Today the 10 commandments shift to commands (that sometime scholars call the second book) that strengthen and uplift the community. These commands to honor your father and mother, to not murder or commit adultery, are much deeper than we often consider and invite us to consider how important our right relationships are to God.
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00:00:14:56 – 00:00:44:34
Hey, everybody. Welcome to a new Week. Thanks for being with us. As we continue through the book of Exodus into the 20th chapter. Almost halfway here through this section that we know as the Ten Commandments, we have covered the first four Commandments. Interestingly, Bible scholars divide the commandments into the first four and the second six, calling them the two tables, sometimes the two tablets, typically the two tables.
00:00:45:03 – 00:01:15:59
And the only I think the only real benefit in doing that is it shows us the kind of outline of the commandments. The first four have to do with our relationship and responsibility to God. The second section or the second table of commandments have to do with our relationships with other people, community, spouse, family, etc. And so we do see a fairly clear division in the in the intention of the commandments, though they function together.
00:01:15:59 – 00:01:47:49
But it’s one way that scholars have drawn a distinction between them. So we move into the second table here in verse 12. And it is interesting, again, we said this last week, the Ten Commandments have a kind of hierarchy, and it’s not necessarily that some commandments are more important, but they’re listed to some extent in their destructiveness in terms of relationships and community.
00:01:48:14 – 00:02:16:39
And so having said that, it may surprise people that we start here with number 12 or in verse 12 with number five, honor your father and your mother so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. The family will be the central unit for Israel. It is the place that there is a synagogue, there’s a tabernacle, there’s going to be a temple.
00:02:17:00 – 00:02:48:01
But it is understood in the Old Testament that is the family’s responsibility to teach and pass on the faith. We’ve already seen that in this story with some of the things where God said in a day to come when your children ask you that that language is present in the book of Joshua also. And here we see that honor, your father and your mother, the family relationships, the family unit here is essential to the people of Israel’s life, to their faithfulness.
00:02:48:28 – 00:03:18:03
And it is that that commandment that is connected with this idea of a long, fruitful experience, that your days may be long, in other words, that you may live well in this new reality. And so, Michael, I think on one hand, this doesn’t seem like a destructive commandment. This doesn’t seem like, you know, we’re about to see you shall not murder, which is so clearly destructive.
00:03:18:27 – 00:03:39:27
But I think in its ability to degrade the community, this idea of breaking and dishonoring family is central to the Israelite way of thinking. And I think, though it may surprise people that it ranks so high as a commandment, I think properly understood it makes sense.
00:03:40:06 – 00:04:13:58
Some of it is a reorientation of our own understanding and perspective. I think that we do grow up in a culture, especially the Western American culture, where the sole purpose of an individual is self-identification. Sort of this idea that you can march out beyond your family identity and you can make your way into an authentic version of your own life and your deepest experience can be in some way incarnate into the world.
00:04:14:13 – 00:04:37:37
If that’s your central frame, then it doesn’t make any sense to you to make the first commandment as it relates to others, to our human relationships, to be one oriented, to our families. Because if you’re central belief is that you need to move beyond your family, that you need to strike out, blaze your own path, make your own trail, then these words don’t make sense.
00:04:37:37 – 00:05:07:22
But the point I think that I would lead us here to is that this is the commandment with the promise that this is a good thing and if you look to father and mother to be an illustration of the ultimate creator, God, the one who has made and who has claimed these people, of course we began the commandments with with that God introduced what conduct is right and fitting to God.
00:05:07:24 – 00:05:42:05
But if you allow that mother and father teach us even as children and then through life, what it looks like to love, sacrifice, care, persistence, grace when we need it. If you can look and see in those people the, you know, small rays of light that come from that divine perfect light, then they become for you a primer, a beginning, a place of learning to show trust, a place to begin to practice honoring another person and with the ultimate purpose of honoring God.
00:05:42:28 – 00:06:04:35
You know, I think Paul repeats a theme very similar to this when he says, Follow me as I follow Christ. I think that there he’s talking about Christian leadership, but here we see that the family is a place where we practice the fruits of faith. And in the midst of that practice, it results in something, it grows something, it produces something.
00:06:04:35 – 00:06:25:31
And here it’s clear your days may be land long in the land that the Lord is giving you. I just think, Clint, we might miss the beauty of this for our own bias, but we’re willing to step into somebody else’s shoes. Think of it from maybe their advantage. We begin to see that this is actually a great gift to our discipleship and not a burden along the way.
