Thursday, August 23, 2012

XLV - The Ten Commandments

Exodus 20 - The Ten Commandments

I once taught the Ten Commandments to a Sunday School class in the early '90s.  It took eleven weeks.  I got soooo much out of it, as it brought to me a deeper understanding of God and what His intentions are for a holy nation.  But in the interest of time I will try to cover chapter 20 in this posting, knowing that there will be much more to be written on these in the next few months.  We think of the Ten Commandments as a set of guidelines for personal behavior, which they are.  But they were given by God as foundation laws for a new nation.  Again, I remind you where, in the History of civilization that this took place.  Heretofore there was no set of standards for any nation or groups of people, small or large, that could be used as guidelines.  People just made it up as they went along.

I've always thought that our great nation, The United States of America has been generously blessed by the hand of God.  I have commented that we are the most successful nation in all of History with the exception of Israel during the reign of King Soloman.  And I've been careful to contribute this
nation's success in large part by the fact that our forefathers honored God's guidance through the Holy Bible, including the Ten Commandments.  Our justice system has always used the Ten Commandments as its base.  Now, if you've noticed, all of God's principles, incuding the Ten Commandments, are not only brought into question, but are falling under severe criticism in recent years.  I never want to be a prophet of gloom, but I must caution that to turn away from God and His statutes is flirting with disaster for this or any other nation.

In verse 2 the Lord began by identifying Himself and His right to make this covenant.  He brought the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage.  Remember, God brought them out of bondage to make them a new nation.  He wanted to set this new nation up as a priestly nation, set apart as holy, to bring the world to a saving knowledge of the only true God.  In order to do this, God must give them specifice laws under which to live in order for them to be the holy nation they are assigned to be.

(New International Version)

1)  You shall have no other gods before Me  -  I refered to this commandment earlier to stress that this is extremely important to God.  God created the heavens, the earth, and the universe.  All the other so-called gods have done nothing.  They are but figments of someone's imagination.  How dare these people bow down and worship these manmade idols.  As I mentioned earlier, the Egyptians had many gods, all of which God exposed as nothings.  But the idols that people called gods, were not the only things God was talking about here.  There are many other "gods" that can interfere with our relationship with God:  Wealth, authority, careers, other people, just to name a few.

2)  You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below  -  This second commandment tells how Israel was to worship God.  Not only were they forbidden to worship idols of false gods, but they were not to try to make an image of the true God.  The reason for this is simple.  People have been the same in all of man's existance:  If an image of our true God was fabricated, people would worship the image rather than God Himself.  Note in verse 5, God tells this one thing about Himself:  He is a jealous God.  He will not share the worship of His people with anything, for He alone stands worthy.  Following that, God says something very important:  The sins of His children will be punished into the third and fourth generation.  Adam, Stephanie, Haley, Cole, Lorelai, Madelyn, and all their children could suffer punishment because of my sinfulness. That is a sobering thought.  I accept that responsibility.  But further in that same verse He says He will show love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.  So, I feel like I might be causing blessings to my bloodline also.

3)  You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God  -  This is a serious offence.  I know that because God states in verse 7 that He will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name.  He attaches a warning to this commandment.  This is another window into the character of God.  His name is important.  Please son, never use His name in a frivolous manner, and much worse, in a cursing manner.  He is going to remember it when you do.  In the prayer that Jesus gave us as a model, He addresses God the Father, but then the first thing He says after that is "hallowed be Thy
name".  We must be careful never to disrespect God's name in any way.

4)  Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy  -   I stated earlier that we have perhaps made a mistake in changing our Sabboth day from Saturday to Sunday, but I shall not dwell on that.  God instructs us to keep the seventh day holy.  To make something holy, we must "set it apart".  That was its definition then and it still is.  To make the Sabboth holy, we must make it different than the other six days.  God says clearly that six days straight was enough for Him, therefore it is enough for us.  I believe one could squander his/her health and other important things if this basic truth is disregarded.

