Exodus 20

Exodus 20

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The Ten Commandments

20 And God spoke all these words, saying,

“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 a carved image, or 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. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother, 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 his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.

Laws About Altars

And the LORD said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the people of Israel: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have talked with you from heaven. You shall not make gods of silver to be with me, nor shall you make for yourselves gods of gold. An altar of earth you shall make for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you. If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones, for if you wield your tool on it you profane it. And you shall not go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness be not exposed on it.’

(ESV)


Exodus 20 Commentary

by Hank Workman

For 400 years the Israelite’s lived in Egypt; a land filled with many deities and gods.  Although they had kept their heritage potentially they could have had a skewed perspective.  Each god within the land represented some aspect of life to who was over an area and to whom Egyptians would have prayed to.  We find this the case in the history of Israel when they finally take the land promised.  There are so many different gods mentioned.  Gods who would draw them again and again back toward paganism.

On some levels, this journey for the Israelite’s was a reintroduction to God.  Part of that reintroduction would of course be the magnificent miracles He performed in their freedom.  Now it was time for them to be reintroduced to His ways and His expectations of how they were to live and act.

The 10 Commandments each were rules/guidelines that would meet the people individually and with one another.  For 100’s of years, the people followed these as well as the many other laws eventually given.  Jesus would change all that.  He came to fulfill the Law.

It’s worth considering the 10 in comparison to statements Jesus made:

1.  You shall have no other gods before me – Jesus said, “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.” (Matthew 4:10)

2. You shall not make for yourself an idol – Jesus said, “No servant can serve 2 masters” (Luke 16:13)

3.  You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God – Jesus said, “Do not swear at all: either by heaven for it is God’s throne…” (Matthew 5:34)

4.  Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy – Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28)

5.  Honor your father and mother – Jesus said, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37)

6.  You shall not murder – Jesus said, “Anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” (Matthew 5:22)

7.  You shall not commit adultery – Jesus said, “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)

8.  You shall not steal – Jesus said, “If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.” (Matthew 5:40)

9.  You shall not give false testimony – Jesus said, “Men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” (Matthew 12:36)

10.  You shall not covet – Jesus said, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.” (Luke 12:15)


Exodus 20 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

The 10 Commandments illustrate the vertical and horizontal obedience that God desired for humanity. As Hank has articulated, Jesus came to fulfill and (in many ways) raise the standard of the law. Mount Sinai was a particular summit on the ridge of Mount Horeb. If you remember, this is the same mountain where God appeared to Moses in the burning bush back in Exodus 3.

Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  2  The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.

Exodus 3:1-2 NASB

However, the place I want to land is similar to what I wrote yesterday in Exodus 19. In Exodus 20:20 we see a fascinating phenomenon take place. As the people stood back at a distance from God, fearing for their lives, Moses become a mediator. The people actually ask Moses to speak to them for God, because they fear that if God speaks, they will surely die. Moses’ answer to them is powerful.

Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.”  21  So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was.>

Exodus 20:20-21 NASB

He has come in order to test you, that the fear of Him may remain with you. Wow! It’s such a weighty response. In this way, we experience a God that has no problem putting us in situations that are tough. His concern was not the temporary fear these people would experience, but the long-lasting sin-killing effect that His presence would have in their lives. Think about that for a moment.

We meet with God’s presence in His Word, in prayer, and through fellowship with other Spirit-filled believers. These are the daily disciplines that remind us of His power and fill us with awe and reverence. The effect is natural in our lives because being connected to Him will keep us away from sin. Let Him remain in you, so that you may not sin.

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