Exodus 20:1-17

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 29, 2007

Ten Commandments Summarized

As we’ve gone through and studied each of the Ten Commandments and seen how they apply over the entire Bible, both Old and New Testaments, we’ve given our own little phrases to what the emphasis seems to be with each commandment.

1st Commandment

Exodus 20:1-3 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 bondage. {3} “You shall have no other gods before Me.

We summarized it as:  God is number one

2nd Commandment

{:4-6} “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 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, {6} but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

We summarized it as:  Get the picture right

Remember that the issue is not about whether you have images, statues, or pictures, but that you get it right.  God has an image He wants you to have of Himself.  The image is Jesus, who is the EXACT image of God.

3rd Commandment

{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.

We summarized it as:  Honor the name

4th Commandment

{:8-11} “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 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. {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.

We summarized it as:  Trust God’s rest

5th Commandment

{12} “Honor your father and your mother …, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

We summarized it as:  Respect authority

We saw that the issue about honoring parents goes deeper than just mom and pop.  Honoring your parents is the foundation of respecting all authority.

6th Commandment

{13} “You shall not murder.

We summarized it as:  Manage anger

7th Commandment

{14} “You shall not commit adultery.

We summarized it as:  Build marriage

8th Commandment

{15} “You shall not steal.

We summarized it as:  Give

9th Commandment

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

We summarized it as:  Truth

Just as the “belt of truth” is the spiritual armor piece that holds it all together, truth is what holds all of this together.  We need to be men and women who live in truth, in reality, to see things as they really are.

10th Commandment

{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.”

We summarized it as:  Contentment.

When we learn to be content in our circumstances, we won’t get caught up in greed, in wanting what doesn’t belong to us.

Two Tables

(Exo 31:18 KJV)  And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

Our modern translations call them two “tablets” of stone.  It’s these stone tablets that have been the background to our slides for the last couple of months.

The commandments were divided into two sections, two “tables”, two “tablets”.

There’s a reason for there being two tables, tablets.  This is how we divide up the Ten Commandments, into two groups.

The First “Table” contained the first four laws
These were all laws that govern our relationship with God.
The Second “Table” contained the last six laws
These were all laws that govern our relationship with other people.

These “tablets” show up again in the New Testament:

(2 Cor 3:2-3 NKJV)  You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; {3} clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

God wants to write these principles on our hearts now, not on stone tablets.
I understand why Christians are protesting the way the government has been removing monuments to the Ten Commandments in various places.  We need to remind the world what our government’s laws are based on.  But I wonder if we shouldn’t protest a little with each other to make sure people also see God’s commandments written on our hearts.
God wants us to learn to obey Him from the inside, from the heart.
God wants our lives to be a picture to the world of what He is like.  We are “epistles”, “letters” that people can read by looking at our lives.

If you take time to study the commandments of God, you’re going to end up eventually asking the same question that the Jews asked – Which one is the greatest commandment?

The greatest commandments

This was a question that the rabbis debated over.  This was a question that Jesus was asked.

(Mat 22:35-40 NKJV)  Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying,

lawyer – Don’t think of a man in a three-piece suit carrying a brief case.  This man was an expert in the Law of Moses.  We might think of this man as a religious scholar.  This was a man who studied things like the Ten Commandments, as well as the rest of the Law of Moses found in the first five books of the Bible.

{36} "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" {37} Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' {38} "This is the first and great commandment. {39} "And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' {40} "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

If you pay attention to the commandments that Jesus is referring to, one is about our relationship with God, the other is about our relationship with others.
Do those concepts sound familiar?
When Jesus says that it’s on these commandments that all the rest hang on, you remember the two tablets of stone, divided into two groups, one about God and the other about men.
Jesus says that these commandments cover more than just the Ten Commandments, but in fact all the commandments and even the things taught by the prophets, the whole Old Testament hangs on these commandments.

