I read your concluding statement and question as a brotherly invitation to open dialog, which I willingly accept, though with ambivalence brought on I suppose by the long history of the dialog on the subject. I affirm with you that our goal is to determine what it is that the Lord desires, and do it.
It may help readers to interpret what I write if I sketch some of my history related to the subject.
I grew up in an evangelical wing of a mainstream protestant denomination through which I received profound blessings for which I am deeply grateful, and also some extraneous baggage which it has taken (and is taking) me years to release. The teachings I learned included the categories of the civil, ceremonial, and moral laws of the Old Testament. These were useful tools for discussing those laws, but probably of later human origin. Among the moral laws were classified the decalog, which I was taught still applied to everyone as written. Years later I realized that the Sabbath commandment was not being applied as written, but only as later reinterpreted by ecclesiastical authorities. You have rightly reminded us that the l0 commandments stand or fall as a package, including the Sabbath requirement. My impression is that all Old Testament Law stands or falls as a package. I haven't found Biblical warrant for cutting it into pieces.
It may be helpful also to summarize my conclusions up front, and by way of analogy.
If someone wants to become a pilot in commercial aviation and command 747s, he may begin his training by learning all the written codes for flying small Cessna propeller planes. These are all valid codes and regulations. But the purpose of his learning the written codes and regulations is to prepare him to graduate from Cessna school and move on to 747 jet school. When he is sitting in the cockpit of a 747 and flying on a computerized automatic pilot program, the written codes and regulations regarding Cessna prop planes are not destroyed or made invalid, but they are not directly relevant to his situation. They have been superseded by the codes for 747 pilots and by the programming in the automatic pilot system. For this pilot, the purpose of the Cessna codes has been fulfilled. He is seated in the cockpit of a 747. So long as he lives as an exemplary 747 pilot, he need not meditate on Cessna codes and regulations. Should he become presumptuous and behave as one who can ignore 747 rules and regulations and automatic pilot programs, he may be forced, if he survives at all, to study Cessna codes again.
My understanding is that the Law of the Old Testament, the Law of Moses, was never destroyed or invalidated. For those who are in Jesus Christ, who with Him are adopted as Sons of God, who have His Spirit within them, the Law of Love, which is written on their hearts, has superseded the written codes and regulations of the Law of Moses. For them, the Law of Moses (including the decalog) has been fulfilled. Its purpose of leading them to Christ, who met all the requirements of that law, has been realized. They no longer do as they damned well please. They do as they forgiven and sanctified well please. In so doing as they please, they alone find true liberty.
Now for some Scriptures which have led me to these conclusions.
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter
the kingdom of heaven.
In verses 21 and 27 which follow, Jesus reminds hearers that they have heard that it was said to the people long ago "Do not murder" and "Do not commit adultery". He goes on to say, "But I tell you..", and gives them a higher standard than either of these laws from the decalog.
To me, the message is that, while Jesus is not setting aside these old laws, he is leading into a time when a new standard will supersede them.
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ
(preceding thought: we died to the law through the body of Christ; we were controlled by the sinful nature) But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
I would not have known what sin was except through the law.
Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
...the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
(refers to Christ) abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations
I Timothy 1:9
We also know that the law is not made for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers...
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming--not the
Hebrews 8:10 (and 10:10)
I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.
Love as the fulfillment of the law:
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all
your soul and with all your mind'. This is the first and greatest
commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
...he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be are all summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
With specific focus on days, months, and years:
In Matthew 12 the disciples have picked heads of grain on the Sabbath, which the Pharisees say is unlawful. Jesus reminds them that David engaged in unlawful activity and that the priests in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and says in 12:6," I tell you that one greater than the temple is here."
Elsewhere he refers to one greater than Solomon, and one greater than Jonah.
To me the implication is that something newer and bigger has arrived.
Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord..." ( The same applies to starting the day at 4:00p.m. JSJ)
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with all its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
But now that you know God--or rather are known by God--how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
Hoping this is a constructive contribution,
You rightly point out that the text of the decalog is of special
significance, as that which was written with the finger of God and placed in the ark. As such it was part of the ancient treaty ritual when the covenant was confirmed. Perhaps the best comparison today is the "vows" which are taken at marriage. Husbands and wives should take very seriously what was said at their marriage, and perhaps rehearse them to themselves and each other over the years. But, as we've discussed before, all that is significant for them is not contained in the "vows". Other relevant statements are just as important.
"The Ten Commandments" and "The Law of Moses" may be helpful categories for discussion and analysis. Other helpful categories are "Exodus", "Leviticus", "Numbers", and "Deuteronomy". We might add the civil law, the moral law, and the ceremonial law.
In my vague memory there were many reasons over the years why I became uncomfortable with the assumption taught me that the moral law still applied but the civil and ceremonial didn't necessarily bind us today. I can't recall or reconstruct them now. But I will zero in on what at the moment seems to me to be the most important observation regarding the "Law of Moses" and the "Ten Commandments", assuming that these categories of discussion might be leading to the conclusion that for us today one is more important than another.
From the words of Moses: (Deut. 6:4,5)
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Based on pretty good evidence, we know that, in comparison to some of the ten commandments, this commandment from Moses is the first and the greatest.
The others are summarized in this one and hang on it. Such evidence has led me to conclude that as a written code the entire Pentateuch stands or falls as a unit.
I apologize if this seems short and pointed, but I should be on my way to work and I thought enough time has already passed since you made this posting.