The Tremendous Ten: Keeping God #1
The Tremendous Ten: Keeping God #1
We all know the story of the Ten Commandments. There have been movies made about Moses and the Israelite people. Once liberated, the Israelites enter the desert on the way to the promised land. Although confronted by God’s presence and blessings, the Israelites grow unruly and lack order. They begin to fall away from God. So God creates a covenant with His people. This covenant comes in the form of the ten commandments. If the people walk in accordance and obedience with these 10 rules, their lives will be blessed. If they disobey these rules and break the covenant with God, punishment will come their way. The Israelites agree and we know the rest of the story. For hundreds of years, the Hebrews go through a series of keeping and breaking the law of God.
There are lots of misconceptions about the 10 commandments. The first misconception is that by keeping the 10 commandments one can be saved. God never says this. In fact, we discover that the 10 commandments never lead to salvation. The 10 commandments were given for two reasons. First to govern the people. Let’s be honest, these people are pretty wayward. At the first hint of Moses’ possible death and disappearance, they build and idol and have an orgy filled display of worship. God gives the commandments as the foundational rule of government for His people. Remember, the Hebrews did not have a president, a congress or a senate. God served both as their focus of worship but He was also the spiritual and physical head of government for HIs people. So, the ten commandments were foundational to the success and growth of His people.
Remember what God tells the Hebrews in Deuteronomy 6:6-8.
Deuteronomy 6:6-8 ESV
6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
Second, the 10 commandments are meant to help us understand the depth and depraivity of our sin. If the 10 commandments are meant to be the illuminating light, then the shadow is our sin. We could not fully grasp or understand our sin if it were not for the 10 commandments.
This is what Paul means when he writes in Romans 7:7.
Romans 7:7 NLT
7 Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.”
Friends, you need to understand this morning that you will be judged by the law of God. Found within the first 5 books of the Old Testament, the Torah and the Septuagint are God’s laws. The ten commandments are the basis for the law. The law reveals to us the sadness of our spirit and serves as the measuring stick for our actions. Listen again to Paul’s words in Romans 2:12.
Romans 2:12 ESV
For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.
So, are the ten commandments important? Yes indeed.
A few years back, I was flying to New York city to visit my brother. I went to the Montgomery airport and sat down on a bench waiting for my plane to arrive. A gentlemen sat down near me. I notice that he opened the Bible and began to read. This was a strange site to me. So I spoke to him and I revealed that I was a minister and that it was refreshing to see someone reading their Bible in a public place. As it turns out, this gentlemen currently serves as a Justice on Alabama’s Supreme court. Ill never forget what he said. He told me that he loved God’s Word because it serves as the “foundation” for the laws that he tries to uphold. He told me that he was different than most Christians because he reads from Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy every day. He felt that those books offered him the most insight into the laws of Alabama and the United States and he told me that he tries to guide his bench by Book…that being the Bible.
The Ten Commandments Are Foundational And Can Impact Your Faith!
Background of Exodus 20
Most people believe that Moses was the author of Exodus. There are several scriptural references that would imply that Moses was the author. For instance, Exodus 24:4 actually said “he (being Moses) wrote down everything that Yahweh had said.”
It would seem that Moses' original readership would have been the Exodus generation of Israelites as well as all future generations who entered into covenant-relationship with Yahweh. While the covenant-relationship is offered to Israel, it is clear from the Book of Exodus that a response of faith is necessary to truly enter into that relationship.
A date of 1446 B.C for the Exodus has been supported in the Introduction to the Pentateuch. This would date the birth of Moses at about 1526 B.C. and the erection of the Tabernacle at 1445 B.C. Thus the majority of events recorded in the Book of Exodus occurred between 1526 and 1445 B.C., a time span of 81 years.
Exodus 20:1-3 ESV
And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
Keeping God The “Main Thing”
I. Give God Your Ear vs. 1
And God spoke all these words…
Illustration: Not Great Listeners
Couple in their nineties are both having problems remembering things. During a check-up, the doctor tells them that they're physically okay, but they might want to start writing things down to help them remember.
Later that night, while watching TV, the old man gets up from his chair 'Want anything while I'm in the kitchen?' he asks.
'Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?'
'Don't you think you should write it down so you can remember it?' she asks.
'No, I can remember it.'
'Well, I'd like some strawberries on top, too. Maybe you should write it down, so as not to forget it?'
He says, 'I can remember that. You want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries.'
'I'd also like whipped cream. I'm certain you'll forget that, write it down?' she asks.
Irritated, he says, 'I don't need to write it down, I can remember it! Ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream - I got it, for goodness sake!'
Then he toddles into the kitchen. After about 20 minutes, the old man returns from the kitchen and hands his wife a plate of bacon and eggs. She stares at the plate for a moment.
'Where's my toast?'
God didn’t want us to forget so He wrote His rules down for us. To bad we are so forgetful.