The Great Commandment

What Jesus calls the first and great commandment comes from:

(Deu 6:4-5 NKJV)  "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! {5} "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

This passage of scripture starts off with what is called the “shema” (English:  “Hear”) by the Jews.  Technically, the “shema” refers to just verse 4, though eventually the Jews included verse 4-6 in what they recite every day.
This was one of the scripture verses printed on the tiny scrolls inside their phylacteries worn on their head and hand.  It was something they would recite twice a day, morning and evening.  It sounds like this:
dxa hwhy wnyhla hwhy larvy ems
(shmah yisrael adonai elohenu adonai echad)
When Jesus declares that loving God was the first and great commandment, He was not telling His Jewish listeners anything new.
This was a concept that they repeated every day.

An Old Idea

This concept of “loving God” is not a New Testament concept.

God clearly intended for “love” to be the basis of His relationship with His people.

In the book of Deuteronomy, written by Moses, the word “love” (or forms of it) occurs 26 times, and all but four times it is talking about a love relationship between God and His people.

We should love God
(Deu 10:12 NKJV)  "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,
(Deu 11:1 NKJV)  "Therefore you shall love the LORD your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always.
(Deu 30:15-16 NKJV)  "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, {16} "in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.

What’s even more interesting is that “love” isn’t just an order for man to love God, but quite a few times it is the love that flows from God to man.  In fact it seems that the love flows first from God to man, and then back to God.

God loves us
(Deu 4:37a)  "And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them…
(Deu 7:7-8)  "The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; {8} "but because the LORD loves you

He loved them because He just loved them.

(Deu 10:15)  "The LORD delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them…
(Deu 33:3a)  Yes, He loves the people
If you pay attention, you will find that our loving God only comes when we first let Him love us.
(1 John 4:19 NKJV)  We love Him because He first loved us.

Love causes obedience.

When you are in a loving relationship, you want to do the kinds of things that will bless the other person.

Jesus said,
(John 14:15 NKJV)  "If you love Me, keep My commandments.
Some guys like to chuckle about the phrase “yes dear”.  Some guys even think that there’s something wrong with a guy who would ever say to his wife, “yes dear”.
But when you really love your husband or your wife, you don’t have a problem saying “yes dear”.  In fact if you really loved them, wouldn’t you look forward to them asking you something so you can show your love for them?  You love to find what pleases your wife.
Are you having a difficult time obeying God?
The truth is, you were made to obey God.  You were made to bring pleasure to your Maker.
An Indian brave found an eagle’s egg. Since he couldn’t find the nest to put it back, he did the next-best thing. He put the eagle’s egg in a nest with prairie chicken eggs. So the eagle was hatched and began to live with the prairie chickens. All it saw were chickens, so it clucked and scratched and pecked around and was a chicken for years. And then one day it saw a glorious sight in the sky, a great bald eagle soaring up there. He said, “What is that?”
The chicken said, “That is the eagle, the king of birds. But forget it. That’s not for you; you are a chicken.” And he lived the rest of his life clucking, pecking, and scratching, and not flying.
That’s us – we end up living our lives stuck with the prairie chickens when we were made to soar like an eagle.

How do we get off the ground?

It’s all about love.  My life doesn’t get off the ground because I don’t love God.  I don’t love God because I haven’t experienced God’s love for me.

An airplane takes off “into” the wind.  You find which way the wind is blowing and head your plane into the wind.  We “soar” in God’s love by finding God’s love and heading into it.

I need to experience the love of God.

Do you know that God loves you?

How long has it been that you’ve just basked in the love that God has for you?  It’s kind of like sun-bathing, soaking up the love that God has for you.

If you’re looking for a place to start experiencing the love of God, I can tell you it starts at the cross.  But do you really understand that?

(1 John 3:16 NKJV)  By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.

Would you appreciate it if someone saved your life?

Some of you may think that God could never love a person like you.  But that’s just the point.  He does.  He loves sinners.  He died for sinners.

(Rom 5:8 NKJV)  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus said,

(John 14:21 NKJV)  "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."
There’s a cycle of love being described here.

I love God so I keep His commandments – I obey because of God’s love for me.

When I obey Him, I will experience more of God’s presence and love in my life.

Which makes me love God more.

