The Ten Commandments - Part 1
January 13, 2019
Israel has come now out of slavery, out of Egypt, they've come through the Red Sea. God amazingly, miraculously delivered them. Now they've come to Mount Sinai which is very famous because this is where God gives to them the Ten Commandments and starting in verse two, He says, "I am the God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." In other words, "I created you, I saved you, I delivered you." In other words, "I have the right now to tell you the rules, the principles, and the Laws that guide your life."
Now, when we think of the Law of Moses, there's a whole lot more than Ten Commandments but the Ten Commandments in many ways define the covenant relationship between God and Israel. Not just the relationship of the people to God but also to one another, how they should treat those around them. In other words, it defines morality and because these decrees are from God Himself, then they stand in direct opposition to the relativistic approaches to morality. Relativistic morality is the notion that each individual or society determines what is right and what is wrong. Now, there's something wrong with this because if it is a society that decides or determines what is right, then who is to say that the holocaust was immoral?
I love to read and listen to Ravi Zacharias. One of the quotes that I love from him applies to this very well. He says, "In some societies they love their neighbor, in another societies they eat them. Who decides what is right?" In other words, is there not a Law above all other laws? Is there not a Law above all laws? If there's a God in heaven, He most certainly has a right to determine what's right and what's wrong.
Now, let's look at these Ten Commandments. I'd like to make some observations in general before we look at them. First of all, you'll notice that most of the commandments, not all, but most of the commandments are given as a prohibition, "You shall not." This reflects the necessity for people to avoid harmful, wrongful, and hurtful behaviors in order to build a strong nation, a strong society. An example of that would be the famous first rule of physicians. You might know, the very first rule of physicians is, first, "Do no harm." It's in the prohibitive, first rule, "Do no harm."
Notice also that the Ten Commandments are given in terms of obligations, not rights, not entitlements. Our nation's declaration of independence really begins by stating some of our rights, our entitlements, you might say. We say, "These are from God." You recognize these famous words, "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." We are endowed with these inalienable rights because we're made in the image of God.
Such basic human rights is only possible if people first feel a moral obligation toward other people around them. One of the famous sayings of Jesus, he was asked, "What is the highest, the first, the foremost of all the Laws that God has ever given?" Jesus responded, "The first, the highest is love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength." The second is like it, "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Here is Jesus teaching. Love your neighbor as yourself. Notice it's written as a moral obligation to act with love towards your neighbor. It is not written as a right, in other words, "You have the right to be loved by your neighbor." No, you have the moral obligation to love and that's why these things are said in this way. Now, what is the purpose of the Law? The purpose was for their good, was for their benefit. The apostle Paul in the New Testament says the Law is good. He also goes on to say it's a schoolmaster that leads people to Christ. Now, there's much to say about the relationship of the Old Testament and the New Testament, the Old Testament with the believer.
One of the things we need to recognize, of course, when we study Romans we saw this, when we studied Galatians or Ephesians. We understand that the New Testament tells us we are not under Law, we as being in Christ are no longer under Law. There's much to say about it but we spend a lot of that time in Galatians, Romans. We're not under the Law because we are under Grace.
Now, that does not mean that we are free to sin as we wish. In fact, in Romans 6:15, Paul said, "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the Law but under Grace?" God forbid it, that's not what he meant at all. We live by the Holy Spirit and the righteousness of God then is something that God brings about by His Holy Spirit which is powerful and even more powerful than those who live under the Old Testament Law.
Jesus said, "I didn't come to abolish the Law, I've come to fulfill the Law. Not one jot or tittle, the smallest of Hebrew letters shall pass away until all is accomplished." For the Law in many ways describe the righteousness of God, it gives His heart for protecting people from harmful, hurtful things. The Law has not passed away, it's been nailed to the cross and then superseded by the Law of the Spirit of Christ. Romans 8, you got to read it, it is a powerful verse that speaks of the Law of the Spirit of Christ, supersedes the Law that was that of sin and death.
