Exodus 20:1-3

Sunday Morning Bible Study

April 20, 2008


We’ve followed the nation of Israel as Moses has been used to bring these people out of the slavery of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and now they are camping at the foot of Mount Sinai, where they are going to meet with God.

God is going to speak and the nation is going to receive the “Law”, the “Law of Moses”.

How do we handle the Law of Moses?

I often hear Christians say, “I’m not under the Law, I’m under grace”.  Does this mean that there is no value in the law?

Is it good or bad? Is it something we should pay attention to or something we forget?

The New Testament gives us the proper way to look at the Law.

1.  Jesus didn’t come to get rid of the Law.

He came to fulfill it.

(Mat 5:17-19 NKJV)  "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. {18} "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. {19} "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
He came to fulfill it by actually obeying all the Law as well as fulfilling the prophecies about the Messiah found in the Law.
Some Christians have such an unbalanced view of the Law to the extent that they don’t even read the Old Testament.  That certainly doesn’t fit with what Jesus said.

He came to explain it.

(Mat 5:27-28 NKJV)  "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' {28} "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If we’re not careful, we can make the Law into something too easy to obey.  We can pat ourselves on the back thinking we’re God’s little perfect children, when we are simply twisting what God really wants from us.
You will see Jesus getting into trouble with the religious leaders because He doesn’t do what they want Him to do.
He came to straighten up and toss out man’s traditions and man’s interpretations of the Law, but not God’s laws.

Imagine getting into trouble for healing a lame man on the Sabbath.

2.  It shows us how sinful we are.

(Rom 3:20b NKJV)  by the law is the knowledge of sin.

(Rom 7:7b NKJV)  …I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "You shall not covet."


E-mail to good people
One day God was looking down at Earth and saw all of the rascally behavior that was going on. He decided to send an angel down to Earth to check it out. So he called one of His angels and sent the angel to Earth for a time. When the angel returned, he told God, “Yes, it is bad on Earth. 95% are misbehaving and 5% are not. God thought for a moment and said, “Maybe I had better send down a second angel to get another opinion.” So God called another angel and sent him to Earth for a time too. When the angel returned he went to God and said, “Yes, the Earth is in decline with 95% of the people misbehaving and 5% are being good.” God was not pleased. So He decided to e-mail the 5% that were being good because He wanted to encourage them....Give them a little encouragement to help them keep going in the right direction. Do you know what that e-mail said........?
I didn’t get one either.

The Bible says,

(Rom 3:23 NKJV)  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

3.  It is good.

(Rom 7:7a NKJV)  What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not!

(Rom 7:12 NKJV)  Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.

(Psa 19:7 NKJV)  The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; {8} The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;

Don’t get confused and start thinking that it is bad.

4.  It shows us our need for a Savior.

(Gal 3:24 NKJV)  Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

tutorpaidagogos – a tutor i.e. a guardian and guide of boys. This wasn’t just an “afterschool tutor”.  This is more like the nanny, like Mary Poppins, always with the children.  The Law’s purpose is to continually be around to show us our need for God, to show us how much we need a Savior.

5.  It cannot save you.

If you ask some people what they need to do in order to go to heaven, they will reply, “Keep the Ten Commandments”.

The Bible says,

(Rom 3:20a NKJV)  Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight

Why can’t we be saved by keeping the Law?  Because we can’t do it. James says,

(James 2:10 NKJV)  For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.
In other words, if you can live your whole life keeping nine of the commandments but break one of them, then you are guilty of having broken God’s Law.  Have you ever lusted?  Guilty as charged.  Tell me you haven’t lusted? You just lied.  Guilty.

This is why Jesus came.  He came to die for us, to pay the price for our breaking the Law.  And now all you and I need to do is to believe in Jesus.

(Eph 2:8-9 NKJV)  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, {9} not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Over the last couple of weeks you’ve heard me talk about the terror of God, His power, His majesty, and our inability to stand before Him.

Stop for a moment and listen to me.  This is why you need Jesus.  Jesus died for you.  Jesus is the one who makes things right between me and God.  Jesus is compassion and mercy.

6.  It becomes our model.

After a person comes to the Savior, things will change in their life.  The Spirit of God will begin to work in their life and change them from the inside out.

(Rom 8:3-4 NKJV)  For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, {4} that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
As we begin to learn to allow God’s Spirit to work in our lives, He begins to paint a picture with our lives.  What does that picture look like?  It begins to look a lot like the Law.  Not man’s traditions, but the pure, holy, lovely Law of God.

