- Exo 20:1-17 – God gives the Law to Moses.
- Exo 20:18-19 – The people were afraid of the powerful display of God’s power and told Moses that he should speak to them for God.
- Exo 20:20-21– Moses drew near to God and the people stood afar off.
- Exo 20:22-23 – The Lord told Moses not to make images of gods of gold or silver.
- Exo 20:24 – Make altar of earth to sacrifice burn and peace offerings of sheep and oxen.
- Exo 20:25 – If you make an altar of stone do not build it with hewn stone because it will be profaned.
- Exo 20:26 – Do not make an altar with steps because it will show your nakedness.
The Law Was Given by God not Man
God, in establishing the covenant with the children of Israel, clearly specifies the requirements to benefit from the covenant relationship. These requirements are defined and condensed in 10 Commandments, the most complete and simple statement moral law that is unsurpassed even today and shows clearly God’s authorship.
The 10 Commandments deal with all moral aspects of our behavior as follows:
Our Relationship with God
- God’s nature and loving attitude towards His covenant people. He is their deliverer. (Exo 20:2)
- They could not have other Gods. This monotheistic statement is unique in a world of polytheistic religions. (Exo 20:3) Image worship is forbidden. This extends the requirement of exclusive worship even to images. Loving God and obeying His commandment is a personal matter and God will not punish children for their father’s sins except when the children continue in their father’s sins (Exo 20:4-6). Love is the motivation to keep the law (Heb 12:18-20).
- The Lord’s name should be respected. Using the Lord’s name wrongly will not go unpunished. (Exo 20:7)
- The Sabbath should be a day of rest and kept to worship the Lord. This was not only a reminder of God’s creation (Gen 2:1-3) but also a way to keep our life balanced. The Sabbath was established for us. (Exo 20:8-11, Mark 2:27)
Our Relationship with Others
- Parents should be respected and honored to maintain the family as the building block of a stable society and a blessed life. (Exo 20:12, Eph 6:2)
- Murder or unlawful killing was forbidden (Exo 20:13). This included also hating your brother. However, capital punishment was authorized killing and was accepted. (Gen 9:6)
- Adultery was forbidden (Exo 20:14) and the purity of marriage was to be preserved by punishment (Lev 20:10).
- Stealing was forbidden (Exo 20:15) and the right of private property recognized.
- False witness in court of law and defamation of character was forbidden (Exo 20:16)
- Coveting other possessions or wife was forbidden (Exo 20:17). Nothing is hidden from God.
The Form of Worship Acceptable to God
The Lord also defined how to worship Him:
- No images of silver and gold should be made. (Exo 20:23)
- Altars were to be built in places where God had revealed himself (record my name) and there He would bless again. (Exo 20:24)
- The worship was to be simple, using altars made of earth or un-hewn stones where burnt offering and peace offerings were to be made. (Exo 20:23-25)
- Altar should not have steps so that their nakedness would not be exposed as they worshiped. (Exo 20:26)
The Law was given again in different parts of the Old Testament, at times explaining in more detail some of the commandments (e.g. Deu 5:6-21, Lev 19).
The Law Was Not Enough
God gave the Law out of His love for the children of Israel so that they would know how to walk in His covenant blessings (Deu 30:19-20). However, because they were afraid and did not trust Him, they chose to have Moses to be receiving direction from God as they remained afar (Exo 20:18-21).
A New Covenant Was Needed
But legalism and fear are not good motivators and the children of Israel did not keep the covenant. The Law did not produce the desired results. For this reason, Jesus came. He established a new and better covenant (Heb 7:22, 8:6-13, 12:24) based on us loving and trusting God to motivate us to obey Him.
Prayer of Faith
Thank you Heavenly Father that what was impossible to achieve with the Law of the Old Testament covenant is now possible for me because of Jesus. His love, life, death and resurrection enable me to trust and love God. This established a new heart in me to fulfill the requirements of the Law.
In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!
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