I was trying to think of an illustration of that. I was thinking the law of gravity, universal law, but the law of gravity can't be superseded by the law of aerodynamics, thus we can fly. I was remembering when I was flying to Russia on Aeroflot, the Russian airlines and what an experience that was because we were flying to the far east and we had stopped in Anchorage, Alaska. If you've ever flown in and out of Anchorage, Alaska you know that when you take off, you actually take off over the water. The way that Russian airlines do it or at least they did in those days, they liked to run all the way to the end of the runway to gain as much speed as they can before they lift off. I wasn't used to this. I'm used to the American way, you run down, as soon as you can you lift off, you bank hard and get out of there, right?
We're running down the runway and gaining speed, gaining speed, gaining speed but not going anywhere and I'm thinking, "Any time now." We're going faster, faster, and faster. I'm thinking, "Any time now, there's water up ahead, any time now." Finally we lifted off, we're over the water, I can see the reflection of the lights on the water, we're not very high, and then we hit an air pocket. Boom, we're down, everybody in the plane is yelling and gasping. There was revival in that plane.
Man, if we go down, we're going to get baptized here in a minute, but we pulled out, the Law of aerodynamics superseded the Law of gravity, praise God, even in Aeroflot it works. Let's look at these commandments. Today we're going to focus on the first four. Let's read all of them, however, starting in verse one.
I. Love the Lord with All Your Heart
Then God spoke all these words and he said, "I am Jehovah, I am the Lord, your God." He is defining who He is, "I'm the one who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You will have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol or any likeness or what is in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them for I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the third and fourth generation of those who hate me."
Now, that's an interesting verse and I assure you it does not mean what you think it means. Best come Wednesday, I'll explain that. Showing love and kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep my commandments. "You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His Name in vain. Remember the Sabbath also, to keep it holy." He explains, "Six days you shall labor and do all your work but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, or your male or your female servant, or your cattle, or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that it's in them and He rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made that day holy." Set apart unto Himself, that's what holy means.
"Honor your father and your mother that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or his boat."
I added that part there. "Or anything," see, then He adds this, "Or anything that belongs to your neighbor. All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking and when they saw it they trembled, stood at a distance."
I want us to look at these. The first four have to do with our relationship to God. We begin with the greatest of all the things that God has ever said, love the Lord with all your heart. Someone asked Jesus, "Which is the highest, the first, the foremost of all, of the Laws that God has ever given?" He said, "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your mind, soul, and strength. The second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself." But He added, "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets." In other word, the entire Old Testament can be summarized in two things. Those two things summarize the entire Old Testament. Therefore, the Ten Commandments can be summarized also the same. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, summarize the first four.
A. “Have no other gods before Me”
He starts off by saying have no other gods before me. When God gave these commandments He was speaking to them personally, not as a group. You say well how do I know that? Well, because in the Hebrew it's very distinct. See, in the Hebrew the you, the word for you, is clearly either singular or plural. Singular means He's speaking to you personally, plural to the group. This interesting is this lists of directives, commands, are in the singular. God is speaking singularly to each person that was there.
When people think of false gods have no gods before me. When people think of false gods they commonly think of the ancient deities such as the god of the sun, or of the moon, or of the rain or fertility and most people therefore think that this commandment is no longer relevant. But I tell you we have as many false gods today as they did in the ancient world. When anything else is worshiped it's a false God. In other words, for a thing or an idea to be a false God people have to believe that it has such value that they're willing to dedicate their lives to it, that it has a higher place in their life than God has in their life and thus it becomes a false God.
Now, when He says have no other gods before me was this commandment about his ego? No, not at all. God knew that it was the best. It was good. God knew that there would be tragic consequences when anything comes before honoring Jehovah God in people's lives. True for three main reasons. Number one, because God and God alone is worthy of worship. Only God created the heavens and the earth. No foreign god did such a thing. Only God and God alone is master of heaven. Only He is master of our soul. He therefore is the only God worthy of worship.
