Summary: Taking a look at God’s original laws - the laws from which all human laws have developed.
Have you ever heard of the U.S. Supremacy Clause? I’m sure most of you have, but if you’re anything like me, you may not know what it says -- or, its implications. The US Supremacy clause states: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States… (dot, dot, dot dot) shall be the supreme Law of the Land…(dot, dot, dot dot).
Right there, dab smack in the middle, resides the hinge-pin upon which the doors of our nation swings. I find it fascinating the preamble to the US Constitution contains a statement that is seemingly at odds with the Judeo-Christian scriptures: specifically the ten commandments as the highest law of the land. That being said, let me ask you: should not, or is not, God’s law the highest supreme law of the land - the law from which all human laws are derived? This morning we’re going to take a look at the God’s laws - the laws from which all human laws have developed. So, how about it? Let’s just dig in. Please open your bibles to Exodus, Chapter 20. But first, let’s back up just a bit a catch up from last Sunday.
GOD’S SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND
Last weekend we took an eight-mile journey with Israel as they fled from Pharaoh’s yoke through the Red Sea. Within the course of only weeks, God performed one amazing miracle after another and saved his children from the hands of tyranny and oppression. Upon reaching the shores of freedom, God brought the twelve tribes of Israel to Mount Sinai -- where they established camp and began to live as a free people.
But they had no rules or laws of conduct to guide them. They were a people -- yes. They had a leader -- Moses, and they were (and are) the children of God. However, at that time and place, they were kind of a rag-tag nation of like-minded, like-cultured, and like-believing folks with little or no laws to guide them -- for the exception of God’s natural laws, which he wrote upon the hearts of all humankind.
God knew his Children needed some basic laws to establish them as a people set apart from the rest of the world. And while scripture states God’s laws have been written onto the hearts of all humanity -- humankind has a tendency to live apart from God’s laws. Let’s take a look only the first ten. Let’s read them together…. Exodus 20
GOD GIVE’S THE LAW
Commandments 1-4 inform us how we are to live in relationship with God. They spell-out, the specific manner in which we are to devote ourselves solely to God: individually and communally. Call it a vertical relationship from heart - to mouth - to heaven: from human to God.
Commandments 5-10 let us know how we’re to treat and live with one another morally and ethically. Let’s call this the horizontal relationship.
Now here’s something that’s kind of cool. When we put these together, they form a cross: the vertical and the horizontal. (MAKE THE SIGN OF THE CROSS). Sometimes we see a person make the sign of the cross over his or her chest of face -- as often done in the Catholic Church. In like manner, if you notice, I’ll often make the sign of the cross some Sundays as I give the benediction. When you see these done, remember God’s Ten Commandments and the deeper significance behind the vertical and horizontal symbolism.
To help you remember these a little bit easier though, let’s take a quick look at them again -- rewritten with a Southern tiwst. I received this from a friend the other day, and thought you would enjoy this a bit. These are the “Southern Ten Commandments”
Commandments 1-4 - the vertical:
(1) There’s just one God
(2) Put nothin' before God
(3) Watch yer mouth
(4) Git yourself to the Sunday meetin'
Commandments 5-10: the horizontal
(5) Honor yer Ma & Pa
(6) No killin'
(7) No foolin' around with another fellow's gal
(8) Don't take what ain't yers
(9) No tellin' tales or gossipin'
(10) Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff
MANKIND BRAKES THE LAW
Ironically, though, before God wrote these down -- and after God literally spoke these to the entire nation -- Israel broke both the vertical and horizontal beams. In our own times and metaphorically speaking, it’s like they stepped on and disavowed the cross of Christ.
While Moses was atop of Mount Sinai with God, the people coerced Aaron to cast a golden calf. After doing so, they worshipped this human-made thing -- this idol -- despite God’s warning not to do so: referring back to vv 22-26. When God told Moses what had happened, and Moses confronted Aaron about what happened, Aaron lied. I’m going to paraphrase Aaron, but essentially this is what he told Moses: Chapter 32 verse 22-24: