Do not have other gods besides Me. Do not make an idol for yourself. Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
The giving of the Ten Commandments is an amazing story. Three months after delivering the Israelites out of their slavery to Pharaoh the Israelites came to Mount Sinai. When God descended on the top of the mountain, there was thunder and lightning, the mountain was covered in smoke because the Lord descended on it in fire, and there was the sound of a very loud trumpet that caused the people to shudder. The mountain shook violently. As the people stood at the base of the mountain, Moses and Aaron climbed to the top. Then God gave them the Ten Commandments. He spoke so that all the people could hear, and He wrote the commandments on two stone tablets with His own finger.
God gave us the Ten Commandments for three reasons. First, to show us the best way to live. The Ten Commandments are a summary of all of God’s commands in Scripture. They teach us how to love God, how to love one another, and how to live life to the fullest. Second, the Ten Commandments restrain sin in society. A nation cannot survive unless people are responsible for themselves and respectful of one another. The Ten Commandments both instruct society in how to live and warn that there is a God who will hold us accountable for our actions. Third, the Ten Commandments show us our sin and need for a Savior. Christ came into the world to save sinners, but if you don’t know that you are sinful, then you will not see your need for a Savior and reach out for salvation through Jesus Christ.
The Ten Commandments can be divided into two tables – 1-4, and 5-10. Commandments 1-4 teach us how to love God, and commandments 5-10 teach us how to love one another. The first commandment, “Do not have other gods besides me,” teaches us that there is only one God, and we must only worship Him. We must not allow anything or anyone to take God’s place – first and center – in our hearts. We must love God with our entire being. The second commandment, “Do not make an idol for yourself,” teaches us that we must not use created images and statues of God and Jesus in our worship. As well, we must not worship our own ideas of what we want God to be like; rather we must worship God has He has revealed Himself in Scripture. The third commandment, “Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God,” teaches us to honor God’s name. Only use God’s name with the utmost respect, and do not commit sin in the name of God. The fourth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” is the only one of the Ten Commandments that is no longer binding upon Christians today. The Jews were forbidden to do any work on the Sabbath (Saturday), and instead to spend the day in rest and worship. But the New Testament releases us from the Sabbath law (see Col 2:16-17). However, when God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, He was revealing the wisest way to live. Every week we need to take one day off for rest. At the same time, we were not made for constant rest and leisure; we must work hard and be productive. As well, although we don’t have to worship on Saturdays, Christians are still commanded to meet regularly with other believers in the church for worship. Weekly rest and worship are essential to be happy and healthy, both physically and spiritually.
Questions For Discussion:
- When, where, and how were the Ten Commandments given?
- Why did God give us the Ten Commandments?
- What is the meaning of the first commandment?
- What is the meaning of the second commandment?
- What is the meaning of the third commandment?
- What is the meaning of the fourth commandment?
- Why don’t we keep the Sabbath anymore?
For Further Study:
- Exodus 20:1-11
- Deuteronomy 5:6-15
- Romans 14:5-6
- Colossians 2:16-17
- Hebrews 10:25