In the first two commandments, God establishes the clear boundaries of his relationship with the Israelites. Since he is their deliverer and he is inviting them into eternal relationship, he expects that they promise to be continually faithful to him. Today, the Pastors explore the implications for this gracious offer and its life changing effects for the nation of Israel and whoever is willing to learn from them.
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Hey everybody, welcome back. Happy Wednesday, as we continue the week and as we continue through the book of Exodus, significant milestone today as we hit chapter 20, Uh, the 20th chapter of the book of Exodus, one of the two places in the scripture that we find the 10 commandments, Most of the chapter is taken up with them.
We may or may not get them through them today. We’ll see how that goes. But remember the context Moses has been given instructions by god, has followed those instructions to consecrate the people. Which means to set them apart to make them holy the people have re-established or recommitted themselves to the idea of this covenant, we’ve had an expression of God’s holiness.
There was smoke and fire at Mount Sinai. As god conversed with moses and begins to give instructions. And now we see the next step in that as god delivers, What are really that? I think taking to be the essence of The covenant. And I suppose michael, maybe it’s a good place for a word before we read them.
It’s easy to read the ten commandments, especially i think as modern day christians and see rules and the idea that god is giving the people rules, i don’t think that, i don’t think that’s enough. I don’t think that takes it far enough. I i think a better way to understand this is, That god is showing people what it looks like.
To live in this covenant that that if god’s going to deliver them, if they’re going to be god’s people that god is setting out for them, a path of the way he expects and invites them to live. And i think if we just see these as do’s and don’ts we really underestimate, not only the ten commandments themselves.
But certainly, the way they function in this story, if you are a parent or you’ve been around parents, and you’ve ever heard those words, We don’t do that in our family or that’s not how we do it. That’s i think a better understanding of the ten commandments than a list of judgments that the legal system is called to interpret and impose, judgment on others.
It’s been made clear in Exodus already. And in some ways, Clint in an interesting way, it was really complexified in genesis because if you think of the people in Genesis, there’s some rough characters in there, right? And yet, these are the people, the covenant here. I think what this striking to me is the fact that when god gives these commandments, he does so, In the context of the people having just been complaining, the people just moments ago, not demonstrating faith in the midst of adversity, There’s really No.
Confusion in this story, when god, gives the ten commandments, it’s not done with the idea that the people will be able to follow them perfectly. It is rather the identifying marker of what it means to be inside the relationship with god or you use that word clint covenant. The covenant here is the a relationship that has begun by god’s invitation and which god has been faithful to.
And the people through various moments in their life, either more closely or less closely had here perfectly too. But god perfectly Invites and god perfectly sustains. And that’s where we find ourselves today at the beginning of the ten commandments, the people are given what they consider to be gift.
Great opportunity. I identification meaning, what they are given here is a blessing, and i do think that we In our modern context, tend to read this, as a list of thou shalt notes, which then gets imposed into a whole bunch of other sort of cultural arguments. So that’s not what’s happening here and whether or not we should do that in our culture, that’s a conversation outside of today.
When we come to Exodus we should try to hear it for what it is and that is a gracious god. Inviting the people to live with the kind of patterns and identity. That one would have if they’re going to be in covenant with god. And, These 10 commandments kick off, several chapters of law.
There’s going to be Um, A variety of laws that god is going to give the people about all various aspects of their life. But these 10 have always been in the faith, they kind of central expression. It’s not necessarily that they are more important. It’s not necessarily that, you know, if you break the other ones that’s not as bad as breaking.
The 10 commandments it it just they have function for the people of faith as a As a kind of Essence of a core of what it means to follow god. And and the first thing i want us to notice about them is that the idea of law is rooted in what god has done for.
So let’s let’s go ahead and read a couple verses here. Then God, spoke these words. I am the lord your god who brought you out of the land of egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other god’s. Before me, it’s important. That the first commandment has a preface and the preface links the obedience of the people with what god has done.
And it is always our task to let our lives. Be a response to what God has done for us. We we don’t keep the commandment to Live up to and earn god’s action on our behalf. God has already acted on our behalf and the commandments are away that we show our gratitude by living the life, god has called us to.
So this is important. I am the Lord, your god who brought you from the land of egypt. It is vital for the people of israel that they’re called to be. Obedient is rooted in the actions of god already accomplished on their behalf, and We miss that, sometimes we memorize the ten commandments and we learned, you shall have no other gods before me, which, which is true.
But it’s it’s incomplete and i think Coupling this with god’s actions in egypt. Helps us see something, right away in the very first sentence of the commandments. Michael, there’s a temptation, clint to think of Other gods is being idols. I think we make this mistake when we in our imaginations imagine like a golden calf and we think well i don’t have a golden calf on my mantle so i’m good we miss what is i think a much deeper teaching here?
