God took His people out of Egypt. Now God will do the work of taking Egypt out of His people! God will do this by teaching them His ways. He will teach them about relationship to Him and to each other. His message of commands boils down to this: Love God. Love each other.
Jesus reiterates this very message when He came to earth to deliver all people of all sins once and for all. Jesus will re-establish our relationship with God through His work given to Him by God. Read the famous “sermon on the mount” in Matthew 5-7 and you will understand how much God loves us and wants His best for us. God is for us, not against us. God shows His people, who were once in bondage to slavery by a perverse system, who were not allowed to think for themselves, but only allowed to do what they were told, His way of thinking and behaving. Now, God’s freed people need to look to their Deliverer, who is their God, the One and Only God, who loves them as His precious treasure and love Him back.
These “Do nots” are filled with how to love and honor each other in ways that God has honored and protected us. God wants us to love Him back. That is at the heart of what He is saying. God desires a holy relationship with each one of us. Notice that the first four of the ten commandments are about God and how to commune and relate with God in holy thinking and behaving.
God wants His people to realize that HE is God, there is no one else who is God. And He is OUR God. We worship, love and obey only Him. We prove our love to God by believing He loves us and by being loyal only to Him who loved us first. We don’t take God for granted, mock him in silly banter or use His very Name in curses. We honor God for who He is and what He has done in and for us. We love God with all that is in us. We discover in our growing relationship that He created us, knows us inside out, and that He wants His best for us. Yes, HE is God. We are not.
The remaining six commands teach us how to relate to each other. The “love others” commands are basic and simple, telling us how to grow in loving, kind, generous, gracious relationships that build community with God and with each other. Love God. Love Each Other. If we truly love like this, God will work through us to revolutionize our world!
Exodus 20, The Message
1-2 God spoke all these words:
I am God, your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
out of a life of slavery.
3 No other gods, only me.
4-6 No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them because I am God, your God, and I’m a most jealous God, punishing the children for any sins their parents pass on to them to the third, and yes, even to the fourth generation of those who hate me. But I’m unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments.
7 No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won’t put up with the irreverent use of his name.
8-11 Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day.
12 Honor your father and mother so that you’ll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you.
13 No murder.
14 No adultery.
15 No stealing.
16 No lies about your neighbor.
17 No lusting after your neighbor’s house—or wife or servant or maid or ox or donkey. Don’t set your heart on anything that is your neighbor’s.
* * *
18-19 All the people, experiencing the thunder and lightning, the trumpet blast and the smoking mountain, were afraid—they pulled back and stood at a distance. They said to Moses, “You speak to us and we’ll listen, but don’t have God speak to us or we’ll die.”
20 Moses spoke to the people: “Don’t be afraid. God has come to test you and instill a deep and reverent awe within you so that you won’t sin.”
21 The people kept their distance while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was.
22-26 God said to Moses, “Give this Message to the People of Israel: ‘You’ve experienced firsthand how I spoke with you from Heaven. Don’t make gods of silver and gods of gold and then set them alongside me. Make me an earthen Altar. Sacrifice your Whole-Burnt-Offerings, your Peace-Offerings, your sheep, and your cattle on it. Every place where I cause my name to be honored in your worship, I’ll be there myself and bless you. If you use stones to make my Altar, don’t use dressed stones. If you use a chisel on the stones you’ll profane the Altar. Don’t use steps to climb to my Altar because that will expose your nakedness.’”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
He God alone. Worship only God. He is God and we are not.
Love God. Love Each Other like God loves us.
You are God alone. You are the One and Only God I love and trust with a desire to obey because of your love for me and my love for you. Help me to love others like you love me.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen