When God spoke the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites they were at the base of Mount Sinai. They had consecrated themselves per God’s instructions. God had big plans for them when he told Moses,
“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Exodus 19:5–6 (NIV)
The Israelites already knew about the Sabbath which is evidence that this was not the first time they had heard the Ten Commandments. God was not giving them something new but he was reinforcing old concepts, giving them new definitions.
The giving of the law was part of God’s act of re-creation.
God did not give the Israelites the Ten Commandments to be saved. He had already saved them from Egypt. The Ten Commands are not a condition for becoming God’s people they are a confirmation of His salvation.
They are not how the Israelites are to enter relationship with God. The exodus is about God keeping His promise to Abraham. Now that they have been saved and God has reestablished his covenant with the Israelites, he instructs them on how to live as his “treasured possession,” a “kingdom of priests” and a “holy nation.”
In Scripture, covenant is also the most comprehensive concept covering an individual’s relationship to God. Think of it like this,
God is committed to you and you are committed to him.
God told the Israelites prior to giving them the Ten, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Exodus 20:2).
This is the framework for the Israelite’s obedience to him. This is the context in which all of God’s commands should be viewed. How am I supposed to act now that I am in relationship with God?
The Ten Commandments are how God was choosing to bring heaven down to earth through his redeemed people. After being enslaved for a long period the Israelites are now learning how to trust (have faith in) God as his covenant people.
Fast forward and now Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham. He has become our “new covenant.” Followers of Christ enter relationship with God through Jesus.
Per the Apostle Peter, even gentiles through faith in Jesus,
“are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10).
Jesus summed up The Ten Laws of Love into two; Love God and love people. With that in mind Jesus has given them new definition for us today.
If you have entered covenant relationship with Jesus through faith, and baptism then practicing the Ten confirm Jesus’ covenant of love for you and your love for him.
Here are some reflective questions on the Ten Commandments. Ask them to yourself. These commandments were not given to save man or even to hold society together to make us good citizens. They are to be practiced in relationship with Jesus, bringing heaven down to earth
(Adapted from J. John’s book Ten: Laws of Love Set in Stone).
- No other gods
- Am I seeking God first?
- No idols
- Are there things that have me in their grasp, such as money, sex, or power? Do I ever find myself controlled by desires I feel powerless to resist? Do I have divided loyalties? Does anything else claim the number one spot in my life?
- Honor God’s name (do not take His name in vain)
- Do I live consistently? Do I swear? Do I ever justify my ideas by saying that God is behind them? Do I bring honor to the name of God?
- Remember the Sabbath
- Do I take regular time off each week? Do I trust God enough to take a whole day off? Do I use that time wisely? Is there anything I do with my time that I am ashamed of in front of God?
- Honor your father and mother
- Does my family life, whatever shape it takes, honor God? Is there respect and gratitude, commitment and care? If some of the people I work with or mix with could see me in my home environment, would they be surprised by how I treat those closest to me? Is God the head of my family?
- Do not murder
- Are there people who I refuse to forgive? Are my relationships, at work and at home, healthy and free from malice and resentment? Am I prone to violence or harming another person in any way? Am I consistent in how I value life? Am I quick to make judgments on who deserves to die?
- Do not commit adultery
- In my relationships, is there ambiguity or secrecy? If I am married, am I faithful to my partner in all my actions, thoughts, and desires? Do I delete texts messages? Do I flirt at my place of employment?
- Do not steal
- Are there things that I have acquired through dishonest means? Are all my dealings in order and above board? Does my life speak of the honesty of God? Do I put God first in my finances? Am I giving to the church?
- Do not give false testimony
- Does the fact that God hears every word I say give me any cause to be ashamed? Am I a truth teller? Do I value truth? Do I share fake news? Could I say that the words I use are always right? Is this an area of life in which I feel I have God and his standards at the center?
- Do not covet
- What is it that I aspire to? Who sets my desires? Do I desire what God desires or Am I getting caught up in chasing after the things of this world? Do I trust him to provide all I need?
How might the Ten Commandments help you to love others? Please share your comments below.