The Bible teaches that when a person has certain knowledge and understanding of God, He expects a certain response. God is not such that He has unwarranted expectations, but instead reveals certain things about Himself to people with the expectation of a proper response. Therefore, one must understand two things: how God reveals Himself to people, and what the proper response to that revelation should be. Upon learning these things, one must consider the extent of accountability that God examines, and be sure to follow the scriptures to please the Lord.
In Exodus 20:22-26 the Bible documents the Lord speaking to Moses about how He required the people to approach Him. The previous testimony revealed that the people saw the presence of the Lord engulfing Mount Sinai and were terrified by the fire, smoke, thunder, and lightning. They saw the presence of God, heard His voice as loud trumpets and were too afraid to approach God, even though God desired to be close to His people. The people were required to distance themselves from sin in order to draw near to God, but they were unwilling to do so. However, the scriptures explained that Moses approached the Lord as one that was willing to deny the sin of His flesh in order to draw near to the Lord. Therefore, God spoke to him.
Exodus 20:22-26 explains that God spoke to Moses in order to tell him the way that the children of Israel were to approach God. Before the Lord gave His instructions, He reminded Moses about the truth - all of the people witnessed the great power of God and heard Him speak from heaven. The Lord reminded Moses that none of the children of Israel could confess ignorance about who God was, where He came from or that He was real. The people knew who God was and the manner in which He spoke to them verified God's identity before the people so that no one had an excuse. It was for this reason that God was compelled to remind Moses of the first commandment and stated that the people should not have any other gods before them and should not worship any other object. Since the children of Israel heard the voice of God from heaven and saw His great and awesome power on Mount Sinai, they knew that Yahweh was the Most High God, and by extension, God demanded exclusive worship. The people were well aware that there was no other god that could rival Yahweh, so Yahweh reminded them of this truth. The Lord did not expect exclusive worship and submission to Him without first proving to the people that He was worthy of such.
The scriptures then state that God instructed Moses to build an altar to the Lord. God commanded Moses to build an altar, not out of human tools and resources, but in the specific ways that He would instruct, in order to offer sacrifices to God. Thus, Exodus 20:22-26 explains that the people were permitted to approach God. Yet the expectation was that one must offer sacrifices to God in order to approach Him. The Lord made it so that no one could approach Him without sacrifices. Since the Lord expected the people to turn from their sin in order to draw near to Him, sacrifice was God's prescription that symbolized one's departure from sin. The Bible teaches that the wages of sin is death. Hence, one's sacrifice presented to God was to serve as a sign that one was putting one's flesh to death, offering the blood of an animal in place of one's own blood, in order to approach God. The offering of a sacrifice was to be symbolic of one's confession as a sinner and desire to be made clean by God. In other words, God prescribed animal sacrifice as an outward demonstration of one's inward repentance thereby teaching that no one can approach God without repentance.
Exodus 20:22-26 explains that God warned Moses about the consequence of breaking His commands and expectations. The Lord said that He would permit the people to draw near to Him if they were to be obedience to the instructions concerning sacrifice. However, He warned the people that those who would try to approach Him without sacrifice would have their "nakedness exposed." Nakedness in the Bible most often refers to shame, so that the Lord warned the people that approaching Him in pride rather than humble repentance would cause God to expose the sinful shame of that person in a public fashion. God warned that those who sought to approach Him any other way than the way He commanded would be exposed and humiliated. Thus, the children of Israel were give the option to draw near the Lord in humility on their own terms through sacrifice, or be miserably humbled by God the hard way. Either way, the people were going to be humbled.
One must consider the context of God's instruction. The Lord first revealed Himself as the Lord God Almighty - He who reigns in heaven. The people had witnessed an ample amount of evidence to confirm the reality of God, the identity of God, the power of God, the holiness of God, and were without excuse to have just cause to follow the instructions of God. The people knew that God was sovereign and holy and it was when the Israelites had this understanding that God expressed His expectation in how the people should respond to this understanding. God wanted the people to draw near to Him. Since God was the Lord God Almighty, the only true living God, He expected the people to desire Him. However, God expressed that His holy nature required the people to draw near Him absent of sin. This is not to say that the people could remove their own sin, but God prescribed the process of sacrifice as a symbolic gesture of repentance, which demonstrated the humility God required for those who desired to approach God.
The truth is, God does not change. God is still holy. God still demands humility and repentance in order to approach Him. In fact, the Book of Hebrews teaches that God still demands sacrifice in order to approach Him - just not animal sacrifice. Instead, the Bible teaches that in order for one to approach God today, one must demonstrate humility and repentance through faith in Jesus - trusting that His sacrifice as the Son of God and Messiah was sufficient to cleanse one from all sin. One must approach God with faith in the identity and work of Jesus, trusting that His offering as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world is a real thing that one identifies one's self with. Since the sacrifices of people are insufficient to remove sin, and sin must be purged in order to dwell with God, one must trust in the sufficiency of Christ as the Lamb of God and the Great High Priest, and trust that His sacrifice was good enough for all sin even though He offered it only once and for all.
The testimony of Exodus 20:22-26 explains that, when one receives revelation and understanding of who God is, one is expected to respond to Him a certain way. One is expected to draw near Him - and rightly so since He is the Author of life and all things that are good. Yet, one must go to God in genuine humility and repentance demonstrated through sacrifice. One must die to self and since the blood of animals is not enough to cleanse one of sin, one must trust in the work of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, as the method by which one is able to approach God. There is no other way. In this way, the Lord showed the children of Israel His holy nature and the reality of sin. The wages of sin is indeed death, and thus, sacrifice is necessary. Someone has to die because of sin. Since God prescribed animal sacrifice, He demonstrated His desire for His children to live, giving a process reflective of substitutionary death. God wanted to be close to His people and gave them instructions in how to do so in order to receive the blessings that God desires to give. Yet the full context of scripture shows that the efforts of people to offer their own sacrifices was insufficient. Thus, God went above and beyond, showing the extent of His desire to be with His people and bless them in eternity, by taking the form of flesh as Jesus to offer Himself as a sacrifice; thereby accomplishing the work that no person could complete.
When a person recognizes the presence of God in the scriptures, the Bible explains that there are only two ways that people respond. One way is correct, and the other way is incorrect. Thankfully, God is patient with His people so that even displaying an incorrect response, God is not quick to destroy, but instead is patient and seeks to nurture His people to righteousness according to His standards. The Bible teaches that when people recognize the presence and power of God, they either tremble in fear and distance themselves from God, or they tremble in fear but approach God in humility. The consistent factor is that everyone trembles in fear! The Bible explains that the greatness and power of the Living God is no joke. When people experience it, the Bible does not describe immediate joy, but terror once a person understands how awesome and powerful the Lord really is!
