Exodus 19-21 The Ten Commandments

From Exodus 19-21

02 ExodusOne of the significant events in the book of Exodus is the giving of the law of Moses. Of all the commands of the law, the ten commandments are probably the most well known. In today’s passage we will have a look at them.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

20 And God spoke all these words, saying,

2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (Ex 20:1–2)

The LORD speaks, reminding us that He is a speaking God. The LORD reminds them of the fact that he has just saved from from slavery in Egypt.

God’s people should obey Him out of thanks for what He has done.

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

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 or 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 the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Ex 20:3-6)

The first two commands warn the Israelites to avoid idolatry. False gods come in many forms and people at that time formed ‘gods’ into carved and molded images.

A ‘god’ is something that you put your trust into in order to save you, to fulfill your hopes and dreams. A ‘god’ typically becomes the greatest of all your priorities in life and is where you spend most of your time pursuing.

Following these first commands the LORD gives a promise of steadfast love. He will care for and look after his covenant people.

He will show steadfast love to those who love him and keep his commands.

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. (Ex 20:7)

The LORD commands His people not to misuse his name. I don’t think they used to blaspheme or use God’s name as a curse or swear word like many people do today. Perhaps they made useless vows in his name. Swore to do something or tell the truth in his name and then break that promise.

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Ex 20:8-11)

The LORD rested on the seventh day. He had completed his work and in that day he enjoyed the fruit of His labour.

Likewise on the Sabbath, they are to rest and do no work to commemorate the LORD’s work in creation and his ‘rest’ afterward (cf. Jn 7.21-24; Mk 2.23-28).

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. (Ex 20:12)

Honour means to show respect, give recognition and to act accordingly. The command to honour your parents comes with a promise (cf. Eph 6.2). If they do they will prosper in the land their inheritance.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 “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 anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Ex 20:13-17)

This string of commands starts with ‘you shall not’. The reformer John Calvin reminds us to view the commands in two ways. That is wherever there is a command not to do something, it represents a command to do the opposite. The commands are elliptical (Instit. 2.8.8). e.g. Do not murder, also implies seek the well bring of your neighbour.

18 Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” 21 The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was. (Ex 20:18–21)

According to the scripture, Moses spends forty days and nights on top of the mountain. The LORD will continue to outline the law of Moses.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

The law of Moses plays a big part in the worship and identify of God’s people through the Old Testament. The ten commandments have been remembered as being more important than most of the other commands and some rightfully say they have expressed God’s moral will for all nations. Unfortunately for great lengths of time Israel abandoned the law and God.

Story of Jesus

When Jesus came people asked him about the law of Moses. They wanted to know which was the greatest. He names two.

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind [cf. Dt 6.5]. 38 This is the great and first commandment.

39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself [Lev 19.18].

40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Mt 22:34–40)

We are commanded by Jesus in the gospel to love God and our neighbour.

‘On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets’. All the laws, including the Ten Commandments depend on love (cf. Rom 13.8-14; Gal 5.22).

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.