It’s not that I “earn” God’s love by obeying, but when I obey God I’m removing the things that are keeping me from experiencing God’s love.

It’s like removing a waterproof tarp from the lawn so it can soak up more sunshine and rain.

The more I live in obedience to God, the more I experience God’s presence and love.

That makes me want to do more to honor and please God.

The Second Commandment

Back in Matthew 22, the “second” commandment Jesus quotes comes from:

(Lev 19:18 NKJV)  'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Paul wrote,

(Rom 13:8-10 NKJV)  Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. {9} For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." {10} Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

If I love someone, I will not murder them.  If I love someone, I will not steal from them.
If I simply focus on loving people, I will find that I am doing God’s laws.

as yourself – there have been some folks who make a point of saying that before you can love others, you need to first love yourself.  They would say, “How can you love someone else properly if you don’t first love yourself?”

I would agree with that statement – but I’m not sure I would agree with the idea that we don’t first love ourselves.  God’s whole assumption is that you already love yourself.

If you are one of those people who look in the mirror in the morning and don’t like what stares back at you, are you a person who doesn’t love their own self?
I think the problem is that I actually love myself a lot more than I give myself credit for.  If I didn’t love myself, then I wouldn’t mind that I look ugly, or gray, or fat, or whatever.  If I didn’t love myself then I would probably say, “Woohoo!  I’m ugly today!”
But because I actually do love myself, I don’t like thinking that I’m ugly or fat.  Does that make sense?

God wants us to love people like we love ourselves.  He assumes that we already do love ourselves.

We may not always have a healthy love for ourselves, but we do love ourselves.
So we should love others.

Jesus gave a little more insight to this principle of loving others:

(Luke 10:25-37 NKJV)  And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" {26} He said to him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?" {27} So he answered and said, " 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself.'"

This is a different instance than the one in Matthew.  Here Jesus turns the question on the scholar and asks him what he thinks.

{28} And He said to him, "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live." {29} But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

wanting to justify himself – The fellow understood the concept but knew that he had problems with loving others.  He’s looking for a loophole.  He doesn’t want to have to love everybody, only people he likes.

{30} Then Jesus answered and said: "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. {31} "Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. {32} "Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.

Priests and Levites were the Jewish religious leaders.  Perhaps they didn’t want to break the laws about touching “unclean” things.  Perhaps they thought the fellow was dead, and that too would make them “unclean”.  Perhaps they simply didn’t want to get involved.

{33} "But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.

Samaritans were a kind of “half-breed” Jew.  They worshipped God with a perverted form of Judaism.  They didn’t worship God in Jerusalem like the Jews, but worshipped on a mountain to the north.  That means this fellow isn’t on a “religious” journey near Jerusalem, he’s just away on business.
Jews hated Samaritans.
He is the only one with compassion.

{34} "So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. {35} "On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.'

This fellow did all that was needed to take care of the man who was beaten.

{36} "So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" {37} And he said, "He who showed mercy on him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

So who is the neighbor that I’m supposed to love as myself?
Your “neighbor” isn’t the guy who lives next door.
It’s the person you show compassion on.  It’s the person you meet that needs a helping hand.

When I love my neighbor, I will be obeying God’s laws.

(Gal 5:14 NKJV)  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Summing it up

John writes,

(1 John 4:7-12 NKJV)  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. {8} He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. {9} In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. {10} In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. {11} Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. {12} No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.

God’s nature is love.  All God’s commandments flow from His nature – love.
If I get the vertical relationship right – my relationship with God – then everything else comes into place, including the horizontal relationships.

It’s when I receive God’s love for me that I can learn to love God.

God’s demonstration of love for me came when He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross and pay for my sins.

When I get a hold of what Jesus did for me, then I get a glimpse of God’s love for me.

God’s love for me doesn’t depend on my getting all the things I ask in my “wish list”.

Some of us grew up telling our parents, “If you really loved me you would get me that new shiny bike for Christmas”.

We think that if God really loved me that He would give me everything I ask for.

God’s love is MUCH bigger than just giving you all your wishes.

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

If I really love God, then I will learn to love the people around me.

My love for others flows from God’s love for me.