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Why did God wait until Moses to give His commandments?

The Ten Commandments are an important part of God’s plan, so why wouldn’t God have given them right at the beginning to Adam and Eve? Why did God wait until the time of Moses to tell His people what He expected of them?

God is orderly and wise. He knows when the best time to act for the greatest good of His creation. The Scriptures describe different times and seasons in His plan, and they are reasonable when we see what transpired during them. In the beginning of our race, Adam and Eve were given a simple test of obedience. God said to Adam,

Of every tree of the garden, thou may freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 2:16,17

Our first parents failed this simple test. But the slow process of learning the difference between good and evil began for them, as well as for the human family. A parallel we can draw when God gave such a simple test is in raising children. When a child is very young, parents make their rules simple and understandable. More complicated rules would be impossible for young children to obey. God followed the same principle with Adam and Eve. They were both inexperienced and did not fully understand the consequences of disobedience. Giving them all the laws of Moses would have been overwhelming.

The Law given to Moses was far more than the Ten Commandments. He was given hundreds of laws that God expected Israel to follow. Israel started as a family when first brought to Egypt by Joseph. They initially prospered. But in time, a new Pharaoh arose who made the Israelites his slaves. He was a hard, oppressive taskmaster. At the right time, God raised up Moses to be their deliverer. He wanted them to become a nation, and they could not function without rules and laws.

Adam and Eve were to learn good and evil through their personal disobediences. They did not need laws meant to govern a nation. Those laws structured their method of government, it gave them the Tabernacle sacrifices which maintained their relationship with God and provided many other features. To give all of this to Adam and Eve would have been premature and unnecessary.

Another reason the Law was given to Israel and not sooner was because they were descendants of Abraham. God made a special promise to Abraham after he obeyed God and offered his son as a sacrifice. Such faith was rewarded with a special promise to bless all the families of the earth through his posterity. God said,

…Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed My voice.

Genesis 22:16-18

Unlike Adam and Eve, Abraham had great faith. As a result, he and Israel will be used in God’s kingdom to bless all the families of the earth. That’s the same kingdom Jesus taught us to pray for.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).

God’s plan is headed for that kingdom, and our education in good and evil began the journey for all of us.

To learn more about the law of Moses, listen to, “Does the Old Testament Law Apply to Me?”

To learn more about the Ten Commandments visit our special Ten Commandments series resource page to learn what each commandment meant in Moses’ time and what it means for us today.