- Does God judge the Gentiles by the seven laws of Noah?
- If so what are they and who is going to tell us about them?
- What about world religions today which break these laws?
- The New Covenant as the way to bring salvation to Jews and Gentiles.
The seven laws of Noah
According to Asher Norman, ‘God judges Gentiles by the 7 laws of Noah’.
Nowhere in the Bible do we find listed ‘7 laws of Noah.’ According to the Talmud, they were given by God to Noah as a binding set of laws for all mankind. According to Judaism any non-Jew who lives according to these laws is regarded as a Righteous Gentile and is assured of a place in the world to come (Olam Haba).
The seven laws listed by the Tosefta and the Talmud are:
- Prohibition of Idolatry: You shall not have any idols before God.
- Prohibition of Murder: You shall not murder. (Genesis 9:6)
- Prohibition of Theft: You shall not steal.
- Prohibition of Sexual immorality: You shall not commit any of a series of sexual prohibitions, which include adultery, incest, anal sex between males and bestiality.
- Prohibition of Blasphemy: You shall not blaspheme God’s name.
- Dietary Law: Do not eat flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive. (Genesis 9:4, as interpreted in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 59a)
- Requirement to have just Laws.
While there are some small groups (mainly in America) which follow a religion based on these laws, the vast majority of Gentiles are completely unaware of them. I have lived in a Jewish neighbourhood for many years, worked in a Jewish school and had much more contact than most people with the Jewish community. In all this time I have never met any Jewish person who feels under any obligation to tell me that I should keep the 7 Laws of Noah. How can the 7 Laws of Noah be a basis for judging humanity, when most people have never heard of them?
Obviously these laws mean that many people in our society are in deep trouble with God. Just take the law on not committing immoral sexual acts. The mass media are constantly bombarding people with the idea that there is nothing wrong with sexual immorality and undermining the sanctity of marriage. The result is that children growing up in a stable family with both parents are becoming a minority in our society.
Well don’t most religions condemn adultery and promiscuity? Maybe, but what about the law on not worshipping idols? There are people all over the world who worship images of the Virgin Mary, Buddha or a multitude of Hindu gods, as they are taught to by their religions. There are verses in the Koran which justify killing unbelievers and the Hadith contain a call for Muslims to kill a Jew hiding behind a rock or a tree.
Interestingly one thing which God does command Noah is to practice the death penalty for murder: ‘Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed.’ Genesis 9.6. Capital punishment has been abolished throughout most of the western world today and in modern Israel. Logically those who say that the 7 laws of Noah should be the means whereby Gentiles are judged should be campaigning for the reinstatement of the death penalty for murder.
God’s way of salvation through the New Covenant.
If we should keep the 7 Laws of Noah, who is going to enlighten us about what God requires? How are we going to keep these laws today?
In 1970 I became convinced that I had broken God’s commandments and was guilty of sin in my life. People came and told me that God had sent Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah, to die as a sacrifice for my sins and rise again from the dead in fulfilment of prophecies in the Bible like Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, Daniel 9.26. Through repentance and faith in Him I experienced forgiveness and received the power of the Holy Spirit to live a new life under His control. I came to understand what the Lord meant when he gave Jeremiah the prophecy about the new covenant,
‘I will put my law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.’ Jeremiah 32.33
I also came to see that God wants to deal with the inward attitudes that cause us to sin not just the outward act. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) Yeshua told us to deal with the inward attitudes that lead to sin and not just the act itself. For example:
‘You have heard that it was said by them of old time. You shall not commit adultery: but I say to you that whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.’ Matthew 5.27-28
I discovered that the only way to keep these commands was to receive a new birth by the Holy Spirit, something also prophesied in the Tenach:
‘A new heart also will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments and do them. ‘ Ezekiel 36.26-27
Yeshua also told us to go into all the world and teach all nations ‘to obey everything I have commanded you.’ (Matthew 28.19-20). Because the first Jewish disciples obeyed this command the Good News of the Messiah has reached the Gentiles. As a result there are people all over the world today who have turned from dead idols to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Yakov through the Messiah Yeshua.
We need to repent and keep not just the 7 Laws of Noah, but the teaching of the Messiah we profess to believe in. Because He is alive today He has the power to help us keep God’s laws in truth, not out of fear of what others will think of us if we don’t, but out of love for God and our fellow men.