I expect many of us watched the movie “The Ten Commandments” at some point in our life. Big-name stars like Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner portrayed the main characters. And, we witnessed the epic battle of good verse evil through their portrayal of Moses and Pharaoh. Filming the movie still stands as an epic undertaking and launched the film into an instant classic still watched by many people. Also, some sixty years after its release, it is still one of the most popular faith films ever shown. And, as Easter rolls around again next year, I am sure the movie will make its annual appearance.
Aside from the movie, have you ever stopped to ponder the ten commandments purpose for us? Can you name all of them? I confess I could not remember all of them by heart, so I had to refresh my memory by looking them up in Exodus. So, let’s dig into the real story of the Ten Commandments and why they are still essential to us today.
God gave Moses the commandments on Mt Sinai after the Israelites had traveled the desert for about 50 days. Once they arrived at the mountain, Moses went up and spent the next 40 days receiving and recording the instructions from God. Then he brought down the stone tablets for the people of God. They contained guidance on living a good life that was pleasing to God. Throughout history, those words Moses brought down still remain as the basis of many of our modern-day laws. And, they continue to guide us in our faith walk.
The Ten Commandments
Here is the short version of commandments. Also, you can see the full description in Exodus 20.
- You shall have no other gods before Me.
- You shall not make idols.
- You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
- Honor your father and your mother.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet.
God gave these instructions to Moses so His people could begin to learn obedience to God’s will. But, Jesus’ birth many years later would bring an end to a lot of the ancient Jewish laws and rituals found in the Old Testament. And, as those statutes fell away, New Testament Jews retained the commandments to guide them. Soon our ancestors came to understand that belief in the risen Savior and obedience to the commandments allowed them to be a Godly people. Also, their newfound freedom from the old ways would be a challenge without these guiding words.
Looking at the list above, we can observe the Ten Commandments in three separate parts. So, we will start by looking at the first three commands. These teach us about how to be in a genuine relationship with God. Also, they help us understand that He is a Holy God who is also the creator of all things. And, we need to approach Him with a Holy reverence that acknowledges Him as the Lord of our lives. Proverbs 9:10 (NIV) sums up the importance of these rules, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Fear in this verse means to view God’s authority and power with profound awe and respect.
Next, the second command looks at how to care for ourselves. In fact, God wants us to rest from our labors. And, He understands the importance of recharging our bodies and minds. But this is more than just sleeping and taking things easy. God wants to be our source for real rest. Also, Godly rest refreshes our body, mind, and soul even during turmoil. Matthew 11:28 (NIV) confirms this by telling us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Finally, the remaining commands look at how we live in peace with those around us. First, we must honor those who cared for us as children. Then, we see the list gets specific with the things we should not do. We should not kill, commit adultery, steal, lie about our neighbor, or be jealous of their possessions. Lots of “do not” in this list. But, we can summarize this list with Psalm 34:14 (NIV), “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
The Greatest Command
Therefore, God gave these rules to Moses to help the people understand how to live a life pleasing to God. And they still help us today as they as the basis for our laws. But, when Jesus came to earth, He changed many things from the Old Testament times. And, although the Ten Commandments still apply to us today, Jesus summed up a life pleasing to Him in the following discussion. Then, Jesus shared His thoughts after being asked, which is the greatest commandment in Matthew 22; “37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Likewise, if we love God, love ourselves, and love our neighbors, we live a God-pleasing life. And I think that is much easier to remember than memorizing the list of Ten Commandments. In fact, when we love others correctly, we fulfill the law.
My Heavenly Father, I want to live a life that is pleasing to You. So, please show me the places I fail to love others the way You want me to. And, I want to thank you for the gift of the Ten Commandments to teach me right from wrong. Strengthen me daily in my faith and guide my steps.And, grant me peace each night as I rest in You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Yvonne M. Morgan, #author, #blogger, and #speaker.
Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
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