The testimony of Exodus 20:18-21 explains Israel's response to God upon receiving the Law. God gave the 10 Commandments. Moses presented the 10 Commandments. The people responded. However, the scriptures explain that the people did not respond according to God's will. Recall that before Moses went up Mount Sinai, the presence of the Lord surrounded the mountain with great fire, smoke, thundering and lightning. God surrounded the mountain to reveal the greatness of His power, knowing that He would give Moses the Law, which defined the essence of His own righteousness. God understood that His holy and righteous nature made it so that the people could not approach Him in their sinful nature. Therefore, God revealed Himself in a terrifying way to teach the people that He could not be approached in sin. Thus, while Moses was on the mountain receiving the Law, the people stayed back.
Exodus 20:18-21 explains that when Moses came back down, the entire congregation of Israel had witnessed the power of God surround the mountain. No one was exempt from understanding the greatness of God in those days. The scriptures are clear to explain that the people stood "afar off" in response to the great power of the Living God. While the scriptures initially make it seem as if the people were just following God's instruction to stay away from the mountain, the request of the people from Moses shows that the people had impure motives in keeping distance from God. Exodus 20:18-21 reveals that the people didn't want to hear from God. Though they were terrified by His greatness, they allowed the fear to consume them so that they pleaded with Moses to speak to them instead of hearing from God Himself. The people desired the hear the voice of a man rather than the voice of God.
The Bible explains that Moses sought to inform and correct the people. The Bible explains that Moses told the people not to be afraid. Moses had good reason to say those things. Though the Lord presented Himself in a terrifying way, God had already proved that He was in favor of the children of Israel on account of the eternally unconditional promises that He had previously made. God did not intend to destroy His people even though He demonstrated His power through the supernatural events described in scripture. The people should have understood this, but did not. Moses did understand this truth and sought to share it with the people. Moses told the people that God presented Himself in the way that He did as a test. God desired to test the people in order to see how they would respond in their fear. Though God understood that the people would be terrified, God wanted to see if the people would humble themselves and draw closer to Him in appreciation to the favor they had received, or if they would distance from Him out of fear of consequence for their desires.
The scriptures explain that Moses made an important statement regarding the motives and purpose of God's test. God presented His greatness in order to strike fear into the hearts of His people to see if that would cause them to live outside of sin. Moses plainly told the people, "God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin." God sought to scare His people straight. God gave the people a glimpse into the true nature of His power in order to scare the people into repentance. God did not want His people to sin. God already showed that He is wiling to judge sin. God already showed the power He is able to exercise to destroy sin. Therefore, God showed His power to the children of Israel to explain to them that He does not tolerate sin and they needed to live apart from it. Since God was as powerful as He revealed Himself to be, the people would have been wise to avoid offending Him in sin.
Though Moses tried to encourage the people by revealing the plan and will of God, the people rejected Moses' words and the purpose of God. Exodus 20:18-21 explains that the people responded in opposition to God's will, while Moses responded opposite the people in accordance with God's will. Though God desired repentance, demonstrated through a humble seeking of Him, the Bible says that the people continued to stand afar off. The people would not humble themselves. The people would not leave their sin behind to seek the righteousness of God. The people did not desire the Living God more than the voices of men. Thus, distance remained between the people and God so that the intimate relationship that God desired was not produced. The Book of Hebrews explains that the people were unable to approach the Lord because of transgressions. God presented His righteousness through the Law, which identified the transgressions and sins of the people. However, rather than humbling themselves and seeking forgiveness to draw near to the Lord, the people were content to stay away.
On the other hand, the Bible explains that Moses understood the Lord's purpose, recognized His sin, and approached the Lord in humble repentance. Moses knew that God desired His people to live apart from sin in order to draw near Him, and so the Bible testifies that Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was. Moses desired God. Moses desired God more than sin. Moses desired to hear the voice of God more than the voices of men. Moses wanted to be near God and so sought to draw near Him in humble repentance, leaving behind whatever sin might have caused distance.
The testimony of Exodus 20:18-21 is clear. Even when God presented His righteousness through the Law and thereby exposed the unrighteousness of the people, God did so only to facilitate repentance. If God wanted to destroy the people, the demonstration of His power showed that He could have at any time. However, God exercised restraint because He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and be saved. God wanted His people to leave sin behind in pursuit of Him. God wanted the people to desire Him more than anything else; and considering the miraculous works that God had already done for the people, God demonstrated fair expectations. The testimony of Exodus 20:18-21 explains that anyone can approach the Lord when one is willing to do so in humble repentance, seeking to keep from sin to be joined to God. Though God's righteousness had not yet been imputed through Jesus at the time, Moses was not destroyed for seeking God in humility. However, the people expressed that they desired the approval of other people rather than God. They desired the words of men rather than the words that give life from God. As a result, there was distance between them and God. Thus, the Bible makes it clear that there is only one way to draw near the Lord and the life that He offers: humble self in repentance and seek Him by going to Him in the Word, not some intermediary. Any other approach produces distance.
The Bible teaches that God is all-knowing. Since God is all-knowing, He has a perfect understanding of all things, especially those thing concerning His creation in humanity. The Bible teaches that God is very involved in the lives of people, whether those people would confess that truth or not. The Lord is always aware and focused on all people at all times, having a perfect understanding of each individual He created. Therefore, those who believe, who desire to be identified as God's children, should trust in these truths, knowing that one's life circumstances are due to the will and purpose of God.
It is important to recognize the position of God in this way because human beings have natural habits to be dissatisfied, to complain, and to desire to consume. While many people have everything that is needed to do that which God has called them to do, there is a natural human tendency to desire more. Though the Bible teaches that God promised to meet the basic needs of His people, and take care of all things regarding spiritual nourishment and everlasting life, there is a natural human tendency to expect God to do more. When the Lord spoke to Moses and gave him the 10 Commandments, God was sure to address this issue.
In Exodus 20:17 the Lord gave the last of the 10 Commandments, which states that the people of God should not covet. The Lord stated that His people should not covet their neighbor's house, their neighbor's wife, their neighbor's servants, their neighbor's possessions, or anything else that didn't belong to them. The Lord did not want the people looking at the quality of His provision, being unsatisfied with it, and looking elsewhere in jealousy to fulfill a fleshly desire. The Lord wanted His people to be content with that which they were given. The Bible wanted His people to trust that He knew exactly what His people needed, gave according to that need, and trust that God knew the appropriate measure for each person.
God used the word "covet" in His command to describe that which He did not want His people to practice. The Hebrew word "covet" is also translated into the English word "desire," "delight," and "pleasure" in the Bible. The word refers to an intense desire. The English dictionary states that coveting refers to an "inordinate" desire for something that someone else has. When one considers these truths, it is simple to see that God was seeking to protect His children from breaking other commandments through this commandment. One must consider that an "inordinate" desire for anything besides the Lord could be seen as idolatry in the eyes of the Lord. One must consider that an "inordinate" desire for another persons' spouse could be seen as adultery in the eyes of the Lord. One must consider that an "inordinate" desire for the possession of someone else could lead that person to steal or murder, either literally, or in one's heart. The "inordinate" desire that one might possess for something else that someone else has could lead to a whole bunch of other trouble!