Wait a second, God is speaking. God speaks. This is a powerful moment not only for Moses but for the entire Israelite nation. Remember the background of this story. The book of Genesis closes with the death of Joseph. Remember that Joseph was the son of Israel. Joseph, with God’s help, becomes one of the leading officials in the Egyptian government. He is second only to Pharaoh. There was a tremendous famine that impacted the entire middle east. Because of Joseph’s dreams, Egypt was spared because they stored food for 7 years in preparation. While the world suffered, Egypt blossomed. Israel (formerly known as Jacob) and his sons (Joseph’s brothers) are saved by Joseph and they are all invited to live in Egypt. So they go. Not only did they live but they became productive. Very projective. Scripture tells us that they became so numerous that a new Pharaoh who did not know about Joseph rose to power and enslaved the people of Israel. They all became slaves of Egypt.
For 500 years God’s people were slaves. They were beaten. They were oppressed. For 500 years God’s people heard nothing from God. Not one peep. Not one word. God went radio silent. Crickets. I think that you get the point.
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever suffered and wondered to yourself “wear is God”? I have. I have been there many times in my life. Imagine that from birth you had nothing. No home of your own. You had no possessions of your own. You did not own the clothing on your back. At any moment an Egyptian guard could simply kill you. To make matters worse you grew up hearing stories about a God who had made promises that He would love you, help you be productive and that He would give you a land for you and your people.
Yet, for your entire lifetime, nothing. Not one word. Just more work and whips on the back.
Can you imagine how frustrated the people would have been? Can you see how these people might distrust God.
Friend I believe that God often is moving the most when we feel that He is not moving at all. That is the case for the Israelites.
God, in the mist of turmoil, crisis, suffering and confusion is now speaking. What a great lead in to the Ten Commandments, “God spoke all these words”. These words were meant to bring peace to the people of Israel. His words would guide their actions. These words were meant to bring prosperity to his people. If they kept these commandments, their society would flourish. His words would bring their families power. Imagine if families today took seriously the words in Exodus 20. Imagine what power would come.
Friend, let me tell you today that God is in the business of speaking to you. He has spoken in many different ways.
He spoke through the Prophets.
2 Peter 1:19-21
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
He has spoken through the Bible
2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
He has spoken through Jesus
And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.
Friends if you were to flip through the pages of Scripture you would discover that in ever book, in every sentence, paragraph, and chapter, God is communicating.
The question is, are we listening? Have we laid aside our inclinations and assumptions and read the Bible for what it really says and claims to be?
From the very beginning, God wants His people to hear from Him and to be blessed by His Word. If you want to keep God the main thing in your life, you should read, memorize and medicate on the Word of God.
2 Samuel 22:31
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless.
Keeping God The “Main Thing”
I. Give God Your Ear vs. 1
II. Give God Your Praise vs. 2
Exodus 20:2 ESV
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Illustration: The Duke With No Praise
The Duke of Wellington, the British military leader who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, was not an easy man to serve under. He was brilliant, demanding, and not one to shower his subordinates with compliments. Yet even Wellington realized that his methods left something to be desired. In his old age a young lady asked him what, if anything, he would do differently if he had his life to live over again. Wellington thought for a moment, then replied. "I’d give more praise," he said.
As important as it is to praise people, we should spend more of our life praising God. May we not arrive to our last days only to discover that we did not praise God properly.
From the very beginning of the Ten Commandments, we see God recognize His amazing feats to bring about the Exodus of His people the Hebrews. Notice God does not recognize the efforts of anyone but Himself. He alone brought them from the land of Egypt and He alone brought them out of the house of slavery. Without Him, the Hebrews would still be stacking bricks with no hay. Without Him, mothers would still worry about having to save their children by floating them down the Nile. Without God, the Hebrews would be…well…no where.
Notice that God is not bragging or being conceited. He is simply telling the truth. He is helping them remember from whence they came. Why did God set them free? Many people say because He loved the Hebrews. This is so true. Others will say that He set them free because He made an oath or covenant with them. Again, they are right. That’s what Deuteronomy 7 says.
Deuteronomy 7:6-8 NLT
6For you are a holy people, who belong to the LORD your God. Of all the people on earth, the LORD your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure.7”The LORD did not set his heart on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! 8Rather, it was simply that the LORD loves you, and he was keeping the oath he had sworn to your ancestors. That is why the LORD rescued you with such a strong hand from your slavery and from the oppressive hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.
However, that is not the primary reason. God set the Hebrews free for one simple reason. He set them free to give Himself glory. He would glorify Himself with the Exodus and through the weakness of the Hebrew people. The world, through the Hebrews, would recognize God’s grand and awesome power. Don’t believe me? Listen to what God had to say on the matter.
Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works . . . but rebelled by the Sea, at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power.
