Tuesday, December 14, 2010
A quick look at the Ten Commandments
A quick look at the Ten Commandments
Many view the Ten Commandments as how to live the Christian life, however if one looks at at the Big Ten, they may find something interesting.
The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17 NKJV)
1 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.
At first this one is obvious, however if someone thinks about it, either God is insecure, OR we humans placed gods before THE GOD. Strangely to me if I was God (which is part of the issue I am addressing) I would simply show myself as God to a people (Like a small tribe that no one knew about… probably pulled from some nomadic pagan worshiping tribe) I would slowly show who I was so I would not overwhelm the simple humans… (hmmm like what God did with Abram and in choosing the Jews). My point is mainly this. God could show Himself in power, yet, He chooses relationships instead.
2 “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; 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, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments.
While this seems also obvious, imagine this. God created Adam to be His image… or IKON to represent God to all creation. Then what does this IKON do? They created IKONS in their own image or in the image of created things and worship themselves or creation! Why no images? We are that image… now we are to be the image of God in Christ. In being this image we worship God and do His Will. Worse than engraved images is someone who falsely represents God by being a “self made” image. When we create this false image of self reliance and a being set apart from God the Creator, we create a false god in which we worship. (Rom 8:21)
3 “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.
While many see this as not cursing… (Like Jesus’ middle initial is really “H”… ) This vain usage is much deeper. In fact I have seen it take place in churches I have attended on Sunday as an act of worship! It is in misrepresenting God. It is the act of speaking for God falsely or in a way that is in fact an act of self worship of selfish gain. Imagine that God really needs your tithe? No… how degrading to even think God “needs” anything. To represent God as a money grubbing get rich scheme is only one of thousands (estimation is low there) ways we use God’s Name in vain.
4 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 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. 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.
The Sabbath day has always bothered me as I was taught we “must follow the Ten Commandments” as Christians. While I at first had no issue as I went to church on Sunday, I soon realized that Sunday was NOT THE SABBATH… What? Saturday was the Sabbath to Jews. So, how does one reconcile this clear commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy… well to be honest, by either ignoring it… or by showing historically how it changed from Saturday to Sunday… yet, in all honestly I struggled with that historical view… So, what then? I realized as I read Hebrews that Jesus became our Sabbath Rest. In fact originally as you read this commandment it was about setting aside a day for God. Imagine that God only originally wanted one day for us to rest and reflect on Him! However, something sick happened along the way. Man began to worship to day and miss the Person it was about. Still, we go to church on our “imagined” Sabbath, and miss Jesus who is our Sabbath Rest. Jesus stated that all scripture was about him. (John 5: 39-40). As I mentioned, God set a day aside for us to rest… Hebrews 4:9 states that this is now “Today” so EVERY DAY is the Sabbath… as we rest in the finished works of Jesus Christ and cease our own.
5 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
As simple as this commandment sounds, what to do with parents who are not honorable? Imagine having the father who beat you, the mother who let others abuse you... Yet, without learning forgiveness we cannot learn to truly honor God. This is a hard one to say the least. Imagine that this was to be attempted originally without the Holy Spirit inside to give us strength! Now we have God’s Spirit inside us to help be our strength. Note I am not saying give us strength, but be our strength.
6 “You shall not murder.
Jesus stated that even if we hate another we murder in our heart. The point is not the taking of the physical life of someone but also hoping ill will toward that other person. Likewise many miss that most people do not even know you hate them! Hate can do more harm to the person who carries it than the person it is aimed at. In a sense as we hate others, we die a little our self.
7 “You shall not commit adultery.
The idea of faithfulness reflects directly on God’s faithfulness toward us. When we commit to another and then do them harm by chasing our own lust, we not only dishonor them but God. While that is enough, the harm is also in that we break the union of trust and love by abusing the privilege of loving another who loves us in faith we will be only their love. Adultery leads to destruction of families… think about this… here in the Big Ten is adultery, yet no mention of homosexuality. If we were to prioritize God’s way, the Church would realize the greater harm of adultery and its ramifications (such as divorce) and the harm we allow and afflict the church with as we commit this action against our loved one.
8 “You shall not steal.
How many ways do you steal and not even realize it. Worse, the church can steal from the poor to line its pockets for programs that really mean nothing in light of eternity. We think of the thief who comes and steals our TV or laptop… but what of the thief of our time? How often when we are on our way to church we pass the person in need? In a sense we steal in so many ways... and are completely blind or worse see it and ignore it.
9 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
This is the age of the so called discernment ministries. However, while many are great resources, most are two bit gossip operations that bear false witness against their brothers and sisters in Christ… let alone their neighbor. While these fine people fight for truth, they use the tools of this world to lie, distort, and twist the truth to fit their “biblical” world view and in the end fall short of keeping this very commandment. We also may not realize that we do this to others. That homeless person may be a drunk; however, does that give you the right to ignore their plight or hurt? We state the poor need to “just get a job”, most often using our own work ethic as the standard they should meet! Might we forget that there is One who has a much greater work ethic than we ever would have… in fact he gave His Life to His work so we could rest in it! Bearing false witness also degrades the other as the IKON of God they are intended to be.
10 “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.”
Paul stated this was the one commandment that got him. This one has bothered me for years, as it seems to make the “wife” on the same level as servants, houses, or livestock! Meaning, women are reduced property! Yet, while that may seem how it originally comes across, it is actually saying the opposite. If we covet we reduce people to property and degrade them. If we do not covet we are not degrading women or our neighbor in general. We are to edify and lift each other up not degrade each other by objectifying each other.
While we may not be able to “live by the Law” we also cannot gain righteousness by it, we see it seems to point to Jesus who did live it and how far we fall from the perfection of what the Law demands. In that shortness we find grace in our failings… not condemnation. We find that in Jesus these things are what is now being written on our hearts.