About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Chapter 20
We now begin the massive
topic in the Bible known as the Law of Moses.
In summery, the Law is divided into three parts, the moral law,
the civil law, and the ceremonial law.
This chapter concerns the moral law.
This chapter is famous
because it contains the Ten Commandments.
Some people view the Ten Commandments as totally separate from
the Law of Moses, while others say they are part of the Law of Moses.
I tend to believe they are part of the Law of Moses, mainly
because they begin the dictation of the Law to Moses from God.
The one thing that I
would like to say about the Ten Commandments before I start with verse 1
is that in one real sense of the word Jesus redefined the Ten
Commandments. For example,
in Matthew 5:22 to 30 Jesus states that the Ten Commandments say, not to
lust after a woman. Yet in
verse 28 of Matthew 5 Jesus
says, "but I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully
has already committed adultery with her in his heart".
Note the words "I tell you".
To me this suggests that, "the law says this, but I say
this." What Jesus said
went far beyond the boundary of the law.
The law simply said, "don't commit adultery".
Jesus went to the heart of the matter, which is our hearts.
Sin always starts in our hearts.
Jesus was just as concerned with heart adultery and He was with
out and out adultery. In
this sense of the word, Jesus redefined the Ten Commandments.
I say this because some
people hide behind the commandments.
They say that they have not committed adultery, so they haven't
broken the command, when in fact they have broken the command as Jesus
has redefined it. Everyone
has thus committed adultery. I
doubt that no one has never lusted after someone of the opposite sex.
The intent then by Jesus is to tell us all that we are all
sinners. No one can escaped
The other thing to note
here is that Jesus lived the sinless life on our behalf.
He obeyed the Ten Commandments on our behalf.
Because Jesus was sinless, He has lived the righteous life on our
behalf, making us sinless and righteous in one real sense of the word.
Verse 1 simply states
that God spoke all these words. God
dictated the Ten Commandments to Moses.
Verse 2 states that
Verse 3 says that
"you shall have no other gods before me", or beside me.
There is only one God, and He is the God of Israel, and Israel
must know this and obey this command.
But as is the case with Israel, they did not always obey this command.
The did have other gods. One
way in which they had other gods were that they adopted gods from other
civilizations from time to time. We
do the same today. We adopt
worldly philosophies and ways of thinking and incorporate them into our
Christian doctrine. We've
done this throughout the ages. The
paganization of the church in fourth century under
In verse 4 the command is
not to make any idols of things in heaven above, the earth or water
"heaven above" part is easy to understand.
All civilizations back then were making idols from wood and
stone, and whatever to represent some kind of spiritual being.
I don't believe that God wanted Israel
to copy this pagan practice.
I do wonder, and
especially in the Catholic church about all their images in their
speaking, I think all the statues and things in Catholicism goes against
this command. I also even
wonder about paintings of Jesus. They
too might well go against the spirit
of this command.
The idols or images of
things under the earth and water might cause some debate.
What would these things be? Well,
I don't think they are fish. I
would not think that God would have any problem with a carving of a
fish, unless this fish represented a god.
So this is how I see this. It
could refer to images and idols that represent demons.
Or, it could be an image or an idol of an animal that is seen as
a god, or something to be worshipped. Verse
5 would confirm this, because God commands that you don't bow down and
worship these idols.
Verse 5 is hard for some
to understand. First of all
God says that He is a jealous God. We
often think in terms of jealously as a negative trait, and in some cases
it is. Yet being jealous is
also a positive trait. If a
wife flirts with a man who is not her husband, and if her husband does
not get jealous, I would think not being jealous is a negative trait.
I believe the husband should be jealous.
The wife has no right flirting with someone who is not her
husband. God does get
jealous when we give ourselves to someone other than to Him.
The rest of verse 5 is
also hard for some to understand. God
says that He will punish the children to the third and fourth generation
for those parents who hate Him. The
hard thing for some to understand is that does not seem fair.
So what does this mean?
First of all I'd like to
make a comment on what has become to be known as "generational
curses". This is a
doctrine that states that God will curse future generations for the sins
of the present generation, and this verse is often used to prove the
teaching. This verse is
speaking of punishing future generations, not cursing them.
You cannot use this verse to support generational curses.
Note the reason why
future generations get punished. They
get punished because their parents, grand parents, or great grand
parents, hate God. They
don't get punished because of any particular sin.
It is out and out hatred of God.
Those who believe in "generational curses" believe we
are cursed because of past sin. This
verse is not saying that. It
is all about "hating God".
The way I see this
punishment is that the whole generation is punished, not the individual
The individual can still be blessed.
