Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Ten Commandments

This past Sunday we took a quick introductory look at the ten commandments from Exodus. Even though these are some of the most famous rules from the Bible they have proven to be some of the most simple and yet most complex statements in scripture. For a sense of their simplicity, all you have to do is give a quick list.
  1. God is God.
  2. Don't make any idols.
  3. Don't misuse the name of God.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day.
  5. Honor your parents.
  6. Don't murder.
  7. Don't commit adultery.
  8. Don't steal.
  9. Don't lie.
  10. Don't covet
These are so simple that in a way there seems to be no way to meaningfully expand on them. For example. If you don't already know that it's wrong to commit adultery, I find it difficult to believe that I can convince you now that it's wrong. However, the complexities of these commandments often show a lot more about ourselves then the basic meaning that these commandments seem to have.

The commandment not to murder seems fairly straightforward. However the Hebrew word Rasah used in this commandment is not so clear. This is a word that's never used for killing in war (possibly, but not necessarily, indicating a difference between the two). The word is used for murdering a neighbor, but it is also used for killing someone by accident. So is accidentally causing the death of an individual then included in the commandment?

What we need to accept is that we do form boundaries of interpretation around these statements. We draw lines around what it actually means to remember the Sabbath, or misuse the name of God, or to make an idol, or to covet, or to lie. It's important to accept that we all draw lines through what is acceptable or not acceptable in these areas. What is truly meaningful is that these lines generally show a lot more about us than anything else. How we choose to draw the line reveals how far we're willing to go, and even our motivations and desires in these areas.


  1. Which two of the ten commandments confuse you, challenge you, or you simply disagree with?
  2. What are some of the lines you've seen drawn for these commandments? Or, how have you heard these commandments explained in the past?
  3. Are these lines or explanations helpful in following the commandment deeper, or does it simply make it more achievable? Which is more helpful for you?
The way Jesus approached the commandments was very different. While we tend to try and define and box in the meaning of the commandments Jesus tried to give them the widest possible interpretation. When it came to murder, he didn't draw any lines around what murder technically is, its relationship to war, or accidents. Jesus simply said "don't be angry." When it came to adultery he said "the real issue is lust." You can see this theme in the way Jesus lived his life in relationship to all of the commandments in general where Jesus erased the lines and gave the widest possible berth into the spirit of the commandments. In this he wasn't great at following them, he became great at fulfilling them.
  1. Can you share an experience when your heart has been changed in one of the following areas:
    • Undivided loyalty to God.
    • Honoring with our language.
    • Honoring a cycle of rest.
    • Caring for the elderly who came before us.
    • Malice towards others.
    • Lust.
    • Theft.
    • Honesty.
    • Jealousy.
  2. Did the change come because you properly defined the commandment, or because you were challenged by it?


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