‘Ten Words’ is how it’s known to the Jews, but it is far more than ten words in our reckoning, for this refers to the Ten Commandments.
We were not excited when we heard this was to be our study for the next few weeks. Surely we are in the New Testament now, all these laws behind us?
I remember reading about a man who became a Christian while in prison. Eventually released, for the first time in his life he went into a church. There, in large letters, were written the Ten Commandments. He heart sank. He had thought he had been set free, but now, how could he keep all those ‘No-no's’? He bowed his head, bringing his despair to his Saviour and his Friend, the Lord Jesus. When he looked again, they seemed to read in a different way. Not as ‘thou shalt not, but ‘You won’t.’
Jesus said, ‘If you love me you will keep my commandments.’
If we come to Jesus as Lord and Saviour we too will find we are released from condemnation, and released into new life in Christ. He it is who gives us victory over our old sins. So, are we now able to keep these ten commandments?
Although many have done their best to keep them, without being perfect it is impossible. That is why the Jews have a Day of Atonement, and endless sacrifices to atone for their sins, and Paul, in the New Testament, writes that the law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. That is why God sent his Son to be our Saviour. The name Jesus means Saviour. ‘Call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins.’
So now, as we read again the Ten Commandments, do we get a tick beside each one? No, rather we find that God is searching our hearts. I know that in many ways I have to cry out, ‘guilty.’ Yes, guilty, but forgiven, and now able to do better.
God has not
called us back to Mount Sinai to condemn us, for there is no
condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Rather, he wants us to know how great is His love for us, making these laws that we might enjoy our relationship with this our wonderful Creator, Redeemer God.
I am adding my interpretation of the glorious freedom that has been brought to us as, week by week we have found God’s wonderful love expressed to us through these ‘Ten Words’.
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1.‘You shall have no other gods before me.’ Exodus 20: 1-3
‘NO OTHER GOD
God has made us in his image
Have we need of aught beside?
Need we any lesser god to satisfy our pride?
Should we worship health or wealth?
For this soon will pass away.
God will give us life abundant if we walk his way.
For his love is living water
In a dry and thirsty land
Bread each day he gives from heaven, if in trust we’ll stand
No need for us to worship beauty,
For God will give us of his own
If we’ll come to seek his face, - worship him alone.
Let’s us banish gods of stardom
Or of popularity,
Fame, we know, is oft times fleeting - things that others see.
You alone are King for ever,
Your love eternal, strong and true
And your word is living water. Yes, we will worship you.
2.‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image.’
NO GRAVEN IMAGE
What skills describe the glory of One who made man from the dust of the earth?
By the word of his power called forth moon, stars and sun, each sphere of infinite worth.
Then why should we seek by our skills to describe a God greater than all we desire,
With metal you hid in the bowels of the earth to form a god who comes out of the fire?
Know that your Maker may not be defined by skills that to you he has given
For only through Christ can his glory be known and we enter the Kingdom of heaven
Then may we not think of our God as too small or shrink him to what we desire
But with trembling and awe draw near through the Son to find him who’s revealed in the fire.
3. Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.’ Ex.20: 7
NOT IN VAIN
No, not in vain will I speak that name
Name given, not with holy fire
But through lowly birth coming here to earth
And in poverty and shame’
For God sent his Son the Holy One
That he might through love inspire
Us to rise from our shame and through faith in his name
-Come to God, all our hearts may desire.
4. ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’ Ex.20.8
ONE DAY IN SEVEN.
God took six days to make this world
With sun and moon and stars
The biosphere and atmosphere
Rivers, mountains, moors
Till, making man, he was well pleased
And that we may all enjoy
He did ordain a day of rest
For all in his employ.
5. ‘Honour your father and mother.’
LOVE AND HONOUR
How precious are you, so deeply loved
That God should send his Son
To pay the price that you, forgiven,
Know you by such love were won
Yes, dearly, dearly loved are we
As is our neighbour too
So may we show God values them
In all we say and do
Yes, and parents too, though sometimes against the grain
Just as Jesus showed the way.
And the elderly still need respect
Even when they’re old and grey
Think how Our Lord, taking bowl and towel
Gladly knelt to show the way
Then may we, joyful, bow our knees
To share with others day by day.
6. ‘You shall not murder.’
Each of us shaped in the image of God, known and loved and treasured.
Then why should we fear another’s rise when we each for ourselves are measured?
It is fear that gives rise to jealousy -Yet we each one are loved and are needed
Why allow Satan to lure us on? For from jealousy murder is speeded.
‘Where is your brother?’ Cain was asked, his blood crying out from the ground
Each drop of blood is so precious indeed and an answer must surely be found.
Lord, guard our hearts against jealousy. For your purpose we each one are made.
Redeemed by the precious blood of your Son, may we love and not be afraid.
7. ‘You shall not commit adultery’
Searching for love and acceptance
Found naked, abused by men
Facing contempt, indignation
She is dragged out for all to condemn.
But they take her to One, who of all men
Is come to seek and to save
It is they, her accusers who are standing condemned
Those who plot to judge now facing shame
Lord, you’ve given us laws to protect us
From wand’ring in thought, look or deed
To find our fulfilment in Jesus our joy
And help others enchained by man’s greed
For the Saviour did not condemn her
While he sent her accusers away
Gave her strength to drink from a well that is pure
And joy in him every new day
8 & 9. ‘You shall not steal.’ – and ‘Do not bear false witness.’
HONOUR PROPERTY, and HONOUR REPUTATION
DO NOT STEAL
‘You can get it for free,’ but know, someone must pay
For there’s always a price for what’s given away.
We like to buy cheap but is slave labour in sight?
Oh no, we don’t steal, but does that make this right?
For we all once were slaves, bound in sin’s darkest night
And ‘twas Christ paid the price that we might live in the light
So - no need to steal freebies - piling things we don’t need.
Let’s give away gladly and find riches indeed.
And then there’s your neighbour! Would you steal his good name?
We’re all made in God’s image and are worthy the same.
To whisper suggestions is stealing indeed.
So let’s love and honour our neighbour and give help in his need.
10. ‘You shall not covet.’
HONOUR IN THE HEART
DO NOT COVET
Only in Christ is contentment,
Only in him is true gain
Why should I covet the treasures of earth
When heaven’s wealth alone will remain?
Why spend your labour for blessings
That wear out at last and decay?
In your Saviour alone is an upspringing joy
That remains, though all else pass away.
Then may we delight in his favour
And trust him, though trials will come
For if Christ himself is our treasure
We have love, joy and peace in the Son