C H U R C H R E F O R M S E R I E S
By Biblicism Institute
From Exodus 20 – with our commentary:
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”
This commandment comes into sharper focus when we understand that Jesus is God who became flesh and dwelt amongst us.
“I and the Father are one.” John 10:30
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
Many Christians take this commandment as if God forbade the sculpture or painting of His likeness. That’s not the intent of the 2nd commandment at all. What God was saying was that we must not take the sculptures or paintings of things in heaven, like the sun many once revered, or the earth beneath, like the calf the ancient Hebrews worshiped in the wilderness, or in the waters below, like Dagon the fish-god the Amorites adored, and bow down to them.
By the same token, we must not take the painting or sculpture of the likeness of Jesus and bow down to it either, as if that sculpture or painting were Jesus Himself.
Still, God did not forbid the depictions of Himself or angels or things on earth or in the waters as art. God Himself asked for sculptures of cherubim to be placed not only on the ark of the covenant, but on the walls of the Temple (Old Testament) as well.
“You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you. There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel.” Exodus 25: 21-22
“On the walls all around the temple, in both the inner and outer rooms, he carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers.” 2 Chronicles 3:11
God is everything: a scientist, an engineer, a musician, an artist, etc. He has freely distributed these gifts of His to all under heaven with the express purpose that we use them.
“In the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill.” Exodus 31: 6
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”
The way people take God’s name in vain or misuse it is by:
1) attributing to Him things He neither said nor commanded – like the erroneous tenets of church tithing and church services, and the mistaken belief that modern-day Israel is the fulfillment of God’s prophetic word in the bible;
“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:37
2) swearing by God when mere mortals are generally skittish and fickle, not to mention sinful and definitely not omniscient or omnipotent; that’s why Jesus reiterated the 3rd commandment in the following manner:
“But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes ‘ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.” Matthew 5: 34-37
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
The Sabbath is for man and not man for the Sabbath. In other words, God gave the Sabbath to man as a gift so he can rest. Jesus Himself had to put this in perspective.
“And Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?’ Jesus said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’ ” Mark 2: 25-27
The Sabbath might be a day of rest, but if there’s a need that we must take care of, the Sabbath is not to be worshiped to the point of ignoring that need.
However, employers are not gods and therefore must respect the fact that their employees have the God-given right to their day of rest, whenever that day may be following the six days of work.
In general – as a society, not necessarily as a biblical rule – we have come to establish that our 6 days of work are broken down thus: 5 days dedicated to satisfy the demands of our employers or our own businesses and 1 day to satiate the obligations of our households, or if in financial strait or seasonally busy that 6th day is instead geared towards our employers or our businesses.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
Commandments 1 to 3 focus on God. Commandment 4 focuses on the individual. Commandment 5 focuses on fathers and mothers. Commandments 6 to 10 focus on others. That’s the order God chose. As can be clearly seen, government and religious “leaders” did not even make it.
In addition, God singled out the 5th Commandment by attaching a promise to it, thus emphasizing its importance.
“‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise).” Ephesians 6:2
“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you.” Deuteronomy 5:16
13 “You shall not murder.”
This is another commandment that is pretty straightforward, one that Jesus reiterated with a warning to all – Christians or not:
” ‘You shall not murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ ” Matthew 5:21
Murder is usually the result of a hatred so powerful it can’t be controlled.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” Matthew 5: 43-46
14 “You shall not commit adultery.”
“Preachers” have messed up the meaning of adultery, and the catastrophic result has been that many Christians are now living in adulterous relationships.
15 “You shall not steal.”
“Do not trust in oppression and do not vainly hope in robbery…” Psalm 62:10
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”
False testimony is not only forbidden in a court of law, but in gossips and rumors as well.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29
See The Heart Adjustment.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
If you catch yourself noticing that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, beware.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4: 11-13
The above 10 commandments were given to Moses by God, but when God became flesh and dwelt amongst us He added another one.
If we live our lives truly loving one another – Commandment 11 – we actually end up fulfilling commandments 4 to 10. Furthermore, by loving one another we actually love God Himself because in following His command to love one another we show that we love Him, the one true God, and thus fulfill Commandments 1 to 3. Consequently, we fulfill all 11 commandments when we genuinely love one another. That’s why Jesus summarized the laws thus:
“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22: 34-40
The Apostle Paul understood how these two commandments fuse together as one and put it this way:
“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Galatians 5:14
The Apostle John summarized it thus:
“Whoever claims to love God yet hates his brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” 1 John 4:20
It is so much more difficult to love our siblings and those within our family. It’s been thus from the very beginning since Cain killed his brother Abel. We expect them to conform to our disposition when God actually expects us to conform to theirs by making allowance for their faults.
“Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’ ” Matthew 18: 21,22
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13
No genuine need in our family is to be rejected.
“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” 1 John 3:17
Let us make sure our hearts are conditioned to accept and not reject those who are in need.
“Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Matthew 5: 42
Beware lest we camouflage our hardheartedness with excuses and unforgivingness. God will not be mocked.
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” Galatians 6: 7
Love is not a goosebumpsy feeling or emotion. To love is to actually do the things we’ve been commanded to do, no matter how hard they may be.
All enduring biblical laws are now sub-laws to the 11th Commandment.
They delineate and detail its intrinsic content in order to help us succeed in applying the Greatest Commandment of all.
God gave them to us so we can obey them. Those who choose to ignore them do so to their own detriment. See Of Legalism and Christians.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15