Summary: When you appear before a holy God, you would no more approach Him than you would walk into shark-infested waters. When God appears in front of you and you tremble in awestruck fear, it is a wise thing to call for a mediator to stand between you and He.
Today we begin a new series entitled simply, The Ten Commandments.
And God spoke all these words, saying,
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.”
18 Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” 21 The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.
The Ten Commandments are known in Hebrew as the Decalogue, or “Ten Words,” and we devote our time to these Ten Words. They are an essential step for a healthy Christian life. Some of you may not have considered the Ten Commandments since your days in religion classes at a private Christian school. Many of you may have never memorized them. I issue a church-wide challenge to all our families: Let’s memorize the Ten together during this series.
The Ten Commandments & American Law
Some take the Ten Commandments personally while others have a more political reflection of the Ten Commandments. For you, you’re agitated that the Ten Commandments have been removed from our schools. The debate over whether the Ten Commandments should be posted in public places is a serious debate. Many of us remember when Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore refused to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments in 1995. It’s fueled by the idea that the foundations of our morals are under attack. We live in lawless times where disrespect for authority and rules reign supreme. We live in a day where there is little broad moral consensus. It’s as if everyone is making up their own personal Ten Commandments. The commandments of God stand against this for they begin as follows: “And God spoke all these words, saying…” (Exodus 20:1).
The History of the Ten Commandments
While the immediate future of the Ten is unclear, the origins of the Commandments are clear. We find that the Ten Commandments themselves were written in stone by the very finger of God (Exodus 31:18). God wrote these in stone for they would remain in effect as long as time endured. He wrote them with His own finger to show He personally spoke and wrote these Ten Commandments. They were special. The Ten were placed in what the Hebrews called the Ark of the Covenant. This golden box was at the center of Israel’s Temple in Jerusalem. God keeps these Ten Commandments at the center in order to testify of their eternal significance. To quote ABC News Ted Koppel when he spoke to Duke University’s commencement address: “What Moses brought down from Mount Sinai were not the Ten Suggestions… they are commandments. Are, not were.”