The command that God gave was an appropriate command to finish with in what is traditionally referred to as "the 10 Commandments." While people traditionally referred to this portion of scripture as the 10 Commandments, it is important to recognize that God gave the children of Israel more commandments. In fact, when one observes the testimonies that Moses provided of the 10 Commandments in the Book of Deuteronomy, one will find that God immediately elaborated on defining these commandments, explained His expectation for the children of Israel to keep the commandments, then identified the place and purpose of His people. The Book of Leviticus and Numbers explains that organization of the Living God, and how He designated people to live in certain places and execute certain jobs for certain purposes. Those books explain that God equipped each person in order that they would be able to live according to the ways that He desired and commanded. As God provided those tools and traits, God gave to each person according to His will in order that they should accomplish His purpose for His glory. The 10th commandment of Exodus 20:17 explains that God did not want His people questioning His choices, complaining about His plan, and desiring something different than the will of God.
The Bible teaches that God is the provider of all things, whether those things are interpreted as good, bad, sufficient, insufficient, convenient, inconvenient, or otherwise. Thus, one that covets another's possessions or circumstances is one that finds dissatisfaction in the provision of the Lord and disagreement with God's will and purpose. One that covets the possessions or circumstances of another is one that looks at the work that God has done in one's own life, disapproves of God's work, and expresses a form of pride in such a way that the person feels they know better what's good for them than God does. One who covets the possessions and circumstances of another is one that assumes to know better than God so that one desires other things as if they will bring fulfillment outside of God's will and purpose.
The Book of Exodus, the Book of Leviticus, the Book of Numbers, and the Book of Deuteronomy show that God's focus was on the living habits of His people so that He gave detailed commands in how His people should live, in order that their lives would be reflective of worship as a form of thanksgiving for the deliverance He provided. Therefore, God gave commands that would arrange the lives of His people so that they would be equipped to serve particular positions dedicated to the worship of God. As the holy, righteous, just, and sovereign Lord, God demanded to be worshiped a particular way. God prescribed families, lifestyles, livelihoods and responsibilities to each of His people so that they would be able to work together in the wilderness in a mode of worship to the Lord. God did not want His people to desire anything different, or anything more than what He had already provided. God's provision was already sufficient to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the people in such a way that pleased Him and just wanted the people to trust that this was true. Hence, one that covets is one that distrusts the Lord's provision as sufficient, and doubts the Lord's understanding and care for His people.
The church today has an interesting fascination with testimonies. It is not uncommon for a modern "outreach" to provide the testimonies of certain individuals that serve as witnesses for the work that Jesus did in their lives. Even church services often take time to promote the testimonies of others so that the congregation can see the changes that Jesus has done in a particular person's life. There are testimonials all over the place within the church. Sometimes this is a good thing, and sometimes it is a bad thing. In order to discern whether a testimony is good or bad, one must examine a testimony in the manner that Jesus instructed - not looking at the outward appearance, but judging with a righteous judgment according to the standards of God by evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in the life of the one giving the testimony.
This is an important truth to consider since the ninth commandment that God gave dealt with the issue of "testimonies." In Exodus 20:16 the Lord commanded His people not to bear false witness. In other words, God commanded His people not to give false testimonies. History shows that there were a number of different reasons that God gave this command. The scriptures reveal that the people often took bribes to provide false information in court settings and were "false witnesses" this way, and God didn't want that. The scriptures also reveal that the children of Israel were supposed to live Godly lives reflecting the righteousness of God Himself through obedience to the Law as a "witness" to surrounding pagan nations. However, the Bible states that the people did not follow God's Law, adopted pagan practices, and while they were considered God's people, they presented "false witnesses" of God's character in this way. God did not want this either.
In order to understand the essence of God's command, one must understand the purpose of a witness generally speaking. The original Hebrew word that is translated into the English word "witness" refers to one that provides a testimony or evidence of something. The English dictionary defines a "witness" as one that can attest to a certain fact or event. A witness is one that provides evidence of what is supposed to be true and fact. When a "witness" is brought into a court setting, the witness is supposed to make truthful and factual statements about the things he or she has seen and knows. A witness is expected to verify certain events as true so that truth becomes the basis of the witnesses testimony.
Exodus 20:16 explained God's desire for His people to do this job according to its definition. God does not lie. God does not deceive. The essence of God is truth even to the extent that when Jesus identified Himself as God in flesh, He referred to Himself as the embodiment of truth. This means that God is fact. This means that God is real. This means that God is actual and continual. This also means that Jesus came into the earth as God in flesh to prove the Bible's claims about God as "truth" to be observable fact. Hence, God gave the ninth command with the expectation that His people would resemble His essence as truth. God desired that the words of His people would be true and based on fact. God desired that the children of Israel would provides factual accounts of real events in court settings when matters of "truth" had to be establish, especially dealing with circumstances of innocence or guilt.
The scriptures explain that God was looking past the court room in the command to refrain from bearing false witness. While it is true that God desired for His people to be honest in their testimonies about each other to prove matters of guilt or innocence according to the Law, the bigger issues at had was the witness that the people were providing of Him. The objective of the Lord was that the people would practice being truthful witnesses with one another in order that they would develop good habits based on truth, thereby facilitating a desire and good habit to provide truthful witnesses of God. Since all of the other commands dealt with issues of the heart, the Lord gave the command of Exodus 20:16 with the same motive - to deal with matters of the heart.
The command to not bear false witness is a command that demands the people of God provide a truthful witness about Him. God expected His people to testify of Him in truth. God demanded that His people provide substantial evidence of God being real, fact, and fundamentally consistent in nature according to the ways that they lived. Consider that the first half of the 10 Commandments dealt with the relationship that God's people were supposed to have directly with God. The Lord expected to have exclusively intimate relationships with His people predicated on worship and obedience, which would have served as a good witness to the pagan nations around them. Thus, the command to refrain from bearing "false witness" was equal to the command to refrain from disobedience through idolatry, false god worship, and profaning the Lord's name.
The true essence of the ninth command show that, while the Lord is interested in truth being verbally spoken, He is equally concerned, if not more so, with the conduct of His people. The Bible teaches that the mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart. Thus, God understood that if the heart was pure and focused on truth, the mouth would reflect such a condition. While many people have made proclamations of "truth" by word, the hearts of those people were not always reflective of good witnesses. It is not necessarily a bad thing when a person claims that Jesus did a miraculous work of transformation in their lives. God is glorified in those types of statements - when those statements are true.
According to God's Word, in order to provide a good testimony and not be a false witness, one must proclaim God as true through the words and conduct that one manifests as a result of the inward change that God produces by His Spirit's work on the heart. The testimony of a person should reflect the work of the Living God since God is the only One that is "true" in nature. One's life should reflect one's claims about God. One cannot speak as a witness of God while being a practitioner of profane things, idolatry, false god worship, rejecting God's work of sanctification while living as part of the world. The ninth commandment shows that those who proclaim to be of God (who is true) and yet live as practitioners of idolatry, false god worship, profanity, as part of the world while rejecting God's sanctifying work to change the heart, are false witnesses, which God commanded against. Though all people are works in progress, a true witness is one that is allowing the Spirit of God to actually get that work of sanctification done, and who's life is a reflection of that reality through fruit. Since God commanded against false witnesses, all of God's people should submit to the Lord in humility, denying the desires of one's flesh and the yearning of one's will in order to facilitate the sanctifying work of God's Spirit through the Word for His exclusive glory. According to the Bible, when the people of God are willing to live in that manner in faith, the people of God are good witnesses of truth.
