Summary: A brief look at the last 5 commandments (PowerPoint slides for this talk available on request - email:

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The last five commandments

Reading: Exodus chapter 20 verses 13-17


If you think your family has problems,

• Consider the marriage mayhem created when 76-year-old Bill Baker of London;

• Wed his sweetheart Edna Harvey.

• She happened to be his granddaughter’s husband’s mother.

• That’s where the confusion began, according to Baker’s granddaughter, Lynn.

• “My mother-in-law is now my step-grandmother.

• My grandfather is now my stepfather-in-law.

• My mom is my sister-in-law and my brother is my nephew.

• But even crazier is that I’m now married to my uncle;

• And my own children are my cousins.”

The Ten Commandments are all about relationships.

• In fact I think the whole Bible can be boiled down to one word;

• Relationships.

• The commandments divide into two sections;

• Not five and five but four and six.

• The first four concern our relationship to God;

• Respect for God (they are upward).

• The next six concern our relationship with other people;

• Respect for others (they are across-wards).

This morning we are looking at commandments numbers 6 to 10:

(1). Respect for life (vs 13).

• N.I.V: “Do not murder”

• K.J.B: “Thou shalt not kill”

• On the surface understanding the Ten Commandments certainly is not rocket science.

• The Ten Commandments are succinct and elegantly simple.

• They make no illusions, they don’t dance around the issues,

• They get right to the point and, really,

• They don’t actually require a lot of interpretation do they?

• Even a four year old clearly understands what most of them means!

And yet in four simple, straightforward words,

• God confronts us with complex ideas;

• That require our best thinking and deepest spiritual concern.

To get to grips with this commandment:

• We need to understand the meaning of the word translated as "kill" or as "murder".

• In the original language of the Old Testament – i.e. Hebrew:

• They have a number of other words that could more accurately be translated "kill."

• This commandment does not aim at prohibiting all killing;

• Rather it is prohibiting an act of murder, i.e. taking human life with forethought

• I would suggest that this commandment means “Murder”;

• And again I want to clarify that it means in this context the taking of human life.

• Note: The context is our relationships with other people;

• And it is not talking about how we treat animals – that is another study in itself!

• Ill: Talking to Hare-Krishna’s and they will quote this verse to us meat eaters.

• But note the context of this verse is all about relationships with other people;

So two things that need to be emphasised:

• First: “Murder” means the premeditated taking of a life.

• Second : The life we are talking about is the taking of HUMAN life!


• Throughout the Old Testament the Jewish people were allowed to defend themselves;

• That is go to war against another country.

• And if you read the O.T.

• You soon notice that there were certainly quite a few wars in the Old Testament.

• But God put clear guidelines for his people when it came to war;

• e.g. Deuteronomy chapter 20 – his people were to be different! Even in warfare!


• That in the Old Testament the Law made concessions for accidental death (Es 22:2);

• But murder (premeditated act of taking a life) was a capital offense (Ex 21:12-14).

• The Bible makes it clear that life is a gift from God:

• Therefore only He has the authority to take life.

That also means we have to do some very deep soul searching;

• When it comes to issues such as abortion and euthanasia.

• Both are the premeditated taking of a life.


• Some medical students were attending a seminar on abortion,

• The lecturer faced them with this case study.

• “The father of the family has syphilis and the mother TB.

• They have four children already.

• The first is blind, the second died, the third deaf and dumb and the fourth has TB.

• The mother is now pregnant with her fifth child;

• And is willing to have an abortion if that is what you suggest.

• What would your advice be?”

• The students voted by a majority that the pregnancy should be terminated.

• The lecturer the replied; “Congratulations, you have just wiped out Beethoven”.

• The Bible makes it clear that life is a gift from God:

• Therefore only He has the authority to take life!

• “Do not murder!”

(2). Respect for marriage (vs 14).

“You shall not commit adultery”


• In 1631 Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, who were the royal printers in London,

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