THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

Exodus 20:1-17
Key Verses: 20:2,3

"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the
land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me."

STUDY QUESTIONS

1. Read verses 1-2. What has God done for his people? What was his
purpose in saving and training them? (See 19:4-6)

2. Read verses 3-6. What is the first commandment? What does it mean?
(See Dt 6:5) What is the second commandment? Why does God not want
us to make idols? What does God promise?

3. Read verses 7-11. What is the third commandment? What does it mean
to misuse the name of God? What is the fourth commandment? How
should we use six days? Why? How should we remember the Sabbath
day? Why?

4. How did Jesus summarize the last six commandments? (Mt 22:39) What
is the fifth commandment? (12) How does it establish spiritual
order? What is the sixth commandment? (13) How did Jesus apply this
command? (Mt 5:21,22)

5. What is the seventh commandment? (14) What sins does this command
forbid? How did Jesus interpret this command? (Mt 5:27,28)

6. What is the eighth commandment? (15) What does it teach about
responsibility? What is the ninth commandment? (16) What does it
mean? What is the tenth commandment? How is it related to the
others?
 

The Ten Commandments can be divided into two parts: The first part,
verses 3-11, contains the first four commandments. These commandments
concern our relationship with God. Jesus summed up these teachings in
Matthew 22:37: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all
your soul and with all your mind." The second part, verses 12-17,
contains the last six commandments. These concern our relationships
with people. Most of these commandments are stated as negatives. "You
shall not..." Jesus summed up these commandments positively: "Love
your neighbor as yourself" (Mt 22:39). Until now the Israelites had
lived lawlessly because they were in bondage as slaves in Egypt. But
now God gives them the Ten Commandments so that they may be God's
people with God's law. According to scholars in law, these Ten
Commandments are the foundation of all the laws of all nations.

I. Love the Lord your God (1-11)

Verses 1 and 2 say, "And God spoke all these words: 'I am the Lord
your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery."
What does it mean that God is the Lord their God? It means that God is
the Creator of the heavens and the earth. Our God is the Almighty God.
What did this Almighty God do for the Israelites who were in bondage as
slaves in Egypt? He showed his love by liberating them from slavery in
Egypt through Moses. In the Bible the words, "I am the Lord your God,
who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery," are repeated
innumerable times in order to emphasize that God is the God of grace
who delivered them out of slavery. The people of Israel suffered
unbearably under Pharaoh king of Egypt, who used them ruthlessly, even
ordering the death of all boy babies. But after 430 years God delivered
them through Moses his servant. This was God's grace. Not only the
people of Israel, but all human beings are under the power of sin and
death. Those who are under the power of sin and death are perishing
like the slaves because of their hard labor and whippings.

God's grace was not only to deliver them from their bondage; God's
grace was also to uphold them to be his servants. Exodus 19:4-6a
explains this well. It says, "You yourselves have seen what I did to
Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to
myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all
nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth
is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."
God saved them from slavery. Now he wanted to train them and establish
them as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation so that through them the
whole world would come to know God and his grace. So he gave them the
Ten Commandments. Let s think about the first four commandments, which
teach us how to love God.

The first commandment: You shall have no other gods before me (3).
Read verse 3. "You shall have no other gods before me." When we study
Genesis, we see that God created man and the world. God created the
world for God's own glory and for the happiness of mankind. Therefore,
"You shall have no other gods before me," means we must recognize our
God as the unique Creator God. We must recognize our God as the Maker
of each individual person. "You shall have no other gods before me,"
explains that we must love God first in our hearts. Deuteronomy 6:5
explains this well. It says, "Love the Lord your God with all your
heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." God does not
say, "You can love me first and love other things too." Fallen man has
no ability to love both. Jesus says in Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve
two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will
be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God
and Money."

"You shall have no other gods before me," means that we must worship
God alone. What does the word "worship" mean? Worship means intense
love and admiration. Why do we have to love God intensely? It sounds
too radical. But Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek first his kingdom and his
righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." The
secret of man's happiness is to love God and his Son. God abundantly
blesses those who love him. God blesses those who love him first and
makes them happy and protects them from the invasion of the devil.

When one does not love God, there is a great danger to him, no
matter who he may be. The devil snatches those who don't love God one
by one, missing no one, and makes them prisoners in his dungeon. He
makes them godless. The devil poisons them with doubt and bitterness
and makes them endlessly unhappy. Therefore, we must love God with all
our hearts.

The second commandment: You shall not make for yourself an idol
(4-6). Look at verses 4-6. "You shall not make for yourself an idol in
the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the
waters below. 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 fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,
but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and
keep my commandments." "You shall not make for yourself an idol" sounds
similar to, "You shall have no other gods before me. But it has a
different meaning. God made man in the image of God. In other words,
God made man with the spirit of God. So man has the desire to worship
God. Man's desire to worship something is incredibly great. Many people
even worship sick basketball players. In the ancient times, Greek
people denied God and started their thinking from man's existence. Then
a very strange thing happened. As we know well, the people of Greece
produced innumerable stories of idols in the name of myths. When Paul
went to Athens, there were so many idols that they could not name them
all. So there was even an idol to an unknown god. It is a surprising
contradiction that those Greeks who denied spiritual reality made so
many idols, which were associated with spiritual realities. God created
man to worship God and God alone. This is the reason God commanded his
people not to make any idols.

At this moment, we must examine ourselves: Do I worship God only?
Or, do I have idols in my heart?" Some women have more than 20 idols in
their small hearts. Some men do too. But when one young man accepted
Jesus Christ through one-to-one Bible study, he broke a huge number of
rock albums and threw them away. Likewise, each of us in the name of
Jesus Christ, must break all the idols in our hearts and throw them
away.

