EXODUS 20:1-17: “Then God spoke all these words saying, “I am ADONAI your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
“You shall have no other gods before Me.
Do not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or on the earth below or in the water under the earth. Do not bow down to them, do not let anyone make you serve them. For I, ADONAI your God, am a jealous God, bringing the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to the thousands of generations of those who love Me and keep My mitzvot (commands).
“You must not take the Name of ADONAI your God in vain, for ADONAI will not hold him guiltless that takes His Name in vain.
“Remember Yom Shabbat (Sabbath), to keep it holy. You are to work six days, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbat to ADONAI your God. In it you shall not do any work—not you, nor your son, your daughter, your male servant, your female servant, your cattle, nor the outsider that is within your gates. For in six days ADONAI made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Thus ADONAI blessed Yom Shabbat, and made it holy.
“Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long upon the land which ADONAI your God is giving you.
“Do not murder.
“Do not commit adultery.
“Do not steal.
“Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.
“Do not covet your neighbor’s house, your neighbor’s wife, his manservant, his maidservant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (TLV)
OBSERVATION: What ever happened to the 10 Commandments? I remember learning them in church and Sunday School as a young boy. I remember seeing them displayed in courtrooms and public places as I grew up. When I was young there was no public outcry against them. Why is there such a huge outcry against them today?
This cultural shift did not happen overnight. It began at the turn of the 19th to the 20th Century as so called Biblical Scholars began attacking the historicity and veracity of the Bible. Slowly they began to chip away at the Bible. They called into question the miracles recorded in the pages of Scripture. And this ultimately led to a rejection of the virgin birth, the ministry of Jesus, and an explaining away of the resurrection. This move was subtle, and it was only embraced in pockets. However, its effect began to creep into seminaries of higher learning, which in turn influenced those who were preparing for the ministry, and ultimately was manifested in the sermons and teachings that were coming from the pulpit.
While the church was allowing it walls to be chipped away, stone by stone, verse by verse, the enemy saw his opportunity to storm the gates. Those who did not believe in God, who once were silent in our culture, rose up with a shout to attack the truth of the Bible and the institution of the church. The Scriptures, that were once used to teach reading in our public schools, were banned from its curriculum. And the daily prayer that I experienced as a child, was removed. Inch by inch, God was being removed from our culture. Our dollar bill still said “In God We Trust”, but only a few bold souls would still proclaim this in the public square.
The cultural shifts that I have witnessed over the past two decades seemed at one time impossible. And while we continue to spend billions upon social programs and education, we cannot make a dent in the battle against the moral decline that we witness taking place over the entire world. This is not a doom and gloom statement, it is just an honest observation. If we are not honest with our true condition we will never do anything to fix it.
What does all this have to do with the 10 Commandments? Everything! When we understand that the enemies main objective has always been to torpedo the First Commandment, we can then see how, without this commandment, it is virtually impossible to proclaim and uphold the others. The First Commandment has been stated in two different ways. The first way is found in Exodus 20:3;
- “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
It is restated in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, and repeated by Jesus in the Gospels as the “Great Commandment”;
- “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love ADONAI your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
The enemy of our souls knows that when we stop loving God with all our heart, soul, and strength – everything else is but a house of cards! Jesus said that the First Great Commandment, when followed, leads to the Second Great Commandment, on which hang all the law and the prophets.
- “And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire Torah and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:39-40 TLV)
If you don’t love God, then you will never be able to love your brother as yourself! Take away the first, and the second will crumble over and over again. Let’s review this in the 10 commandments:
Second Commandment: When we do not love God, we will replace Him with an idol of our own making. The idols in our culture have become science, politics, wealth, success, fame, sex, just to name a few.
Third Commandment: When we do not love God, we will use His name in vain. The name of God and Jesus are used irreverently in our culture in every arena. If you say something against any other name you are politically insensitive. Yet, you can use God’s name, and the name of Jesus Christ in the foulest ways without any revocation or reprocussion.
Fourth Commandment: When we do not love God, we will not honor the Sabbath Day of Rest. God created this day for man’s benefit. It is a day to rest, reflect, worship, and remember that God is our Creator, and we as his creation owe him everything. If there is no God, then we will just cram this day with more activity and more opportunities to serve the idol we have put in His place. The empty seats and pews in the churches across our land bear witness to this truth.
Fifth Commandment: When we do not love God, we will not respect authority, for all authority comes from God. It is God who established the institution of marriage and family. Yet, when you watch any television show today you will witness the ongoing attack against the Biblical model of the family. Parental figures are many times portrayed as out of touch, insensitive, and overbearing. Authority is rejected in every corner of the public square. And we wonder why there is an increase in violent crime, drug abuse, and anarchy.
Sixth Commandment: When we do not love God, we will not respect the sanctity of human life. We will honor some life, the life that we deem important, yet dismiss the value of others. An unborn infant in our culture is easily aborted, and the elderly are easily dismissed. While we feign horror at the atrocities that we see on the news, we as a nation continue to commit them every day behind sterile walls. And we as a culture have begun to honor the importance of the life of an animal above the life of a human.
Seventh Commandment: When we do not love God, we will not honor the holy covenant of marriage. Marriage has become an exchangeable commodity, not a life time commitment. If we are not fulfilled in our marriage, we hook up with someone else. Eventually we cast off the loser spouse for the new one, only to repeat the cycle again. Sexual union between a husband and wife is no longer a sacred trust that is reserved for marriage, but it has become the testing ground one explores to make sure they want to marry the person they are dating. And we have redefined marriage between a man and woman as between almost anyone or anything we desire.
Eighth Commandment: When we do not love God, we will not respect or protect our neighbors assets. We will begin to view everything as an entitlement. If I can grab it then it is mine. Stealing is a gray area that we bend and twist to our advantage. While we never want anyone to steal from us, we are free to steal time from our employers, resources from our government, and anyone else with whom we feel entitled. Rationalization has replaced honesty and integrity. And as a result we pay higher prices at the checkout stands and many have lost their life savings and retirements by self seeking scam artists or identity thieves.
Ninth Commandment: When we do not love God, we will not think twice about lying. To lie in our culture is as common as the air we breath. We lie about the news, our opponents, our credentials, and everything else. It is impossible today to watch any newscast and really now whether you are receiving an unbiased account of the facts or a twisted account that has been fictionally crafted for some personal or political gain. And we don’t even think twice about lying to one another in our daily lives. We need contracts for even the simplest things we use to do with a handshake. And many live in an alternate reality they create for themselves with walls created to only allow the facts that support their reality, whether these are outright lies or the truth.
Tenth Commandment: When we do not love God, we will never be content with what we have. We will constantly be driven by covetousness and envy. And the marketing gurus have locked into this reality. Just when you bring home your new HD TV that you paid over a $1000 dollars for, they release the next 4K Ultra Definition TV that leaves your old set in the dust. And to be found driving a car that does not have Apple Play on the dashboard is unthinkable. College graduates want to go from the graduation ceremony right into a high paying job, complete with a house and new car. The days of working from the bottom up are over because we are never satisfied with small accomplishments, we simply covet what everyone else has!
There you have it. A brutal yet honest profile of the world we live in. And the dominos can all be traced right back to the First Commandment. Remove it, and the rest is just a matter of time. So the next time we are tempted to dismiss a removal of the 10 Commandments from a court monument of city square, let’s think about the true impact. It is not the monument that is important, it is the place of honor and respect that the creeds written upon the stone hold in our heart.
If the world will not honor these in their heart anymore, my prayer is that the church will awaken and do so once again!
In Jesus Name!