5)  Honor your father and your mother  -  As opposed to attaching a warning to this as He did in the 3rd commandment, God attaches a promise.  If you keep this commandment, you will enjoy long life.  Also different with this commandment, it moves from our relationship with God to our relationship with each other, including our immediate family members to our distant neighbors.  Simply, we as children and adults must honor and obey our parents.  But nothing is quite that simple.  Bear in mind that the first audiences to God's laws were predominently males.  Further studies will reveal that the main thrust of this was that men were to make sure there were provisions made for their aging parents.  The promise about length of days, at least partly, meant that a society which values the older generations insures that everyone will be taken care of properly and will live longer as a result.  {I think when Franklin Roosevelt came out with Social Security, it was a great idea for the times, but its not perfect.  God's plan is better.  Like the Europeans in Italy said a number of years ago:  "You Americans ought to be ashamed of yourselves.  You depend on the government to care for your elderly.  We take care of our own."  Maybe the Italians were right.}

6)  You shall not murder  -  God gives life and only God has the right to take it.  This law forbids murder.  It is not to be interpreted as forbidding war, as we will see God send His people into battle many times.  I'm not prepared at this time to deal with this commandment as it might pertain to captial punishment.  That will become clearer later.  In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus expands this commandment to include hatred of our fellow man.

7)  You shall not commit adultry  -  This is very simple.  A man and a woman are to remain exclusive to their spouses.  Jesus goes further and warns against lust.  To linger in lust is asking for problems.  Shake off the thoughts and think about something else, then go about your business.  I don't want to get into what appears to me as the dawn of a societal breakdown here in our country, but I think it does need our attention.  I think it starts in the home.  I think the attitude of "it takes a village" is a first step in shirking our God given responsibility.  I'll let it go for now with briefly  stating that I think every child needs to have a father and a mother who provide a stable home.  One in which the child can feel safe and loved.  I think it needs both mother and father, without which is only half of what the home needs.  Adultry has always weakened and often destroyed this precious thing we call a home.

8)  You shall not steal  -  This one is also simple.  Back then the entire nation of Israel was made up of people who were slaves just a matter of months ago.  These were poor people.  A poor man needs everything he has.  His possessions were those things that provided sustenance and ultimately life itself.  To steal one of a man's few possessions was to actually threaten his very life and the lives of his family.  When there is an imbalance of possessions (which is often the case), it's wonderful when the possessions are shared.  It's the way things should be.  However, if they are not shared when there is an imbalance, stealing is not acceptable even as a last resort.  God is very clear on this.

9)  You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor  -  Give false testimony (NIV).  Bear false witness (KJV).  Both sound like the setting would be in a court of law.  That's because it was.  Remember, Moses has just appointed judges to help with disputes.  It was the first model of a justice system, and it was a good one.  God gave this commandment knowing that the justice system must revolve around truth and honesty.  Otherwise there would be no justice at all.  Additionally, this commandment is always cited when pertaining to lying.  I won't dwell on this, but lying ALWAYS causes problems.  Children learn to lie at an early age because it is an easy escape from an immediate problem for the child.  But as young children, they always seem reluctant to tell a lie to parents or teachers, which is good.  Children aren't good liars until they get practiced in it.  Please pray that your children never get comfortable with lying.  Remember:  Satan is the father of lies.  Once he's got your child comfortable with lying, he'll go for bigger things.  And he is a force to be reckoned with.
10)  You shall not covet  -  Coveting means to want something someone else has or something to which you are not entitled.  Many times when one of the commandments is broken, it is because the tenth commandment was broken first.  Covetousness causes stealing, murder, adultry, envy, lying.  Covetousness causes unhappiness and disatisfaction with that which God has provided.  Covetousness is one of the most damaging commandments, yet probably the most difficult to avoid.  When a man is convicted of a crime against society, it can often be said, "first, he coveted".  When a man commits adultry and his family is broken up, first he coveted.

Next Post - Expanding the Law

No comments:

Post a Comment