Warning labels can be pretty good sources of entertainment. It is sometimes pretty ridiculous to consider some of the things that certain products have to warn people about. These days, the general consensus is that companies have to place those warning labels on their products for their own protection, because in spite of how silly some of them may seem, someone, somewhere, has done what the warning label says not to do. While most warning labels seem like the simplest form of common sense, warning labels exist because some people just don't understand, or choose to do that which is foolish anyway.
When God communicated the 10 Commandments to Moses, the same type of logic can be applied to God's commands. The 10 Commandments serve as instructions that should be easily understood and simple. Since God is the only functional god that is alive and active, then it makes sense to worship Him and Him alone lest one look like a fool putting trust in static objects of flawed mortal people. For this reason, it is simple to understand that one should not have idols, that one should not profane the name of the only true God who created all things. To one that understands who God is, these seem like things that shouldn't need to be communicated because they're so obvious and simple in concept. It should be clear to the people of God that He deserves at least one day dedicated to remembrance of Him and His work.
God commanded that His people should honor their parents. This makes sense. The commandment is in regards to one's parents - those who God used to bring life into the world. The command is in regards to those who nurtured a child, clothed it, and provided shelter with some elements of instruction. The opportunity to fail or succeed in life in attributed to one's parents that the life that they provided and nourished when every child was young and unable. It is reasonable that a child should honor one's parents. This is a good commandment that makes life better. The Lord commanded that His people should not murder one another. Of course people should not murder one another. The Lord commanded that His people should not commit adultery and destroy the family unit. Of course people shouldn't commit adultery. When one examines the simplicity of these commandments, it almost seems as if God were treating His people like ignorant children that had little understanding of that which is good. Nevertheless, God communicated that which some may find basic and obvious and had good intentions for doing so.
In Exodus 20:15 the Lord commanded His people that they should not steal. Once again, the Lord provided a simple and seemingly obvious command. Of course people should not steal. It is a somewhat obvious statement that one person should not seek to take that which belongs to another - especially since all things belong to the Lord. It is a reasonable command that provides good benefits when obeyed, that people should not seek to take the possessions of others from selfish ambitions and lusts. However, in spite of the simplicity of God's "warning label," one must recognize that God said it because people were doing it. God told people not to murder because the people needed to be told as some were committing the physical act of murder, and most were committing murder in the heart. God told the people not to commit adultery because the people needed to be told as some were committing the physical act of adultery, and many were committing adultery in heart. In the same way, God told the people that they should refrain from stealing because many of the people were stealing.
God is not interested in speaking commands just for the sake of expelling His breath. The Lord told the people not to steal because the people had a problem with stealing. The truth is that the command to refrain from stealing was a reflection of the hearts of the people, just like the previous seven commandments. God gave the command about steal not just because of the criminals that were taking things that weren't theirs, but for all of the people who desired to have things that God did not provide. In fact, God elaborated on this commandment with the last two commandments. Yet the command God gave to refrain from stealing is one that needs to be considered deeply.
Stealing is reflective of a selfish heart. Stealing is reflective of a discontented heart. Stealing is reflective of a self-entitled heart. Stealing is reflective of a proud heart. Stealing is reflective of a greedy heart. None of these things reflect the heart of the Living God. All of these things are contrary to the nature of God. Scripture candidly proclaims that those who have selfish, discontented, self-entitled, greedy and proud hearts will be judged unless there is repentance and faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ. It is for these reasons that many people since the command was given, have sought to redefine "stealing." Since people naturally have selfish, discontented, self-entitled, greedy and proud hearts, many people have sought to justify the act of stealing through semantics and rhetoric. Many people feel that with a good explanation, one can justify one's case in why they possess something they should not possess that isn't theirs. This reality reflects the wicked hearts of all people, not just God's people.
Understanding these truths, one must see the point that God was trying to make when He gave the command to refrain from stealing. While it is true that God wanted people to stay way from taking things that weren't theirs, God was seeking to prove a bigger point of the heart. God didn't want His people being selfish, seeking to horde all things to themselves. God didn't want His people to be discontented. God instead wanted His people to be satisfied with the quantity and quality of His provision that He was determining as suitable and sufficient. God did not want His people to have attitudes of self-entitlement. When one examines the history of Israel and recognizes their previous position in bondage in Egypt, anything that the children of Israel received from God was a demonstration of grace. The children of Israel were entitled to nothing. The Bible actually teaches that the only thing people are entitled to is death because of sin and the offenses that all have brought against God. Therefore, God desired that His people would be humble and thankful for that which He does provide; however much or little that may be. God did not want His people to have greedy hearts that were focused on acquiring material goods and possessions that were just going to perish. Knowing that He was going to destroy this world and the things in it when He judges sin, God desires to protect His people from the inevitable disappointment of decay and destruction concerning material wealth and gain. God did not want His people to be proud. Since God resists the proud, God did not want people taking things that weren't theirs in order to boast of that which they possessed. God gives grace to the humble and so desired for His people to be humble.
The command to refrain from stealing seems obvious, but there is a huge lesson to be learned in the command concerning one's heart. While most people would not consider themselves "thieves" one must carefully examine one's heart before making that assessment. In fact, God even accused the children of Israel of stealing from Him by withholding tithes and offerings. The withholding of tithes and offerings was a reflection of hearts that were selfish, discontented, self-entitled, greedy, and proud. God was not pleased. When reading warning labels, it is often funny to image the foolishness of a person who actually does some of the things that are listed on warning labels. However, the joke seems less funny when one discovers that one is an offender of the warning. This would qualify the person as foolish. The Lord provided this command and the simplicity of it in order that His people would recognize their faults in foolishness and repent. The Lord intended that His people would not feel proud to say that they weren't thieves, but instead, examine their hearts to make sure they were absent the internal characteristics of thieves, and upon finding similarities, repent. Since God is primarily interested in the heart, one would be wise to ask God to reveal any area of the heart that is reflective of a thief in order that one could confess that sin, receive forgiveness in repentance, be changed by the Spirit of God, reflect the image of God, and glorify God in humility!
It is a common thought that one of the most brutally painful things that some people deal with is adultery and the effects of it. People have been killed on account of adultery because of the jealousy that stems from it. Families have been split and children have dealt with intense emotional distress on account of adultery. Spouses have felt betrayed and had to deal with insecurity and inadequacy issues as a result of adultery. When one examines the history of adultery and the results of it, one will find that the root of it (for the adulterer) is selfishness and pride. This is exactly the reason that the Living God commanded against it, knowing that nothing good comes from it and that it is reflective of a wicked heart that is contrary to Him.