Number two, because you become like that which you love. Love is a transforming power. You become like that which you dedicate your heart to. You become like that which you worship. You become like that which you dedicate the highest value to. You become like it. I was thinking of a humorous example, this is a football season, of course, and college football is always exciting too. People like associating with their favorite team, which is all good, right? You buy the jacket and a hat and the Jersey. It's all good. But then you can take it up another level and then you start memorizing all the statistics of the players, and then you take it up another level pretty soon you'll find yourself painting your chest the colors of the school or whatever.
Next thing you're saying something silly like, "I'm a beaver." Or, "I'm a duck." I was thinking if they brought someone from a different time, from the past, and they brought it to our modern time and people are saying, "I'm a beaver. I'm a duck." What a crazy thing people have become. My grandson he was going around asking people, "Are you a beaver or are you a duck?" People would say what they were and he asked my wife, "Grandma, are you a beaver or are you a duck?" Always the diplomat, she says, "I'm neither one, I'm a platypus,
both." We become like that which we love. We become like that where we place our affection, our dedication. When we worship God we become like him. When we give God our hearts we become like Him in character. We're transformed because of it. That's exactly why He says it.
Lastly, have no other gods before Jehovah because those gods are cruel masters. Jesus said the enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy. That is the intent. You have to admit any false God is empowered by Satan. The intent is to steal, kill, and destroy. Now, Jesus went on to say but I have come you have life, a life to the full. That's what God wants. That's the heart of the Lord. I want you to have life. I want you to have life to the full. The enemy will steal. He'll kill. He'll destroy. There are many things that people have become addicted to even. The god of sexuality has to be one of the examples of this.
When God gave sexuality it was an amazing gift that He gave to man and woman. Do you get my point? It was a beautiful gift. It was intended to be godly and holy. Is this not right? But the world has made it something ugly and the god of sexuality will be a terrible master. Do you know how many lives are destroyed? How many marriages have been destroyed? It's a terrible master. If I can say something bold, if sex truly satisfied the soul then prostitutes ought to be the happiest people on earth, but they're not. If alcohol truly satisfied the soul then alcoholics ought to be the happiest people on earth, but they're not. Because they're held captive by a cruel master. They're held captive. A cruel that destroys. Jesus said I have come that you may have life. I want you to have life. Have no other gods before me because I give you life and life to the full.
B. Don’t have idols in your life
He goes on to say don't have idols in your life. The purpose is important to understand and He says do not make for yourself an idol or likeness of what is in heaven above or earth beneath or the waters underneath. Some wrongly took this to mean that they should not have any form of sculptures in the shape of an animal or whatever. That wasn't his intent. The purpose of the commandment is to prohibit images intended to be representations of false gods or God himself.
In Egypt there were many idols made in the form of animals. In Egypt it was interesting because commonly the false god, the idol, would be in the body of the human and then the head of whatever, crocodile or a ram et cetera. They had the false gods, the sun or the moon or the Nile river or the fertility or even sexuality. The problem, of course, is not having a decoration piece on your living room. When I go to Africa or Russia or whatever, I love the amazing things people have done with their own hands. Beautiful reflection sculpture of a rhinoceros, I have one of those, beautiful or a giraffe or something. That wasn't the point, the problem was having an image that represented the false god and then creating this false god to worship.
Here's the thing, believing that the thing itself had power. There's the problem, believing that the thing itself had power. I was trying to think of a modern illustration. When I was growing up, it was the thing that people would have a lucky rabbit's foot. Anybody remember this? Lucky rabbit's foot was literally the foot of a dead rabbit. For something, I wasn't very lucky for the rabbit but the idea was to take the foot of a dead rabbit and then make it into a key chain or something. Supposedly, the thing had power, it had power to give you good luck. That's became an idol because whoever used it thought it had power unto itself.
I have to admit when I was in high school, I had a bit of an idol in my life because I thought it had power and that was my car. I was hoping to send you a picture of it on the screen. I didn't get it up there but it was an awesome car, 1971 American Motors, Javelin. It was a hot car. Trust me, it was a hot car and it had a Starsky and Hutch stripe mag wheels, big wheels of glass pack muffler like this and you can hear me coming a mile away. I was hoping that it had power to transform me into someone that the girls liked because when I was in high school, the girls didn't like me. I know because I was-- You should see my hair like a Boise and I was just a Hokie farm boy. I think I get this car and the girls will think I'm something. It didn't work because, at the end of it all, I'm just a hokie farm boy with a nice car. It didn't have any power.
