Summary: What is the 1st commandment about? I used Dr. Laura’s Book on the 10 Commandments for a Jewish perspective on this series.
• How many of you have seen the epic, The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston? What a great classic. I really believe that Moses looks like Charlton Heston!
• What are the Ten Commandments? Are they a set of archaic rules that were meant for people a few thousand years ago? Are they Commands we are to follow to earn our salvation? Are they just Ten Suggestions that can me ignored or changed at our leisure? Could society function without them?
• Today I am going to start us through a series on the Ten Commandments. As we look at each of them we will be able to answer questions like, “What does each one say and not say?” “What place should they have in the life of the Christian?” In themselves, are they a means of salvation? What was the purpose of the Ten Commandments or the Law?
• The Ten Commandments can be broken down into 2 sections, the first four dealing with our relationship with God and the last six dealing with our relationship with our fellow man.
• In Matthew 22:36 when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment in the Law was He answers, MAT 22:37-40 And He said to him, "’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ "This is the great and foremost commandment.” The second is like it, ’You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."
• These are not specified in the Ten Commandments, but Jesus is telling us loving God and loving our fellow man is the foundation of the Law.
• As we look at the commandments, I will be using Exodus 20 as my main text for this series. We will also look at Exodus 34 and Deuteronomy 4-5 throughout. I would like for everyone to read these texts over the next few weeks as we go along.
• Today we are going to start in Exodus 20:1-2. There has been debate over whether this first commandment should include verse 3 or stop at verse 2. Catholic and Lutheran scholars will include verse 3, Jewish scholars and some protestant scholars will cut it off at verse 2 as I will.
• Today we are going to look at the First Commandment!
• READ EXODUS 20:1-2
I. AN IDENTIFICATION IS MADE- I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD
• By cutting the first commandment off at verse 2 it may be a little bit tough at first glance to see what is being said.
• As we look at this first commandment, we need to understand that the statement “Ten commandments” is not how God addressed them as He wrote them. It was at the second writing of them (after Moses destroyed the first) in Exodus 34:28 where we first find them called the Ten Commandments, and then in Deuteronomy that statement is repeated in 4:13 and 10:4.
• The reason I bring this up is when we hear the word “commandments”, we think of “thou shall not” and “thou shall” statements. The Hebrew word which we translate “commandment” actually is usually translated “words” (see NASB marginal reading) or more accurately “sayings” or “declarations”. In Exodus 20:1 where it says God spoke all these “words”, the Hebrew word is the same as in Exodus 34:28 and we translate it “commandments”.
• What God is doing is establishing who He is in this first statement. He is saying that HE IS THE LORD GOD. The Israelites had been in bandage for 400 plus years, they had lived in a land where many gods were worshipped. God’s first “word”, “saying” or “declaration” was that HE was the ONE true God.
• As we look at this first commandment, this helps us to see that God lays down the authority of the one God more than commanding belief in one God. (Dr Laura, The Ten Commandments p.6) Belief in God would be hard to command.
• Without establishing the authority of God, then the subsequent commands or “words” would be without meaning.
• Listen to this statement from Secular Humanist Lewis Vaugh from an article from FREE INQUIRY MAGAZINE (Volume 19, Number 4) (http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/vaughn_19_4.html)
• In this Article entitled “Protect My Children from the Ten Commandments, Mr. Vaughn states as the 5th of 7 reasons the 10 Commandments should not be posted 5. They have no divine authority.
The Ten Commandments are presumed to have divine authority. To many, this means that certain acts are right or wrong because God says they’re right or wrong. That is, God is the author of morality; there is no morality independent of God’s commandments. If God had not said that adultery was wrong, it would not be wrong. But if this were true, then God could just as easily have commanded that we go forth and murder our mothers, rape our neighbors, and rob our friends. And God’s saying that these actions are right would make them right. But this is absurd. Clearly these actions would be wrong regardless of what God commanded