In Exodus 20:14 the Lord plainly told His people that they should not commit adultery. While it might seem like an obvious statement that one should not commit murder, or adultery, or that one should not steal, God was compelled to command against these things anyway because He understood the hearts of people. The Lord commanded against adultery because the Lord was dealing with the hearts of His people. Knowing that adulterous relationships were the products of selfishness, self-righteousness, self-entitlement, and pride, God commanded against the act since such a heart condition is reflective of one that is in opposition of Him and in danger of judgment.
When the Lord originally created human beings, He made Adam and Eve and expressed His desire for the two to become one as an illustration of the relationship He desired to have with His people. However, one does not have to go far into scripture to see that soon after people began to populate the world, people began living contrary to God's will in order to satisfy the cravings and lusts of their flesh, and polygamous relationships were the result. The Bible shows that as soon as God's order concerning marriage was changed, big problems started to arise. Scripture is candid to show the folly of humanity as people sough to satisfy their fleshly cravings and produced broken families, bitterness and resentment. God knew that these things were against His will for His people to be fruitful, fill the earth and multiply, and so God commanded against sexual relationships that inevitably destroy families.
While adultery is defined as an extra-marital sexual relationship, the Bible teaches that adultery, like murder, is an issue of the heart that God sees as problematic whether the physical act of adultery is actually carried forth or not. Since the physical act of adultery is simply the physical demonstration of selfishness and pride that stems from one's heart, God can see the selfishness and pride of adulterous relationships before the physical act takes place. Jesus quoted Exodus 20:14 in Matthew 5:27 when He gave the Sermon on the Mount. In that teaching session, Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." This is a difficult reality to deal with. God plainly commanded the children of Israel that they should not commit adultery, but Jesus explained that when a person desires and "lusts" for a woman in his heart, he has already committed the act, presented himself guilty of the Law before God, and worthy of judgment. It must be further understood that while Jesus referred to men, the language is inclusive of women as well, making women equally accountable to the command that God gave.
Based on the clarifying teaching of Jesus, God's command in Exodus 20:14 is based on the situation of "lust." Since God considers "lust" as equal to the act of adultery, one must understand the meaning of lust in order to discern when one is guilty of breaking God's commands. The original language uses a word that describes a "look." The KJV of Matthew 5:27 states that if a person "look" upon another, one is guilty of adultery. However, the original language states that the "look" Jesus referred to is one that is with focused intent. The word means to look at one with the mind's eye, to discern mentally, to contemplate, and deeply consider and carefully weigh out what one is observing. This is why the Greek word is translated into the English word "lust." The English dictionary defines "lust" as a strong feeling or desire, which in this case is related to a sexual context. The English dictionary states that lust is a strong pleasure or delight, a personal inclination or a wish that is manifested in the form of an intense longing or craving.
The Bible teaches that the issue of adultery stems from one's affections and desires to satisfy the flesh without regard to consequence. The desires of that person are so deep and intense that one is willing to desire another person without regard to consequence concerning one's family obligations, and more importantly, one's relationship with the Lord. Based on the definition of lust, one will find that the affection that lust describes is a quality of affection that competes with the affection one should have for God. The amount of time and effort that one might spend in one's mind, imagining scenarios and circumstances, or even plotting certain events, is time that one should take to honor God though obedience to one's responsibilities as a husband or wife.
It is also important to consider that the Bible teaches why the effects of adultery as so devastating. Since God's intent was for husband and wife to become one, when a person divides what is supposed to be a single unit, by definition, the unit is broken and unable to function properly. Therefore, when a person commits adultery, even in one's heart without committing the physical act, one is separating that which God ordained to be one. Not only does this go against God's will and put one in danger of eternal judgment, but also makes both husband and wife dysfunctional according to God's purpose, thereby being disable to execute God's will the way God originally intended. While one might be forgiven of adultery, one will always have to deal with the consequences of adultery, and never be able to be fully equipped to accomplish God's will as originally intended because of that sin.
While the world has become a promoter of adulterous relationships, and has even created services to facilitate them, God is emphatically against adultery. The Lord is strongly against these things because He understands the lies of the world and wants to protect His people from the miserable consequences of foolishness. The command was simple and there are no varying interpretations to the words God communicated in Exodus 20:14. Husbands and wives are to remain with each other, and only each other, and are to refrain from having lustful thoughts about other opportunities or possibilities. The people of God were expected to reject such ideas, and when one rejects the idea, it is a natural effect to reject the action. When Joseph was presented with an "opportunity" to participate in an adulterous affair, he sprinted out of the room he was cornered in and told the woman who approached him that he would not sleep with her and sin against God. Joseph knew that adultery was not just destructive to the marriage and the family unit, but understood the bigger picture, that God is offended with such things. Joseph, having the fear of God in him, refrained from the thought and act, considering God first before His own fleshly desires. This is the point of God's commands. One is expected to consider God before one's own fleshly desires - especially sexual ones, and especially in marriage.
It is interesting to consider that many people try to use facets of the 10 Commandments to justify their "righteous" position as "good people," especially considering that the Bible teaches that the Law condemns people as guilty sinners worthy of death. Many people feel that they are considered "good people" and quote the sixth commandment as the basis for their righteousness. There are many people who feel that, because they haven't killed anyone, or committed murder, that they are essentially "good people" and therefore, worthy to escape the judgment of hell. Knowing that the Bible describes the Law as the basis of God's unique righteousness, and by extension identifies the sin of mankind, it is critical that one understand one's actual position from God's perspective based on what His Word say.
The Bible reveals that God gave a simple command. In Exodus 20:13 the Lord said that murder was unacceptable. The command specifically says, "You shall not murder." Many misquote this verse assuming that God said that "killing" was unacceptable. This is not true. In fact, the Bible shows that God Himself commanded many people to be killed and was responsible for killing many people deserving of death. One of the promises of God is that He will destroy sin upon the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ, and part of that work will involve the destruction of people who reject His offer of mercy and grace and choose instead to be identified in sin. Refraining from killing is not the command that God gave. Refraining from murder is the command, and so one must have an understanding of the difference to know what obedience to the command looks like.
The English dictionary defines "murder" as: the crime of unlawfully killing a person, especially with malice aforethought. Though murder involves killing, the dictionary explains that the difference between the two is the motive that one has. The key word in the definition of murder is the word "malice." Malice is the motivator of murder according to the dictionary. Malice is a desire to cause pain, injury or distress to another. Hence, murder is an act of killing that is motivated by the wickedness of human flesh, not by the righteous command of God. While God did command the children of Israel to kill many people that were disobedient against Him, He never did so motivated by the wickedness of His flesh since God is not flesh and has no wickedness. Instead, the Bible explains that the military-style killings that God commanded were in response to the sin committed against Him; and since the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), the Lord was simply paying the people who were killed their fair wages according to their sin.
