I hope I can show you something interesting about each of the 10 Commandments. I’ll start with the reason for their existence. Each of the commandments were given for the making of a civilization, but each commandment is as relevant and beneficial to the individual as it is to the society that follows it. Consider that each of these rules were given roughly six thousand years ago, and yet they are as relevant today as they were then. None of the commandments only applied “at the time”, or in those specific circumstances, or to a specific people. They are simple, clear and concise, and not too difficult to follow. How amazing and overlooked these are.
Jesus tells us that the entire law hangs on two things: loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and loving your neighbor as yourself. The last six commandments are automatic if you love your neighbor as yourself. The first four are automatic if you love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. In fact, Jesus said you will keep all 10 if you love Him, so keeping them all should be automatic if you love God with all your heart.
The first commandment may not be what you think it is. That’s because you’ve been taught there are 10 commandments, when actually God gave Moses 10 statements. So the typical Christian church skips over the first statement and then splits the second into two in order to keep the number at 10!
1. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
This first statement is really important, and the tendency to start the 10 Commandments off with the next one, allows us to overlook this one. He is God. The following commands are from God; there is no authority higher than His, and no law greater than His. By this statement we know that these instructions come from the one true source of morality. Not what we think is just and right, but what God thinks is just and right.
God also points out that He took the Hebrew people out of bondage. God wants man to be free, and man cannot be free without morality. This is significant, particularly today when morality has become taboo.
2. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them nor serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, inflicting the punishment of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing favor to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
The Church split this one commandment into two, however when you read it in it’s entirety, it doesn’t make sense as two separate commands. “You shall have no other gods before me”, is the same statement as, “Do not worship idols”, and, “I am a jealous God.”
I think the very end of this commandment is completely overlooked. He says He will show favor “to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” It’s synonymous: loving God and keeping His commandments. We are told this when He gives us His commandments, and we’re told this the last time He walked this earth. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) Yet the commandments are so often ignored by people who claim to follow Jesus today. Jesus said he will tell many that claim to know Him, “depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.” What laws do you think Jesus is referring to?
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
This might be the most misunderstood commandment of the 10. Often we’re told not to say things like, “Oh my God.” But if you look at the last part of this command, clearly that cannot be what God is suggesting. If it is, I don’t think there will be very many people in the Kingdom… who hasn’t slipped and said, “Oh my God” once or twice? Yet here God tells us He will never forgive us for taking His name in vain. How could God not forgive something that could be done so accidental?
The problem is in how we translate the original language; the word is actually more like, “carry”. If you use God’s name to do things that are not of God, He will not forgive you.
Why is this so important to God? Using God’s name for something that is not of God causes more damage to God’s reputation than anything else man can possibly do. The most common argument against God has been because of evil things man has done “in God’s name.” Doing evil in God’s name is not something done accidental, it is deliberate and intentional, and God will not tolerate it.
Jesus said, “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.” (Matthew 12:31) Are there two sins that God will not forgive? Or is this command and blasphemy against the Spirit the same law?
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. For six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God; on it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male slave or your female slave, or your cattle, or your resident who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and everything that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; for that reason the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
If the third commandment is the most misunderstood, the fourth is the most ignored. The fourth commandment is significant because it is a reminder to His people, not a new law. The Sabbath is a day that has been set apart since the creation of the earth. And, like all the other commandments, this is a commandment for us, not for Him. We don’t remember the Sabbath for God; we rest because we need it, it is a gift from God. And sadly we ignore it. Think about how it feels when you give someone a gift for their birthday or Christmas, and they never use it. I imagine that is how God feels every time we ignore the Sabbath.
This is the commandment that the Church has neglected to follow, and in fact has taught its people to ignore. The Council of Laodicea in 363 AD (see also the post on Scripture) officially declared Sunday as the “Christian Sabbath” day, with the intention of separating the Church from the Jews, but as a result, separating the Church from God. This was established by the Catholic church almost two thousand years ago, and every church and every denomination since has followed this blatant disrespect for God’s command… God’s gift! The Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. God picked the day. God was specific. God set this one day aside at the completion of His creation, and it has been set aside ever since. Jesus said, “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)
5. Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be prolonged on the land which the Lord your God gives you.
This one is interesting… God tells us to love Him, love our neighbor, and love the stranger, but He doesn’t command us to love our parents! Surprising, right? God tells us to honor our parents. He never commands us to honor anyone else!
Why is honoring parents such a big deal to God? The commandments God gave us aren’t just rules for us to follow, but they were rules designed to make the nation of Israel successful and prosper. A nation who does not honor its parents, is a nation that quickly descends into chaos. Parents today don’t seek honor from their children, they seek approval. They will do anything to make their children happy and get their children to like them. And as a result, we have children who have no respect for their elders, that are turning into adults who have no respect for authority, including God.
6. You shall not murder.
This commandment is often misinterpreted to justify a belief against killing animals or capital punishment. It is also misused by people who oppose God and the Bible to show that God contradicts Himself, because He says to not kill and then commands the Israelites to kill their enemy. God never tells us not to kill, He says not to murder. What’s the difference? Murder is an immoral killing. Killing a bug or an animal is not murder. Killing a murderer is not murder.
It’s interesting because three commands earlier, we are instructed to not use God’s name in vain, and with this commandment people use God’s words in vain in order to justify something they want you to believe.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
Adultery threatens the building block of a prosperous nation, which is family. The commandment directly links to the fifth commandment and the eighth commandment. If a husband or wife doesn’t honor their spouse, the children won’t see why they should honor their parent either. And adultery is stealing something that belongs to someone else.
8. You shall not steal.
Stealing encompasses way more than just taking someone’s property. Stealing one’s reputation by lying, slander, gossiping, and dare we say… cancelling? Humiliation steals a person’s dignity. Deceiving or tricking someone is considered “stealing knowledge” in the original Hebrew language. And plagiarism is is stealing someone else’s words.
9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
Some people have argued this is referring to testifying in court, but the language would have stated “in court” if that was what God meant. God is telling us not to lie, because a society that has contempt for truth cannot survive. I fear we are living in a time period in which the truth is no longer respected over “feelings”. And if your cause is good enough, it is okay to lie in order to promote it.
I’m reminded of a church I once attended that would have a “bunko night” for the women in the church. They encouraged the women to invite their friends and tell them it was a game night, not church. This would bring people into the church who normally would never step foot in a church. The church was tricking people into coming to church! The cause was well and good, but they were lying.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male slave, or his female slave, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
God never says we are not to be jealous or envious. He says not to covet. Covet means to desire something to the point of wanting to take it from someone. For example, you can want a house like your neighbor’s house, but you can’t lust for his specific house. You could want a beautiful wife, but you can’t desire his beautiful wife.
Notice how all of the commandments are linked together. The second ensures you follow the rest. If you follow the ninth, you will obey the third. You won’t disobey the seventh, if you obey the last one. If you ignore the sixth, you’re ignoring the eighth. No person or society has ever compiled a clearer, more concise, and more encompassing list of rules than the 10 commandments. It would be hard to imagine that man came up with something this unique and amazing.