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Summary: The Ten Commandments are both a command of obedience and a statement of commitment to God.

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As we continue our summer series, “Classic Chapters of The Bible,” we come to one of the most discussed chapters of the Bible. Its content deals with personal beliefs and behaviors that are assumed by many to be important ones and have been foundational to our thinking and way of life in this country. However, the challenge of this chapter is in the practice of them. The chapter is Exodus 20 and the content of the chapter are the Ten Commandments.

Sometime back I shared with you a statement from a book on preaching which underlined the importance of the spoken word. It was something to the effect that in preaching pastors have the ability to create worlds or tear them down. I am never more aware of this truth than when I preach from a passage like this because the words of such chapters place us under the microscope of the Holy Spirit – and that is both a blessing as well as a discomforting thing.

I want us this morning to hear God’s word to us on these very important matters. These ten phrases have deep and profound implications for us today. May we hear the voice of God this morning.

I recently received an e-mail that contained the cowboy’s version of the Ten Commandments as they appear at Cross Trails Church in Fairlie, Texas: (Overhead 1)

(1) Just one God.

(2) Honor yer Ma &Pa.

(3) No telling tales or gossipin’.

(4) Git yourself to Sunday meeting.

(5) Put nothin’ before God.

(6) No foolin’ around with another fellow’s gal.

(7) No killin’.

(8) Watch yer mouth.

(9) Don’t take what ain’t yers.

(10) Don’t be hankerin’ for yer buddy’s stuff.

Of course our children have some unique perspectives on the Ten Commandments as well. For example, a Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her 5 and 6 year-olds. After explaining the commandment "Honor thy Father and thy mother," she asked, "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?" Without missing a beat one little boy answered, "Thou shall not kill."

Before we examine them more closely, there is some background information that we need to have from a couple of directions so that we can better understand these important words of God. The first piece of information has to due with the nature of the Ten Commandments. (Overhead 2)

What are the Ten Commandments? Are they law like we think of law? Are they rules of conduct that we must abide by? Or are they something else?

I agree with Gordon Wenham when he says, “The Ten Commandments should … be looked on as a statement of basic religious and ethical principles rather than as a code of law.” He comes to this conclusion by pointing out two important things. First, “no human penalties are specified for their transgression; rather divine curses are pronounced on those who break certain of the laws, and blessings are promised to those who keep them.” Second, “It is misleading to describe the {Ten Commandments} as Israel’s criminal law, for it is not a list of offences that the state would itself prosecute, let alone for which it would always exact the death penalty.”


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