Obedience in Worshiping God Alone
Posted October 2, 2022
Lesson 5 Fall Quarter
Lesson Text: Exodus 20:1-11
Golden Text: Exodus 20:2-3
Our lesson this week is the second lesson within the second unit of lessons that is titled: Obedience in Worship. In this week’s lesson we will be taking a look at the first portion of the Ten Commandments that the Lord spoke to Moses and was later taught to the children of Israel.
The Commandments of God
If you have heard me teach about the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Law before, then you will know that I always like to tell people that the Law and the Commandments were given directly to the children of Israel.
There are some who may get offended by this statement but, again, scripture speaks to the fact that these words – this covenant – was for Israel (Ex. 19:3-6). As we see here in the opening verses of our lesson today, the Lord said to Israel, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage (vss.1-2).” I want you to understand that these words were directed to a specific group of people none of us in this age fit within.
So, what does this mean for those of us of the church age? Though the Mosaic Law and the commandments were given to the children of Israel, it does not mean we weren’t given a way to follow. Those of this age are to follow in the way that Christ set for us and we will find that the way that Christ set for us hangs on the prophets and the law.
So, the Law and the Commandments are certainly a good outline even though nobody is able to truly uphold the Law. As James said, when you fail in one part of the Law, you will fail it entirely. The Ten Commandments, I often have to remind, are a part of God’s law to the children of Israel along with several other statutes that make up the Law in its entirety. In order to fulfill the law , one needs assistance and that assistance comes to us in the form of Christ as He is the conclusion – the completion – of the law (Matt. 5:17).
The first and great commandment
The Ten Commandments, I want you to understand today, break down into two portions. The first portion of the Ten Commandments are focused on the obedience and worship of God whereas the second portion focuses on how one is to treat another.
The idea of these two portions of the commandments are touched on by Jesus in an answer when He was questioned which is the great commandment in the law (Matt. 22:36-40)? Jesus responded that the first and great commandment is that we should love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind.
The second great commandment is like the first. Jesus said the second great commandment is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Jesus stated that on these two great commandments hung the Law and the Prophets. As we see throughout His teachings, Jesus would teach that this is the manner that we who follow Him should live in.
Now, in our lesson, we will see that the first of the Ten Commandments states, “You shall have no other gods before Me (v.3).” God should come first for the children of Israel and they should not have nor worship any other gods. As we will see stated in the very next command by the Lord, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth (v.4).”
It is very clear, just as it is for us today, God was to be first in the lives of the children of Israel. Now, this would prove to be rather difficult for the children of Israel as they would journey through a land where the people of the land – Gentiles – had their own faiths and religious worships.
We will remember that in Egypt, the Egyptians had their own gods that they served and worshiped. The traditions of the Egyptians would leave a mark on the children of Israel as they immediately worshiped a golden calf after having made a covenant with the Lord.
A jealous God
In the next commandment, the Lord commanded the children of Israel not to participate in idolatrous worship, again. God commanded, “you shall not bow down to them (the carved images) nor serve them (v.5).” The Lord would go on to give the reason as to why He was against idolatrous worship. God said, “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.”
The children of Israel failed to realize that the covenant (vow) that they had made with God was to bring them into fellowship with the Lord. As we know, being in fellowship with the Lord is equated to being in a relationship – an engagement – with God. Let us remember, we, the church, are set to be the bride of Christ which means are, through our fellowship with Him, are engaged to be His bride.
So, for the children of Israel, as the Lord’s chosen people, were very close to the Lord; He desired to be in a relationship with Him. The last thing that any of us want to happen to us in a relationship is for the one we love to cheat on us with another. Imagine how you would feel if the one you were closest to chose to cheat on you!
The Lord would certainly not be happy with such adulterous actions; He said that He is a jealous God. Not only does the Lord say that He is a jealous God but He said to the children of Israel that He would visit the iniquity of their actions onto future generations! These commandments should have been taken incredibly seriously by the children of Israel.
Though we are not under the Ten Commandments, the first and great commandment is still quite clear to us today as the Lord should come first in our lives. Therefore, we have to be careful of who we surround ourselves with because there are several forms of idolatrous and false worship today that we can be influenced to participate in. The last thing we want to do is make the Lord upset with us because we have gone out and worshiped having a love of money, wealth, and greed over having faith in God.
Honor the Lord
The commandments now bring into focus the concept of honoring the Lord above all others. God commanded the children of Israel not to take the name of the Lord in vain (v.7). What does this mean?
There is a certain honor and dignity – respect – that we are to have for the Lord; this is what we saw in our lesson last week. You will recall that I referenced Cain and Abel in our lesson last week and the difference for which the two honored and respected the Lord. The children of Israel were not supposed to go the route of Cain – they were not to take the Lord’s name in vain; they were to treat the Lord with great dignity, honor, and respect.
On the idea of honor, we will see in the next commandment that the children of Israel were to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy (v.9). Now, the day of Sabbath is one that by the time of Jesus was pretty misunderstood. The Lord lays out the details within the command for how the day was to be honored.
The Lord plainly stated that for 6 days there would be labor but the seventh day was the Sabbath; there was to be no work – no labor (v.10). Why was there to be no labor? The Lord explained within the command that He had made the heavens and the earth in six days and then rested the seventh. So, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed – honored or made it holy (v.11).
This, again, went as a command that was greatly misunderstood, especially by the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. The day of Sabbath, as I explained in the sermon – God Is at Work – was a day to be honored and kept holy. By the time of Jesus, the religious leaders were taking the command literally by forcing people to do no work at all; this even included things like picking the grain from a field if you happened to pass by one or the work of healing.
Jesus, when He spoke to them of the Sabbath, said that the day was supposed to be honored and kept holy. If one was healing another, doing good work, how could that not be taken as honoring the Lord? God works around the clock and does not take any time off. The point of the command for the day of Sabbath was to treat the day with the Lord in mind – honor the day by living for the Lord rather than living for yourself. This was a point that was greatly missed by the religious leaders of Jesus’ day and there are still many that miss this point.
Keeping the commandments
The purpose of the Ten Commandments was to make the ones who abide by them a much better person that would live in a manner to where they truly honored the Lord. One that strives to keep the commandments of God would put the Lord first and above all, while also honoring Him by the way in which they lived for Him.
While the Ten Commandment may have not been given directly to us of the church age, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using them as a guideline for how we should live. After all, when we love the Lord with our whole heart and love our neighbors as we love ourselves, we are living in the manner of God’s commandments. For all of us of this age, Christ – the manifestation of the Word of God in the flesh – was given to us. Therefore, if we live in the example that He set, then we will fulfill the Law which the commandments are a part of.