Summary: God gave the 10 commandments as a covenant gift to his people and he wants them written on our hearts.
In 1955, The Fraternal Order of Eagles placed monuments of the Ten Commandments in public parks, at schools, and in front of municipal buildings around the country as gifts to honor individuals and special events. The first one was donated in Milwaukee, Wis., in a public event involving the director of the movie Ten Commandments and actor Yul Brenner, who played the Pharaoh in the film.
Since then, there has been a lot of discussion about these monuments. In courtrooms all across the U.S., public displays of the 10 commandments have come into question. It is estimated that there are some 4,000 such displays in the U.S. and more and more of them are coming under scrutiny.
In 2002, in West Union, Ohio, a federal court ruled that 3-foot-high stone tablets displaying the Ten Commandments should be removed from the county’s four public schools because they appear to be a government endorsement of religion. The tablets were donated by the local ministerial association in 1997. The school board voted to appeal.
The arguments on both sides are interesting. On the one hand, some Christians seem to deny that these commandments are religious. They call them expressions of our culture or part of our tradition. On the other hand, some atheists say they are religious and that they refer to the Judaeo-Christian God.
These arguments remind me of the time a man got a permit to open a tavern in a small town. The members of a local church were strongly opposed, so they began to pray that God would intervene. A few days before the tavern was scheduled to open, lightning hit it and it burned to the ground. The people of the church were surprised but pleased, until they received notice that the tavern owner was suing them. He said their prayers were responsible for the burning of the building. They denied the charge. At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, the judge remarked, "At this point I don’t know what my decision will be, but it seems that the tavern owner believes in the power of prayer and these church people don’t.”(Source unknown)
If you had asked Moses and the people of Israel about the 10 commandments, their answer would have been absolutely clear. These 10 words, as the Jews called them, were the words of a holy God, given to guide his people, to help them understand his plan, his power and purpose.
During these weeks leading up to Christmas, we are focusing on the book of Exodus. On the first Sunday we considered God’s plan for his people. While it appeared to the Hebrew slaves in Egypt that God had forgotten them, we learn in the early chapters of Exodus (2:24) that God heard their groaning and that God remembered his covenant. God was not sleeping during their oppression; he had a plan and he was working it out, just as he did in time for the birth of Jesus.
We need to be reminded that when the floor gives way, the walls fall down, and the roof caves in, that is not the end. God is working in ways we don’t see or understand. He has a plan. He may take a long time to develop it, but he never fails to fulfill it.