This is probably a rather familiar section to most readers. Familiarity, however, sometimes obscures the purpose these commands serve in their context. Look carefully at verse 2. The Lord introduces himself as the great rescuer of his people. The following commands are how people are to respond to the Lord who has rescued them. Being provided with a motivation for obedience makes a big difference to our approach to these commands. Then thinking ahead, we can consider who our rescuer is when we come to the New Testament.
Exod. 20:1 – 21
20 And God spoke all these words:
2 ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 ‘You shall have no other gods before me.
4 ‘You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 ‘You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
8 ‘Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labour 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, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12 ‘Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13 ‘You shall not murder.
14 ‘You shall not commit adultery.
15 ‘You shall not steal.
16 ‘You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.
17 ‘You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.’
18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not let God speak to us or we will die.’
20 Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.’
21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
Prayer: Father, thank you that you have provided motivation to obey your commandments. Please keep reminding me that this law is given so I can express my love and gratitude to Jesus for all that he has done for me in his saving work. In Jesus name. Amen.
A song to listen to: You Are My King (Amazing Love)
Living Church – Creek Road