Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Story 5: The Ten Commandments for Today

I am not sure if you caught the theme this morning. Yet our Scriptures have to do with the Word, with the Law. I want to encourage you this morning to consider how we view the Word, the Covenant of Moses and the Covenant of Grace through Christ Jesus. It is why the call to worship comes from a few places within Psalm 119. It is why Mark 6 was our text reading. Even the benediction will be about the Word.

Jesus towards the beginning of the sermon on the mount made a promise, that He had not come to abolish the Law, but fulfill it. Since that time, there has been a bit of debate in Christendom about what that means. 

We have the law, and interesting trivia about the law, one of which I didn’t know until Miss Terry pointed it out Wednesday evening. 
1. There are 613 commands in the Torah. 
2. James says in 2.10 if you break one, you’ve broken them all.
3. Of honoring the Sabbath, God exempted wives from keeping it.
4. There are supposedly 1050 commands in the New Testament.
5. When people think of the Law of Moses, they think primarily of the 10 Commandments.

Of this, I will not be concentrating on the two systems. I do not see that Christ has fulfilled one set of rules for another set. Rather in this point in history, God has given them the Law so that for one, they can be different. Most of the law had regulations that kept people clean physically as well as spiritually. Another purpose was to define what is sin. Another was to be an overview of daily life, how to worship God, how to live with one another.

Of these 10, they are separated because when God gave them, Moses was with the people. It was after “Do not covet” that they begged Moses to go up to God so that His presence wouldn’t make them die. They knew that from what they have heard, they were in trouble. Not too different when Paul writes that he knows what he should do, but does what he shouldn’t. 

But then that brings up the question of how do we handle this? Going back to the difference between Old Testament and New Testament, our faith isn’t about a bunch of rules. It is about what Jesus said was the greatest command. “The greatest commandment is to love the Lord will all your mind, all your heart and all your soul. And the second one is like it; love your neighbor as yourself.” 

It’s a bit ambiguous. But it’s there in Deuteronomy. And if that wasn’t ambiguous enough, Jesus then addresses the 10 commandments in his first public teaching that Matthew records. You’ve heard it said do not commit adultery, but I tell you if you look at someone in lust... It is said, do not murder, but I tell you that if anyone is angry with his brother...

Jesus had the habit of getting to the spirit of the Law. It isn’t so much about what not to do but how to do something else. Yet we are finite creatures. We must have things spelled out. If not, we look for loopholes. Back in the founding of the country, a bill was one page on average. Today, it’s a small bill if there is only 300 pages. 

There is another observation I want to make as we transition to the text: It is a bit of a reverse keystone. Oh the first 5 have to do with loving God, whereas the second 5 have to do with loving one another.

So we have our first command, have no other gods besides me. It is a simple declaration. So often we are a pantheistic world. We say that Allah is good for one region. The God of Abraham is good for Jews, Jesus for America, Buddha for the Orient, as well as a bunch of other gods. No, this is God saying, just as He told Moses, “I am”. There are not regional gods as Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, et al, believe. Trust Him, HE IS THE ONLY GOD. 

Do not make an idol  for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. Now here is where it becomes a bit sticky. What is an idol? Is it something we worship? Not necessarily. I know that when my parents traveled to Hawaii, they picked up Tiki, idols. They have them on display in their living room. Do they worship them? Is there harm in having them? Paul did tell the Romans that all things are now permissible, but not all things are beneficial. What is it about other cultures that we are so fascinated? Do we allow idols into our lives?

You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,  punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth generations  of those who hate Me, but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands. This is where we make idols of our own liking. They may look like the Patriots. They may look like a suburban. Or they may look like our values, our heritage. When we have something we are not willing to lay aside, that is an idol. Worshiping them has led Israel to captivity in the land of idols of Babylon. Did it help? Let’s talk about that later after the service. Short answer is no. 

Finally, Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God, because the Lord will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses His name. This commandment is about how holy they were to keep God’s name. The Jews were so afraid of mispronouncing the name of the Lord, or taking his name in vain that they removed the vows. There are some Christians today who want to refer to Him by His ancient name. Personally, I rather love being able to call him Abba, or Papa.  

God has given us these 4 commandments so that we would know how to put Him first. One theological theory as to why we were made was to worship God. I agree. We were created for His purpose, not for ours. These give us an idea as to how. And then the next two are of benevolence. 

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. For the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.  Here we have it, wives are exempted. Is this because if we are honest, wives/mothers are seldom a day of relaxation? We guys get sick, oh boy are we going to milk it. And I love that Carol does that for me. But when she is sick, well let’s move on. They remembered the Sabbath because God wanted them to rest. In a way, it is a foreshadowing of coming kingdom, that toils and labors will cease being hard, that we will rest in the presence of the Lord. 

Honor your father and your mother  so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. They represent the first and foremost authority in our lives, and there was a time that you could count on your parents’ love, just as we can count on God’s. 

Now how do we love our neighbor, how do we live with our neighbor? This is a bit of a pyramid. Do not murder. It’s a great start that we don’t murder them. Can you imagine what it is like? After all, this isn’t the land of West Virginia. We don’t have Hatfields or McCoys to fight. So how do we avoid murdering? 

Don’t commit adultery, don’t take someone else’s spouse. How many crime tv shows are there that have that as the basic plot. Someone wasn’t faithful so someone else killed them. It’s a crime of passion, murder is at that point. So how do we keep from committing adultery?

Don’t steal. If you are able to steal in the first place, small things, office supplies, neighbor’s lawnmower, an apple while shopping, then it isn’t a far stretch to imagine that one might steal his neighbor’s spouse. So how do we avoid stealing?

Don’t lie. Now a definition of a lie is to deceive. That means that if you bend the truth to make someone believe something, or you leave out a fact, etc., you’ve lied. If you give a factual account that was 99.9% true, then it’s still a lie. We get to see it now that it seems the presidential campaign seems to be gearing up. So how do we avoid lying?

Don’t want what someone else has. That is the definition of covet. Paul tells us that the secret in life is to be content with where we are and to trust the Lord for what we need, not want, but need. 

So that is a lot to consider. What is our take home from this? Some might say, Preacher, for someone who doesn’t believe we should follow the 10 Commandments, you seemed to have preached that. Perhaps I have. Yet my intention was to look at it in a different light. 

As I have said, we are not a religion of rules. We are a faith, a relationship. If we want to have a fuller understanding of what Jesus did, then we need to see the Old Testament. By the way, the Passover Lamb was to live with the family for 2 weeks, and then the head of the family would take the lamb, along with the family, and then he slaughters it in the presence of the priest.  Your sins and mine, the knife that sacrificed the last Passover Lamb. 

Praise God that Jesus has fulfilled the law for us. This week, consider the Law in a new light. Consider all the Scripture, not even a fraction, that we saw dealing with the Word of God in our thought, call to worship, Scripture Reading, and benediction. 

Are we reading His Word? Are we living his Word? If not, come, talk to me. Let’s get that right with Him. 

Now we will sing our song of dedication. 

May you take the Word that it might be a light for your path, glasses to help you see the opportunities of love and service to whom the Father allows us to meet.

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