Many Christians tend to believe that God’s Commandments were not there(not available, not adhered to, not instituted) before Moses and the Covenant God made at Sinai. This is what I also used to believe, as this was what was taught to me, all my life.
Reading the Bible though, gives a completely different picture to this story. There are so many instances, we see the patriarchs keeping God’s Commandments, way before it was ever written down and passed down through Moses.
Today, we will try to get to the bottom of this subject and iron out some of the misconceptions it carries.
Cain & Abel
When did God require sacrificial offerings? Apparently, Long before Moses, Both Cain & Abel brought offerings to God Almighty. And it is a known fact that Cain’s offering was rejected while Abel’s offering was accepted. This story teaches us two important things. Firstly, There are offerings that are accepted and there are offerings that are rejected. And secondly, why was Abel’s offering accepted while Cain’s rejected? The reason “most probably” was that even though The commandments were not written down, Abel’s offering was in accordance with the Offering written down in chapter 3 in the Book of Leviticus by Moses and later adhered to, by all(1King 8:63,64). The Commandment was to offer the animal and it’s “Fat”.
We have all been taught that Noah took Animals of each kind into the Ark, two by two. Most people teach this to their kids, We even sing songs to that extent in our gatherings. But what is the truth? I would have read this passage a dozen times, but I never noticed this fact, till recently. In Gen 7:2 God tells Noah, “Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female”. When I first “saw” this verse, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had read this chapter a dozen times, but I failed to see that God’s classification of “Clean” and “Unclean” animals, written down in Leviticus 11 had been there even at Noah’s time.
Furthermore, what’s interesting is that, in Gen 8:20,21, Noah built an altar an offered “Clean” animals to God. Again, where was it ever commanded to offer animal sacrifices to God before it was communicated through Moses?
Gen 26:5, Highlights an amazing point. God promises Isaac to multiply his seed, “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws”. For Abraham to know God’s Ordinances, Commandments, Customs and Precepts, someone would have had to teach it to him. He did not only know them, this verse says Abraham kept all of it, a long time before Moses.
Abraham, in Gen 14:20, also gave tithes of all he had to Melchizedek, the priest of God Almighty. This was also long before Moses wrote down the laws of tithing.
In Gen 22, Abraham is asked to offer a Burnt Sacrifice by God, as well.
In Gen 28:22, Jacob also makes a promise to God, to give a tenth of all that God gives him.
Walking with God, and being Perfect
In Gen 5:22, 24, It is said that Enoch walked with God. And similarly, in Gen 17:1, Abraham was asked to Walk before God and be Perfect. In Gen 6:9, Noah was called a just and Perfect person. Might there be a connection between obeying God(His Commandments, His Words) and Walking with Him and being perfect? (This is a study for another day)
So what does all of this mean?
Looking at the evidence in Genesis and the fact that God and His Word does not change
(Mal 3:6, Isa 44:6, Heb 13:8, Luke 16:17) Could it be, that the patriarchs kept God’s Commandments, His statutes & His Laws, even though it is not specifically mentioned? We know that Abraham definitely did. As Yeshua(Hebrew name of Jesus) said in John 10:35, If something is written in the Bible, “the Scripture cannot be broken”. In reference to Gen 26:5, no one can say that Abraham did not keep God’s Commandments, proving that Commandments were there long before Moses was even born.
I believe the Commandments would have been passed down from Father to Son. From Adam to Seth, and so on. God did instruct people to teach His words to their sons and the sons of their sons(Deut 4:9)
In conclusion, I believe, according to what we have read, what God did at Sinai through Moses, was to write down the Commandments, Statutes & Laws – The Word of God – so no one could say, that we do not know the ways of God Almighty. (Deut 30:11-13) His ways have always been known by His children from Creation.