Summary: An overview of the 10 commandments and specifically their benefits for people today. They help us know God, know ourselves, and know love.
God’s Top Ten
Since 1997, an anti-lawsuit group from Michigan has held “The Wacky Warning Label Contest” every year. They do it to highlight the absurd effects of lawsuits on warning labels. Last year (2007), Kevin Soave of Farmington Hills, Michigan, submitted the winning label. It was a warning sticker he found on a small tractor, which read, “Danger: Avoid Death.”
Carrianne, Jacob, and Robby Turin of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, won the $250 second place prize for a label they found on an iron-on T-shirt transfer. It warned: “Do not iron while wearing shirt.”
The $100 third-place prize went to Richard Goodnow of Lancaster, Massachusetts, for a label he found on a baby stroller that featured a small storage pouch. It advised: “Do not put child in bag.” (Ron Vample, “Avoid Death’ is wacky warning winner,” USA Today, 12-13-07)
How ridiculous can it get? Some rules are just plain silly, but God has given us a set of rules that are actually very helpful. We know them as the l0 commandments, and they serve some very useful purposes.
God shows up in fire and smoke, because He wants His people to understand His holy nature. He’s not some “Old Man” in the sky. He’s the Almighty God, who deserves our utmost respect. And that’s what the 10 commandments are all about.
They help us to KNOW GOD HIMSELF. THEY HELP US TO UNDERSTAND HIS HOLY NATURE. THEY HELP US TO SEE WHO GOD REALLY IS.
You see, the 10 commandments are not the whims of a capricious God, who made them up just to make us miserable. No. They reflect the unchanging character of a holy God. God told us to honor our earthly parents, because He as our heavenly Father is worthy of all honor. God told us not to murder, because He is the author of life. God told us not to commit adultery, because He is always faithful. God told us not to steal, because He is generous and gives. God told us not to lie, because he is the truth. & God told us not to covet, because He is self-sufficient. He wants for nothing; and when we have Him, We want for nothing else as well. The 10 commandments reveal the character and nature of a holy God.
Shortly after [St. Augustine had finished writing a thick theological tome on the Trinity], he was walking along the Mediterranean shore on the coast of North Africa. There, he came upon a boy who kept filling a bucket with seawater and pouring it into a large hole in the sand.
“Why are you doing that?” Augustine asked the boy.
The boy replied in all seriousness, “I’m pouring the Mediterranean Sea into the hole.”
“My dear boy,” Augustine chided, “what an impossible thing to try to do! The sea is far too vast, and your hole is far too small.”
Then, as Augustine continued his walk, it dawned on him that his efforts to write on the nature of God were much like that boy: the subject was far too vast, and his mind was far too small! (Stephen Seamands, Ministry in the Image of God, IVP, 2005, p. 101)
Our minds are too small to comprehend the nature of God. He is far beyond our understanding. God Himself says in His Word, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). And yet, the 10 commandments give us a glimpse into God’s character and nature, even when we cannot understand Him.
Missionary Gracia Burnham was held captive by terrorists in the Philippines for more than a year, and her husband was killed during the rescue. She writes:
“Sometimes I wonder, Why did Martin die when everyone was praying he wouldn’t? Why does Scripture lead you to believe that if you pray a certain way, you’ll get what you pray for? People all over the world were praying that we’d both get out alive, but we didn’t.”
Her questions made her realize it isn’t always easy to comprehend God’s nature. She continues, “I used to have this concept of what God is like, and how life’s supposed to be because of that. But in the jungle, I learned I don’t know as much about God as I thought I did. I don’t have him in a theological box anymore. What I do know is that God is God—and I’m not. The world’s in a mess because of sin, not God. Some awful things may happen to me, but God does what is right. And he makes good out of bad situations. (Corrie Cutrer, "Soul Survivor," Today’s Christian Woman, July/Aug 2003, p. 50)