00:06:26:07 – 00:07:12:25
But yeah, and I think, you know, for nearly everyone, Michael, that parental relationship is your first relationship. It is the most significant relationship in the early part of one’s life. And so the call to honor your family, to bring honor upon your mother and father, to live well as a reflection of your family makes again, it makes perfect sense in light of a community that is being called to be set apart and live as an example and a blessing to the world that that moves us on to what I think is probably a simpler commandment in some ways more complicated, perhaps in others you shall not kill or in this translation, you shall not murder.
00:07:12:48 – 00:07:42:26
And therein lies much of the discussion about this commandment. This commandment is given to people who will go to war with other people. And so this has to do most likely and most fully with relationships inside the community. This is not that lots of conversation has been had through the years of what constitutes breaking this commandment. Does it?
00:07:42:27 – 00:08:09:25
Does a soldier in the midst of war? Does a police officer? Should Christians avoid those professions because of the risk that they will put themselves in that situation? Essentially? But this is clearly talking about taking a life in the context of community in the way that we saw in the Book of Genesis, for instance, Cain and Abel. It’s not to make light of those other situations.
00:08:09:25 – 00:08:26:11
I think this just simply isn’t the part of the Bible that speaks to that. And so this one, interestingly enough, sounds simple, probably is simple, but has been given complicated attention through the years.
00:08:26:31 – 00:08:46:46
That the only thing I would add here about verse 13, this commandment, you shall not murder, is that what’s in mind here is not just you shall not kill, but that you shall not take the life of another person. And I do think that something like the Westminster Catechism, which we’ve been going through together, does take time to flesh that out.
00:08:46:46 – 00:09:19:44
I think it’s worth noting that these you shall not that we are now entering into are very much about this idea of preserving human life in the fullest sense, not just you shouldn’t take someone’s breath out of their body, which would be the most basic version of that you shall not murder, but rather that any moment in which we do something or fail to do something that imposes upon another person a limit upon their God given imago day, the image of God that’s been put on.
00:09:19:44 – 00:09:48:13
Then the moment where we we keep from people, the the dignity, the the care that God desires for them and we do that actively. Now, we are certainly not violating the the latter. You know that that’s what’s been debated over the years. What’s the letter of this law. But if you’re to hear the spirit of the law clearly as Jesus interprets these laws later in the New Testament, you’ll see that there is a much deeper realm of meaning behind just you shall not murder.
00:09:48:14 – 00:10:10:06
So most people, I think my experience, especially on murder, this is the case. A lot of people just discount that right off the bat. They say, Great, there’s one of these I can check off on the list. And I would advise you to not be so hasty in that move because what this commandment is broad enough in its intention and its spirit.
00:10:10:26 – 00:10:16:31
I do think that it calls many, all of us into it in different ways.
00:10:16:31 – 00:10:46:12
Yeah, You know, this is one of the two commandments that Jesus quotes. The next is you shall not commit adultery, which we’ll see next. And in both cases, Jesus narrows them and makes them more difficult, not less difficult. He he expands them to say that not only is murder breaking this commandment, but being angry, harming a person’s spirit, doing damage to another person is breaking the spirit of this law.
00:10:47:24 – 00:11:14:42
As we move on to the next commandment, you shall not commit adultery again. That seems like a very black and white kind of standard. You have either done that or you haven’t. And yet Jesus says, if you’ve looked lust fully, you’ve broken the heart of this commandment, you’ve broken the spirit of this commandment. So I think it is helpful to read these through that lens, Michael, in the sense that these aren’t just, Do I have to put a column in the.
00:11:14:42 – 00:12:06:30
Yes list? These are a guide for faithfulness, for purity in this regard to this commandment, you shall not commit adultery. Yes, that matters. But behind that is you shall be people of integrity in your relationships, in your covenant relationships, in your spirit, in your in your private life, in your what you look at on the Internet, The variety of ways that this commandment speaks is far bigger than don’t cheat on your spouse, which is certainly in the commandment and the heart of the commandment, but that heart is connected to other pieces and when we read it that way, I think we see a more helpful guidance, also a more compelling conversation regarding what the commandment
00:12:06:30 – 00:12:06:59
00:12:07:26 – 00:12:36:30
I think it’s challenging because when we come into these commands as it relates to our relationship with others, I think there is a concreteness to the command itself. There’s one thing to have no other gods before me, which maybe of this physical manifestation, but in reality, for most of us that’s a spiritual aspect. It is a an alignment of priorities which we might see indirectly in the things that we choose.