It is the society that is punished in which the individual grows
up in that is punished. This
punishment is seen in God's judgment on a nation or civilization.
A whole generation can grow up in a nation the is poverty
stricken. This poverty might well have something to do with a generation
in the past hating God.
Verse 6 says that the
opposite is true too. Children
and grand children can be blessed because of a past generation who loved
God. I believe the western
world has been so blessed because of such movements as the Reformation,
and other times of revival. I
also believe that since we are now departing from loving God as we
should, and coming to the point of even hating Him, our future
generations will suffer. This
is how I see this verse at the present time.
I see it as more of a societal thing instead of an individual
Verse 7 says that
"you will not misuse the name of the Lord your God".
I take the following few paragraphs from an article I wrote on
this verse and on the phrase "the name of Jesus".
and Richard had just graduated from the police academy and began working
at the local police force. They
swore an oath to uphold the law. Their
lives were meant to reflect the fact that they represented both the law
and the police department they worked for.
If they didn't live lawfully, their work as a policeman would be
day while investigating a robbery, Jason and Richard had a dispute. They
discovered that a mutual friend was the culprit.
Richard suggested they tamper with the evidence to protect their
friend. Jason refused.
Jason knew that such tampering would mean that he wore his badge
in vain. He would be a poor
representative of those who sent him to the crime scene.
Jason would uphold the law, even if that meant arresting a
few minutes later, two other officers came to the crime scene and Jason
was called back to the station. While
Jason headed for his car, Richard tampered with the evidence.
When the other two officers approached
the evidence, they had no idea it had been tampered with.
Eventually the truth of Richard's tampering was exposed.
He was subsequently fired. He
failed to uphold the law by taking matters into his own hands, thus
misusing the authority given to him.
He wore his badge in vain.
the New Testament we see the phrase, "in the name of Jesus".
We often associate these words with the way we end Sunday morning
prayers, but there's more to these words than that.
and Richard represent the law in their community.
In like fashion, Christians represent Jesus in their communities.
Jason and Richard literally bore the name of the local police
department on their chest. Again,
in like fashion, Christians bare the name of Jesus.
we bare the name of Jesus as Jason bore the name of the police
department, or as Richard bore the name of the police department?
Will we represent Jesus in vain?
The word "vain" reminds me of the third of the Ten
Commandments. It states,
"you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain". (KJV)
The NIV puts it this way. "You
shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God."
Richard took the name of the police department in vain and
misused his authority by taking matters into his own hands.
As Christians, and as the church, we often do the same.
We misuse, or misrepresent Jesus to the world, and in the process
bring disgrace to Jesus in the eyes of the world.
Taking the name of the
Lord in vain has little to do with swearing or using bad language.
Saying "in the name of Jesus" has little to do with ending a
prayer. As a woman takes the
name of her husband in marriage, so we take the name of our Lord in
salvation. It is our duty to
represent His name as He wants. When
we promote ourselves, our ministries, our denominations, our doctrinal
disticntives, our programs, our buildings,
more than promoting Jesus, we take His name in vain.
It's a blatant misuse of the name we have been given to
represent. No wonder the
world can't see Jesus. It
only sees us.
I believe the name of
Jesus is not well understood in Christian circles.
Like many other Biblical issues, Christians are ignorant of this
issue. Hopefully this short
article will help explain the importance and meaning to what the name of
Jesus means. We bare His
name, and in so doing, we represent Jesus to the world, or at least we
Hopefully this article
has explained this command not to take the Lord's name in vain.
This verse is often misunderstood.
The last half of verse 7
states that "the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless" for the
sin of misusing God's name, something churches do all the time.
He doesn't hold us guiltless means that He will hold us guilty.
So if we claim to represent the name of God, the name of Jesus,
and don't, but represent us instead, or else misuse His name, we are
The command to keep the
Sabbath day holy is seen in verses 8 through 11.
We need to note that the Sabbath is the seventh day, not the
first day of the week. We
also need to note that this day is to be a "day of rest to the
Lord'. It's a day of rest,
not a day of business, and we are to rest to the Lord.
I'd suggest that all the business of the so-called Christians
Sabbath would not constitute a day of rest. The reason for this rest is
because God rested Himself from His labour of creation.
I don't believe that God was tired.
I believe He simply ceased from working.
The command in verse 12
is to honour your father and you mother.
You know this is important in the eyes of God, especially you can
see it in the days of Moses. How
many times have you seen the Bible speak of the God being the God of
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And
how many times have we seen God saying to pass along to the next
generation the knowledge of the good things God has done for Israel. The knowledge of God was
to proceed from one generation to the next, and that would mean the next
generation would have to respect and honour the past generation before
they could accept what was passed along to them.
