About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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chapter 5

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The Ten Commandments (ch. 5:1 - 33)


In verse 2 we see that the Lord God made a covenant with Israel at Mount Horeb.  This clearly distinguishes the Abrahamic Covenant from the Mosaic Covenant.  The Abrahamic Covenant was an agreement that God made with Himself and was directed towards Abraham, his descendents, and his seed.  The Mosaic Covenant was made with Israel.  These are two different covenants.  The Mosaic Covenant is not an extension of the Abrahamic Covenant.  That is extremely important to understand.  If you misunderstand this, as many do, you will misunderstand much of the Bible, and really, how to live as a Christian.  


Verse 3 confirms what I just said.  Moses states that the Mosaic Covenant was not made with Israel's fathers, that's Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  It was made with Israel, in Moses day.  So, we clearly see that this is a different covenant than the Abrahamic Covenant.


In verse 4 and 5 Moses confirms what the New Testament says, that is, Moses was the mediator of the Mosaic Covenant.  He stood between God and Israel.  Moses represented God as He gave the covenant to Israel.  This is why the Bible views Moses in the same light as the covenant.  Another way to say this is that Moses represents the covenant, is a type of the covenant, is symbolic of the covenant.


Verse 6 states the first command and who it was directed to.  I say "directed to" because it was directed to Israel.  God said that He was the Lord God who brought Israel out of  Egypt.  This command was directed towards Israel , and I might add, not towards Christians.  All of these Ten Commandments were directed towards Israel.  I suggest to you that Jesus redefined most of these commands for both the Jew and the Christian.  An example is, "don't kill'.  Jesus redefined "don't kill" to mean "don't get angry at your brother without a cause".  Jesus goes to the heart of the matter, that is, internal, whereas the Law of Moses is external.


Verse 7 says that "you shall have no other gods before you".  Israel was to serve only one God, and that was Yahweh.  Israel was the first monotheistic society in the history of man, even though they often strayed from their one God.


There are some people who think that when God says not to have "other gods', He is saying that there are in fact other gods to be had.  I don't believe that.  The apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians says that idols are just objects of wood and stone, not gods.  Some might suggest that there was supernatural activity that took place in these old civilizations that showed these other gods to be real.  It's my thinking that behind these objects of wood and stone are demons, and that accounts for the supernatural aspect to non-Christian religions.    


In verses 8 through 10 God tells Israel not to make any kind of idol to worship. God says that He is a jealous God and will punish the children, right to the third and fourth generation of those who hate him.  This may sound unfair, but I believe God is speaking of generations of people, not individuals within those generations.  A man's relationship with God is personal. If he obeys God, God will bless him.  This command is not suggesting that God will punish specific individuals for their parent's hatred of God.  God punishes the generation as a whole, not the individual.


Verse 11 says that Israel should not "misuse" the name of their God.  I like the way the NIV puts it.  Way too often people have thought this command means that we should not swear by using God's name inappropriately.  That's not what this command means.  It means that we should not misuse or misrepresent God.  We can misrepresent God, and Christians and churches do it all the time, by promoting ourselves over God.  We misuse God's name by saying our traditions are His will.  We misuse God's name by promoting Hyper-faith thinking, that is, name it and claim it.  When we presume upon the name of the Lord, and claim things He has not promised, we misuse His name.  There are all sorts of ways in which Christians misuse God's name.


Verses 12 to 15 simply state to keep the Sabbath day holy.  That's the seventh day of the week, not the first day of the week.  The Sabbath day issue has been a divisive and sticky point in Christian circles.  I believe, as Paul stated in Romans 10: and elsewhere, that Christ is the end of the Law.  The Law has lost its original significance and has been replaced by Jesus.  The Law was nailed to the cross with Jesus.  The Law of Moses is no longer in affect as it once was, and that includes the Ten Commandments.  What replaced the Law of Moses is Jesus and what He said.  I believe the seventh day law has been replaced by the seven day law, meaning, each and every day is sacred to the Lord, like Paul speaks of in Romans 14 concerning these issues.


Verse 16 tells Israel to honor their fathers and mothers so they will live long in the land, and that's the land of Canaan.  The idea here is that from Abraham, right down through successive generations, fathers and mothers were supposed to pass down the decrees of God to the next generation.  The next generation was supposed to honor their parents by obeying God's decree, thus, they would live long in the land of promise.  They'd live long in the land because God has specifically said that if they did not obey Him, He would kick them out of the land, and so He did.  Obeying parents was tied to the land in this command.   


Verse 17 is simple.  "You shall not murder".  Once again, Jesus has redefined this command.  We are still not to murder, but Jesus now defines murder as being angry with someone without due cause.  This gets right to the heart of things, right to our hearts.  The root cause of murder is anger in our hearts. 


Another simple command is found in verse 18.  "Don't commit adultery".  Once again, Jesus redefined this command to say, "don't lust after someone".   Again, Jesus was getting to the heart of the matter.  


Verse 19 says don't steal.  The New Testament would say, don't covet, and be content.


Verse 20 says not to give false testimony against your brother.  The New Testament would say, don't misrepresent your brother in any way. Just love him.


Verse 21 says that Israelis should not covet anything belonging to their neighbors.  Again, the New Testament teaches that we should find our contentment in Jesus. If that is so, we will not covet.      


Moses, in verses 22 to 26 speaks of the great day when God gave Israel their constitution.  God spoke out of the fire.  The same fire that judges nations, God spoke, and Israel actually survived.  This shows that Israel is special in the eyes and mind of God.  Israel should bow their knees in strict obedience.  They actually heard the voice of God and did not die.  No other nation of earth has ever experienced such a thing.  We should marvel at Israel.


You see the heart of God in verse 29.  He said "O that Israel would obey me so their children would live forever in the land.  That's my paraphrase.  Living forever in the land of promise depends on two things.  One is the Abrahamic Covenant.  That is, God will make this happen.  Two is obedience, which Israel just can't do.  God will make this happen when He pours out a spirit of repentance upon Israel as prophesied by Zechariah.


This chapter closes with still another reminder that living long in the promised land depended on Israel 's obedience to their God.  And again, they would eventually fail.  But again, God will turn this around at the end of this age.


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