Sunday April 8th
Well, you know that there are all kinds of Top 10 lists these days, even different kinds of 10 Commandments lists. I recently came across this list of 10 Commandments for Car Collectors
1. Thou shalt not store thy cars out-of-doors.
2. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's battery charger.
3. Thou shalt not love thy cars more than thy wife and thy children; thou may love thy cars as much as thy family, but not more.
4. Thou shalt not read thy car magazines while at work, lest thy employer make it impossible for thee to continue making thy car payments.
5. Thou shalt not despise thy neighbor's Edsel.
6. Thou shalt not allow thy daughters nor thy sons to get married during the holy days of car shows.
7. Thou shalt not deceive thy wife into thinking that thou art taking her for a romantic Sunday drive when, indeed, thou art actually going to look at another car.
8. Thou shalt not tell thy spouse the entire cost of thy latest car restoration, at least not all of it at the same time.
9. Thou shalt not promise thy wife a new addition to the house and then use it thine money to build a bigger garage to store more cars.
10. Thou shalt not buy thy wife a floor jack or engine lift for Christmas!
So now in Exodus chapter 20 we are going to finally hear the issuing of the REAL 10 commandments to Moses:
Then God spoke all these words, saying,
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
The first four commandments essentially describe how people are supposed to relate to God, and the other six commandments describe how God’s people are supposed to relate to each other.
Let’s look at some specific elements of these commandments.
In verse 3, when God says, “You shall have no other gods before Me”, that phrase literally means “before My face” or “in My presence.” God doesn’t want us in His presence if we’re inviting other gods to come along with us! He doesn’t want them “in His face”!
The prohibition in verse 4 against engraved or carved images means something that was made from wood or stone. One commentary points out that “Israel was to be distinguished from the nations by her imageless worship.”
Why were images forbidden in worship? Because God had already made mankind in His own image!
Genesis 1:26 “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness”
Do you want an image of God? Look at each other!
Of course, God did provide His own exact image in the flesh—Jesus Christ!
Colossians 1:15 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation”.
When we think about the third commandment – taking God’s name in vain – we need to remember that God’s name was a special gift to Israel. By using His name, Israel had access to God. God’s name is therefore to be revered.
This commandment forbids the use of God’s name not only in the form of cursing, but also for attesting to things that aren’t true by using expressions such as “I swear to God”!
Deuteronomy 28:58 says “to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, the Lord your God”.
Jesus taught us to pray “hallowed be thy name.”
And Jesus honored His Father’s name while hanging on the Cross in John 12:28 “Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
The commandment about the Sabbath sometimes causes confusion, because it was originally defined as lasting from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.
The Hebrew word (shabbat) derives from a verb meaning “to cease”—so the Sabbath was the day that all work had to cease. God’s decision to rest on the seventh day of creation was the basis for the commandment.
But we also need to understand that the original Sabbath rest was only intended to lead us to a greater rest, as explained in Hebrews 4:3-4
“For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said,
“As I swore in My wrath,
They shall not enter My rest,”
although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”
Just like the Old Testament animal sacrifices were intended to lead the people to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, so the Sabbath was meant to prepare the people for the ultimate rest of forgiveness through Jesus.
In Mark 2:27 Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”
And in Colossians 2:16-17 we are told,
“Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”
So as New Testament followers of Jesus, we don’t have to get hung up on the exact hours of the Sabbath, because we find our rest in Jesus.
That’s why Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
So those first 4 commandments show us how to relate to God, with reverence and respect.
The rest of the commandments are intended to help us relate to each other.
And that starts with commandment number 5 in verse 12:
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”
Here’s how a commentary describes this shift:
“With this fifth commandment, the Decalogue turns to human relations, beginning with the family. Honor toward parents anchors society, and binds children to parents in the community of faith. The promise and warning of this commandment are unique. Disrespect for parents was a serious matter, for it also dishonored the Lord.
The fact that this commandment contains a promise is emphasized in Ephesians 6:2
Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise)
What is the promise? You will have a long life in the land that God has given you.