Exodus 20:13 essentially explains that mankind does not have the authority to decide who lives and who dies. Since murder is an act of killing motivated by the wicked flesh of people, then murder is equal to rebellion against God, taking something which is His. After God flooded the earth because of the amount of sin that was in the world, God commanded Noah to be fruitful, fill the earth, and multiply in it. As God gave this command, He reminded Noah that his job was to fill the earth, not take life into his own hands through murder. God also stated why the taking of life was unacceptable. In Genesis 9:6 God said that mankind was made in the image of God, therefore His blood should not be shed. God even commanded the children of Israel that they should not eat food with its blood still in it because life was in the blood. God told Noah to refrain from shedding blood and the children of Israel to refrain from consuming blood because of the life that was in the blood. Life belongs to the Lord and Him alone. God alone is sovereign to have authority over who lives and who dies. Therefore, murder is reflective of one that seeks to usurp God's authority and take life into their own hands as if they are the authority over God.
Jesus also taught about murder. Since the Jewish religious leaders worked to use the Law of God as a way to define their own brand of righteousness, Jesus explained Exodus 20:13 in greater detail in order to reveal the true meaning of the commandment and the purpose for God giving the command. In Matthew 5:20 Jesus said that, "Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." The righteousness that Jesus referred to was self-righteousness. Therefore, one cannot enter heaven on the basis of one's own interpretation or definition of God's law and commands. One must have a proper understanding of God's commands in order to understand the true definition of righteousness. Therefore, Jesus explained.
Matthew 5:21-22 explains that Jesus used Exodus 20:13 as the basis of His lesson against self-righteousness. The scribes and Pharisees were saying the same things that people say today: they hadn't committed the physical act of murder and so they were righteous by the standards of God's law, thinking they had kept the sixth commandment. Jesus stated otherwise and proved every person guilty as murderers. Jesus explained that murder is an issue of the heart. The definition of murder describes that it is simply the acts that one undergoes in order to overstep the authority of God. Therefore, the essence of murder is a revelation of the wicked intents of people to be in a higher position than God. Jesus explained that there are various ways that this issue manifests itself that don't result in the physical act of murder, but come from the same spirit and attitude that inspires murder.
Jesus taught that those who are angry with a person for any unjust cause are guilty as murderers since that type of anger is the same type of anger that leads to murder. When a person is angry with another without just cause, one assumes to be greater than the person they are angry with in pride as if they are innocent of sin and equal to God. Jesus condemned this attitude. Jesus also taught that those who seek to blame others with malicious intents are guilty as murderers as well since the type of malice that one exercises then is equal to the spirit of murder. When one seeks to cast blame upon another assuming one to be innocent of all things in the process is defined as pride. Only one is innocent and it is Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that all others are guilty of sin and so those who seek to cast blame upon others in malice make themselves as God and exercise the spirit of murder in the process. Lastly, Jesus taught that those who seek to defame another person by attacking their reputation are guilty of murder since the motives one has to slander another is reflective of the motives people have in murder. When a person seeks to tarnish the reputation of another for the purpose of elevating their own, that person seeks to be elevated above others as if they were God. It is for this reason that Jesus identified these things as murder.
Since murder begins in the heart, one does not have to commit the physical act of murder in order to be guilty as a murderer in the eyes of the Living God. When one seeks to exercise any sort of authority over the life of another as if they were God, the Lord considers such murder. He alone is in charge of life and will determine who lives and who dies. People who seek to maliciously alter the course of someone's life are guilty according to the scriptures. For this reason, the Bible describes that all are guilty of murder and are therefore in need of a Savior since God will judge the guilty. Murder is not a subject that one can speak on with any sort of confidence to justify one's position in righteousness. Those who seek to use the subject of murder as a means to justify their position as "good people" demonstrate ignorance of the Bible, God's commands, and God Himself, which then reveals them to be offenders of the first four commandments as well. This is why Jesus taught that self-righteousness will not suffice to admit one into the kingdom of heaven.
Since all are guilty, then all are required to humbly repent and seek One with greater righteousness than any sinful human being - Jesus Christ. In seeking the righteousness of Christ in faith, His righteousness is imputed to the believer, thereby dismissing any and all guilt from the Law and gradually equipping one to fulfill the Law through sanctification. Since murder is an issue of the heart, one must have a change in heart condition in order to refrain from murder. The Bible teaches that the only way to receive this change is through regeneration: repentance from sin facilitated by faith in the identity and purpose of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Messiah, who gives the Spirit of God to cleanse and change the heart into one reflective of His own.
Family dynamics these days are a difficult thing to manage, especially according to scripture. Today in many places the modern family does not resemble the family dynamics that scripture illustrates. Today there are varieties of different scenarios that complicate the family unit, and legislation makes those complicated factors even more difficult to bear in a way that is consistent with scripture. These truths and realities make obedience to the scriptures very difficult in regards to the fifth command that the Lord gave. While the Lord first issued commandments that would facilitate good relationships with Him, the second half of the 10 Commandments was designed to allow people to be righteous towards one another. The first place the Lord started to instruction righteousness amongst one another was in the home with parents.
In Exodus 20:12 the Lord plainly said that His people must honor their father and mother. There are a few important factors to consider in this commandment. Before one can practice obedience to this commandment, and before one makes the excuses one might have about one's father or mother, one must first identify the meaning of "honor." The original Hebrew word used to describe this commandment is a difficult one to explain and interpret. The word is translated in a variety of different ways. In fact, the original Hebrew word used to describe "honor" in Exodus 20:12 is translated into 12 other English words in the Old Testament! Some of those words include: glorify, heavy, harden, sore, and great. The use of this word opens up a lot of different meanings to what "honor" should mean, but the use of the word in both the Hebrew and the English language helps one contextually define God's commandment.
The English definition of the word "honor" refers to one with a good name or reputation. The English definition of the word "honor" refers to a quality of merit and recognition. The Biblical usage of the word refers to the same thing; and the other translations of the word help one understand how one can honor one's father and mother. It is helpful to consider the first five commandments before one examines the next command since understanding God's purpose for the first will help one understand God's motive for the next, and then allow one to know what it means to "honor." The first five commandments that God gave to Moses were to teach humility and submission to God. God demanded that He be the sole recipient of reverent and fearful worship. God wanted an exclusively unique relationship with His people since He promised to outwardly and spiritually bless them for obedience. God wanted to reveal Himself to His people and outsiders through the relationship the Law facilitated with Him. Knowing this, one can examine the rest of the 10 Commandments and understand that God desired to facilitate the same lessons in humility and submission.
The command of Exodus 20:12 deals with position. In order to honor another person, the person showing honor must first humble themselves in submission. The Lord first commanded that His people were to honor Him, which first required the humility of His people and a willingness to submit to His ways rather than their own. The command to honor one's father and mother is no different. The command is intended to teach humility to children - and not children of any particular age. The word honor referred to one that has a good name and reputation. This is a challenge since some parents do not have good names or reputation. However, the commandment that God gave had no amendments or clauses that provided exceptions for those with "bad parents." The Lord did not qualify whether a parent was to meet a certain standard in order to be honored. The command was intentionally simple. Whether good or bad, present or not present, the Lord commanded that His people should conduct themselves in such a way that gave their parents a good name and reputation.