The third commandment: You shall not misuse the name of the Lord
your God (7). Read verse 7. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord
your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his
name." Jesus taught us to pray, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your
name" (Mt 6:9). The psalmist writes, I will praise your name for your
love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your
name and your word" (Ps 138:2). God's name represents God's character,
his holiness and love, his faithfulness and truth. We must tell of his
love and grace and proclaim his wonderful works to the ends of the
earth. To call oneself a Christian but act like a godless person is to
misuse God's name. To speak God's name in a thoughtless and irreverent
manner depersonalizes God, for we are acting as if he were not present
and didn't know what was going on. To live an unholy life while
pretending to be a Christian is misusing God's name. God says that he
will judge those who misuse his name. Our deep love of God and our
reverent fear of him must keep us respectful toward God's name and
aware of his personal presence with us everywhere, all the time.

The fourth commandment: Keep the Sabbath holy (8-11). Read verses
8-11. "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall
labor and do all your work, 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 manservant or maidservant, nor your animals,
nor the alien within your gates. 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." God made man to work six days and set apart the seventh day
as a Sabbath day. Sunday is our Sabbath day in which we worship God and
serve needy brothers and sisters. How do we worship God? We must study
the Bible and pray and repent of the sins which bother our consciences.
We worship God by coming to church and listening to the word of God.
But listening to the word of God is not enough in worshiping. After
hearing the word of God, we must practice it right away. So we say:
"Sunday Worship Service." Our forefathers came to church very early and
studied the Bible and had a regular worship service. Then they ate
lunch together and in the afternoon they visited the sick and helped
the needy, going all over the town or community. This is worship
service.

In order to keep the Sabbath holy, we must work six days very
diligently. Those who do not work six days very diligently have no
basic qualification to worship God because they have violated the basic
truth that men are supposed to work diligently during six days. So,
Saint Paul, who was the commander-in-chief of the early world mission
headquarters, said, "If a man will not work, he shall not eat" (2Thes
3:10b). These days, there are many young men who don't want to work
hard for six days. They only think about enjoying fun on the weekend.
They begin on Friday afternoon and play through Sunday night. They are
regarded as very normal people. But in the sight of God, they are
violators of the Sabbath.

What happens when we keep the Sabbath holy? When we keep the Sabbath
holy, the reward is great. God gives us true rest. God gives us the
peace of God. God gives us new strength to work hard. God gives us a
basic knowledge that we are doing something meaningful.

II. Love your neighbor as yourself (12-17)

This part is about the last six commandments which concern our
relationships with people. Jesus summarized: "Love your neighbor as
yourself."

The fifth commandment: Honor your parents (12). Look at verse 12.
"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the
land the Lord your God is giving you." These days, there are many
people who take their parents to nursing homes instead of caring for
them. They do not remember their parents' grace or how they labored in
love for them. They treat their parents in such a poor way because they
are godless and heartless. Those who know God must honor their parents.
Honoring parents is the exact representation of honoring God.

The sixth commandment: Do not murder (13). Look at verse 13. "You
shall not murder." Here verse 13 says, "You shall not murder." It does
not say, "You will not murder." "Shall not" is different from "will
not." "Shall not" means that a man has no right to murder. God is the
author of life. Only God has the right to give life to man and to take
his life away. Murder is a violation of God's sovereign rule. In light
of this command, we must pray that murder stories may not be seen on
the screens of TVs. And we must pray especially for children not to
watch movies about murder too much.

The seventh commandment: Do not commit adultery (14). Read verse 14.
"You shall not commit adultery." Basically, adultery is being
unfaithful to marriage vows. Faithfulness to one's marriage vows and
respecting the marriage vows of others are closely related to
faithfulness to God. This commandment shows God's concern for the
family. The family is the cornerstone of society. God himself created
it before man s fall. Human effort cannot preserve the family. Every
family needs God's help. When we obey God's commands, God will help us.
Through this command God also forbids sex outside of marriage. The New
Testament says that those who are sexually immoral cannot enter the
kingdom of God (Heb 13:4; Gal 5:19-21). Jesus said about the seventh
commandment: "You have heard that it was said, Do not commit
adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully
has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mt 5:27,28). Who
among us is innocent by Jesus' standard? We need to come to him with
humble hearts and repent before his word and receive his cleansing.

The eighth commandment: Do not steal (15). Read verse 15. "You shall
not steal." To some people, stealing may seem to be a light matter. But
verse 15 says, "You shall not steal." God knows fallen man so well. In
committing sin, most men start by stealing. Many people who start
stealing could not stop. One young woman who pretends to be a Christian
has a habit of shoplifting. One day she got caught. This is one
example, but 99.9% of people have the habit of stealing something
intentionally or unintentionally. We must stop stealing by obeying
God's command, "Do not steal."

The ninth commandment: Do not give false testimony against your
neighbor (16). Read verse 16. "You shall not give false testimony
against your neighbor." We are living in a pragmatic society. We are
also living in a democratic society. In a democratic society the
opinion of the majority rules. Frequently, in order to get a majority
vote, people tell lies to defame the character of their political
opponents. Not only in the political world, but in many realms of
society, people give false testimony to get some advantage over others.
But the Bible says, "You shall not give false testimony against you
neighbor. We should not be professional false testimony makers even
though we live in this crooked world.

The tenth commandment: Do not envy others (17). Read verse 17. "You
shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your
neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or
anything that belongs to your neighbor." We have a sinful nature that
envies others' fame and wealth and popularity. We have a sinful nature
that urges us to undermine great men and women to make them nobody out
of our envy. We even envy others' cars and computers. This is the
reason this command is given.

May God bless you with his command in your hearts. Verses 2-3 say,
"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land
of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me." And may God bless
you to keep the Sabbath holy.