Exodus 20:1-21 - The Terrifying Word of God
God's Word can be described many ways, but 'boring' isn't one of them.
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Read Exodus 20:1-21
And God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
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.
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
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.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
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.”
18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 92 simply reproduces the Biblical text of the ten commandments
We're going to focus on the beginning and ending of our passage today, since we'll be learning lots about the commandments in the middle in the weeks to come.
Notice how the passage begins:
And God spoke
We could turn multiple places in the Bible for a demonstration of God's awesome power at work in nature. Indeed, the Israelites had just witnessed it firsthand for themselves, having walked between two towering walls of ocean as the crossed the Red Sea on dry ground.
But as amazing as God's command of nature is, the best demonstration of His power can be found when He speaks. Remember the opening words of the Bible, which record God creating all that is out of nothing by simply repeating the phrase "and God said..." Jesus Himself is called the Word, and His ministry begins with God's voice booming from heaven that Jesus is His son, whom He loves. The book of Romans begins with an announcement that the gospel - the proclamation of the good news of salvation - is "the power of God..."
Imagine being there, hearing these words come out of the fire (Dt. 10:4), accompanied by thunder and lightning (v18). It would quickly become clear that the ten commandments are so much more than a historic document to hang in a courtroom or to doze off to as you hear them recited for the umpteenth time in church.
These words, just like the gospel, are the power of God, and necessary for you to know well and follow as you live in Christ.
The Israelites didn't miss God's demonstration of verbal power: They "trembled with fear" and "stayed at a distance," convinced that if God were to utter another word to them they would instantly die. They knew they were not worthy to come face to face with God, so they sent a representative up them mountain in their place.
As we begin our nearly three month study of these commandments, we're beginning with a much different attitude than these Israelites had. We're coming to them as people who have peace with God because we've been justified through faith in Jesus Christ. We come to them in gratitude because in Christ, we've fully met the conditions of God's law.
As Moses reminds us, these commandments are given "so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning (v20)."
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The Lord our God, who brought you out of slavery to sin;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God for giving us the tools and instructions to live as the holy people He's declared us to be in Christ.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - 1 Corinthians 15