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There was a time, not so long ago, when Christians were known to be people of integrity, who could be trusted to keep their word. So pervasive was the Christian ethic that verbal agreements were binding and sufficient. Burglar bars, alarms and security gates were unknown and unnecessary. Women and children could walk alone without fear or danger. What happened?
“Therefore the Law is holy and the commandment holy and just and good.” Romans 7:12
God spoke the Ten Commandments with His own voice. He wrote them with His own finger upon tablets of stone. It was after the Lord God had delivered the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt. They had seen the incredible power of God poured out in the Ten Plagues upon Egypt. They had watched in awe as God rolled back the waters of the Red Sea to allow them to cross through on dry land. On the other side of the Red Sea they had seen the Lord close the waters over the pursuing Egyptian charioteers.
They had tasted the manna that God had sent from Heaven to feed them in the desert. They had quenched their thirst with water that had flowed from the rock at His command. They had seen the mighty power of God to save and to heal. They had also seen His power to punish, to judge, to kill and to destroy.
Now, as they stood before the mountain of God, it was covered with smoke as the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace and the whole mountain trembled violently.
This was the context in which God revealed His Ten Commandments.
The Law’s remarkable origin reveals its Holy character. The Ten Commandments flow directly from the Eternal character of our Holy Creator and Eternal Judge. They are the standard by which the world will be judged. The Ten Commandments provide a permanent rule of life for all people. The Law defines sin (“…sin is lawlessness.” 1 John 3:4).
“…that in all things He may have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:18
A group of Theological students were given an assignment to rearrange the Ten Commandments in order of priority. There was general consensus that the most important commandments should be:“You shall not murder.” They also agreed that the second most important would be: “You shall not steal.” The third most important commandment was: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.”
However, there was a division as to which was the least important commandment. Half of the students felt that the least important commandment was: “You shall not commit adultery.” The other half selected “You shall have no other gods before Me” as the least significant. After some further discussion the class agreed to put the “You shall have no other gods before Me” as the least important of the Ten Commandments.
"Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made by corruptible man…who exchanged the Truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather that the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” Romans 1:24-25
Throughout the Bible commandments and warnings against idolatry are the most repeated of all. There are more denunciations of idolatry than any other sin in the Bible.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image…you shall not bow down to then nor serve them.” Exodus 20:4-6
“Do not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves molded gods; I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:4
“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.” Exodus 20:7
God’s people in the Old Testament understood what it meant to show reverence to God by honoring His Name. The scribes who copied the Scriptures by hand had many complex rules that enabled them to copy the Scriptures very carefully and accurately.
Words are very important. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1
“Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy, six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath Day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11
Frenzied and Frantic
It would appear that never before in history have so many people been so busy. No other generation has had so many labour-saving and time saving devices, and yet it would appear that our generation is one of the most rushed and frantic generations in all of history.
One would have thought that with our electricity and plumbing, refrigerators, stoves, kettles, microwaves, dishwashing machines, clothes washing machines, vacuum cleaners, drive-through car washes, personal computers, laptops, Blackberry’s, cell phones, and every other kind of labour and time saving device, that we would be less rushed and have more free time.
“Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12
The first four Commandments deal with our duty to God. The last six Commandments deal with our duty to man.
Our Lord Jesus Christ summarised the two tablets of the Law when He answered the question concerning which is the greatest Commandment. Jesus said: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great Commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two Commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.’” Matthew 22:36-40
“You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13
If there is one Commandment, which the majority of people think they have never transgressed, it is the Sixth Commandment. Murder is considered to be a minority crime.
Yet as Christ taught us in the Sermon on the Mount, hatred is also a breach of this Commandment. In fact as one considers the fullest implications of the Sixth Commandment and the family of offences that it covers, this is a most relevant Commandment for this murderous age.
“Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.”Genesis 9:6
Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27
An Immoral Age
What do you think of this social analysis? I recently came across this commentary: “Sexual anarchy is here. It has assumed extreme forms and spread throughout a large part of the population, side by side with an increase of sexual perversions; a shameless sexual promiscuity has also increased…adultery, rape and prostitution have greatly increased. Homosexuality has entered the mores of the population and contemporary authors seem to sadistically enjoy the enumeration of a variety of…sexual perversions.”
“For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery...” Isaiah 61:8
The Eighth Commandment cuts across the thieving spirit of our age.
Recent surveys have found that three out of ten prospective employees admit to having stolen from their previous employer!
22% of workers feel that stealing from their company is “sometimes justified.”
33% of employees surveyed confessed to falsely phoning in sick and collecting pay for days they pretended to be sick, but weren’t.
One third of college students admitted that they would cheat on an exam if they were sure that they could get away with it. One in seven graduates default on their university loans.