reflecting on the commandments

In the gospel of John chapter 14, Jesus says:

“If you love me, keep my commands.” (verse 15)

and

“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (verse 23)

I thought we could spend some time today reflecting on the commandments God gives His people in Exodus 20. God, having formed a nation meant to reveal His goodness and holiness to the world, sets out ten foundational rules for Israel to live by. If we want to love God by following His teaching, now would be a good time to listen up.

Exodus 20:1-21
And God spoke all these words:

“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.

“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. 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, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“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 male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 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.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

“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.”

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 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”

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.”

The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

_____

Our goal for today is to simply think on these commandments and how we can love God by following them. Some questions to get you started:

What are your favorite commandments? (Yes, it’s okay to have favorites!) What are two commandments you struggle to live out?

Why do you think God chose these rules in particular? What is He trying to promote or preserve with these boundaries?

Notice that the Israelites respond in fear to God’s presence. “But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” Yet in John 14 and 15 (remember last week?), Jesus promises the Holy Spirit as a comforter and strengthening guide. How does Jesus’s sacrifice change the way we approach God?

We often thank God for His presence but forget to thank Him for the commandments that draw us closer into communion with Him. Today or tomorrow, find a nice sheet of paper and write out the commandments. Hang them in your home in a place you see everyday. Congratulations, you’ve just participated in an ancient Jewish tradition! May God bless you with His presence and commandments this week. 🙂

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