This requires that a person must deny one's self to show mother and father honor. While there are parents that are great parents, one's children do not always agree with their parents. Once again, God does not care about those things. Whether one agrees with one's parents or not, God's people were to conduct themselves in such a way that gave their parents a good name and reputation. This means that the people were not to bad mouth their parents or conduct themselves in ways that made their parents the subjects of slandering conversations. This requires a person to humble themselves, deny their own personal opinions, and subject themselves to their mother and father out of obedience to God - not necessarily to please people.
While this can be difficult, the Lord sought to teach the children of Israel about how to engage with Him. There are things that God says that are difficult. There are things that God does that many don't understand or agree with. The truth is, a person is expected to submit to God either way. The Lord is the Lord and He is deserving of the utmost honor. However, one's mother and father are not at all like the Lord and so the amount of humility and self-denial that is required to honor one's flawed parents is extremely high. While the Lord sought to teach humility and submission in this command, the command also facilitates dependency on the Lord at the same time. There are many parent/child relationships that are just too difficult for the child to bear. There are many circumstances where it is nearly impossible for a child to show honor to one's mother an/or father. Once again, the commandment of God does not provide any exceptions. Instead, those who seek to obey the Lord will realize that the Lord is absolutely essential in order to be obedient. Though the circumstances might appear to be impossible for a child to honor mother or father, the Bible teaches that "all things are possible" with God. Thus, if one seeks the ability of the Lord, one is able to accomplish the "impossible" and able to honor mother and father by His own ability.
It is important to consider that the commandment does not have any age requirements. No matter how old a "child" might be, God commanded that one honor mother and father. Thus, one is not exempt from this command upon reaching adulthood. In fact, the translation of the Hebrew word "honor" places somewhat of a greater responsibility upon adults in how they are to honor their mother and father. Since the Hebrew word is also translated "heavy" the word also references certain burdens. For this reason, it was common for the Jews to interpret this command as referencing a child's financial provision for their parents. In other words, the people of God were to help bear the burdens of their parents (including financial) as a way to "honor" them. In fact, it was common for people with financial freedom to be considered people of honor in those days. Jesus even criticized the Jewish religious leaders for their practice of "corban," which was the practice of taking money that should have been used to honor father and mother, and attributing it to "church" use with selfish motives. Jesus explained that the people were wicked in their practices because they sought to use their money for selfish gain rather than take care of the financial and other burdens of mother and father, and thus, honor them.
The command to honor father and mother is difficult. When one considers the burdens that come with aging parents, one must truly deny the desires of one's flesh in order to ensure one's father and mother are well taken care of and maintain good public esteem as a result. The Lord is totally against one intentionally disconnecting one's relationship with one's mother and father in order to pursue selfish ambitions, especially if such pursuits lead to the demise in quality of living for one's mother and/or father. Taking care of one's parents in this way requires financial support, which usually requires sacrifice. Some mothers and fathers aren't even involved in some of the lives of their children, and some who are, work hard to destroy those relationships. Honoring these types of mothers and fathers requires great dependency on the Lord. Some people have great parents and relationships with their parents as if they were friends. However, the command to honor one's father and mother is not equal to the command to consider one's mother and father as peers or friends. The purpose of the command is to exalt them above one's own position. This requires humility and submission.
Knowing this, one can see why it is impossible to keep the commandments of the Living God. In order to obey the sixth command, one must depend upon the Lord for ability, which then forces one to seek obedience to the first 5 commands in order to ensure one's relationship with the Lord is healthy. The good news is that when one is connected to the Lord per the first half of the 10 Commandments, obedience to the sixth commandment is made possible since one then possesses the Spirit of God. Upon receiving the Spirit of God through faith and obedience to the first five commandments of God, one is made able to do the impossible,. In fact, it is the one who is able to honor one's father and mother in spite of difficult circumstances that brings great glory to God since others will recognize His Spirit as the motivator and facilitator that enables one to do that which is impossible for others who do not seek the Lord.
The Bible explains that the 10 Commandments were laws that the Lord gave specifically to the children of Israel as part of a covenant that He made especially with them. The purpose for God's covenant with Israel was to provide lessons and illustrations to the rest of the Hebrew generations as well as observing Gentiles, about how the Lord works - especially concerning salvation through Jesus. However, this does not mean that people who aren't Jewish in nature are exempt from God's Law. Instead, when one studies God's Law and is able to identify God's purpose for each specific element, one is able to understand God's heart and better serve Him - whether Jew or Gentile. This truth is powerfully evident in the Sabbath law.
The Sabbath law is one of those concepts that confuses many people. The Bible shows that God made a big deal about the Sabbath and even instituted special days to be Sabbath days. By definition, the Sabbath day was supposed to be hallowed as a holy day. Therefore, it becomes a confusing matter to Christians about how to observe the Sabbath for those that are compelled by the Spirit of God to obey the commandments of the Law. Fundamentally speaking, the Sabbath day is not a day that Gentiles are "required" to follow. Nevertheless, one's understanding of God's motive behind the Sabbath day will allow one to realize how one can honor God through the Sabbath the way He intended, without the stress and pressure of traditions and regiments, whether Jew or Gentile.
In Exodus 20:8-11 the Lord provided the instructions for the Sabbath. The essence of the command is give in the first word of the command. The Lord said to "remember" the Sabbath. One who keeps the Sabbath law is one who "remembers" the Sabbath and the point of it. The word "remember" refers to deep consideration when one brings something to mind, almost in a meditative sort of way. In other words, the Lord command that His people think about the Sabbath, its meaning, and its purpose. The Lord wanted the children of Israel to have the issues regarding the Sabbath as the thing that dominated their minds on that day. While the Jews later taught by tradition that the Sabbath was about refraining from activity in obsessive ways, the scriptures themselves show that God was not interested in the work that was done, or not done; but instead about where people minds and hearts were.
Exodus 20:8-11 explains that the Sabbath day was supposed to be "holy." The word holy refers to something that is separate and set apart for a godly purpose. God wanted the 7th day of the week, the Sabbath day, to be a day that was different from the other 6 days of the week. The scriptures explain that God even referenced the other 6 days of the week. God reminded the children of Israel that they were to "labor" for survival and to take care of their physical needs. Part of the curse of sin was the intensive labor that came with it. Thus, God expected mankind to work, and for that work to be hard and last for 6 days. However, God did not want His people to continue in that regiment on the 7th day. God desired that day to be different. God desired that day to be set apart for a different purpose. While the 6-day work week was intended to allow the children of Israel to take care of their physical needs and their families, God wanted the seventh day to be different by having a different purpose. For this reason, God commanded that no one was supposed to do any traditional work of any kind, including the laboring animals of one's household. The seventh day was not to be focused on normal production to meet one's physical needs.
The scriptures are helpful to show that God provided an example for what "rest" and refraining from labor looked like. God referenced the seventh day of creation as an example to the children of Israel. God said that He wanted the children of Israel to "rest" just like He "rested" on the seventh day of creation. It is important to then recognize what God did on the seventh day. The scriptures explain that God took six literal 24-hour days to create the universe and put it in order. The creation account explains that God had purpose in the order of which He created things. The scriptures reveal that God created everything in the particular order that He did to provide an environment for mankind to dwell in so that God's creation in humanity would be able to worship Him according to His righteous standards. The creation account of the Bible simply defines the work that God did to prepare this world for human habitation with the objective that His human creation would worship Him in response to His identity and work as Creator. God completed that work on the 6th day and "rested" on the 7th day.