This is by no means that we see God do something out of love, out of a promise or for His own glory. Oh no. God glorifies Himself throughout Scripture.
-God did not destroy the Israelites in the midst of their sin because of His glory.
For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.
God created everything, including you and me, for His glory.
Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, every one who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory.
God chose Israel for His glory.
You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.
So friends, from the beginning of the Ten Commandments, we see that God reminds His people that He and He alone is worthy of glorification. He alone demands our praise, our affections, our commitment.
So, how do you recognize God’s presence in your life? How can you keep God the main thing? When is the last time you spent time in prayer praising God instead of simple requesting things from Him? Friends, you can praise God through sacrificial giving, through service to His Kingdom, through singing and a host of other ways. The point is, everyday we breath air we should be thanking and praising God for His miraculous and marvelous works in our lives. We should be praising Him. Heaven forbid that God should praise Himself because I have stopped.
Luke 19:40 NLT
He replied, "If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!"
Keeping God The “Main Thing”
I. Give God Your Ear vs. 1
II. Give God Your Praise vs. 2
III. Make God Your Priority vs. 3
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
Illustration: The Main Thing
A woman bought a parrot in a pet store. She wanted companionship, someone to talk with. The next day she brought the parrot back and said, “He won’t talk.” The store manager asked, “Does he have a mirror in his cage? Parrots love mirrors.” She bought a mirror and left. The next day she came back and said, “The bird is still not talking.”
“How about a ladder? Parrots love ladders. When he is happy he will talk.” She bought a ladder and left. The next day she was back complaining that even with the mirror and ladder the bird was not talking. The manager said, “I know what you need, the bird wants a swing. He’ll be happy when he has a swing and he’ll talk. She reluctantly bought a swing and left.
Sure enough, the next day she was back. She had a sad face. “The parrot died,” she said.
“I’m sorry,” the manager said, “please tell me did he ever say anything before he died?”
The woman replied, “Yes, in a weak voice he asked me, ‘Don’t they sell any food at that pet store?”
So, why does God give the strict prohibition against having other gods. Notice that the Scripture is a little g instead of a big G in reference to gods. These gods (little g) are either objects created by men or an image created by men. Neither an object or image have any power. None at all. God, being a confident, praise worthy God is not going to give up His authority or power for an object or image. God is the headliner of this show.
It was the Lord God who had the power to bring His people out of bondage in Egypt. He alone cared enough for them to choose them to be His own, and He alone delivered and protected them. For all this, He declares that He alone deserves to be worshipped and reverenced. No idol made of wood or stone is God. Idols are deaf, dumb, blind, and powerless.
Habakkuk 2:18 NIV
"Of what value is an idol carved by a craftsman? Or an image that teaches lies? For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak.
Idol worship is something that not only pervades the Old Testament, it is also in the New Testament. Paul gives warning to believers against idol worship.
They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
In Matthew 6:24, Jesus warns against the worship of material things. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money”. The Greek word mammonas, translated here as “money,” does not mean the money in one’s pockets. It is the personification of wealth or money (especially wealth gained through greediness), the love of which, in modern terminology, is “materialism.” The dangers of worshipping material things are clearly outlined in the story of the rich young ruler captured in Matthew 19:16-26 who turned away from Christ because he could not part with his wealth.
It is no mystery that God places this commandment as the very first commandment. In order for the other laws to find their meaning and purpose, one must first come to a place that there are no other gods but God. God will not share His glory or grander with any created object.
So what does that mean for you and me today? It means that we must closely examine our gods. Are we putting a god in place of God? How can you tell? The answer is actually quite simple. The answer is time. Time is our most precious commodity. It is a limited resource that we can never recapture or make more of. It is more valuable than money or any material possession. So, how we spend it says a lot about who we are and what our priorities are.
So, how can we define the idols in our lives? Look at where your time goes. Where do you spend a majority of time?
Is it a pleasure?
Is it a pursuit?
Is it a person?
Is it the longing to go to a certain place either physically or in your professional career?
Matthew 6:21 ESV
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
All of these things can become idols for us. Sure, I would say that none of us are worshipping golden calves, but we tend to worship other things. Many of us tend to worship ourselves.
Friend, keeping God the main thing really means making Him the main thing of your life. He becomes the main thing when we listen to Him and obey Him, He becomes the main thing when we praise Him in all areas of our lives. He becomes the main thing when give Him top billing in our lives. In doing so, we lay the foundation for being able to understand God’s law.
Remember, God’s law doesn’t save. God never said that it did. However, God’s laws are worth understanding because it reveals to us our sin and our need for a Savior.
God commands us not to serve other gods because there are no other gods except the ones we make ourselves. David describes what awaits the person who puts God ahead of all else:
Psalm 40:4 ESV
4 Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust,who does not turn to the proud,to those who go astray after a lie!
Turning This Information Into Implementation!