Summary: An introduction to the Ten Commandments.
A Study of the Life of Moses
Sermon # 13
Introduction to the Ten Commandments
Smoke On The Mountain
Today according to prevalent mindset, what is right or wrong has to be decided in each given situation. There is no absolute standard of right and wrong. When it comes to personal ethics, each person must decide in a given situation what love would command him to do rather than to seek an outside moral standard. And the result is absolute chaos.
William Bennett in his updated version of the “Index of Leading Cultural Indicators,” (Bennett, 1999) concludes, “During the last half of this century (20th), we have made extraordinary progress in medicine, science and technology. We have achieved unprecedented levels of wealth and affluence… But we have lost something in the process. The nation that we live in today is more violent and vulgar, coarse and cynical, rude and remorseless, deviant and depressed than the one we once inhabited. A popular culture that is often brutal, gruesome, and enamored with death robs many children of their innocence. People kill other people and themselves more easily. Men and women abandon each other, and their children more readily. Marriage and the American family is weaker and more unstable.”
We are like a culture lost in unfamiliar territory without a map. What we need are some landmarks, some fixed points of reference to figure out where we are and where we are going. That is where the Ten Commandments come in.
As we catch up with Moses and the children of Israel in Exodus 19 the people have been in the desert for about three months. Now in Exodus 19 they arrive at “the mountain.” (v. 2). They have arrived at the same place where Moses had first been called by God to go and bring the people out of Egypt. That is Mt. Sinai, or Mt. Horeb, probably two different names for the same place. It was here that God had promised in Exodus 3:12 “… I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
In Exodus 19:3, we find that Moses makes his first of many trips up the mountain. (We have a false impression from the movies that Moses made only one trip up the mountain to receive the law.) On the mountain God tells about what he is to tell the children of Israel. Exodus 19:4, “‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.”
First, he reminds the children of Israel what he has done for them, how he defeated the Egyptians and carried them, as it were on Eagles wings.
Let me make it personal! Do you remember when you were trapped in Egypt, you were in bondage to sin and there was no place for you to go? Do you remember how you groaned and cried out in your captivity? Do you remember when you looked at your life and saw only the agony and hopeless of your situation? The Lord is saying, “I heard your cries, I saw your tears and I came down to buy back out of slavery. Do you remember?” Do you remember when you time when you stood with enemies on every side and the Red Sea lapping at your feet with no where to go? When you couldn’t go forward and you could not go back? The Lord is saying, “Do you remember how I rescued you, how I made a way were there was no way? Do remember?”
Secondly he tells them that he has set them aside for a special purpose. Exodus 19: 5-6 says, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. (6) And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” He says that they are to be a holy nation, the word “holy” means to be set apart for a special purpose. A nation of people who are to show the difference that living in a relationship with God makes. They were to be a nation who would form a bridge between God and the other nations. This was not meant to exclude other nations but rather to show by their lives what God’s ideal for nations was and that life is to be so attractive that the other nations will want to come and join them. So how were they to show they were different? By showing the other nations what it meant to be in a relationship with the living God.