You often hear that this
command is the only command with a promise. Those who say this also say
that if you honour your father and mother, you will live long, but the
text doesn't exactly say this. The
text is actually speaking to the Jews.
God says that if you will honour your father and mother, Israel
would live long in the land that God was giving them.
It isn't that the individual will live long.
Verse 13 says "you
shall not murder". There's
been much debate over the words "kill" and "murder".
The Hebrew word translated as "murder" in the NIV and
"kill" in the KJV seems to suggest premeditated killing.
I will not get involved in the discussion here, but many people
have a hard time with this command in light of the fact that God tells Israel
to kill their enemies in many places in the Old Testament.
Verse 14 says not to
commit adultery. This is purely a relational command, to keep personal
relationships between a husband and wife healthy.
Of course, as I stated earlier, Jesus redefines this command to
say if you lust after a woman, you commit adultery in your heart.
Questions are also raised
about how this command applies to concubines.
God appears to allow concubines.
As of yet, I have not fully understood
how Jewish men could have concubine and not break this command.
Verse 15 simply says,
"you shall not steel". There
is nothing real spiritual about this command.
It's relational. We
shouldn't steel from one another. We shouldn't steel from any one, any
government, or any company. We
just shouldn't steel.
The command in verse 17
is that we should not give false testimony against our neighbour. I
believe this means more than lying about your neighbour.
It would include spreading a false report about someone.
It would include misrepresenting someone to someone else.
It would include painting any false representation of anyone.
Verse 17 says that we
should not covet, and the specific case here concerns coveting things
that belong to your neighbour, but I think that you can take this as not
coveting anything that does not belong to you.
God was to be
In verse 18 we see that
the people of
One thing I'd like to say
about these commandments is that for the most part, we often think of
them being directed to individual people, and I have no problem with
that. But I also believe
they were directed to Israel
as a nation. For example,
"don't covet" could easily mean, "Israel, don't covet your surrounding nations," although she did just that
when it came to coveting other nations gods.
In verse 19 we see that
the people of
Verse 20 is very
important. Moses responds to
the people by saying that God is testing them in order for the fear of
God to be in them so they will not sin.
The display of power by God that caused Israel
to be greatly afraid, was meant to be.
God wanted Israel
to be afraid of Him so they would not sin.
This is what the "fear of God" is all about.
The "fear of God is more than reverence.
It is literally being afraid of God.
Few Christians really understand this.
Over and over again in the book of Proverbs, the author says
"the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God."
In this since of the word few are wise.
Many Christians think fearing God is just an Old Testament
concept, but it's not. You
see it in the book of Revelation, and that is in the New Testament.
Verse 21 simply states
that the people stayed at a distance while Moses approached God.
In verses 22 and 23 God
told Moses that now that
In verses 24 through 26
God instructs Moses concerning building altars to Him.
They were to be built from earth or stone, and not with tools
that they had made. If they
used their tools in the building process the altar would be defiled.
I think that clearly suggests that anything of man defiles
anything of God. How true.
The sad fact of the matter is that today, way too much of our
Christian faith is defiled with humanism.
We see the mention of
sacrifices and burnt offerings here that were to be sacrificed on these
altars. These sacrifices had
not yet been dictated by God to Moses.
Again, we see many aspects of the Law of Moses already in
existence prior to the institution of the Law.
In verse 25 we see that
wherever God chooses His name to be honoured God would bless Israel.
was to represent God to the world, and if they did that properly, God
would bless them. Like
In verse 26 we see that
there were to be no steps built to these altars.
The reason was if one walked up the steps, and if he had no
undergarments on his nakedness would be exposed to the altar.
Concerning nakedness we should note that God was the one who made
our naked bodies in the first place, and He said that they, along with
everything else He made, was very good.
So our naked bodies in one sense of the word are good and
beautiful. The problem came
at the fall of man. Once man
sinned they felt the need to cover their naked bodies.
The text doesn't really say why Adam and Eve had this
understanding. We see from
the text as well that God had the same understanding because He provided
animal skins to replace the skins made of leaves that Adam and Eve made.
So why was nakedness suddenly a problem when it wasn't before the
fall? I could be wrong, but
I think the covering of the body had more to do with hiding sinful man.
Man as he was created was now sinful, and God did not want to
look on sinful man. So
sinful man had to be covered. What
God had created as good, was now sinful, and He was disturbed by the
sight of man. This is
possibly the reason why clothes were provided for man.