The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17)

The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17)

Then God spoke all these words, saying,

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

Here, the Lord replays His qualifications for the giving of the Law: He is the LORD God and, besides that, He is the one who redeemed Israel from their bondage in Egypt.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.”

This first commandment established the exclusivity of the relationship between YHWH and His covenant people.

“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. 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, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

Two things come to mind when thinking about this commandment. First, since God is completely indescribable, any attempt to make an image of Him mars His glory and, thus, is a staggering insult. One of the clearest images, of God, that we see in the Bible comes from Revelation 4 and, there, it is extremely likely that we are only getting a description of God’s Throne and His Crown. Secondly, if we circle back to God “laying out His resume,” we see that YHWH alone was able to redeem Israel and to make them a covenant people. YHWH declares that He is a jealous God but not just for His Name; He is jealous for His chosen. Anything that would compete for with Him for His people’s love is an affront to Him.

“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.”

This could also be rendered as, “you shall not misuse the Name of the Lord.”  Many people this this refers only to blasphemy/slander against the Name of the Lord. It also encompasses using the Lord’s Name to seal an oath (swearing to God, etc.). Further it would also prohibit any behavior that would intentionally dishonor the Name of God.

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 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. 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.

This commandment is not as complicated as it may seem . Our Sabbath rest is a time to gather for corporate worship and to enjoy fellowship as God’s people.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”

Many times our human relationships are pictures of our relationship with God. Our parents give us life, shelter, love, and tend to our basic needs; this is a picture of our relationship with God and the honor we give our parents is a picture of the honor we have for God.

“You shall not murder.”

In murdering, the killer puts himself in the place of God, the only One who actually has the authority to give life or take it away.

“You shall not commit adultery.”

Marriage is symbolic of our relationship with God (the Church is the bride of Christ). God is an ever faithful husband and it is our responsibility to demonstrate that faithfulness in our relationship to our spouse.

“You shall not steal.”

Not only does stealing deprive your neighbor of his goods, it insults God by implying that He will not provide you with good things to enjoy.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

The primary reason to bear false witness would be to deprive your neighbor of that which is his, whether property, liberty, or something else. This is unholy behavior and also disrupts the wholeness of the community so God prohibits it.

“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.”

This commandment is specifically designed to protect the  shalom or wholeness of the community.

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