The Ten Commandments: Bible Survey for New Christians.

March 3rd, 2009

3.      The Ten Commandments:
Exodus 20:1–17 (NKJ)

Summary:
The ten commandments are spoken by Jehovah

 20:1.  And God spoke all these words, saying:
 20:2.  "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

 20:3.  "You shall have no other gods before Me.

 20:4.  "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;

 20:5.  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,
 20:6.  but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

 20:7.  "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.

 20:8.  "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
 20:9.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
 20:10.  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.
 20:11.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

 20:12.  "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

 20:13.  "You shall not murder.

 20:14.  "You shall not commit adultery.

 20:15.  "You shall not steal.

 20:16.  "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

 20:17.  "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.''

Comments:

As God gave the commandments, he began by emphasizing who he was, Yahweh (the self existing, or living and breathing one), and what he had done for them lately. These ten commandments are the foundation of all the rest of the commandments in the Old Testament. However, Jesus summed them all up in just two commands. Love the Lord, and love your neighbor.

The first five commandments deal with giving honor to God.

1. No other Gods. God is the one and only true God. Anything else is no god at all.
2. No idols. Don't let man made objects rule you. If it is a tangible thing made from rock, wood, gold, gems, steel, rubber, plastic or silicone, or whatever, don't let it take away from or stand between you and God.

When a lifestyle of sin takes hold, it can go on for the second and third generations. Why does God punish the children of the sinner? Consider this, each person is responsible for their own sin. But those behavior patterns rarely affect only that person. A child of an abusive person is affected and learns that behavior. the second generation.  Then that child is likely to act that way and be abusive to his children, the third generation. The pattern is set and passed on. Eventually a child is born who recognizes bad behavior and though being raised wrongly, decides it's time to break away.

Here's the blessing in that downward spiral. Notice it says here that it only lasts to the second and third generations. How long will the blessings last for those who do behave well, and follow God's commands? Thousands. Who are these people? Those who love God, even the ones who formerly hated him can join this bunch when they also learn to love God.

3. Don't use God's name in vain. God himself will judge this. It's important to him. When a word is often said, or a deed often done, it begins to lose its meaning and value. It becomes familiar. Attitudes become loose and casual. Worship, awe, and reverence are lost. We begin to think we are more lie God, but we are not.

4. Remember the Sabbath. A day made for the benefit of people. Physical bodies need rest. Break away from work. The world won't end when you do. Spend that time relaxing, but in anything you might do, do it to honor God. The universe moves in cycles, and the Sabbath is one of them. It is the first holiday and it is ordained by God to observe.

Follow the above commands. Why? Because God said so. To not follow them is directly between you and God. He will judge over them and a person carries the full weight of responsibility. There is not justification for not keeping them.

5. Honor parents. The first command with a promise. Long life. When we are young our parents care for our needs. Honor them by obeying them. When we are older, our parents may need our care as they decline. Obey by caring for them.

But what about parents who are not so lovely? The ones who are God haters? Still honor them by being obedient, but continuously take the situation to God in prayer, asking for guidance and forgiveness, strength and protection. They are still your parents and deserve some degree of respect. God loved each of us before we were very loveable, before we loved him. Try to model that behavior, returning good for evil.

6. Don't kill.
ratsach - Hebrew. a primitive root; properly, to dash in pieces, i.e. kill
-- Strongs Greek and Hebrew Dictionary.

kill - English. verb.
a. To put to death.
b. To deprive of life: The Black Death was a disease that killed millions.
-- Yahoo Online Dictionary

It doesn't matter what the justification might be, war, legal punishment, self defense, or anything. To end the life of another is wrong. But the punishment for many commands that come later say that they deserve death. Yes, but God leaves the performance of punishments to men. Allowances were made for cities of refuge. Killing is wrong, we all di anyway, and God's judgements in heaven are final.

Later Jesus would declare that even hating someone is the same as killing them. Hatred is the emotion where killing starts.

7. Don't commit adultery. Having sex outside a marriage relationship is not right. If you are single, you are not married, so this applies to you as well. Just as with murder, Jesus later declared the emotion behind this action. To lust after someone is where this sin begins, and is wrong.

8. Don't steal. If it isn't yours, don't take it. If you didn't buy it or if something wasn't given to you, don't take it.

9. Don't lie. More specifically Don't speak non-truths as a witness. We shouldn't withhold truth and we shouldn't speak falseley when we are called to be a witness. We shouldn't lie to get people in trouble.

But what about when telling the truth will reveal a sensitive secret, or hurt someone's feelings? Good question. There are times to be evasive, or just keep silent. It's hard to plan a surprise party and not have secrets, for example. If it involves outright lies that hurt the person to be surprised, is it worth it? You decide.

10. Don't covet. Or Don't desire that precious thing that isn't yours. To include tangible personal property, personal relationships, workers, or work property. 

Do you notice that all the things listed above are actions to do, or not to do. Coveting seems to be a desire, an emotion. It goes further than that, it is the action you take when you desire after a thing. Desiring your neighbor's home and strolling in as if you own it. Desiring your neighbor's wife and being a little too familiar with her, whether it crosses the line to adultery or not, don't treat her as if she's your own wife. The same extends to the other classes of property mentioned in the verses.

The old testament contain hundreds of laws and commands. These 10 are the basis for all the rest. To make things even more simple, Jesus broke it down to simply: Love God, and love others as you love yourself.

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