When we think of the Law as a template for living, we’re going to see that some things fit closely into the Christian’s life and other things only become principles to learn from.

Kinds of laws

I see the Law breaking down into three areas.  Understanding these areas helps us understand how we are to relate to the Law:
National laws
Laws that were intended to help Israel function as a nation.

For example – punishing adultery and other crimes with death, guidelines on loans.

Though we as a nation ought to consider how God wanted His people to be governed, we are not living in the ancient nation of Israel.  You can’t go out and kill your cheating spouse – it’s against the U.S. law.

Ceremonial laws
Laws that guide the nation of Israel in their relationship with God.

For example – sacrificial laws, how to perform a burnt offering, what is clean and unclean, dietary laws

For the most part these are laws that point to Jesus Christ.  These are the laws that show us how God is to be related to, and we see now that Jesus has completed and fulfilled these things.

We can learn from the principles of these laws, but especially we as Gentiles are not going to be obligated to these laws now that Jesus has fulfilled them.

Some laws, like the dietary laws are clearly finished.  Jesus taught that all foods are now acceptable (Mark 7:19)

General laws
Laws that are obviously applicable to all mankind

For example – “thou shalt not steal”.  No getting around that one.  Pay attention to these.

:1 And God spoke all these words, saying:

These “words” are going to be called the “Ten Commandments” because that’s what God calls them (Ex. 34:28).

The Ten Commandments is also called by some the “Decalogue” which means “Ten Words”

(Exo 34:28 NKJV)  So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

The Hebrew word translated “Commandments” (dabar) is actually the simple word for “word”.  We could call the Ten Commandments the “Ten Words”.  Some refer to them as the “Decalogue”, which is Greek for “Ten Words”.
The same Hebrew word is what is used in this verse, twice, “God dabared all these dabars, saying:

The problem is, just how do you divide up everything from verse 1 to verse 17 into Ten Commandments?

Actually, there are several ways that it is done.

The problem is that God didn’t list the commands with a number after them.

Keep in mind, all three groups have the same text.  Nobody eliminates any words.  They just group them differently.



R. Catholic,



I am the LORD your God (:2)




No other gods before Me (:3)


No idols / graven images (:4-6)


God’s name not in vain (:7)




Sabbath (:8-11)




Honor parents (:12)




Don’t murder (:13)




Don’t commit adultery (:14)




Don’t steal (:15)




Don’t lie (:16)




Don’t covet neighbor’s house (:17a)




Don’t covet neighbor’s wife (:17b)


At this point, God will simply be speaking the Ten Commandments.  It’s not until Exodus 24:12 that God will write them on two tablets of stone.

:2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

The Jews consider this the first commandment all by itself, the declaration of God’s name.


Remember what has just happened.  Boundaries around the mountain.  The people gathered at the foot of the mountain.  A ram’s horn being sounded.  Lightning.  Earthquake.  God comes down in a thick cloud on the top of the mountain.  The mountain is burning with fire.  Moses speaks and God answers.  The people are actually hearing the voice of God.

And now God clarifies who He is.

He is Yahweh (English:  “LORD”)

He is the one who just brought them out of slavery in Egypt.

He’s not just some talking head sitting on a shelf trying to convince you that He’s something special.
He has saved these people in a real, powerful, and dramatic fashion.
Shouldn’t they want to pay attention to what He says?
It’s one thing if a stranger off the street walks up to you and wants to tell you how to live your life.  But if you’re in a hospital bed and the cardiologist who just saved your life with quadruple bypass surgery walks into the room and makes a few suggestions about changing your diet – wouldn’t you pay a little more attention?

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

beforepaniym – face; presence; before and behind, toward, in front of, forward, formerly, from beforetime, before


God is number one

Are there other “gods” people worship in this day and age?  Isn’t our world past the days of gods and goddesses? Apparently not.
Losing PlayStation privileges or being confined to a room would be hard enough for most children, but at the tender age of ten, Sajani Shakya almost lost her status as a living goddess. In the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, living goddesses—called Kumari—are chosen from the same Hindu caste as Buddha and worshiped as deity. As Sajani soon learned, with the elevated status came elevated expectations. Under no circumstances was she ever to leave the country. Nepalese authorities were outraged, then, when she chose to travel to the United States to participate in a documentary that was being filmed about the Kumari tradition. Upon her return, she received notification of termination from goddess status from Jaiprasad Regmi, chief of the government trust that manages the affairs of the living goddesses. However, after a little pressure from the public and Sajani's own remorse, the government has since offered a reprieve. Sajani will retain her title if she faithfully goes through an intense cleansing process that washes her of the sins of the countries she has visited in her travels.

