Lamb bowed His head and died. When He cried out, “It is finished”, the old Ceremonial Law, that pointed the people to His sacrificial death, was nailed to the cross.
This had also been foretold in Bible prophecy by the prophet Daniel, over six hundred years before the birth of Christ. He wrote Dan 9:27 “And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week (seven literal years, according to prophetic terms): and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease…”.
In relation to the Ten Commandment law, Jesus Himself said Mat 5:18 “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled”.
All Bible references are from the King James Version.