TEN COMMANDMENTS EXPLAINED
¨ The Decalog (Ten Commandments) is at the heart of the message of Deuteronomy.
List of commandments: narrowed to two categories.
– The 1st five = man’s relationship to God
– 2nd five = man’s relationship to man
Broken down by topic:
- Nature of God
- Worship of God
- Name of God
- Day of God
- Family of God
- Deals with life
- Deals with family
- Deals with property
- Deals with truthfulness
- Deals with motivation.
Two kinds of laws can be found in the Old Testament.
¨ First, are broad categorical laws which set forth general principles. These laws do not specify how they are to be enforced or what penalties are to be invoked. The Ten Commandments are representative of this kind of law. They are basic policy statements for life in a covenant community with God.
¨ Second are case laws. These laws often begin with an “if” or a “when,” usually deal with very specific situations. Many times they indicate a punishment for breaking the law (e.g., Ex. 21:2, 3, 4; 22:1, 2, 4, 5, 25).
The Ten Commandments are prohibitions (except for Commandments 4 and 5 in Ex. 20:8-11, 12). These ten laws define negatively the heart of the covenant relationship between God and Israel.
¨ The first five Commandments are related to one’s relationship with God.
¨ The next five Commandments have to do with human relationships. It is important to note that right relationships with others follow being rightly related to God.
¨ Being rightly related to God compels one towards right relationships to one’s neighbors.
¨ Here one can see the wonderful balance that is maintained in the Law. Duties to God and to other human beings are not separated.
I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD—these opening words are a declaration at the head of the Ten Commandments and form a context for what follows, rather than being simply a part of the first commandment
¨ Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage—it was because of what God had done for His people He was in a position to lay upon them certain obligations.
¨ For the health and continuity of the covenant depended on the relationship of the people to their God and to their fellow men, and it was to this end that the Ten Commandments gave direction to the people.
¨ There was a great communal need for obedience to the commands of God.
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT
“YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS, BESIDES ME”
¨ The first commandment clearly establishes the responsibility of the people of God in the covenant relationship, namely, the responsibility of absolute faithfulness.
¨ They had already experienced the faithfulness of God toward them (5:6) and a response of faithfulness was called for.
¨ Negatively, the Israelites were not to have other gods—they were not to commit themselves in any fashion to foreign gods, either those remembered from Egypt or those to be encountered in Canaan.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” God starts off the commandments by talking about who He is.
- He also uses the term “Elohim” to show that He is the God who sustains life.
- He also says “I AM” – He is a God of revelation/knowledge.
- He is a God of deliverance.
- He is a jealous God “I will allow no other God’s before me.” God has revealed Himself to us and we are to worship Him and Him alone. In the Semitic mindset, this is a positive commandment.
¨In the future, which would be a time of radical change—from the desert to conquering and later developing the promised land—a step into the unknown, the Hebrews were to maintain their total commitment to the Lord.
¨ The commandment calls for a style of life dominated by a relationship to God.
¨ The implication is the relationship to one God must dominate every sphere of life, whether the life of action, of thought, or of emotion.
¨ APPLICATION: If your style of life is not dominated by a relationship to God, who or what dominates your life? Does anything limit your faithfulness or commitment to God? Evaluate those things that are more of a priority than God is in your life.
THE SECONDMENT COMMANDMENT
“YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FOR YOURSELF A IMAGE . . .”
¨ The second commandment prohibits the making of images intended to represent in some physical way God Himself.
¨ The first and most immediate danger was that of attempting to render the Lord in human form.
¨ But any such representation would be totally inadequate, for God Himself is greater than any attempt to represent Him within the created order.
¨ The only means in which God could be represented was by means of language.
¨ You shall not bow down to them and you shall not serve them—the danger is the image may become the thing that is worshipped, and this would detract from that proper kind of worship which was a response of love (6:5).
¨ I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God—to worship an image of God was to succumb to the tendency to externalize and formalize the object of worship and as such it detracted from the true response of love.