00:12:36:30 – 00:13:07:53
But we’re unlikely to see that in the same kind of way that you do with murder and with adultery. There’s a kind of black and white ness that may appear to to press upon us. But my challenge here is to recognize that this is about furthering community. And so while these two here, 13 and 14, are framed as you shall not, they’re accomplishing the same thing as verse 12, even though it was framed in the positive.
00:13:07:53 – 00:13:33:01
Right. So that is honor your father and mother. But the reverse of that would be, you know, you shall not dishonor your father and mother. But what’s happening is it really showing us the importance of a a wider understanding of what it looks like to cultivate the community of God’s people? And so for the Israelites receiving this, I remember they existed as slaves.
00:13:33:01 – 00:14:17:13
They grew as slaves under Pharaoh’s watch. In many ways, Pharaoh got to be the one to determine the values of the people when God rescues them out of Egypt now brings them to a moment of identification, says, You are going to be my people, and this is what that will entail. This is what it will look like as you continue to live in this covenantal relationship with God, then God comes to say it’s going to require a certain level of commitment to your father, to your mother, to your neighbor, to your workmen, to the people within your your inner circle, that all of these relationships in some way are a reflection of your relationship with
00:14:17:13 – 00:14:35:16
God. And I said today it would be easy for us to read past these and to move quickly to say, well, the answer to that is simple, but when you do that, you tend to leave behind and miss the the much deeper spiritual teaching happening.
00:14:36:23 – 00:15:13:04
Yeah. When we when we paint the commandments simplistically, Michael, when we take them as just that, that’s all just a statement about this one behavior you shall not murder you should not commit adultery when we think that that’s all they offer us. We really miss the invitation to that deeper conversation. To that deeper discipleship. Yes, of course, the people of Israel are being called to be people who don’t randomly take life and who stay faithful in their family relationships.
00:15:13:04 – 00:15:44:15
But that’s the bare minimum of what they’re being called to be as it is with us. And I think when we read the Commandments, hoping to hear that deeper guidance, we certainly bring the conversation into a more helpful realm than just guilty or not guilty, that it’s unfortunate that we have so often treated the commandments as that kind of litmus test because they are not a simple yes or no.
00:15:44:15 – 00:15:55:22
They are a picture of a better way for the people of God to live. And as such, they’re far deeper than than one simple statement.
00:15:55:46 – 00:16:32:09
As the commandments will move on and as we’ll finish them this week, you’re going to see that they in many ways continue to point us to the ways that our relationships can cause damage and destruction to others. But I would only point out today that we already see and Jesus says broadening of this idea of murder and adultery, to be anger, to be looking with eyes of lust, that in this we already find ourselves convicted, that these commands, even as Jesus interprets them, they have us locked down, even before we start.
00:16:32:16 – 00:16:54:48
And, you know, from a reform perspective, clamp, which is what we bring to this conversation, this is deeply connected to the idea that the commandments are in some ways less of a judge, because we have we stand as those who deserve to be judged, but rather they stand as a marker or a pointer to the salvation that must live outside of us.
00:16:54:59 – 00:17:22:42
These commands which we’ve been given, which are supposed to be hard, in fact, are by definition impossible for us to live without anger and to never look with loss that is unto itself an invitation to salvation and to someone who does something for us that we’re not capable of by ourselves. And so that’s another layer of meaning to the commandments they both intend to transform and change how the community behaves and what we do.
00:17:23:00 – 00:17:35:11
And also they may be deep enough to recognize our inability to do that and therefore serve as signposts to the one who leads us in a way beyond these commandments.
00:17:35:31 – 00:18:04:19
I don’t want this to be self-serving, but Michael and I have been doing a series on the Westminster Catechism and in the recent past, in just the last few weeks, we would have covered the section of Westminster that deals with the ten Commandments. And I, I would recommend it to you not because of our conversation about it, but because the Westminster Catechism handles the Ten Commandments really, really well with very short summaries.
00:18:04:35 – 00:18:30:23
It gives beautiful descriptions and teachings about the commandments. And if you find yourself with time and interest, I would encourage you to go check out those conversations because I think that they’re worthwhile. Again, not so much because of what Michael and I say, but because of the way that those authors were able to summarize and capture. The essence of those commandments is is really good.
00:18:30:23 – 00:18:37:30
It’s worth hearing. And if this is the kind of thing that sparks your attention, I would imagine that would be helpful to you.
00:18:37:48 – 00:18:47:42
All right, friends, that’s enough for today. We’ll continue on tomorrow as we turn to verse 15. But that is enough for our time together. Hope you are blessed to look forward to being with all of you tomorrow.
00:18:47:42 – 00:18:54:27