Heard in EXIT video study – worldview many neighbors claim to hold has changed. Less recognition of God, more people willing to profess belief in no God and no afterlife. Probably largest single contributor to appeal of suicide. Belief in many gods not far behind in its logical consequences. Here’s how the logic works: if no God, nothing to worry about; if many Gods, annoying one or two no problem; if really is one and only one God, there’s a problem. Is that one God the true God? And on what kind of terms are you with him?
Much less work and far lower risk to believe in no god or many gods. Can do as you please with no worries. If only one God, now issue of accountability, authority and more. Something missing here in Exodus 20 same as Genesis 1 – no attempt at proving existence of God. Is assumed God exists. In fact, Bible’s position: there is so much evidence for God, only a fool would say otherwise (Ps. 14:1; 53:1).
For group present at foot of Sinai, no doubt in their minds that powerful God of some kind existed – they could see, hear, feel overwhelming evidence. Plus all they had experienced since Moses first appeared before Pharaoh. Was a different question in view for them, and also those who claim to be people of God today: what is your relationship with the God who delivered you out of bondage? And answer to that question determines how you treat all that follows. Even if claim belief in God, if do not acknowledge and affirm him as your deliverer, rest of the book at best some suggestions to take or leave according to pleasure.
If you affirm that Yahweh is indeed the God who delivered you from slavery, the one who said he will be your God and you his people, the one who graciously acts on your behalf, then those ten commands become something very much different. When you recognize and acknowledge the great and gracious gift God has already given you, obeying his commands become a delight, not simply a duty.
Hold even greater significance when understand that each command reveals truth about the character of God. At same time, each one lays bare nature of our own character. Since God’s intent is that his people should be holy like him, each of his commands points out how by his gracious help we should live so as to please him.
One more thing: sadly a distinction lost in newer versions of Bible – between second person singular and plural pronouns. Modern English only has one – “you”; back in old days, had two – “thou” (singular) and “you” (plural). So why is that important? Remember the setting: God speaking from Sinai before crowd of million people. Could understand he was giving commands to group as a group, would not necessarily apply individually. Not so – God uses singular pronoun, “thou shalt”, “thou shalt not” – addressing commands to each and every person individually in that group. Not blanket commands but specific personal demands God placed on each person.
A. God is
exclusive – “I, the Lord your God”; has already referred to children of Israel 17x in Exodus alone as “my people”
isn’t that sweet – he will be their God, they will be his people; God is relational, promising fellowship with children of Israel, one big happy family w/fairy tale ending
all true… mostly, but not primary intent of what God was declaring – important aspect of true God’s nature and character: relational, unlike e.g. Allah
God has made point numerous times already, codifies it here: what kind of relationship he intends there to be with people
take one example – Ex. 6:7 “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”
now let’s get right emphasis – at same time, remember what kind of culture… for generations: polytheism not just accepted, was expected
in that setting YHWH declaring to his people that that he to the exclusion of all other gods will be their God
at same time, declaring they to exclusion of all other peoples of the earth were his – “a special treasure to God above all people” Ex. 19:5
and, btw, all the earth is his so God gets to pick and he did – he picked who would have particular redemptive relationship
given this, no surprise in both Old and New Test. relationship between God / people described using marriage language
jealous – tolerates no rivals for his people’s devotion, is what means when Bible calls YHWH “jealous God”
does kind of not make sense when think about it – what kind of deity actually worth worshiping would allow/encourage devotion to other deities
consider this: by Creator’s design man is worshiper… of something / someone – true even of those self-identified as atheists
when God takes his people to himself, is taking from another little g god – would he then say “ok if you want to go back”?
