Summary: The 10 Commandments are the key to knowing God, ourselves, and love.
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. In 2007, Kevin Soave of Farmington Hills, Michigan, submitted the winning label, which he found on a small tractor. It read, “Danger: Avoid Death.” In that same year, the second place prize was found on an iron on T-shirt transfer. It warned: “Do not iron while wearing shirt.” Another warning label included this warning on a letter opener package: “Safety goggles recommended.” And finally, there was this sign on a chainsaw: “Do not hold the wrong end of a chainsaw.” (www.mlaw.org/wwl)
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.
Exodus 20:1-20 And God spoke all these words: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. “You shall not murder. “You shall not commit adultery. “You shall not steal. “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” (NIV)
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 values and honors every one that He made. God told us not to murder, because He is the author of life. God told us not to commit adultery, because He is faithful in His commitments to us. God told us not to steal, because He is generous and gives. God told us not to lie, because he is the truth. And 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.