And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.(Exodus 20:1-17)
The congregation of Israel, at least 2 million strong, stand trembling at the foot of the burning mountain, and under the sound of the Trumpet and of the voice which shook the mountain. Moses himself exceedingly feared and shook.
God spoke to audibly to millions of people at once. This is the beginning of the National Israel. Redeemed slaves were liberated and assembled to hear the voice of God at the Holy mountain. This was the marriage, the day when Israel was joined to the LORD, under the Canopy of the cloud of the glory of the LORD.
What did God say to the Holy Nation? He gave them ten Holy Words, which became the primal foundation of the Jewish nation and of the hugely successful Judeo-Christian civilization which sprang out of it.
The Words are spare, beautiful in their simplicity, and completely adequate.
God speaks to them, and us, as individuals. He refers to himself in the first person and to Israel, or to all of us in the second. “I and thou…”.
God commences with the declaration of the liberation He had already wrought for Israel. Freedom from the house of bondage comes first, then the Law. Grace and salvation are first in the order of God’s salvation, righteousness springs out of that salvation. “I have already set you free, therefore….”.
Men would devise a religion with the opposite premise, saying If you do what we require, then you will be set free. But God sets us free first, then he reveals his will to us.
The Law is in fact called “the law of liberty”(James 1). This is because what God prescribes is in accord with the essential make-up of humanity as He created us. It is as though God was saying, “If you thought Pharaoh was harsh, he is nothing compared to having more than one God,(divided loyalties, a split center…)”. “Do you think making bricks for almost no pay is binding? It is trivial compared to serving sexual lusts to the disintegration of the family”.
Another aspect of this perfect law, is that there are two tables, the first teaches us what it means to love God. The second table teaches us the meaning of Loving our fellow man. At it’s most basic level, loving God means having allegiance to God alone, and to eschew any personal imagination of what you think God should be like. To Love God is to fear Him, and to revere his name as Holy and not common. It means to submit to the human authority God has delegated to be above us,(Honor thy Father and Mother).
What does it really mean to Love your fellow man? Obviously you should love his life, and you should love marriage in general and your neighbors marriage in particular, you should recognize that property is real, God gives things to people that you shouldn’t steal. Furthermore the way to love your neighbor is to never lie about his character. Furthermore discontentment and envy are antithetical to love.
Love and Hate underly all of these commandments, but openly in the third; “Those who Love “God, fear him, and “Those who hate “God, blaspheme him and their children are affected by both.
None of the commandments are possible to keep without LOVE, for that is our deepest problem since the fall of man, we do not Love God, consequently our Love for neighbors is inadequate as well.
Finally these commandments are mostly stated negatively. This is because God approaches us as those whose life is already against them. One could say, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, could just as easily be said, “Marriage is to be honored by all…”. “Thou shalt not do murder…” could also be stated, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. If only we could be given a new heart, a heart that Loves God supremely, and all others equally, then these go from being commandments, to promises.