God puts up with no rivals, certainly would never encourage… no more than sane husband would encourage suitor to wife
makes perfect sense – when God’s people turn their affections away from him, devote to other gods, God calls it adultery
committed – remember what God said: “I will take you as My people” – will provide, protect, love, cherish in distinct way
in role of Creator, God provides for all his creatures – “in him we live and move and have our being” – designed dependent, God supplies basic needs for life
as God to his people, Father to his children – there is much more to God’s distinctive care of those chosen to be his
consistent with his faithful character, God never divorces those who are truly his, never abandons adopted children
since God is totally committed for all eternity to his people, rightly expects his people to be fully devoted to him in return… and demonstrate devotion by obedience
reminder again: obedience to be response to redemption, not means to / condition of it – “I brought you out” past tense
B. We are
Hebrew children and we need this command – truth is if don’t get this one right, rest won’t matter anyway
easily captivated – things that get attention, appeal to senses and desires will quickly draw away from true God
other gods, really false fronts for Satan, do exactly that on purpose – promise what appears to be good and satisfying
may even be real good that is promised but cannot be supplied – false god may promise what only real God can provide
Hebrew children more confident of things seen than unseen – don’t see Moses, make us a god to lead us (golden calf)
is what Canaanite and surrounding gods would eventually do for their descendants – promised pleasure and prosperity… but without YHWH’s conditions… and idols couldn’t deliver
no different for us today – have hard time keeping spiritual perspective in world that is focused on material things
consider how many times Hebrew children have already complained – expect Moses to record question from back seat: “are we there yet?”
got moved into Canaan, didn’t have patience and trust to finish task of clearing out idolaters – settled down, made deals
often couldn’t wait for God to deliver, pushed ahead with own solution instead without seeking guidance… to their peril
modern people no more patient – see in driving habits whether SUV or shopping cart, at roundabout or checkout
in principle applies to Christians as well – end up pushing God over to side and pressing on with own agenda, timeline
proud – problem from almost the very beginning of human history
Satan deceived Eve for sure, yet the lie she bought: she could do as well or better governing own life than God had done
has been issue for fallen man ever since – maybe don’t reject God outright, often claim allegiance to him… but don’t believe they need to follow him until gets tough, maybe
believers have their moments, too – shows in neglect, failing to understand principles from Bible and apply, not using gift of prayer, relying on human wisdom instead of seeking godly wisdom
lest you think are immune to such a problem, remember apostle Paul:
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Cor. 12:7-9
C. We should
if we are to do as Lord Jesus reminds us – “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind” Luke 10:27 , then what?
pursue God above all
goal must be to be as close to God as humanly possible, that his glory radiate from us as did later from Moses
does not happen automagically – requires intentional purposeful action and effort on our part using means God has given
strive to know God – study / learn / meditate on his revelation, both natural and special for the purpose of knowing God, not simply be another Ken Jennings
look to God first to supply not only your needs but also desires – will find out you don’t have to look anywhere else
seek God’s help in all things incl.: seeking God, knowing God, loving God, obeying God, honoring God, being satisfied in God
answer to WSC question 1 makes good point: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him… forever”
most of all: just like children of Israel God has delivered you / me from bondage in sin so we will be free to worship him
refrain from all that displeases God
the more we love God, more we want to please him, more we want to know him – more we know him, better we understand just how gracious he has been
natural response to understanding greatness of sin and grace of salvation is to avoid displeasing God at all costs
instead of blindly plowing ahead with habits and routines, when preparing to do something ask these questions: will what I am about to do bring me closer to God? make me more like the Lord Jesus? please him or displease him?
don’t see how close you can be to world, how much like the unsaved you can be and still squeak into heaven – Paul said
“Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 2 Tim. 2:22
encourage others to do the same
do so by word and deed – start with actions, demonstrating what it means to worship/love/serve God and him alone
then use words God gives to explain your choices, exhort your brothers and sisters to greater godliness, share Gospel truth
People of all kinds need to hear why Christmas is important – birth of Savior. Also need to realize are 2000 years closer to his next coming. No second chances, must be prepared, must give over all other gods and worship Christ and him alone.