The 10 Commandments

Ten Commandments on stone tablets isolated on a white background with clipping path

December 6, 2021

Last week we discussed the 10th plague, and how God passed over the Israelites when there was blood over the doorpost and all other first born male animals and children died.

After the Passover, Pharoah asked Moses and all the Israelites to leave, and to take all of their animals, women, children, and possessions. The Egyptians also gave them jewelry, linens, and many other items to take with them.

Only a few days after leaving Egypt, the people were without water and they complained. God provided fresh water for them. They got to the Red Sea, and Pharoah and his army were after the Israelites. They were worried, but again God provided. He parted the sea and allowed the Israelites to cross and drowned all of the Egyptians, including Pharoah.

God led them through the desert and they complained because of lack of food. Again, God provided manna for them to eat each day.

Three months after leaving Egypt and rescuing the Israelites from bondage, God asked Moses to go up to the mountain. He gave him 10 words (not really called commandments) for the Israelites to follow.

Why did God give these commandments?

  • Romans 3:20, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” Thus, the law enables us to know when we are doing something wrong.
  • Galatians 3:24, “So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.” The law shows us our inability to keep the law.
  • Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good[RW1] ?” Thus, his commands our for our good.
  • John 14:12, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” The commands are there for us relationally. Keeping them show our love toward the Lord.

Before we start discussing the 10 commandments in the Old Testament, I want to review something Jesus said in the New Testament when a pharisee asked Jesus about the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:37. Jesus replied, “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The reason I bring up Jesus’ definition of the greatest commandment is because the 10 commandments really are divided into two sections. Commandments one through 4 are about how to love God. Commandments five through ten are about loving others.

  1. You shall have no other gods before me. The Egyptians worshipped many gods. Many were created gods. Nothing compares to our God, and he wants you to only be devoted to Him.
  2. You shall not make yourself an idol and worship it. Nothing compares to God. Not gold or silver or anything that was created on the earth. We can never really know the greatness of God, so could never create an idol great enough to take the place of God. This does not mean you can’t have art etc that have pictures of God. It means God does not want you worshipping anything but Him.
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. This means to take the name in a light fashion. Not giving the Lord’s name the respect that is required. Saying Oh My God, or any of the cuss words that use His name are examples of this.
  4. Remember the Sabbath. Work 6 days and the 7th is a Sabbath to the Lord. This is the only commandment that was not repeated in the New Testament. Do you know why? Because it was fulfilled in Jesus. He is our rest. Mark 2:27 says, “Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Romans 14:5, “One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.”  Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
  5. Honor your father and mother so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. This is the first commandment about our relationship with others. Why do you think this was more important than the other four? Parents are our closest neighbor. Everyone has a parent, so this includes all people. This commandment comes with a promise. “that you may live long…”
  6. You shall not murder. This means murdering someone for your means. It does not necessarily mean kill. In Exodus 21, God orders the killing of those who have committed capital crimes. There was also killing during wartimes in the Old Testament. This commandment is more difficult to keep now. Jesus said in Matthew 5:21-22, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment.”  This is not just an outward expression of anger, but also the inner feelings. Jesus cares about our heart.
  7. You shall not commit adultery. Again, Jesus added to this commandment in Matthew 5:27-28, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[a] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus does not want us looking at others through pornography or lustful eyes. He wants us to have moral purity.
  8. You shall not steal. This means stealing anything. It could be intellectual property, office supplies from work, time, taxes. Anything.
  9. You shall not give false witness against your neighbor. This meant bearing false witness to your neighbor in a legal sense, but this extends to all lying about others. Remember, John 14:6 says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is truth, and we want to be like Him.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, servant, or anything they have. This is one that deals with the heart. No one can see if you are coveting. This is between you and God. It stems from not being content with what God has given you. We can even put people or things before God when we covet.

As discussed earlier, a reason God gave the law was so we could see our sin and know that to keep the entire law was impossible.

Galatians 3:23-25 says, “Before the coming of this faith,[a] we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.”

Galations 2:16 says, “know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in[a] Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” Keeping the law is impossible. It is about what you can. Faith in Christ is about what Jesus did on the cross for our sins.

The thought that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and that I do not have to do anything to have eternal life with Him accept believe that he died on the cross and rose again, is difficult to understand. I am so thankful for His love and sacrifice. My life has been changed miraculously because of Jesus.

Are you interested in that kind of change as well? Please let me know if you want more information about this.

Next week we are going to discuss the tabernacle that God had the Israelites build. There is a lot of information in Hebrews about this as well so the reading will be Hebrews 3-10.

Reference: Steven J. Cole (The Big 10). Sermon from Skip Heitzig


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