The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20)
Background: Our first worship ‘series’ this summer is on the Ten Commandments. We find them in Exodus 20 and in Deuteronomy 5 (Deuteronomy=the 2nd giving of the law). They are know as The Decalogue (Ten Words) in Jewish tradition. And they lay the foundation for our relationships with God and with others.
Digging Deeper: 1. It’s important to remember that the Ten C’s don’t just come out of the blue. God has demonstrated God’s faithfulness, care, and power by leading the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt, and God is shaping them to be a people who are holy and who will serve and honor God. It’s in this context that Moses goes up the mountain (Sinai) to receive and then to share the Ten C’s. Though these Commandments, of course, contain good basic rules for all societies (i.e. No killing, stealing, adultery, slander, etc.) it is worth noting that they are primarily aimed at God’s people-who then can make a difference in the places where they live, worship, work, and play.
2. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery…” Note that before God asks the people to conduct themselves in a certain way, God identifies who it is doing the asking and reveals God’s credentials. Like: “Remember me? I’m the God who rescued you from slavery, and who has been leading you and providing for you in the wilderness!” (The Ten C’s are given during the 40 years of life in the wilderness.)
3. The 1st commandment is: You shall have no other gods. This, of course does not negate the fact that, in that world, and that time, people worshipped all sorts of different gods. It’s not arguing “the number of alternatives gods out there is zero!” It’s stating “there’s only one god for you! And that’s Yahweh-the One who brought you out of Egypt!”
4. Martin Luther points out that: A “god” is the term for that to which we are to look for all good and in which we are to find refuge in all need. Therefore, to have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe in that one with your whole heart. (Or in shorthand, whatever you believe, love, trust in most-that is your god!) Consider the many things we/others ‘believe, love, and trust in” the most: Everything from the almighty dollar, to a political idol; everything from our own strength and wisdom, to even capitalism and our many rights and freedoms; for some people-drugs/alcohol, for others hard work and success.
5. Luther sums up the 1st C this way: We are to fear (as in revere), love, and trust God above all else. Period! That’s the invitation. That’s the command. That’s the challenge each day and throughout life, for individuals and for the church as well!