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The Big Ten

            I was asked to talk about the Ten Commandments recently and to give a break down of each one. There are a lot of people who don’t like rules and they particularly dislike these since they were given by a God that they do not know.  When God created the world there were no written rules in place. It was His intention to have a personal relationship with each person and there would be spiritual communications taking place daily. When Adam fell and was banished from the Garden he went out and lived as best as he could. His descendants married (each other) and multiplied. With no laws they lived as each one pleased. Cain, Adams son killed his own brother Abel. He was banished by God from Eden and he went to the land of Nod. There, he formed a city and named it Enoch after his son (Gen 4:17). As generations went by man became more and more wicked.  The day came when God decided that the only way to save the world was to destroy all of mankind except for one righteous family. He chose a man named Noah to rebuild a world that He had destroyed with a worldwide flood.

            When Noah and his children multiplied they again married their own and the world was repopulated. This time God chose a man named Abram to make a covenant with so that He could have a people that He would call His own. Still there was no written law and sin reigned. Through the course of time these descendants of the Covenant were taken into captivity for 400 years in Egypt where they lived as slaves. God sent a deliverer named Moses who brought them out by the miracles of God. Once they were separated from their old lives He established them as His own people and made them a great nation called Israel. While living in the wilderness He sent His law to them through Moses. These Ten Commandments were written by the Finger of God on tablets of stone and placed in the Ark of the Covenant. The Tablets have long since disappeared but the Law remains as God’s plan for His people. These were recorded in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. Both Jews and Christians alike recognize the significance of these Commandments for a Society.

The United States Law was formed heavily on these writings and they are the pillars of many moral nations. Recently there has been a cry to remove them from our culture even though they are engraved in many Government Buildings. Let’s examine them and see if we can determine what the uproar is about. We’ll be looking in Exodus chapter twenty.

This chapter begins with God reminding His people that He delivered them and brought them out of bondage. Verse two is the First Commandment. God declared that we should not have any other Gods except Him. When I was young I just skipped over this one as I felt like I had no way to worship any other God. Then I learned what worship really was. Just because we don’t attend a church that isn’t Christian or call on the name of another God besides Jehovah we still can have other Gods that come before Him. Worship is attributing worth to something or someone. We can make a god out of anything in our lives if we put that thing or person before God. It can be our job, our spouse, a sport, a hobby, our house, our car, money, a celebrity and on and on it goes. Often we have multiples of these going on in our lives that all take precedent over God. We might choose to play golf instead of going to church. We may put our spouse in front of God. In the second example if your spouse was taken away from you would you leave God because of it? Many people don’t realize that they worship things until the loss of it causes them to be angry at God. Just as I asked my wife to be faithful to me in marriage God wants our complete worship and love.

The Second Commandment is in verses four through six. God said that we should not make a graven image to worship. We should not make an idol that represents something or someone that will cause us to worship other than God. Have you noticed how many people are consumed with the television show called American Idol? Other people have movie stars or sports heroes that they consider their idol. God is not pleased with us when we have idols, no matter what or who they are. We must be careful with attitudes that take away from the full worship God deserves. Having symbols to pray to isn’t Godly either and we must be cautious in how we think we are worshipping God. It may be that we are worshipping something else. The Amish will not allow themselves to be photographed because they consider that a graven image. Also, they don’t allow faces on the children’s dolls for the same reason. While it may seem overboard in our opinions what are our standards in the matter?

The Third Commandment is in verse seven. God declared that we must not take His Name in vain. In my younger years I believe this only to be when two certain words were said and as long as you didn’t say them you were good. The literal meaning for this commandment is that it’s wrong to use His name for falsehood, swearing or invoking it for false purposes. God’s name is Holy and He condemns any man who uses it lightly. This includes people who use it as a byword or who call themselves Christians and really aren’t. When I was a youth pastor my heart was broken at the younger generation and the way they used His Name. I could not make them understand that it didn’t have to be the G-D phrase but also could be OMG. Have you ever noticed how some people use Jesus Christ as a byword, also? Any use of God or His Son in loose language is dangerous.

The Fourth Commandment is in verses eight through eleven. The Sabbath is to be kept Holy as a special day. God gave His people one day in seven to set aside for worship and rest. I have friends who still meet on Saturday in their Worship. However, we believe that Sunday is the day that Christians keep as holy since Christ rose from dead on that day. I will explain further at the end of covering these commandments.