God says, i’m the one that delivers for your point Clint and then this idea that you won’t have other gods before me. Has in mind, you won’t have any other source or font of life of sustenance of care. Then me, if god’s the one you brings, the people out of egypt.
Then god is the one who the people should trust, that they should put all of their reliance and hope in the, in the deliverer to be the one to constantly supply, sustain and provide for their every need. And that if we’re willing to hear a much more expanded definition of that clinic, we take away this idea.
Well, i don’t worship this thing or i don’t pray that this thing. If, if we can get that out of our mind, then we can suddenly begin to find all of the things that are clamoring for our attention, all of the opportunities, and our culture, to put money as the first, and most important thing, or status or health, or the advancement of our children, whatever that is for you, there is really as unique as every person in the world is there’s a unique Of temptations for what might call our attention off of god and onto some external, third thing, and this commandment roots, the people’s identity in god’s action on their behalf and it demands that they hold to account their motivation.
Why is it i’m doing this? A demands that they ask themselves who do i trust and as it relates to the first commandment clint, there’s only one you can trust and that’s the deliverer. That’s the god who brought you out? Yeah it probably i should have said it in a Internal remarks.
Michael it matters that The 10 commandments come at a time of transition, you know, the people At least in the expectation of the story at this point. Are about to go into the promised land, they’re moving toward the promised land with the idea that they’re going to be established as a people and it’s in that transition that god says, you know, you you’re not to worship other gods.
You’re not to put anything before me. And we are going to see. As we know the rest of the story. The people are going to constantly struggle with chasing the religious ideas of the people around them. And here, god gives them on the front end. This very clear commandment that you and i are in covenant relationship and nothing else and not no one else or nothing else.
Comes ahead of me. I am to be central and then we see that extension of that in the next commandment number two, You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything and having above that is on the earth beneath or the water under the earth, you will not bow down to them or worship them for either lord your god i’m a jealous god.
Punishing children for the iniquity of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. Um, The commandment itself here. Relatively simple, you shall not confuse anything created with creator.
You shall keep the distinction. You shall keep the boundaries of god and not god of sacred and not sacred of holy and not holy, you shall not bow to anything else. Um in heaven earth water. You know, you couldn’t say that more clearly it is. Um, to be complete here, it covers everything.
You will not bow down. Or worship them. And i think if we stopped there for a moment, michael would you see that? A very clear call. Again, the israelites are going to struggle with this. They’re going to struggle with this before we even get out of this book. And yet we have to be careful before we judge them to harshly.
Because this is one of the fundamental struggles of the human heart is wanting to take a thing, and give it our allegiance, give it our respect, give it our admiration and in doing so we often elevate it to a position where it takes too much power and receives too much, allegiance from us.
And in essence, replaces god, and god here in another way, is telling the people, nothing else gets to be in the top spot. I don’t know that this resonates as clearly with us as it probably would have to its first hearers. Because this language, clint of nothing that is any form of anything that is in heaven above, or the earth beneath, or in the water or the earth.
This is really systematically categorizing and not knocking off all of the things that the israelites have seen worshiped in other places. When they were in the egyptian captivity. They saw the gods of the earth, the gods of the underworld, the gods of the heavens, the sun, right? Yeah. All of this has at some point before them.
But worshiped and here, the commandment is clear. None of that stuff that you’ve seen beforehand is going to be acceptable. You weren’t rescued by those things god. This connects to that first commandment. God didn’t rescue. You from egypt for you to carry egypt’s gods with you that if their gods had been enough then they would have been the ones that prevailed.
But no in this story we’re reminded that once again the people are invited to relationship with god, but that’s an exclusive relationship. God is not interested in sharing the god status with the stuff that god created. God wants these people to have a direct living, real meaningful relationship with himself.
And so, that is the grace that comes on the front of this end of this commandment. That’s good news that god wants to have this exclusive relationship. I do think Clinton is very quickly turns very troubling to us when we hear the extent to which god demands that exclusivity.
Yeah, god says, here, i’m a jealous, god. And the idea that your actions in the present matter, in the future that, uh, You know, you could read this to say, god holds a grudge. Maybe a better way to read it. Is that god’s? So seriously takes obedience That. A lack of it, threatens the future, it threatens our future generations.
It threatens the generations of israel. If they displease god, and in the text, i really think that is supposed to be offset by this idea. Yes, it, it may bring back to you for three or four generations, but it will bring good to you for a thousand generations for those who love me and keep my commandments.
I i think because we’re troubled by the first part of that michael we often miss the power of the second part, but Um, You know, there is a seriousness here, one of the things, the ten commandments present for us is there are consequences when we fail there, there is a danger.