See, that's the problem when thinking that it has power. Then some make an image of something even to represent God but when they think it has power unto itself, that's when it becomes a problem. Like for example, a cross. Many people wear a cross or I have a ring with the image of a cross on it. Nothing wrong with that per se but when someone then believes that it has power, if I hang that cross on the mirror, it will protect me as I drive but it does not have power. It's just a cross. You cannot hold the cross up and, "Satan cannot come near." There's no power. You have more power in your soul than in that cross because you have the very presence of the living God within your soul.
The power is not in the cross. The power is what the cross did when Jesus died on it and His presence in your in your life is what gives you power. The authority of God Himself resides within you. That's where power is. It's important to recognize the soul was made for God and for God alone. Anything that tries to take His place is an idol. Paul wrote to the church at Rome about making an image in the form of corruptible man. Romans 1:22-23, "Professing to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man, birds, four-footed animals, crawling creatures." The problem is, they will become like them. When you have an idol or false god, you will become like it. He said, "The have years they cannot hear. They have eyes they cannot see. They have mouths they cannot speak. They're dumb."
Psalm 115:8, "Those who make them will be like them and everyone who trusts in them."
II. Honor the Lord Whom You Love
Now, let's look at these next two because they're important to understand. If you love the Lord your God, then honor the Lord whom you love. See, that's what the next two commandments are about that loving God bring changes to your life that reflect His glory and reflect His presence.
A. Do not take the name of the Lord in vain
Starting with this one, "Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain." In the Hebrew, the phrase do not take is literally translated, "Do not carry the name of the Lord in vain." If you have asked Jesus Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior, then you are carrying the name of the Lord upon you.
The name of the Lord is upon you. Do not carry his name in vain. The name of the Lord means something. It's powerful. In other words, do not act in God's name while doing the opposite of what God wants as evil. We used to sing a worship song many years ago and there was a phrase, it was beautiful. It said, "Your name is like honey on my lips." Remember that song? "Your name is like honey on my lips," beautiful. Many people today, they are very uncomfortable saying the name of Jesus. They're very uncomfortable saying the name of God. We sang that song earlier, "What a beautiful name it is, a beautiful name. What a powerful name it is." The name of Jesus. The name of the Lord our God is powerful. It's beautiful.
How tragic and dishonoring then when people use God's name as an expletive. Why? Why do people do that? Notice that when people hit their thumbs with a hammer, they don't say, "Oh, Buddha." Notice when something tragic happens, they don't say, "Hare Krishna." What do they say? "Jesus Christ." Or they'll say, "God, condemn it." Why? Why is such a word because they're bothered by God's name. They're not right with God and they know it so they try to make the name common. Then they try to make the name as something that's under their heel. When they say it like that, the name of God is under their heel. Oh, God like it, Jesus Christ and it's under their heel. It's a powerful name.
In Exodus 19, the Lord was drawing the people of Israel unto the mountain, Mount Sinai and He told them, "Wash your garments before you come." They've been in the desert, they didn't smell very good. "Wash your garments" and it's a picture of something, isn't it? When we were in the world before we came to Christ, we stunk. I'm speaking of a spiritual analogy. Wash clean, it's a picture that God does something. God changes, God transforms, even how you talk is transformed.
We used to assign such words to sailors. We used to have an expression, "He curses like a sailor." We don't need to use the expression like that because such words are not restricted to sailors. Such words are common even in the hallways of schools across America. When General George Washington got wind that his soldiers were starting to curse. He sent a letter to all his officers, "It's come to my attention." Actually, he said it this way, "The general is disappointed to learn [laughs] that certain soldiers have taken up the habit of cussing." Then he says to the officers, "You set the example, officers you set the example. If we want the blessing of God speak with honor."