¨ Anything that detracted from this essential relationship of the covenant, the commitment of love, led to the jealousy of God. Thus, in the covenant community, no man was an island; his acts had repercussions for others and the breach of this commandment could affect his posterity for more than one generation.
¨ The second commandment contains a promise—acting with loving kindness toward thousands, toward those that love me and keep my commandments.
¨ The element of promise emphasizes again that the trust of the commandment as a whole is the preservation of the relationship between God and man which is characterized by love.
Thou shalt not make a graven image…
¨ Man is going to worship something, regardless of what they say about their faith.
¨ Three-fold process here:
¨ 1) take eyes off of God,
¨ 2) put something in His place,
¨ 3) Worship it as if it were God.
¨ Consequences = iniquities of the fathers to the 3rd or 4th generation.
¨ Today if an individual does not walk by faith, the price compounds for the generations to follow.
¨ Promised blessing = He talks to the thousands that keeps the commandments.
¨ Exodus 34, tries to describe the magnitude of God’s grace and mercy.
¨ The attempt to limit God to some visual form, and the tendency to worship the attempted representation, meant that the essential love relationship became distorted.
¨ APPLICATION—Do not limit who you think God is and can be to you. Do not put God in a neat box because He cannot be limited and do not think He can only be met at church.
THE THIRD COMMANDMENT
“YOU SHALL NOT TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD YOUR GOD IN VAIN”
¨ Prohibition against the improper use of God’s name.
¨ The third commandment is a prohibition against attempting to manipulate God for purely personal ends, not just blasphemy.
¨ The commandment is concerned with the name of God, which God had revealed to His people.
¨ That God had revealed His name (the Lord or Yahweh) gives some clue to the intimacy of the covenant relationship.
¨ At least one of the things prohibited by this commandment is the use of God’s name in magic, which was an explicit attempt to harness God’s power for personal ends or for a “worthless purpose.”
¨ To the Semitic mind, names were more than just tags, they signified the nature and character of the person. The name of God was no different, it symbolized the nature and character of Him.
¨ Num 30 = Oaths in God’s name;
¨ Eze. 36 = Profaning God’s name;
¨ Matt. 6 = Hallowed be Thy name;
¨ Matt. 7 = God’s name in false pretense.
¨ Thus the name of God may be called on in prayer, and prayer is a right and proper form of communication in the covenant community.
¨ But prayer too may be misused and may result in an attempt to channel God’s power toward some worthless purpose.
¨ APPLICATION—Realize the name of God is to be revered and not to be used casually. We are truly unworthy to approach Him but by His grace and mercy, we can approach Him with boldness. Be careful not to ask Him for any “worthless purpose” or demand that God jump through your own selfish demands.
THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT
“REMEMBER THE SABBATH, AND KEEP IT HOLY . . .”
¨ This commandment imposes a double obligation, that of making holy the Sabbath day (v12) and that of working for six days (v13).
¨ On the seventh day, the Sabbath, work was forbidden to the master of the house, his children, his servants, his working beasts, and resident aliens (people from foreign lands).
¨ To rest on the Sabbath day was to remember that man, as a part of God’s created order, was totally dependent on the Creator; man’s divinely appointed task to have dominion over the created order carried with it also the privilege of sharing in God’s rest.
Commandment 4: Remembering the Sabbath…
¨ This is different than Dt. 5 (Shema).
¨ Why worship on 1st day instead of last?
¨ No command from Christ concerning, No apostolic action suggesting we worship on the 1st day.
¨ It came as a memorial to two events: 1st, the resurrection; 2nd, Pentecost. Came about by consent of early church fathers, in part to separate us from the Jews.
¨ The problem is not the day, but actually the nature. Notice the emphasis on “work”.
¨ We rest on the 7th day because we have to have regenerate.
¨ Sabbath day was unique to the Israelite tradition.
¨ Thus the fourth commandment once again established a point of distinction between the religion of Israel and that of her neighbors.
¨ APPLICATION—Take the time to have a weekly Sabbath. Rest and reflect on this day. Reflect on your week and ask God what it is He wants you to learn. Rest your body because it is the only body you have and we are called to be good stewards of what God has given us. We are also called to be unique and set aside.