Sermon Summary –
Then God spoke all these words: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. 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 your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. Exodus 20:1-17
Today’s Old Testament reading is the very familiar “Ten Commandments” given to Moses. But are they really that familiar? I have been in groups that have tried, and failed, to name all ten. Usually, after some discussion, most people can sort them out. My purpose today is to ask you to think about what the Ten Commandments are and what they mean to you today?
I would suggest that while they were originally presented as hard and fast laws for a particular situation and a particular culture many centuries ago, in the larger context of Scripture they might more accurately be described as points of relationship.
The first segment is about our relationship with God and the second about our relationships with each other. To make them alive today, we need to revisit what they mean for us because they have lost their impact in familiarity. Add in culture change and we need to spend some time in thought and prayer about the impact of these time honoured commands of God. God remains the same, but people and culture change and that means that half the relationship is in flux.
For example – I am God, you shall have no other gods. When Moses brought the tablets down the mountain, people were in the habit of worshiping rocks, and statues, and even a golden calf. If I were to ask what our other gods are today (someone at 10:30 on Sunday was spot on when they replied) – money!! I would agree with that assessments.
I’m often asked about taking the Lord’s name in vain. Go to a movie, watch television, walk down the street. Over and over again you will hear vulgar uses of God’s Name. But have you ever asked people what they mean when they utter those words, what their intent is? Almost without exception the reply I receive is, “Nothing, it’s just a word.” I truly believe that this all turns on intent. There are people who intend insult to God with their words and that is of more concern for me, than people using words they don’t even think about.
The Sabbath brings us to a similar discussion. I remember boldly proclaiming I would never shop on Sunday when the new laws were enacted. I held to it for a few months. Today it is simply common place. To look at it in that perspective, I have come to believe, is to look at it backwards. The Sabbath is not for God, but God’s gift to us! We need to find rest, refreshment, time for prayer and study. We need to decompress. It doesn’t have to be a particular day, but we need to do it! And we need to ensure that we allow others to have that time for re-creation as well. I think that is what God is telling us in the big picture.
I think it is fair to say that, depending on the culture of the time, the relationship rules will have different impacts. If you ask me the “commandment” we need to look at in today’s world is “thou shalt not covet.” Remember the Radio Shack commercials? “I want that!!” A rather apt description of North American society today. We are intent on having everything that everyone else has, and then just a little bit more. What we fail to understand is if I “covet” more, someone else will have to receive less. The second portion of the Ten Commandments is about the relationships we have as family and community. We are required to care, as God does, about everyone! So how do you think our world is doing with that?
There is more I could say about more of the commandments. However, I think you can see that I want us to think about these directions of God, not in black and white, but in the wide array of shades of gray in our world today. So what do the Ten Commandments mean to you? Have you given them much thought lately? How would they apply to your life today?