That was a powerful letter should be written to our people today cross this nation, because what happens is our mouth cleans up as our heart cleans up. God's doing the work draw near, love God with your heart, soul, mind and strength.
This is what Jesus said in Luke 6:45, "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what's good." You know, I quote this often I love this verse. It's so good, it shows us the transformation that God does in the soul begins to come out in a man's life. The good man out of the good treasure, well, where do we get good treasure? "Your word have I treasured in my heart," the psalmist writes, "that I might not sin against you."
Your word, oh Lord, is more precious than silver or gold, sweeter than honey even honey from a honeycomb. Your word God is the transforming power and it's a treasure in my heart. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what's good. He speaks good, he lives right but he then contrasts that the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what's evil for the mouth speaks. The life is lived from that which fills the heart to your heart. Fill your heart with God's presence. That's why He said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength." You love God in your heart, and it'll change what you say with your mouth, it's a powerful understanding.
B. Remember the Sabbath – our rest
Then He went on to say, "Now remember the Sabbath, a rest. In six days. He said, The Lord made the heaven and the earth, and the seventh day He rested." That becomes the basis for the Sabbath day, but not just for rest, not just for lounging in the bed, but for honoring God. I have set this day as holy, set apart as holy, giving honor to God. It's a sign between a Jew and his God and it was intended as something helpful, something physically helpful, spiritually helpful, it was never intended to be a burden. That's exactly what it became.
In fact, some of the interpretations of the Sabbath became somewhat even humorous. Because what happens is that they take the Law and then the priests would make some interpretation for how to apply that Law into their lives. This has been going on for many years and the missioner is a writing, the Jewish book to interpret the Law. It said that there are 39 ways to break the Sabbath and 39 ways to break each of the 39 ways
In other words, there's 1521 ways to break the Sabbath and it became a burden, because the righteousness police they will be watching see, you were breaking. It became a burden and some of it became humorous, you cannot carry soap in your hand thus you cannot bathe. It had been modernized to say if you use liquid soap then fine, you cannot pluck a gray hair, that is harvesting. You cannot spit on the ground because it might roll and make a furrow, that would be plowing.
You know in Israel when you go there, you go to a hotel, they often have a bank of elevators. They have three-four elevators so one of them will be designated the Sabbath elevator intended for Jews to be using this elevator on the Sabbath day. A non-Jew, probably one should take a different elevator because the Sabbath elevator when you get in it you'll see that every single floor is lit up. It will stop and every single floor everyone for the purpose that you must not push the button thus turning on the electricity that will ignite the light.
The Law says in another place, you may not Kindle a fire. When we were in Israel last year we were on a bus, very helpful to have a bus, and we were then told, oh, by the way, tomorrow's the Sabbath, you may not have a bus. "We don't have the bus, are we not touring tomorrow?" No we're going to keep touring but you're going to walk. "Well, why can't we have the bus?" Well, because we can't start it because that's igniting the gas and the cylinders and that's kindling a fire.
We're going to walk for miles so it's okay to walk up and down the hills of Jerusalem sweating and panting, but we can't start the bus. Me being the usual troublemaker I said. "Wait, I remember, I've read it too I think I remember that it says in there that you're only allowed to walk so far on the Sabbath. Well, we don't want to break that Law either right?" He said, "Oh no, listen, the priests have determined that that rule that Law only applies if you're outside the city limits. If you're inside the city limits you can walk all you want."
It was never intended to be a burden; it was intended to be a picture of the rest that comes of being in Christ. He is our Sabbath; He is our rest he has done the work of salvation what the Law could not do. Romans 8:4 says, what the Law could not do God did by sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh He became an offering. God did the work. Jesus fulfilled all the Law and gave all of that to you as a gift.
He did the work, you rest in his work, you rest in God's provision, as He's Lord of the Sabbath. Matthew 11:28, come to me Jesus said, all who are weary, heavy laden, for I will give you rest. He's the one who's done the work, you rest in it. He's the one who blesses your life, He's the one who gives life where there was death. He is the one who heals the brokenness. He's the one who does the work of transforming.