Since scripture states that all things "consist" in Jesus, who was in the beginning with God as God, the Bible teaches that Jesus is the method by which all things are held together. While God the Father expressed His will to have things a certain way, Jesus was the functioning mechanism of God that made it all come to pass, and kept things the way the Father desired. Since God's creation maintained its condition on the 7th day, though God "rested," it is important to recognize that God did not cease all work. Jesus still held all things together and facilitated the order and life that the Father previously ordained. However, the scriptures do state that God stopped creating, and just observed His creation. God looked at His creation and saw that it was very good and met His righteous standards. Thus, the precedent for the Sabbath day was set.
Since God continued to do some thing as "work," the Sabbath day does not command God's people to refrain from doing all laborious things. As God stopped doing the things that He had previously done for 6 days, observed His work, and marveled at it, God expected His people to do the same. One who "remembers" the Sabbath is one that ceases from the normal grind of daily life, takes the seventh day, and reflects upon God as Creator and marvels as the work that He has done. God's purpose in the Sabbath was to build a day into the schedule of His people, in which His people could break away from the routines of daily life and just rest in Him, by reflecting on who He is and what He's done. One should consider God as the method by which one was able to have any produce the previous 6 days of the week. Upon remembering God's identity and considering His work, one would be wise to thank Him in response. The Sabbath day was intended to facilitate worship and enable God's people to break away from normal customary work and enjoy the Lord and His provision.
It is important to consider that the work week of the children of Israel during the wilderness journey was all about survival. Wandering through the wilderness, the children of Israel worked for six days to prepare their meals, wash their clothes, set up their camps, offer sacrifices, and make efforts to be protected against enemies. The Sabbath would have facilitated trust. Though the children of Israel needed to do these things to take care of themselves for six days, God wanted the children of Israel to trust that God would meet their needs on the seventh day. Then upon considering the identity of God and and His work, one would realize that He was the reason for success and produce the previous six days. God wanted the children of Israel to take the focus off of self as it was during the work week and place focus and attention on Him and the work that He was doing to meet their needs. In this way, the Sabbath was supposed to be "holy."
Understanding this, one can see that the Sabbath for the modern Christian should be every day. One should always consider the Lord and His identity and work. One should always honor the Lord by keeping every day separate from the ways of the world; but one would also be wise to take at least one out of six days to break away from the grind and routine of life in order to "remember" the Lord, who He is, and the work He's done to provide physically, and spiritually. It is important to consider that God did this for the benefit of His children. Since human beings are creatures of habit, God wanted His people to have good habits. God wanted His people to know Him. God wanted His people to consider Him. God wanted His people to acknowledge Him. God wanted His people to be dependent on Him. God wanted His people to worship Him. God wanted to protect His people from worshiping self by working 7 days to build one's individual empire in selfishness and pride at the expense of recognizing and honoring Him who makes all things possible. Therefore, whether Jew or Gentiles, it is good to take this day to break away from the work required to meet one's physical needs and trust the Lord to make up the difference while one genuinely considers, marvels, and expresses thanks for the work that the Living God does on a daily basis!
When referring to the Lord, it is critical to always remember who one is referring to. The Bible teaches that God is the only Most High God and there is no other. The Bible teaches that God is the Lord God Almighty and should be respected and feared as such. While the Bible also refers to God's people as His "children" and even "friends," it is important to humbly approach God either way and always consider His identity, no matter how He refers to His people.
In the Hebrew culture, one of the most valuable things that a person can possess is honor for ones name. The name of a person in the Hebrew culture represents the identity of the person and the honor associated with that person (or lack thereof). Thus, one's name has great meaning and refers to far more than the title that one is referred to by. Knowing this, God's 3rd commandment found is Exodus 20:7 goes far beyond what title one gives to God or when one uses His name.
In Exodus 20:7 the Lord commanded His children not to take His name in vain. Since a name refers to the overall identity of a person in the Hebrew culture, the commandment has to do with how one treats the Lord overall. The important word in this command is the word "vain." This word refers to vanity, which is a form of emptiness and falsehood. The word is used to describe that which is hallow and valueless. Therefore, the Lord commanded that His people not treat Him like a false, empty, and valueless God.
It is important to recall how the Lord began His dialogue to Moses when He gave the 10 Commandments. The Lord was sure to remind Moses that He was the Lord; the One who took the children of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt. God was the One who delivered from suffering. God was the One who destroyed the enemies of Israel. God was the One who provided food and water. God was the One who led the people and took care of their needs. Therefore, God was fair to command His children to honor Him with the 3rd commandment.
When one considers the work that God had already done for the children of Israel, it almost seems unnecessary to command them to honor God and not take His name in vain. When one considers the favor and grace that God showed to Israel, one might wonder, how could they ever consider God to be empty, false, and valueless that God would have to give a command against such a thought? Nevertheless, God, knowing the wicked hearts of His people, commanded the children of Israel from considering God empty and hallow.
God did not want His name and identity considered as common or as nothing. God had emphatically proved that He was worthy of exclusively unique praise and worship. Thus, God commanded His children to treat Him accordingly. The Lord proved that He was not like any other and therefore commanded against being treated like some common or average person. God did not want His name used in common ways, in common conversation, and did not want the Israelites considering God as anything but the Lord God Almighty who was holy, righteous, and just.
The Lord warned the children of Israel that the consequence for breaking this commandment was severe. The Lord warned that those who took the Lord's name in vain would not be considered guiltless. In other words, those who profaned the Lord's name would be found guilty. This refers to far more than how one uses the Lord's name in a sentence. Once again, the name of God refers to God's identity. Therefore, those who misrepresent the holy, righteous, pure, and just identity of the Lord in any way, and make His identity as common, or valueless, will be found guilty. The original language refers to guilt in such a way that a person would be cut off from one's people. Those who were found to be guilty of taking the Lord's name in vain were to be cut off from the people, this no longer being considered children of God, and by extension, no longer entitled to His promises, inheritance and blessing.
There is a powerful lesson that God sought to teach in the third commandment. While the Lord died as Jesus to connect His people to Himself by removing sin through faith, the Lord is not like His people. The Bible teaches that He is far above all things and is worthy to be honored as such. While the Lord does desire intimate relationships with His people, the Bible teaches that the basis of that relationship from the human perspective is repentance and humility. One can boldly go to the throne of God for grace in faith, but must always remember the identity of the Lord one approaches, and never consider Him as common or less. One must be sure that one's conduct is reflective of one's understanding of God's exalted position so that one's life is dedicated to testifying of God's holy position. One must always consider the position of God as the eternal Creator and Judge of all things when referring to Him or representing Him since God was clear to communicate the consequence for one's unfaithfulness and negligence.