The Ten Commandments
Standard;As I looked at the pericope for this week and saw that it included the ten commandments, I thought, “My that's a little ambitious for a half hour sermon!” Nonetheless I felt led to tackle it anyway. When God writes something in stone, it seems to me that He wants that which is written to be preserved....and quite frankly, it wouldn't hurt the church to occasionally bring them out and look at them again.
As I look at these commands, the first thing I noticed was that there are really 12 commands. Go ahead count them with me.
#1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
#2. You shall not make for yourself a carved image.
#3. you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.
#4. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
#5. Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.
#6, Honor your father and mother.
#7. You shall not murder.
#8. You shall not commit adultery.
#9. You shall not steal.
#10. You shall not bear false witness.
#11. You shall not covet your neighbor's house..
#12. You shall not covet your neighbor's, wife, nor his male servant, nor his donkey, etc.
Well, something must be wrong with my count, because the Bible specifically mentions 10 commandments....not 12.
Furthermore something must be wrong with my Lutheran breakdown of the 10. This probably came as a shock to many of you as you began to listen to Christian radio and heard sermons from evangelical preachers. Because they refer to the 4th commandment as “remembering the Sabbath Day!” “Hey! That's not what I learned in confirmation!”
I remember attending a non-denominational church for several years and the walls were noticeably barren of any images of Jesus that one becomes accustomed to in a Lutheran or Catholic church. The reason for this is most Protestant churches have made their second commandment, You shall not make unto you any graven images.
But there are other versions of the Ten Commandments out there, and I have included a chart with your bulletins this morning so you can see the differences. The Lutheran version is very similar to the Catholic version, with the difference being the declarative statement “I the Lord, am your God” being omitted from our first commandment, and our ninth commandment reads, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, and our 10th commandment reads, “ Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is thy neighbor's.”
To quote our catechism, “What does this mean?” For one thing, it means that if we desire to have the ten commandments posted in our public schools, what version will we use? For another thing it means that there is some confusion in the church over the breakdown of these commands.
Personally, I prefer the Jewish version. (only I would include the o in God) It was likely in the catechism that Jesus learned when He was a boy, and that's good enough for me. ....But I have another, (more biblical reason)
In De 4:13, we read, "So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.
There is a difference between the commandments and the “Ten Commandments.” and whenever the “ten commandments are mentioned in the OT a separate Hebrew Word is mentioned that does not limit itself to commands, but to ALL that was spoken.
And what was being spoken here and written in stone was a covenant. “So He declared to you His covenant.” The ten commandments are a covenant. They are really 10 conditions of a covenant.
A covenant always involves two parties and their responsibilities to each other. The first condition of this covenant then is what has already been performed by God. He brought the Jewish people out of the house of bondage. This is stated then in the first commandment or the first condition.
Because the first condition has been met by God, because of God's great deliverance from Egypt (symbolic of the devil) the rest of the conditions are to joyfully met by man.
Because God has delivered us from the devil thru the cross, we too should gladly seek to meet the rest of the NT conditions which are just two commandments: Love the Lord, and love your neighbor.
Those two commands can get a little foggy for us, and we have the ten commandments to look at to help us understand how we can love God and how we can love our neighbor, and we also have the sermon on the mount which goes into even greater detail of loving God and neighbor.
Let's look at the ten, ever so briefly this morning, and may the Holy Spirit quicken them in our hearts as we seek to joyfully serve and please our great Deliverer..
Ex 20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying:
Okay, another reason for the Jewish version. All the following words were written on the tablets....not just the commands for men.
2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 "You shall have no other gods before Me.
What does this mean? It means because God is our Deliverer, we shouldn't look to anything or anyone else for deliverance. In a sense, because He is our Deliverer He has the right to make these demands on us.
4 "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep (quick review from last week! What does it mean to keep? It means to treasure!) My commandments.
None of us are likely to make a golden calf or a Baal and worship it because we feel it is our Savior, yet many will look to other things to be delivered from their pain and their guilt. Any and all addictions are in reality idolatry. Any “escape” mechanism that becomes more important than God is idolatry.
Jesus summed up this commandment in Mr 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first (primary not numerical) commandment.
Hanging pictures or displaying other physical reminders of God are not a breakage of this command, unless of course you are bowing down to them and assigning spiritual power and life to them.
By the way, please note the generational curse placed on those who fail to acknowledge God as their Deliverer. Then note the blessing to those who seek to honor the covenant.
No wonder Joshua said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”
7 "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
What does this mean? Careless use of the name above all names is forbidden. The Jews sought to be so careful in this regard, that they left the “o” out God's name so as to not accidentally violate this command.
Don't throw the name of the Lord thy God around lightly or thoughtlessly. Don't claim to be a CHRISTian and not treasure His Words. You are turning His name into vanity or nothingness.
Cursing is an obvious lack of treasuring this command, but so is OMG in your text messaging. And oh, my gosh or Geez isn't much better. When you use these other words you are trying to sidestep the issue by “omitting the “O” if you know what I mean.
Notice the penalty connected with the breakage of this command, “not held guiltless.” I wonder, is this one of the reasons that people struggle so with guilt? They take the name of God lightly, and this then carries over into our ability to believe in the power of His forgiveness?
8 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Simply put, mark the Sabbath Day....keep it set apart from all other days of the week. Sabbath means rest. Do something restful in honor of the One who has given you rest. Commemorate the One who has given us rest by attending a worship service on His day. For He is the Lord of the Sabbath,.
9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, (gathering sticks, carrying burdens, selling merchandise, these are activities that were explicitly forbidden by God's Word. And in context they speak of providing for your home.
10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.
11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, (by the way a self evident argument here for a literal 6 day creation) the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
In short, work for what is necessary for your home during the week, and on the seventh day enjoy what you worked for.
12 "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
Honor is to give weight to. In other words esteem your parents, hold them in high regard no matter their age! This honor and dignity is expressed through obedience, respect, and care.
13 "You shall not murder.
An obvious command, except for the lack of understanding about when life begins and in whose image it is created. Hence we have abortion, euthanasia, heinous experimentation on embryos, and don't forget all manner of verbal assassination as Jesus said, “just hating your brother is the equivalent of murder.
14 "You shall not commit adultery.
Again an obvious sin involving marital unfaithfulness, but Jesus clarified this sin as well, when He said that just looking at another person lustfully, constituted adultery, and when He emphatically stated that divorce and remarriage are also adulterous.
15 "You shall not steal.
Armed robbery, shoplifting, pilfering at work in time or goods, or on the internet, pirating movies and music, all fall under this command.
16 "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Do not lie about anyone. “Liars will have their place in the fires of hell.
17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's."
Be content with what you have. Don't begrudge what others have and complain about what you don't have. Rather be a good steward with what you do have.
There you have them. The ten commandments. If you believe that God is your Deliverer then you will treasure them. The proof of not having other gods before Him, is found in your desire to “treasure” or keep these words. To “keep” these commands.
Will you fail? Of course you will! But if you “treasure” His words, you will be broken by your failure and you will seek relief for your failures in the promises of His New Covenant. A relief provided for by the death of God's only Son.
Joh 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
And in the promise of 1 Jn 1:9
1Jo 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The order and breakdown of these commands will not matter when we stand before God on Judgment Day. The devil isn't going to accuse you by the numbers is he? Could you see the arguments breaking out over that method? I didn't break number three, that's number 4!!!!!!”
The bottom line will be this. Will you be found in Christ. Have you put Him on in baptism and kept Him on by persevering faith. A faith that is evidenced in the heart of those who “treasure” (keep) His Words.