Abraham kept God’s commandments, statutes and laws (Genesis 26:5).
He is the Father of the Faithful so
hopefully you’d like to faithfully keep them too.
After 45 years as a Christian, the thought occurred to me: “Commandments & laws I know. But which statutes are you keeping?”
There’s no doubt the Bible says the statutes of the Lord are vital. They are “right, rejoicing the heart” (Psalm 19:8).
“Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” (Deuteronomy 4:6).
Which statutes are we talking about?
The English word “statute” is translated from the Hebrew words choq (pronounced khoke, 127 times in the King James Version) and chuqqah (pronounced khook-kaw’, 104 times). Statute refers to an authoritative enactment, decree or ordinance. Vines Compete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words states that chuqqah can possess a more exact meaning than choq.
Psalm 119 uses eight different words to designate God’s revealed instruction to humankind. In Ps. 119:33 David asked God to teach him His statutes.
“Not easy to distinguish”
Vines cautions, “It is not always easy to distinguish between these synonyms, as they are often found in conjunction with one another.” For example, Deuteronomy 5 advises us to be careful to do all these statutes and judgments and then proceeds to give the 10 Commandments.
Statutes are primarily given in the Pentateuch, especially Leviticus & Numbers. They are extremely rare in the poetic and prophetic books except for Jeremiah & Ezekiel.
Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology notes that ignorance of a statute was no excuse. Oops! That’s why I want to know which ones I hope I’m ignorantly keeping!
This reference says Israel understood that the statutes applied to everyone equally, whether native born or resident alien. In a lesson for today’s controversy about refugees, Israel welcomed strangers as long as they assimulated in and wanted to be part of God’s special nation.
Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies says a statute is: “something decreed, prescribed; a statute, ordinance, law; usually applied to the positive statutes appointed by Moses…”
A statute defines how principles of God’s law are enacted in given situations. The statutes explained how the commandments were to be applied in their circumstances.
My mission was to find things I believe and do that are specifically called statutes in the Bible:
- Don’t eat fat or blood (Leviticus 3:17).
- Priests are to drink no wine or strong drink when performing their duties (Leviticus 10:9). Hopefully you will find only water on the podium!
- Ministers live off tithes and offerings (Numbers 18:23-24). Deuteronomy 16:12 says “be careful to observe these statutes” and commands offerings during the three Festival seasons of the year.
- It also describes the Holy Days! Leviticus 16 and 23 call the Holy Days “statutes” in numerous verses.
- Ezekiel 20:19 commands “Walk in My statutes … hallow My Sabbaths.” Of course the Fourth Commandment says to remember the Sabbath. Ezekiel says “Sabbaths” plural. The Sabbath and Holy Days hang together.
- Leviticus 18-20 sometimes says “statutes” and sometimes “statutes and judgments.” Many verses sound like reading the New Testament! For homework, study these chapters for statutes you should be keeping.
We must be like Abraham and keep all of God’s commandments, statutes and judgments. “Because Abraham did everything I told him to do” (Contemporary English Version). That’s what I want to do!
It’s not always easy to know exactly which is which, but I have shown you some examples where the Bible specifically says something is a statute.
“And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes to fear the Lord our God for our good always” (Deuteronomy 6:24).