In not taking our obedient seriously. Yeah now, yeah, absolutely. And i want to Just make sure that we’re all in the same page of the ordering here because i think it matters in verse 6 of showing step fast, love to the thousands generation of those who. And this is key love me.
And keep my commandments. That is really important where the not love my commandments, not love doing the right thing. Not love pointing out when another person gets it wrong. Yeah. Not even keep my commandments first and then yeah, yeah, exactly right. I think we need to know the ordering and the focus love me and keep my commandments that is, i think a beautiful summary of the intention that came before.
Yes, it is absolutely troubling. This idea that the children and their children and their children bear. Some of the weight of responsibility of those who are not faithful to the commands to those who seek out iniquity. For those who bring upon themselves, the stain of sin. Yes, that’s a troubling thought, but To your point.
Clint not only we reminded that god will be steadfast to the thousand generation of the one who seeks to be in the midst of the covenant with god. But that the spirit of that is loving god and keeping the commandments, keeping the, the family order and following through with what God has called the people to do and, and who to be and thus far one and two has all been about the people’s understanding of who God is and the relationship of fidelity and faithfulness to that.
God what god’s asking is remember who brought you out, right? And then Have a loving meaningful relationship with me and and keep the commandments i give you. And notice that that’s not in any way established in a judgmental frame. It’s not to say because god wants to judge everybody who gets it wrong?
No, it’s because that is what entrance into the family. Looks like that is what a adoptive kind of new identity will be defined. As it’ll be looking like these commandments being kept by god’s people. Yeah. And there is i want to be very careful with this, you know? Michael.
You and i just did a walkthrough of the ten commandments with our Westminster catechism series. I think westminster handles the catechisms really well if you’ve not Um interacted with that, it may be worth it. If if you’re interested having said that i want to be very careful with this but there is a kind of Hierarchy.
To these commandments and i don’t mean that number one is more important than number five. What what i mean is in in terms of their, the danger, they pose, There, there is a kind of Ordering to these. So what is the most dangerous thing to the community of israel that they put another god first?
What? What is that look like that? They would bow down to an idol. So Um, in staining these commandments first and second, i think There is a clear message here of Be particularly attentive to the things that are most dangerous to our faith. And, and that is, in this case, Putting something in the role of god.
And giving something other than god are allegiance or our worship. Those are perhaps the two most dangerous realities, that the people of israel will have to navigate and they won’t always do it. Well, But they are here on the front end as a, as a warning, sign of the places, they’re most quickly to go.
Out of bounds, i think. It’s often the case with the 10 commandments, i think to help flesh them out to help us understand the spirit of them. Instead of viewing them as very rote, very calcified judgmental words. I think it can be helpful to read this as a kind of conversation between parent and child.
And if you’ve ever had that relationship, you know, How rarely? Children understand the extent to which their parent is gone to bend the rule for them and whatever circumstance. There’s very few parents clan. I’m not saying that they’re not out there, but most parents when they’re having a situation with their kid.
They bend as much as they possibly can because everybody wants their kid to be happy and have a have what they want, but they also want their kid to be safe and what their kid to know what it means to be. A person of character and they want to help them along so that they’ll make the same mistakes, that, that parent may have made in their life, i think, if you read this this way, Then you can begin to see how god doesn’t want the people to put their hope in something that’s not going to pan out.
God doesn’t want them to waste their time. Praying and giving allegiance to gods who will do nothing for their for them. That will bring no good in their life or for people to put themselves at the center of the equation. Instead of god, there’s so many temptations in the midst of our lives.
That these can be commandments these first two. Solidifying, the relationship between god and the people as exclusive is actually a great gift. It’s actually i think a parent seeking to remind the child. No one else has your best interest in mind but me so let’s be serious about being faithful to one to get with to one another.
And i promise that on the back side of that, you’re going to be blessed. On the back side, that you’re going to be glad you did on the back side that you’re gonna see what. Maybe you can’t see. Now that it was the better way for you, right? And i think in light of that parental image Michael most of us who have done that know that, The quickest way to get upset with our children and the quickest way to come down harsh.
On rules. Are the places where our kids are most in danger of being hurt when they run out into the road, when they disappear when you’re trying to watch them. I mean, those are the things that inspire a kind of panic in parents. And it’s at that point, that we stress how important it is that children obey those things because there’s real stakes involved.
And i think that’s the tenor of these opening two commandments. We’re only two in Clinton. And yet, we have already walked some very holograms. So hope that you’ve been encouraged and challenged me, hope that you might comment. There’s been something new in this or if you have a question that might come up and we look for this, we continue on with the next commandments as we continue our study tomorrow.