The Fifth Commandment is to honor our parents and it’s covered in verse twelve. Paul made reference to this in Ephesians 6:1-3. He reminded us that this commandment has a promise attached. God said that if we would honor our parents we would live a long and blessed life. There is a collapse in the relationship with children and parents today. It was prophesied that in the end times this would occur (2 Tim 3:2).

The Sixth Commandment says that we shall not kill (v13). Many non-resistance groups believe that this means taking any life including those of convicted murderers who are sentenced to death or defending your family against someone. The Hebrew word here means to murder, slay, assassinate, premeditate or accidentally kill someone. Clearly God wants us to recognize the sanctity of life, unborn or born.

The Seventh Commandment says that we shall not commit adultery. God’s plan for His people is for marriages to be kept only between the man and wife until death. Children need both parents to receive all that they need in growing up. Societies can not last if families don’t last.

The Eighth Commandment says we shall not steal. This is verse fifteen on Exodus chapter twenty. Material possessions belong to the owner unless they decide to give them away. In some societies if a man has two of something and another has none it is perfectly acceptable for the man who has none to take one from the other man. God’s law goes against that thought.

The Ninth Commandment says that we should not bear false witness against our neighbor (v16). Testifying falsely against someone is against the law in a courtroom but God says it is against His law in society, too.

Finally, the Tenth Commandment says that we should not want what our neighbor owns (v17). This seems to coincide with the seventh and eighth laws as we should not want our neighbor’s wife or steal anything from him.

Now, those quick summaries are the rules that many people find offensive. Look them over again and see if you can decide which ones they might disagree with. Those who don’t believe in God would not want to have laws one through four in their society. These deal with our relationship with God. Laws five through ten deal with our relationship with men. Did you notice that He gave more laws dealing with our neighbor than He gave in relating to Him? These rules are the basis for any civilized society and yet many people want to throw them out. I promised above that I would expound on the nature of these in the Christians life. Many people get to number four and get hung up on worshipping on Saturday. I did some research on it myself years ago and found this. In the New Testament the Early Church began meeting in the Synagogue on Saturday but they were quickly stopped as the Jews did not recognize Jesus as Messiah. They then began to meet in homes with other Jews and Gentiles as God gave Paul the mandate to spread the Gospel to the entire world. Peter was also given the vision to eat of the unclean animals so that God could reveal that concept to him. Most references to the Church meetings are on the Lord’s Day (Sunday) instead of the Sabbath in the New Testament. By the end of the First Century all Christians met on Sunday.

When asked about the greatest Commandment Jesus said it was to love God with all of your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:34-40). This brings to mind some teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus’ teachings actually were stricter than any of the Ten Commandments. Let me explain. The Sixth Commandment says to not kill but Jesus said that hating someone in your heart was as if you’d already murdered them (Matt 5:21-22). While the seventh commandment says to not commit adultery Jesus said that if you look on a woman to lust after her you’ve already committed adultery in your hearts (Matt 5:27-28).

I mentioned the fact that the original Law came through Moses. Moses was a type of Christ in that he delivered people through miracles from bondage and brought law to them. Jesus delivered us through great miracles and also brought law. Only the law He gives is written on our hearts (Jer. 31:33). This does not mean that the Ten Commandments are null and void as Jesus said He did not come to do away with them but to fulfill them (Matt 5:17). Colossians 2:13-17 explains that Jesus fulfilled the commandments and that we are no longer judged by them but by Him. He has forgiven us of all laws broken! Hallelujah! I once spoke to a man who explained that he wasn’t perfect but at least he had not broken one of the Big Ten. I thought about it for a minute and told him that was surprising because I’d broken them all. He looked shocked and laughingly asked me who I’d murdered. I explained that Jesus said if I hated someone I had already murdered them in my heart. Since I had lusted after other women I had already committed adultery. Since I had longed for things that others had I had broken the Tenth Commandment. I had taken His name in vain every time I proclaimed to be a Christian and then didn’t live like one. I broke the Fifth Commandment as I had dishonored my parents. Yes, I had broken them all! 

You see friends Jesus came to make a way back to God for those of us who have broken commandments. He came to put His law into our hearts so that we might take then everywhere we go. While the world may mock at God’s rules they are the backbone of any moral society. God’s people may not live in a nation that recognizes them but we are a nation to ourselves. The Kingdom of Heaven is my home, not this world. We all have higher standards than those around us. Let’s live by those standards!

 

Prayer-Father, thank You for showing mankind the way to live. We recognize that many people in the world believe they can make up their own rules but we choose to follow You. I pray that any who do not know You and are reading this would be moved to follow after righteousness today. May we all be renewed in living righteous lives.

In Jesus’ Name—Amen

paul

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Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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