Is it always easy to honor our parents? Sometimes yes and sometimes no, depending on the kind of parents that you have. But God doesn’t specify here that we only need to honor parents who have earned our respect, and the promise is available to anyone who fulfills the commandment, no matter who their parents were.
The last five commandments also deal with how we treat others, and they all start with “You shall not’!
This includes murder, cheating, stealing, lying, and coveting.
When it comes to murder, the law distinguishes between manslaughter, which is accidental, and murder, which is premeditated. The word used here is also never applied to soldiers at war, or law enforcement officers in the line of duty.
Of course, Jesus ups the ante on both murder and the next commandment, which is adultery, in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5:
21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
So although most people would say, “I’ve broken a few of the commandments, but not those two”! Jesus might say, “Not so fast, brother. There’s more here than meets the eye.”
When it comes to coveting stuff, it’s interesting to note that the Roman Catholic Church lists verse 17 as two separate commandments:
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife” is listed as number 9 and
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods” is listed as number 10.
How can they do that without ending up with eleven commandments? They simply ignore verses 4-6 about worshipping idols as a separate commandment. They kind of blend it in with number one and skip directly to number three. So their first two commandments are:
This reordering of the 2nd commandment changes the numbering all the way down the line, plus it creates a need to split verse 17 in order to still have ten.
This has also allowed to Catholic Church to encourage people to pray to various statues and paintings of Jesus, Mary, and the saints, which would be a clear violation of the real second commandment!
In order to demonstrate just how serious these commandments were, God put on quite a display of power on the mountain, and the people took notice:
18 All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. 19 Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” 21 So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was.
I’m sure that you’ve heard that what God is truly looking for is reverence, not the kind of fear that would cause us to avoid Him. But in the case of these Israelites, they were “scared” of God! They told Moses, “We’ll talk to you and you can talk to Him, but we aren’t talking to Him! He might kill us!
I think that’s one reason why Jesus taught us to relate to God as “Abba”, “daddy”, the loving Father.
These last few verses of this chapter might remind you of this famous movie clip:
(Show Mel Brook’s 15 Commandments clip)
22 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘You yourselves have seen that I have spoken to you from heaven.23 You shall not make other gods besides Me; gods of silver or gods of gold, you shall not make for yourselves. 24 You shall make an altar of earth for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you. 25 If you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not build it of cut stones, for if you wield your tool on it, you will profane it. 26 And you shall not go up by steps to My altar, so that your nakedness will not be exposed on it.’
Verse 23 is a recap of the first 2 commandments, and the next few verses are instructions regarding building an altar. These aren’t additional commandments.
The reason for the prohibition against using cut stones for building an altar were probably designed to keep the Israelites from using any altars that they might come across at Canaanite holy places when they entered the promised land, because those were typically built with cut stones.
And that last little line about not going up steps to get to the altar had to do with the fact that the Hebrew men, as well as the women, wore robes, not pants, which meant that people down below might be able to peek up their “skirts” if they were walking up a set of steps!
That’s why the instructions for the priests’ garments in Exodus 28:42 includes a reminder to put on underwear!“You shall make for them linen breeches to cover their bare flesh; they shall reach from the loins even to the thighs.”
God has it all covered, doesn’t he?
The fact is that God is really good at covering things – and we should be very glad that He is – because as Proverbs 10:12 reminds us:
“Love covers all transgressions.”
And in the wonderful promise of Romans 5:8
“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
God gave us the 10 Commandments knowing very well that we would break them!
In Galatians 3:24 the Apostle Paul explains that:
“The Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ.”
So when you think of the 10 Commandments, instead of thinking how hard they are to keep, try thinking of them this way:
“Thank you God that you gave us the commandments to show us how impossible it is to keep them on our own, and why we so desperately need a savior! Thank you that through faith in Jesus I can be completely forgiven for every time that I broke any of the commandments. And thank you that by the power of the Holy Spirit within me I CAN live a holy and righteous life in accordance with what your commandments ask of me.”