If we can earnestly ponder Almighty God’s words revealing the significance and essence of His work in the Age of Law, we will be fully able to recognize that God’s work in the Age of Law was His initial work of guiding mankind after creating man. Jehovah was the eternal, one-and-only true God in the Age of Law who appeared to the Israelites, who first led them out from under the control and slavery by the king of Egypt, and then He issued the laws and commandments to the Israelites, thus initiating God’s personal guidance of mankind’s lives. In the Age of Law, God issued many laws and commandments that mankind must abide by, and among them, the three most important kinds were: First were the Ten Commandments; second was the Sabbath; third were sacrifices, which were primarily sin offerings, peace offerings, and burnt offerings. These three requirements put forward by God were His primary work in the Age of Law, and the essential significances of His three requirements were the primary indications for guiding the Israelites of the time in how to live on the earth. Next, we’ll speak about some understanding of the essential significance of these three basic requirements of God during the Age of Law.
1. The significance of the Ten Commandments issued by God during the Age of Law was profound. Their content was:
“You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make to you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I Jehovah your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy to thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
You shall not take the name of Jehovah your God in vain; for Jehovah will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of Jehovah your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates: For in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: why Jehovah blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Honor your father and your mother: that your days may be long on the land which Jehovah your God gives you.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is your neighbor’s” (Exo 20:3–17).
Those are the most critical and famous Ten Commandments that God guided people with in the Age of Law. God’s Ten Commandments that He established for corrupt mankind are simple and clear, completely reasonable, they clearly differentiate good and evil, and they are candid and upright. His Ten Commandments fully embody fairness and justice, the principles of heaven and earth, what is awe-inspiring and righteous, and morality. People can see from this that God is an upright, righteous, holy, and a God who hates evil. The Ten Commandments fully represent God’s requirements and will for mankind, His creation. They are concise, rich, and comprehensive, and they are all just and honorable, positive things that can be proven through people’s consciences and reason. The significance of the Ten Commandments is profound. Every single commandment is very meaningful, and they can all make people understand God, shun evil, know what God hates and what He loves, and what mankind should uphold. All those who have a conscience and possess reason should acclaim and celebrate the Ten Commandments issued by God, which have allowed people to live out the likeness of normal humanity under their guidance. As long as people live according to the Ten Commandments, they are fully capable of gaining God’s blessings. This is true. If every country in the world would establish their constitutional law and rule their country according to the Ten Commandments, they would certainly gain God’s blessings and their country would become much more orderly. And if they could incorporate the Ten Commandments into their schoolbooks so that everyone would accept them from childhood, they would all be able to worship God. That would be even more meaningful. If the people of all countries had been living on earth according to the principles of the Ten Commandments, mankind absolutely would not be as corrupt as it is today. But mankind’s corruption by Satan is too deep, and it is only mankind being fully controlled by Satan which has led to the entire world being under the appalling darkness of evil. This is why the Ten Commandments were so difficult to accept and uphold for deeply corrupted mankind in the Age of Law. The only outcome they achieved was to have people recognize their sins, but God’s work continued step by step, gradually building on itself, each stage complementing each other. The laws and commandments issued by God must be fulfilled.
2. The principle behind observing the Sabbath is also extremely important. God reiterated His requirement many times that man observe the Sabbath, and Jehovah said: “ Truly my sabbaths you shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am Jehovah that does sanctify you. You shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy to you: every one that defiles it shall surely be put to death: for whoever does any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to Jehovah: whoever does any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Why the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed ” (Exo 31:13–17). God’s chosen people must be clear that the significance of God requiring man to observe the Sabbath is profound. When God created heaven and earth and all things, He did so in six days. He rested on the seventh day. This is why God also requires people to work for six days and to rest on the seventh. This not only contains God’s love, but it also contains profound significance. Without a doubt, God requiring mankind to observe the Sabbath is a testimony to His guidance for mankind’s lives. It fully reveals His care, consideration, and love that knows no bounds for mankind. He does not want people to always be harried, to be working by sunrise and only rest at sunset, to subsist only for the aim and the meaning of adequate food, clothing, and shelter, and to feed their families. God’s day of rest was also to give mankind a day of rest, which is why He decreed that people observe the Sabbath. This truly is significant.
3. As for the principle of sin offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings, regardless of who among the Israelites committed a sin forbidden by the God Jehovah, and no matter whether they were aware that they had committed a sin or not, they had to go to the priest to offer up a sin offering, burnt offering, or peace offering to God in order for their sin to be pardoned. This allowed people to see that God’s disposition not only contains righteousness and majesty, but also mercy and love. Because people have been corrupted by Satan, it is natural for them to sin, but God established sin offerings, peace offerings, and burnt offerings for mankind, and no matter what kind of sin people commit, as long as they make a sin offering, burnt offering, or peace offering to God, they can be fully pardoned by Him. This is sufficient to cause people to know God’s disposition toward corrupt mankind includes His mercy and kindness. God does not condemn people lightly, and He particularly does not punish people lightly. From this, God’s care and protection, and His grace and blessings for mankind are even clearer. This fully shows that the principle behind God establishing the offerings for sin for corrupt mankind was to guide people’s lives.
All of the work God completed in the Age of Law was to lead mankind into the proper path for human life, to allow all people to live in front of Him, to be able to worship Him, and gain His blessings. This is His will. In the Age of Law, God utilized laws and commandments to guide the Israelites’ lives on earth. Essentially, this was paving the way for God’s work of redemption in the Age of Grace. First, it was necessary to have the Israelites come in front of God and acknowledge Him, that is, acknowledge the Lord of Creation, and know how people should live in front of Him. Without a doubt, this was the true testimony of God guiding people’s lives on earth. Not only did it reveal His love for mankind, but even more, it allowed people to understand that not only did God create heaven, earth, all things, and mankind, but He also guided people to know how to live, and how to live in front of God and gain His blessings. This way, people know how to live in front of God, how to worship Him, how to gain His blessings, and how to live in order to gain peace, longevity, and happiness. This is truly very meaningful for corrupt human beings. If all of mankind could live according to the laws and commandments issued by God, they wouldn’t be so corrupted by Satan that they don’t have any human likeness, and the world would not be as dark and evil as it is today. It would be such a happy thing if people could live under God’s guidance! Just as Almighty God said: “By guiding the people of Israel, He established a base for His work on earth. From this base, He expanded His work beyond Israel, which is to say that, starting from Israel, He extended His work outward, so that later generations gradually came to know that Jehovah was God, and that Jehovah had created the heavens and earth and all things, had made all creatures. He spread His work through the people of Israel” (“The Vision of God’s Work (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). This indicates that in doing each of God’s three stages of work, God gradually expands His scope of work, and in the end saves all of mankind to thoroughly cast off the influence of Satan to fully turn toward God’s throne. This is the management plan for saving mankind.
If I were to sum up the essential significance of God’s work in the Age of Law in a few words, it was the work of guiding people in how to live on the earth after God first created mankind. His work in the Age of Law primarily emphasized the essential significance of “guiding.”
from “Only God’s Three Stages of Work Are His Complete Work for Saving Mankind” in Collection of Sermons — Supply for Life