Associated Press (Kathmandu) (7-21-07)

We might think this isn’t a problem with us since we don’t worship little idols.  Think again.  This is about priorities.
What is a priority to me?  Let’s think about two areas of our lives that give us a hint as to what are our priorities.
When I was young and my mom asked me to help her out with something, she’d often hear me respond, “I can’t help you mom, I don’t have time”.  And she would respond, “Richard, you always have time for the things you think are important.”
How important is God to you?  How important to you is it that you are doing the things that please God?

I’m not talking about whether you spend more time at church or more time at work.  There should be no conflict in your life between going to work and pleasing God.  God wants you to take care of your needs and provide for your family.

Does God have a priority in your schedule?

Is going to church something you only do if you have the chance, or is going to church something you purposely plan to do?

Is spending a few minutes with God praying and reading something you plan to do, or just something you do when you have the chance?

My mom was right.  You do make time for the things that are important.

A 2007 study by the Barna Group found that seven out of ten adults choose their earthly family over their heavenly Father when asked to choose the most important relationship to them. Of the 1,004 adults over the age of 18 that were surveyed:

·        one-third said their entire nuclear family is more important than God.
·        twenty-two percent named their spouse as the most important relationship in their lives.
·        seventeen percent said their children were of chief importance.

Interestingly, when asked to identify the most important group or network in their life, 29 percent named their church.

Don’t misunderstand me – family is very important.  But don’t make family your God.  Make God number one.
It was Martin Luther who said, “There are three conversions a person needs to experience: The conversion of the head, the conversion of the heart, and the conversion of the pocketbook.”
The rich young ruler.

When a young rich up-and-comer came to Jesus and asked about eternal life, Jesus asked him if he had been keeping God’s commandments.  He said, “Of course”.  Then Jesus said,

(Mat 19:21-22 NKJV)  "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." {22} But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Was Jesus saying that we have to sell everything if we want to go to heaven?  No – He was pointing out this young man’s “god”.  He was making it clear that this fellow cared more for his money than he did for God.

The treasure principle. Jesus said,

(Mat 6:19-21 NKJV)  "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; {20} "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. {21} "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Is your heart with God?  Then your treasures ought to show it.  If the person sitting next to you went through your check register or your credit card receipts, could they tell that you are in love with God?

Four Spiritual Law pictures
I remember years ago as a young Christian becoming acquainted with a little tract called “The Four Spiritual Laws”.
At the end of the booklet, there were two pictures with two circles.  Each circle represented a person’s life with a throne in the middle of the circle.  The question was, “Who is sitting on the throne of your life?”
When “Self” is sitting on the throne, our lives are a mess.
When we ask Jesus into our heart and put Him on the throne, He begins to change our lives.

What do I do if I’ve let other things creep into first place in my life?

God told Gideon to tear down the altar to Baal and build a new altar to God (Judg. 6)

Perhaps there are things that need to be moved around in your life to get your priorities right.


If any athlete was known for focus, it was Michael Jordan. In Jordan’s book, Driven from Within, Fred Whitfield, president and chief operating officer of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats basketball team, tells a fascinating story about something Jordan did while getting ready to go out one evening. When Jordan asked if he could borrow a jacket from Whitfield, he found that Whitfield’s closet was filled with both Nike and Puma products. The Nike outfits had been given to Whitfield because of his relationship with Jordan, who had a lucrative contract with the company. The Puma outfits had been given to Whitfield because of his relationship with ex-basketball player and Puma representative Ralph Sampson. Whitfield recalls that Jordan walked into the living room, laid all the Puma gear on the floor, and went into the kitchen to grab a butcher knife. When Jordan returned to the living room, he proceeded to cut all of the Puma clothes to shreds. He then picked up the scraps and carried everything to the dumpster. Once Jordan came back inside, he turned to Fred and said, “Don’t ever let me see you in anything other than Nike. You can’t ride the fence!”

Why should we love God?
We’re looking at commandment #1.  It’s not too different from what is known as the “Greatest Commandment”

(Mat 22:37 NKJV)  …'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'

This is what it means to put God first.  We love Him.  Why?

We love Him because He first loved us.

God loved us so much that He gave us His Son.

God demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Who is on the throne of your life?