Is God’s Word alive and well today? Is it a driving factor in society? In church? Or has it become a thing of the past only to be used to manipulate or to support a position when it is beneficial? Does our government recognize the one true God? Does the church recognize the one true God? Do we as individual Christians recognize God? John 10:27-30 says this, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
This passage starts out with Jesus saying “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.” This sounds simple enough right? All we need to do is hear His voice and to follow Him, but is this what we are doing? Below is the passage from Exodus 20 when Moses descended from the mountain after God gave him the Ten Commandments. I have labeled each commandment to make them easier to pick out.
Exodus 20:1-21, (NIV)
And God spoke all these words:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
1.) “You shall have no other gods before me.
2.) “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
3.) “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
4.) “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
5.) “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
6.) “You shall not murder.
7.) “You shall not commit adultery.
8.) “You shall not steal.
9.) “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
10.) “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
God started out by reminding the Israelite’s all that he had already done for them and how he had provided for them. Then came the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me” (v.3). Basically speaking there is to be nothing in our life to receive the worship that is due to God alone. You might be thinking that God is in the right place in your life and that this first commandment is easy, but let’s look at it a little deeper. Some of the greatest gods of this day are technology and stuff such as phones, tablets, computers, music, cars, houses, jobs, friends, social media, etc… You see these things alone are not bad, in fact they can all be good, but what happens when you know you should or you want to read the word, but instead you check your Facebook status, hop on the computer to do a little shopping or maybe just to browse around? What happens when your desire for stuff outweighs your desire for God to have his rightful place in your life? Maybe you spend a little extra time at work so that you can get that promotion or that overtime so that you can buy something else. Maybe you simply work hard so that you can receive praise from others and lift yourself up. Or maybe you are just saying that I love God while there are more important things in your life, things that you want. Can you ask God to bless that?
God is the creator of the universe and the maker of man. He breathed life into us and He is worthy of all our praise and adoration. There is nothing that is more important than God. If you desire something, with the right attitude and heart, then ask God and it will be given. But, without the right heart it shall not. God just finished reminding the Israelite’s that he brought them out of the oppression of the rule of Pharaoh, made passage for them to escape his massive army, led them through the dessert all the while giving them the food and water that they needed to survive, and still God tells them that they should have no other god. How much has God done for you today, this month, this year? How have you honored him?
God is active and alive in our lives whether we recognize it or not. When I look back on my life I know that I have not given God the praise and honor that he deserves and looking forward I can only pray that I will become more aware of His power and glory so that I will turn to Him first and to him alone in all circumstances. “You shall have no other gods before me” (v. 3) is as easy of a commandment to follow as I initially thought. It takes great reflection upon motivations and upon the heart. What is God revealing to you when you seek Him in the quiet places?
The second commandment is this, “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them” (v. 4-5). At first glance this may seem the same as the first, but really it is more about only worshiping the one true God, that even to worship an image of him is unacceptable as God is not found in any object on this earth, perhaps the closest thing would be man but we are definitely not God. God can be found everywhere if we simply look for him. We do not need to create idols to worship because He has made himself known to us through the embodiment of Jesus Christ and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When I look back on my life to a time when I walked away from church I can tangibly recognize God leading me through situations. He didn’t leave me, I left Him, but He also brought me back to him. He was always there, even if my perspective at the time could not recognize Him. The only thing I needed to do was to look and see how he had been protecting me; how he had been guiding me out of certain situations and in others.
Do I have regrets for the time that I turned my back on God…YES and no. I pray that it never happens again, but through walking in the darkness God showed me just how much light is in Him. He showed me what love really looks like. It was God who gave my life purpose and meaning. It was God who gave me life and a hope for the future. God gave me it all because He knows what I need and He made himself known through multiple different facets in my life. He was not any of these things but he used them to reveal himself. God showed me his power and his love for me when he sold both of my houses within 24 hours when I had nothing left. Do I worship the house or the people who bought my house? No, God is not those things, but He worked the situation to reveal more of himself to me. We can find God in many things, but he is not those things, he is only using them to reveal himself to us. All of our worship and praise must go to him, not some image of him. God is not an image. He has made himself available to all who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and is all around us when we seek Him. So praise God in all that you do and wherever you are because He sees you and hears you in all that you say and do.
The third commandment is, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” I don’t misuse the Lord’s name you say, but is this really true? When is the last time that you said OMG, or oh my God or goodness or gosh? When is the last time that you said gosh dang it or golly or any other statement of the likes? Certainly some of these phrases don’t even say God, but what is your intention in saying them? My intention is not to limit your vocabulary by any manipulation, but we all need to think long and hard about what we really mean when we are saying these things. I think it is clear in some instances that God’s name is being misused; well actually I think it is clear in all situations, but I will leave that up to you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt. 5:27-28). If God looks at sin this severely then how far away from sinning do you need to stay in order to not be in sin in God’s eyes? We have a way of justifying ourselves and convincing ourselves that our actions are appropriate, but God does not falter. His Word is fully true and is unchanging and our truth must be looked at next to His truth because Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [Him]” (Jn. 14:6). Scripture says that God will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name (Ex. 20:7). How much of a chance are you willing to take?
The fourth commandment is this, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Ex. 20:8). This commandment is quite possibly one of the most broken commandments that we have been given. When is the last time that you observed the Sabbath day? Even God rested on the seventh day and reflected on all that was good. Most of us live in a society where we are always on the go. We are always busy doing something. We are told that we have to work hard to achieve great things, to be a success. We are told that we will be happy if we do certain things or if we have enough wealth, but these are all lies. True happiness cannot be found outside of God; “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 Jn. 4:8). Knowing God is the key to love and to fully know God we must follow His guidance because He knows what we need.
God doesn’t tell us to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it Holy to hold us back or to keep us from happiness. He tells us this because He is a good father and he knows exactly what we need. When we were children we longed for the attention of our parents. We would go to great lengths to get their attention and keep it. When they would pay attention to us it would let us know how much we were loved and cared for. It let us know that they were there for us. I submit to you that it also blessed them and that God deserves and expects the same thing. Our Father is working hard for us and deserves our devotion to Him. He knows that we need a time to rest, a time to not worry about what must be done; a time to focus on Him and all that is His. It is also a time where we are blessed by reflecting on His great love for us.
The Sabbath day is to be kept holy and pure. As we lean in further to understand what this means I believe that our observance of the Sabbath will be made increasingly beneficial. I know that I do not take enough time to focus on God and all that He has done and is. I know that I often take for granted my need for him and think that I can do things on my own, but I also know that I cannot. Keeping the Sabbath gives us time to reflect and to give God all the honor and praise that is due to him. It is a time of rejuvenation for us. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt. 11:28). God does not give us a yoke that is hard to bear, instead He gives us rest when we follow Him and learn from Him. Starting to observe the Sabbath can be difficult so simply start by setting aside some time and I know that you will be encouraged to observe the Sabbath fully.
Jesus when asked what the greatest commandment is said this quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” The first four of the Ten Commandments is summed up in this statement. The first four commandments are all about giving the proper honor and glory to God. They are packed full of substance and require much of us, but remember that “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Lk. 12:48). How much have you been given? How much have you been entrusted with? Let us give God all of the glory that He deserves in word and in deed. Let us follow His commandments with a willing and joyful heart. Let us show God how much we love Him and how thankful we are to be loved by Him.
Stay tuned for part two of “Are the Ten Commandments Still Pertinent” where the last six commandments will be discussed and explained. Thank you for taking the time to read and reflect upon this writing. Let’s pray and ask God to bless this message and to put it in the proper place in our hearts and minds.