Read Exodus 19:1-20:21
The 10 Commandments have been carved on tablets of stone, posted on courtroom walls, and hidden in the hearts of people who have memorized them. They are but 10 of 613 total “laws” given by God to His people. They can be divided into two main portions…those that reflect directly on how we relate to God…and those that reflect on how we relate to others. No wonder Jesus summarized the greatest commandment with “Love the Lord your God” and “Love your neighbor.”
The day they were recorded was a landmark day. God wanted to impress that day and the commandments’ contents on His people. He asked the people to cleanse themselves in preparation. No one was to touch the mountain. God added visual effects…lightning, a thick cloud, fire and smoke. He made audio impressions…thunder and trumpet blasts. This would be a day that they would long remember.
“All that the Lord has spoken, we will do.” Those important words of commitment served as bookends to the giving of the Ten. The people of God made that promise before they were given (19:8) and after Moses explained them (24:3). After all, God had dramatically caught their attention and struck them with fear. Who wouldn’t intend to obey?!
Those were good intensions, but even before Moses delivered them in hard copy form, the people had disobeyed. A golden calf was made in direct violation of the second commandment. Truth be told, though the Ten seem simple, they are not. Killing is more than the mere murder that lands a person in jail (Matt. 5:21-26). It is also an attitude of the heart towards another person. Adultery is not limited to a physical act between two people (Matt. 5:27-30). It includes the private thoughts of lust in a person’s mind. With those realities, even the man or woman who feels untouched by the Ten has a reality check that draws him/her to repentance.
We can be thankful to God that He clearly expressed His will for His people. But Galatians tells us that the greater purpose of the Law including the Ten Commandments was to expose our inability to measure up to God’s standards. As a result, we identify our need for the Savior (Gal. 3:19-24). Thank you, God, for the commandments and for the Christ!